Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Harmon's Bar-B-Q (Cibolo, TX)

It's a nice hot December day and it feels damn good to be in Texas. Northeast of San Antonio is a quaint town called Cibolo. Not much to do there other than eat some BBQ and call it a day. That BBQ will most likely come form Harmon's. After walking inside Harmon's BBQ from the front, it looked like they know what they were doing. They got a dance hall in the back and butcher paper to serve your meat on. Unfortunately for us they were out of beef ribs and pork ribs. So Clay and I got chicken, sausage, sliced pork, and brisket. This is what was presented to us...









So beautiful it brought a tear to my eye.


Sausage was pretty decent, their chicken was moist, and I don't remember a bad thing about the pork. In my book sausage, chicken, and pork are side items and I don't eat BBQ for the sides. Eating BBQ for the sides is about as bad as putting ice in your scotch. They had BBQ sauce there for the women and hot sauce for the men. We sampled this BBQ sauce and it was nothing more than K.C. Masterpiece rebottled. I'm a big fan of hot sauce and I thought it was a good choice for them to choose Louisiana Hot Sauce. It is personally my favorite brand.

Now...the moment of truth. To the main course. In Texas, where cattle is king, it's the brisket that is the mark of a true pit-master.

When I order brisket I expect the "flat." The "point" is for the Yankees in Kansas City to cut up in little squares and serve them as desert that they affectionately call "burnt ends." Judging the moistness of a brisket by eating the point is like judging the moistness of a chicken by eating the dark meat. There is a big ass handicap there that is not taken into consideration. Having said all that, this is what was served to me as brisket.






more fat from the second piece of brisket






After we pulled back the fat, the rest of it crumbled into little pieces like so...FYI this is a sign that it is overcooked. Let me clarify something. It's not that I don't eating the point. In fact I do like eating it. There is so much fat around the point that if you are going to serve it without trimming it a little, don't charge me by the pound for something I'm not going to eat.





 You know what Harmon's reminds me of? Adam Everett. Adam Everett use to play shortstop for my beloved Houston Astros. Adam Everett had all the working parts and mechanics. He was one of the game's greatest defensive players. Unfortunately when it came time for him to step up to the plate, there wasn't a lot there (with the exception of 1 great season). Harmon's BBQ has everything right except the MOST IMPORTANT THING. They have great chicken and pork and I'm sure their sides are tasty as well. In baseball you don't get graded and paid based on your golden glove awards, it's what you do in the batters box. In Texas that batters box is The Brisket. Harmon's struck out on that at bat.










It's hard to say that I'd give this place a second chance because they are located in the BBQ belt in Texas. There are so many places I have yet to try and so many places I'd love to come back to and try again. For the city of Cibolo I think they have a great BBQ spot for a town of its size (17k) . If they want brisket, San Antonio isn't too far away.




Harmon's BBQ will be receiving a generous score of 3.5 out of 5 stars.


Harmon's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Slap Yo Daddy Chicken Rub

I've always been a big fan of Harry Soo. I like him a lot because he wins on the same model smoker that I use - The Webber Smokey Mountain. Out of 5,000 BBQ teams, Harry won 1st place in Chicken from the Kansas City BBQ Society. Lucky for us he sells his chicken rub online. So I decided to buy a pack of Slap Yo Daddy Chicken Rub and do a taste test up against McCormick's Chicken Rub that you can buy at your local grocery store.


The night before: cleaned chicken thighs

L to R - McCormick's Chicken Rub & Slap Yo Daddy Chicken Rub

First impressions: As soon as I opened the USPS box the smell of cumin hit me hard. Not a huge fan of a lot of cumin but we'll see. The McCormick's has your standard "citrusy" aroma that most chicken rubs have.

Top to Bottom - Slap Yo Daddy & McCormick's

L to R - McCormick's  & Slap Yo Daddy
After 5 minutes of rubbing the chicken, Slap Yo Daddy rub immediately starts melting and giving the chicken that glow. The McCormick's is looking a little dry.


70 minutes at 280 degrees later 

After they're sauced up, it's hard to tell the difference, BUT,  SYD's are at the bottom and not as dark.

The results:

Mercy! Night and day I tell you. I can taste an immediate difference. I almost didn't even want to eat the McCormick's chicken because it tasted like Ox feces next to SYD's chicken rub. While SYD's rub had a strong smell of cumin, it did not come out in the taste and that is a good thing. I highly recommend Slap Yo Daddy's Chicken Rub! I just need to find a better sauce and a cleaner way to sauce the chicken with a more even coat. Outside of the physical blemishes, it tasted great. 

Slap Yo Daddy Chicken Rub gets a 5 out of 5 stars.


Friday, November 1, 2013

BBQ 101: The Silver Skin

BBQ 101: James Westfall shows the laypeople how to remove the silver skin from a slab of spare ribs.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hill Country BBQ Market (New York, NY)

So when you can look past making a reservation, $6.50 Shiner in a mason jar, or the $23 per pound brisket, it wasn't half bad. These mofos set up shop in an expensive area (near Chelsea in NYC) so they got to pay the bills some how. Offering their customers Texas sized deals won't cut it. Hill Country wants it bad. They want it real bad. They'll serve you anything from Frito Pie, Blue Bell, Big Red, to 4 different Shiners on tap. They even have pictures of the Lockhart High School football team above their urinals, a big ass Texas Flag, and a collection of Texas Monthly's framed on the wall. It's a little over compensating to say the least. I always give a thumbs up to the Texas enthusiast but it was over kill and instead felt like I had to give them a calming palms down style hand to the Texas Pride.


So here's the deal. You make a reservation, you sit down and they give you a card that the butchers will fill out, you wait in line until you get to the nearest butcher (Lockhart style), and you pay out your ass for the BBQ at the end of the night. The people there are nice, no NY service of rushing you out the door after you have your last bite. So don't let the crowds intimidate you from enjoying yourself.


Lets talk about the taste. I thought the brisket was a solid A. For $23 a pound it should have been nothing less than an A. The jalapeƱo-cheese sausage was great but come to find out they order their sausage from Kreutz BBQ in Lockhart, $6.50 a link....you heard right $6.50 a link, in Texas these things are $2 a link. Spare Ribs were a solid F. Do not bother trying them. They were very bland and they don't pull from the bone that easily. The sides looked great...I didn't have the money to try them all since I spent it on brisket, but I did get a side of Mac and Cheese and it was on par. It didn't rock my world but I've had worse. I came ill prepared and didn't take a pic of the food. But I'll do you a solid and provide you a link where a thousand other food bloggers have provided their own pictures of their own Hill Country BBQ. Your Welcome.


One plus about the place is that they do live music. Granted I had never heard one band on the calendar but again I don't follow the NY country music scene (nor do I give 2 shits about it). Either way you got to respect any establishment that provides performing opportunities for musicians.

Hill Country/Houston Astros

 

So I have mixed feelings about the place.

The Plus: Great brisket, Texas enthusiasts, and a live music hall down stairs. Come to find out they have a logo that casually resembles The Houston Astros...

The Negative: Expensive, shoving the Texas memorabilia down your throat, the ribs. At least these negatives would be easy to fix.

 

 


Hill Country BBQ will be receiving a generous score of 3.5 out of 5 stars

Hill Country on Urbanspoon

 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fire House BBQ (New Orleans, La)

 When I saw them putting up this sign about a year ago, I got really excited because this is literally right around the corner from my house. Why has it taken me a year to finally try this BBQ you may ask - I never saw a pit nor smelled the burning of wood. Not only that, this place closes durring the winter. Why does this BBQ place close durring the winter you may ask - because it's not a BBQ place, it's a Snowball stand...Dun Dun Dun!

Yea you aren't going to get a legitimate BBQ experience here. You will however get a legitimate Snowball experience, if you like that sort of thing which I do not.  As I walked into the 10x10 room I asked the lady behind the counter (who was behind a bullet proof glass window) for 1/2 a slab of ribs. Ribs seemed to be the only BBQ they had. She walked out of the back door and didn't return until 10 minutes later. Turns out, people that actually order the BBQ from Fire House get the BBQ from the the restaurant next door. I assume that they are owned and operated by the same people/person.















This is what I got:





These ribs fell right off the bone. They had that soggy texture with no flavor and no smoke. I spent hours trying to dig these ribs out of the sauce, I couldn't find them. Classic case of OBBBQ (Oven-Baked BBQ). You want a lecture about using an oven when it comes to BBQ, go down the road to Donaldsonville and talk to J.B. (at the 44 second mark)- 







Below are some pictures of the menus from this establishment:







Fire house BBQ will be receiving a generous score of 0.5 out of 5.




Fire House BBQ on Urbanspoon



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Boo Koo BBQ (New Orleans, La)

Since the "Carpet Bagger" movement in post Katrina New Orleans there have been both negetive and positive changes to the city. The negetive is the obvious "baggage" that hipster gentrafication brings to any neighborhood. I'm not going to rant about that because I think there is enough pissing and moaning on the subject from other people. However, there is positive to such gentrification such as the growth and entrpenuership in the restaurant industry. In the last year there have been at least 3 new BBQ joints that have opened in the New Orleans area that I have been eager to try. A few nights ago I was accompanied by a few friends to Boo Koo BBQ to indulge this eagerness.
Hipsters


Side Note:
BBQ, for the most part, stays stylistically authentic to their respective regions (Texas, KC, Carolinas, Memphis, etc...). I believe as an art, BBQ can and should continue to grow and have each culinary style/regional influence in its progression. For Example, the southwest and west coast continues to cultivate their style of BBQ specializing in tri-tip and chile infused sauces. Hopefully one day New Orleans will have their own style of BBQ. Their culinary history is too rich to not have one.

BKBBQ isn't your traditional joint. BKBBQ is basically the kitchen of a quaint neighborhood bar (Finn McCools) in MidCity. After I reached the couter to place an order, I had the akward experience where the cashier does everything possible to not look at you in the eye because telling the customer that they will be with you in a few minutes takes SOOOOO much effort. I am glad to see that new restaurants continue adopt the New Orleans customer service stylings because we definitly need more bad service in this city. 

Of course I want to sample the goods so I ordered the "3 meat platter"...

Cashier: We are out of pulled pork
James: Ok, that's fine, can you just throw a few extra ribs on it the plate.
Cashier: No, I can't do that
James: Can you double up on the brisket...
Cashier: *Akward moment of silence*
James: Well, what can you do?
Cashier: I tell you what, I'll knock 2$ off your 16$ platter.
James: ok
Cashier: It will be 45mins to an hour.

One hour later the food came out:
Macaroni and Cheese - needed flavor
Blue Cheese Cole Slaw - needed blue cheese
Ribs - nice rub, overcooked for my tastes (a lot of bark), and it was drowning in a pool of sauce.
Brisket - No Brisket!!!
3rd meat - I think it was sliced pork loin...I couldn't tell because it was swimming in sauce so it could have been sliced chicken breast?
Service - No smile

Later, Rex ordered some Boudin Eggrolls that came with a roumalade sauce that were pretty amazing followed by deep fried Macaroni and Cheese Fried Balls that were lacking flavor. An hour later, Ryan came in with some BBQ nachos...Nachos with pork, jalepenos, sour creme, cheese, and BBQ sauce.
After 4 beers anything taste good right?

I know this photo is awful!
Overall, for a kitchen at a late night bar it was great. As a BBQ joint to stand alone...no siree Bob. If I'm going to wait an hour I'd rather stand in line at Franklin BBQ. 

If I go back to that bar for a drink on a empty stomach, I'd just get a bunch of apetizers or try a burger before I'd get the BBQ again.


The place was so dark that pictures wouldn't have done this blog any justice. So excuse the awful pic...







Update:

I did stop by there for lunch a few days later to give them a second chance and I met the owners who were super cool people. I think the guy who worked that particular night shift was some jackass who had no investment in the place. Despite the friendliness of the owners, the BBQ was still not up to par. I actually got to try the pulled pork and brisket and both lacked much needed flavor and were dry (I got the sauce on the side this time). I didn't see or smell a smoker so I imagine they smoke the food off site.

I hate giving nice people bad scores...

Boo Koo BBQ will be receiving a generous score 2 out of 5 stars.
Boo Koo BBQ on Urbanspoon