Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Looking for our next giveaway sponsor...

This week, we're drawing and announcing the winners of our latest Texas BBQ Giveaway, courtesy of Blue Ribbon Barbecue (Austin). Now, we need to find a BBQ joint or BBQ-product vendor for our 6th giveaway. If anyone is interested in getting in on the action, email me.

Friday, August 6, 2010: Big Boy's Bar-B-Que (Sweetwater, TX)

It was lunch time as we hit Sweetwater, and I was planning on stopping, but I didn't know where until I saw a billboard for Big Boy's Bar-B-Que. About 5 minutes later, Amber and I were ordering. The small dining room was packed with what appeared to be regulars. The Southwesternish decor wasn't like any I've seen at any other Texas BBQ joint, but it was comfortable, relaxing.

I didn't have the bacon-wrapped jalapeno with cream cheese, but Amber was a fan. The chopped beef, along with pickles and sauce, made a good sandwich, though I'm not a fan of the sweet-sourdough bun, which is not made in house but rather in a bakery in Houston. Just too thick and heavy for my taste. But I'm obviously in the minority here, b/c I think the buns are quite popular. The owner and his wife each have their preferred ribs: His Ribs and Her Ribs. I favored Her Ribs, which had a sweet-and-tangy glaze, while Amber liked His Ribs, boneless, country-style pork ribs. I read some reviews on another site complaining about the prices, but I have no recollection of the menu's prices, so I can't weigh in.

Even though the food was good, what stood out to me about our visit was the hospitality that the owner, Gaylan Marth, showed. Smack dab in the middle of a Friday lunch rush, he took time out to visit with us at our table and take me out back to the pit area, where we spent a good 10 minutes chatting about his cooking method and the history of the restaurant. The great service stands out even more, when juxtaposed against the service we experienced at another BBQ joint that weekend - service so terrible that we left before we finished ordering.

As we pulled out of the parking lot around 1 p.m., I noticed a chartered bus emptying kids, who were crossing the street and heading for Big Boy's. I don't know whether their stop was planned or whether they were, like I, lured in by a billboard, but Big Boy's is worth the stop, if you're in the Sweetwater area.

Big Boys Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 30, 2010

I've got mail.

Another BBQ rub just arrived at the house. This week's blind tasting of rubs and sauces should be a good time. If you're interested in joining the fun, let me know. There's talk of smoking a brisket.

Coming up...

Amber and I review Big Boy's Bar-B-Que (Sweetwater)

Winners of Texas BBQ Giveaway #5 announced

Meet another Man Upper

Chris reviews Blue Ribbon Barbecue (Austin)

More of Brad's pics from the Memphis in May BBQ competition

Video interview of pitmaster Chris Lilly

Man Up convenes this week for a blind tasting of rubs and sauces

Pics from this past weekend's Music City BBQ Festival (Nashville, TN)

Video interviews from the Music City BBQ Festival

Pics from 3 Nashville BBQ joints

*Reminder: Back-to-School Sale ends today. Every Q Card purchased via www.theqcard.com is 30% off. Just $7 for over a year's worth of BBQ savings!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

QOTD: Would you shell out money to have a license plate promoting your favorite Texas BBQ joint?

From the Dallas Observer (hat tip to my good buddy Daniel, of Full Custom Gospel BBQ):

A license plate design approved yesterday by the Department of Motor Vehicles could pave the way for tags adorned with sliced brisket and cheese enchiladas.

Mighty Fine Burgers, a restaurant with three Austin-area outlets, is the first for-profit food business to issue a novelty plate through Texas' specialty plate vendor. The plate features a hamburger and the words "Mighty Fine Burgers."

As you might know, Mighty Fine and Austin's locations of Rudy's Country Store & Bar-B-Q share the same management company. So, maybe a Rudy's license plate is on the horizon, which brings me to our Question of the Day: Would you pay for a BBQ novelty plate? If so, what BBQ joint would be on your plate? Pun intended.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Update on The Q Card

It's been a while since I gave an update on The Q Card, the Texas BBQ savings card program I launched on June 1. Here's the latest:
And...starting today and lasting through Monday, we're having a Back-to-School Sale. All cards purchased via www.theqcard.com through 11:59 PM Central time on Monday are 30% off. That's just $7 for cards that are valid through October 31, 2011!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nashville bound

Brad and I are spending the weekend in at the Music City BBQ Festival in Nashville. Anyone gonna be there?

Calling all BBQ joints, caterers, sauce vendors, and rub/seasoning sellers

Need feedback on something your testing our for your menu? Want some opinions on one or more of your products? The Man-Up crew is convening next week for a blind tasting of some rubs and sauces that have been sent to me during the past few weeks. I'm the only one who will know what each product is, and I won't be commenting, so it's a great chance for some honest, objective feedback from a large group of BBQ fanatics. Email if you're interested. If you're interested but can't get anything to me before Wednesday, no worries, b/c we'll have more blind tastings in the future.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ancient Israeli sanctuaries were like Texas BBQs?

Anonymous email from a UT student, telling me something his/her history professor said during class today (first day of classes, btw): "Sanctuaries in ancient Israel were just places for parties, and they smelled like Texas BBQs."

I'm sorry I wasn't around for that.

Jacob reviews Casstevens Cash & Carry (Lillian, TX)

There is a small little gas station out in Lillian, Texas that not many people stop by. Where is Lillian you ask? Well it isn't that important. Let me just say that if you are coming here, you are doing to it just to try the BBQ, because I'm mostly certain nothing else is going on in that town but farming. If you are headed to Casstevens however, you just made a good call, because this place has three important things; character, Blue Bell ice cream sandwiches, and good BBQ.

Typical run down store and gas station hide what is going on in the back corner. A nice little set up of a couple of refrigerators, sink, big cutting board, large serving counter, and a few tables are noticeable but don't stand out from the outside. I knew what I was coming here for, but if it weren't for the lingering smell of smoke from the outside you would never know BBQ was cooked here as the pits were hidden from view. Now it is true that many small town locally owned gas stations also have a food counter in them, and many of them also sell some form of BBQ. What is all too common, however, is that the food from those counters aren't to much to brag about. That is not the case in Lillian.

I had planned on my all too typical meal. Brisket (fatty of course), pork ribs, and sausage. Sadly ribs are only served on Fridays, and this being a Saturday afternoon I was out of luck. So I was left with picking a different meat to replace ribs on my 3 meat plate and asked for suggestions from the server and a regular standing at the counter. I was told to get ham by one, and turkey by the other. As I only had room for one, I started to figure which I would rather have, but instead inquired about the sausage. On learning that while it is good, it is also a store bought brand (true they may cook it perfectly, but in my mind it will still only be mediocre unless you are making your own), so I decided on both ham and turkey. I almost had a hernia when I saw what happened next. They took a few slices of smoked turkey and ham out of the refrigerator, and placed them in the microwave. I was in shock. I was more in shock after finally tasting however.

Both the ham and turkey had amazing full smoky flavor. they were still moist and didn't taste at all like they had been microwaved. They cut the meat into long stick like slices that were a perfect thickness. The outside on the turkey was a sweet smoky glaze that tasted like it just came off the smoker. The ham had a heavy glaze that was a bit less sweet but a much better flavor. Both of these meats were terrific and a great surprise. Brisket was cut a bit to thick, but had nice color and a beautiful smoke ring under the crust. It was very flavorful in each bite and the fat was rendered beautifully. Bark had a great pepper and spice smell and taste that protected the meat inside perfectly. Strangely I thought it was just a bit too chewy and didn't fall apart easily, but still tasted great (I think it may be more a quality of beef issue, as it was cooked perfect and had perfect flavor.)

Side of beans was also a good touch. It had bites of chopped up sausage in it and a good spice kick to it. Potato salad was decent but nothing to special. BBQ sauce was very thick and had a bit to much Worcestershire sauce flavor in it for me, but went well with the bread dipping in it. I finished off the meal with a blue bell ice cream sandwich and paid my bill, which came in at under $10, a very respectable and fair price for the amount of food. This was a nice stop and I will try to be back one day for the ribs, even if it is completely out of my way.

Brisket: 7.5; Ham: 7.25; Turkey: 8; Sauce: 4.5; Beans: 7; Blue Bell ice cream sandwich: 12; Atmosphere: 8; Overall: 7.25

Casstevens Cash & Carry on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The rest from the Taylor cookoff

Some smokers from Saturday

I only had a few minutes to walk around, so I didn't get pics of all the smokers, but this should give you a feel for what was on display.