Saturday, February 4, 2017

BSB blog Chapter 10, The Not so Fabulous

Ok. I broke the rules. While Linda was busy with her own schedule of family and friends, I figured I'd get in a couple of local places. I looked on the BBQ trail map and found 2 places  in North Charleston, not far from where I live. Willie Jewels Old School BBQ, and Dickey's BBQ Pit.
Willie Jewels had a nice website and a good story about her history.  I caught on that it was a chain with the words  "Franchising" and "Locations". Also they are open 7 days a week, Great for a regular restaurant, but as I've said before, family run BBQ places are rarely open more than 4-5 days per week. I think though, that Ms. Willie would not be happy with what has happened to her recipes. The BBQ was dry, the ribs weren't tender and had way too much of the pink color on the inside, that could pass for being smoked, but I'm pretty sure was more chemical in nature. And the greens. Oh my. Chopped too fine, watery and bitter.
I'm now way picky about these places since we've had so many trips and much BBQ experience.  I'm sure for the average person looking for a quick lunch other than the myriad of fast food available in that area, it would be fine. Maybe the chicken is good.
And number 2. Dickey's BBQ. I hadn't heard of it and went searching. It's in a shopping center with old Navy, Big Lots, Best Buy, etc. I'm not always against a chain restaurant, if they are good. In this case, not so much.
The servers don't get tips, since its a order at the window and sit down or take out kind of place, so they probably get paid minimum wage, and are trained to yell a salutation at you when you walk in, not unlike Moe's. Too bad. The menu looks great, but what comes out of the kitchen, not so much. Kind of like the pictures that are all over with Macdonald's or Burger King or Hardee's , then the actual  burger looks pale in comparison .
Sides. The Fried Onion Tanglers were good but greasy.  The  Bacon and Onion Green Beans and were overcooked and the Asiago Cheese Creamed Spinach didn't come out with my order.  I think they forgot  So when I asked, they said it would be out shortly. And it was ...microwaved and cold in the middle. I just looked the location up and it's "permanently closed" according to Yelp. I always feel bad when someone loses so much money in a franchise gone bad, but in this case, if my experience was the norm, I can see why. So in both cases, it's Back to local family run BBQ for me!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Chapter 9: Port Royal, SC, January 2016

Holidays over, tree down, back to normal! We had a few months not bbq-ing due to the busyness of the holiday etc.  I wanted to  go see where Linda had worked for a period of time, The Penn Center, on St Helena island, SC.
That whole area of the Sea Islands is full of history and interesting places to see, visit and explore. Sometimes, I could actually feel the plantation and Gullah history. The Penn Center, now a place for the preservation of the Gullah Geechee West African Culture, was the site of one of the 1st schools for freed slaves. Make the time for a road trip there. Or go for one of their festivals. Take your kids. They need to know this history.
And we then were hungry! We like going to the out of the way places, since we find real treasures often there. We see Smokin' Planks in Port Royal, SC. Tiny town on the outside of the marine base, Parris Island.
What a cute town! Can't imagine that quiet of a life right now, but if I could, I could see living there. Many sweet homes, some historic, several cafe's, hometown restaurants, and a couple of cute stores..more on that later...
So we find Smokin' Planks, right on the main drag (which is about 3 blocks long!) Nice dining room, lots of well crafted wooden comfortable tables and booths, and both BBQ and sea craft memorabilia around the place.  We order the sampler platter.. it was big and a little pricey, but we figured we could take out the leftovers.. It had a sampler of BBQ, ribs, brats, and chicken, along with our choice of sides.. slaw, potato salad, baked beans,  greens,  mac and cheese.  As I've said, often the greens are the deciding factor for whether we like a place or not! These were excellent! And the meats were outstanding! Now, also having remembered to look on Facebook and Yelp for reviews for these places, we were surprised to find a few not so glowing reviews. Often these small businesses (without a younger family member, who knows how to do this) don't realize how important social media is to a restaurant, so they hadn't taken the reviews down or handled them. I wrote a great review. Hoped it helped!
A gentle man approached us and asked how our meal was.  We began to rave and he was so excited that he pulled up a chair and sat down to talk to us! Being the owner, of course, we asked the obvious question, "Where did you get the name?" His response, he had given on many occasions with folks assuming that the had a crafty way of smoking meat with some kind of plank wood. "Nope", he said, " My last name is Plank and I smoke meat." That simple.
I think we might have taken a few leftovers home, but not many.
And Linda got an order for Jimmy (her husband, for those of you new to my blog!) So she got a bit more deliciousness upon going home. Now we had to drive around a bit. We found a great gift store, with all kinds of welcoming fun stuff outside and an open door. Nuances, it was called.  Come to find out the that owner is an entrepreneurial woman who owned 5 businesses in her little town. But she saw the signs before the economic crash and combined 4 stores into one, and this one survived the downturn. She also has a cafe and was opening a B&B on the top floor of one the cafe.
Quite the eclectic selection of gifts, clothes, jewelry, accessories, furniture, household decor and other interesting items, and a lot from local artists. the owner and staff also lots of creative ways to display all of their goods! We got on their mailing list for future events, but haven't been able to coordinate going so far.  We will go back when we can, for sure. I think there are several more BBQ places near there, but Smokin' Planks would be worth a 2nd visit, too!

Chapter 8: Po Pigs in Edisto, October 2015

October at the Beach.. still warm, but not summer hot.  Breezy, beautiful day. We headed to Edisto Island for a bit of beach time and to see if all the lore about getting better shells was true. I'm still not convinced! The beach was lovely and we stopped at a local restaurant that was open even after the season, and had a libation out on the porch. Then went to a couple of stores on the island that were open as well. As I write this it's past Hurricane Matthew and Edisto had massive damage to their island and stores, homes, and many other businesses. I think about all those small business owners with compassion..
We had gone back as well to the trusty BBQ trail map. We found Po Pigs BBQ on hwy 74. Well, finding the place was challenging. Seems it had moved. Twice, I think.
The original location had a sign on the door that we had to pull up to to read. We went to where we thought it told us which was on the back of a hardware stroke. Seems there are 2 hardware stores within a couple of miles of that stretch of hwy 74. It wasn't at that location but the staff were kind enough to point us in the right direction. Finally found it.
It was early, around 5:00 and we were the only ones there. I'm rarely negative about BBQ, but these folks missed the mark. The only thing that saved them was the smoked turkey, which was delicious. I find that the sides on these buffets can tell the bigger story, especially the greens.. these were chopped fine and overcooked and bitter..too bad.
Now what was very cool and interesting about Po Pigs, were the photographs on the walls. Blown up images of a long time ago, showing what looked like a community church supper with lots of folks in Sunday dress gathered on the grounds, eating their BBQ dinners. Also the pictures of the BBQ troughs. Fascinating. Big dug out long pits with creatively fashioned steel poles stretched across where the pigs where hung to roast. Many African American men laden with shovels, moving the hot coals under the pigs. An older gentleman who  perhaps was one of the owners, was very friendly, and explained some of the photos to us. They also had memorabilia all around the place. Great place to go, if not for the food, but the history of BBQ in SC.

Chapter 7. Jb's Smoke Shack On Johns island. July 2015

So what do 2 women do when on the search for great BBQ , when it's one's of those women's Birthday? Well go test BBQ locally of course!
I had been to JB's Smokeshack on John's Island a couple of times. Good BBQ, Excellent fried chicken, sides etc. And since it's about 35 minutes from my home in North Charleston, and 55 minutes from Linda's home in north Mt Pleasant, it felt like a BBQ trip anyway! So Linda came into the salon where I work to get her hair cut, since it's West Ashley,  then we headed to John's island. It was a Wednesday, so I don't recall any thing special on the buffet menu, but it didn't matter. Jb's didn't disappoint with good BBQ and great fried fish as well as excellent mac and cheese ( I'm picky!).  And Linda had banana pudding for her cake! "like" and "follow" them on Facebook. 

They don't have a website, but sometime list the special items on the buffet that way.
Then we headed up the street for a birthday cocktail at my favorite Irish Pub, Seanachai (Shawn-a -key). Such a fun place with good music and friendly staff! They always recognize me and have the best Moscow mules! Also a great selection of Irish whiskey!
The fact that it's a fair drive from my house also keeps me from overindulging!
We'll go back again, to both places, for sure.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

BSB CHAPTER 6 Myrtle Beach

For more years than I can remember, my friend, Pat Goodwin has been the head honcho, curator and all around manager of the Franklin G. Burroughs/Simeon B. Chapin art museum in Myrtle Beach. And though it's only 2 hours away, until now, I had only made the trip to be a guest of Pat's to make it easier to catch an early Spirit Airlines flight. But there was only time for dinner and wine, not a museum visit.
And it just so happens, that Myrtle Beach is littered with BBQ places! And it just so happens, that Linda ( "Louise" as in , I'm Thelma..) Mayo Perez, loves art, collects art and was an artist.
So here we go!

Now on the way, Lunch 1st. We had checked the BBQ map  and just for the name alone, wanted to go to Radd Dew's BBQ in Conway.  We GPS it and go. Well, we learned our lesson to check websites or Face Book, and not just the map. Seems the map needed quite the update! (Now I just checked , and as of this writing, it has been updated. YEA!  Several places deleted and several added. And we'll still check websites or call before we go!) ) Radd Dew's had moved to Aynor, SC, and was open on Wednesday, but only in the evening. Back onto the map... so we found another place on 501 in Conway, on the way into Myrtle Beach, and this one too, was gone. replaced by the Hwy 90 Diner. At this point, We were  getting "hangry", so we ate! Great diner food, I think we had sandwiches and chips and slaw. all very tasty, but not bbq, so started planning the evening meal...
Now, back to the museum story.
Last time I was in Myrtle Beach, I was visiting my family, who had rented a condo in the total touristy section of town. They never call me for advice, (no surprise there) so we were across the street from a big parking lot, full of motorcycles...yep, Bike Week. The beach and the pool was nice as was the condo, and my sister and I  did get down to Atayala, the big craft fair at Huntington state park, but still  didn't have time for the museum...manipulating all those motorcycles was interesting to say the least.
So now there was no excuse.
Even with gps, we got a little lost..seems there is a 3100 Ocean blvd and we needed 3100 South Ocean blvd, so a little detour and tour of residential Myrtle Beach. Even though a lot of Myrtle Beach is mini Vegas or Branson, some of the town is actually  quite quaint and nice!
But we found it!
I had seen pictures of the museum on the website, but nothing does it justice. A beautiful white beach house, with open hurricane shutters, lattice work camouflaging the utilitarian downstairs flood zone, and windows everywhere! Beautifully groomed lawns all around.
We go in and the front desk staff go get Pat. Hugs all around, then the tour. It's an absolutely beautiful museum with, at that time, displays of the  winner's of the Wacamaw Arts and Crafts Guild Juried exhibiton,  and the Winyah River Keepers Photography contest. So many talented artists!  Then, of course, the museum has it's permanent collections, including many Jonathan Green Paintings, Antique maps, the Wadmalaw Arts and Crafts Guild and the Museum collection of Gifts and purchases. Pat keeps very busy looking for and securing the next best exhibition and overseeing the staff who teach the many classes for adults and children alike. Also, at that time, outside  on the front lawn, there were these tall, 3D square chalkboards on the lawn. They were there, meant for anyone to stop, pick up some colored chalk and write on the board, something "Before I Die"  (pictures below). We asked Pat if it had been a hard to maintain exhibition, being a free for all public event. She said that everyone had been respectful. No nasties had to be erased, and no one had taken morei of their fair share. Good for us.
So many folks I talk to have no idea that there is a museum in Myrtle Beach, let alone one so full and robust with emotion and beauty. We've already been back (which will be in a future post),  and will go again. Hope you go as well! Oh, and the Museum Gift Shop  is one of the best! Many friends got the benefit of very interesting Christmas gifts, believe me!
So, we pretty much close the museum. Time to head home. We drive 17 south, and decided  to stop at Hog Heaven in Pawley's Island. Easy access right on the highway. All that art and fun seeing my friend had made us hungry again!  Hog Heaven is a good BBQ buffet with lots of selections of the pig to taste, and many tasty sides. An all around decent  place for families and locals in the area. Linda of course, got her take out for Jimmy. We were glad they were open so we could try them and officially make this a BBQ trip!

Next time, a local place right near home!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016



It’s almost over 2.5 years ago. January 2014. I’m driving up I-26W to wherever… I travel that way frequently, and as we do while driving, am often thinking about other things.. I notice I’m looking at the billboards.. They do catch my eye…I remember and start to sing the 70’s song, “Signs, signs, everywhere are signs, messing up scenery, breaking my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the si...igns?…”
They get a bad rap, billboards do…I actually find them somewhat interesting, and tell me stuff I wouldn’t know about. Especially that one fateful day that I see in big colorful letters and pictures from SC Tourism, the “SC BBQ Trail Map”…What was that? Trail map? BBQ?
So I get home and I, of course, Google it. And there it is. The BBQ Trail map. An advertisement from our state’s tourism office showing maps of all the regions of South Carolina. With what looks like hundreds of little green pop up balloons crowded all over the main map. It’s talking about traveling the state and visiting BBQ joints.…Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I love that idea! Who knew? Upon inspecting the main map closer up, they list 168 BBQ places! From the corporate chains, to the small family restaurant that’s only open on the weekend, spread out and separated by region and listed by number, making the task at hand much easier to read.
Now, I started liking BBQ when in my 20’s and while in the Army. My boyfriend took me to a place, which last time I checked, is still in business, Kings BBQ in Petersburg, VA.
Now, growing up, I’d had pork roast, but nothing like this... Remember, this is before The Great Food Explosion… The Food Network, and Google and “Foodies” and food magazines,etc. When you said BBQ in the northeast, they meant firing up the grill and cooking up hamburger, hotdog, chicken, or maybe, on a good day, a chuck steak.
Well, Billy (yes his real name... a true southerner) orders for me...While we wait I’m taking in and loving the atmosphere. The waitresses were mostly older, had on crisp, white uniforms with the little aprons in the front and the little white cap on their head. This was “out” of restaurant fashion by then, but not long enough to become “kitschy”.
And the place was brightly lit, clean, with lots of round dining tables, like we had in our 50”s kitchen…and with several wooden pig signs all over.
 What comes out is a plate with a pile of chopped meat with 3 veggie     sides. (I’m salivating thinking of it!) It was, by far, one of the most amazing things I had ever, and I mean EVER put in my mouth….
Succulent, smoky, chewy but tender, brown and crunchy bits meaty and fatty and the same time. Just incredible… the veggies were all good, but I just wanted to bury my face in the pork.
The BBQ was available chopped, on a plate, in a sandwich, by the lb to go….I visited King’s on several return visits to Petersburg to see the boy friend, or while driving back to NJ to see the family, and since it was right off I-95, I couldn’t miss it.. I had people bring me that bbq if they were going or coming that way…so if you are traveling I-95 north or south, please, do let me know!
So now this map and the possibilities are peaking my interest.. I tell my friend, Linda Mayo Perez Williams (she’s another transplant from parts north and south on the east coast) all about it and she says, “Let’s go!” to which I replied, “When?”
So that’s what this Blog is about. I’m a holistic hairdresser and consultant by trade, Your Grooming Guru, to be exact, and I love to eat, cook and try funky out of the way places. So Linda and I have decided that over the next 5 years, we will be the best part of Thelma and Louise and hit as many of these BBQ huts and homes as we can.. And explore our land as we go! Hang on for the tasty tour!

Chapter 5. November 2014, Wise's BBQ Newberry SC

I have a penchant for quite a few things.. Great food, of course,... my work, networking and hooking people up to each other, and obviously, from this blog, local travel. Especially the mountains.. I love the beach and the Low Country and  don't know If I'd ever leave, but when I drive up I-26 and see that 1st vista of the Smokey's near Tryon, NC, my heart sings!
I also like to write and I think it's a good idea to get things down on paper. So I had gone up to one of my favorite places, Hot Springs, North Carolina and The Sunnybank Inn (Elmer's Place...more on him later...) for a writing retreat, in August of 2013. The teacher was Carolyn Wallace and she was doing a 2.5 day workshop on Writing your Stories.  You know,  the memories that you want to get down as part of that never ending Bucket List. She was a very good teacher, and used lots of prompting to get us to think of the things that were and are important to us, but helped us find a way to JUST START WRITING., which can be the hardest part of any story.
I was so impressed with Carolyn and all I learned, that I had her come down to Charleston, to do a mini workshop for folks in my church. I signed a few friends up to go back to Sunnybank in November of 2014 for another of her workshops...
Yes, the BBQ part is coming, I promise.
So my BBQ cohort, Linda, being one of the participants, goes with me for the weekend. We're on the road and start thinking about food. We had been thinking about BBQ in the Upstate, since we hadn't ventured that way before. That just seems like too much travel for lunch, you know? And we haven't had  time to do a 2 day so far.   Now,  the owner of the Sunnybank Inn, Elmer Hall, makes excellent vegetarian breakfasts and dinners for folks staying in his hostel. So were thinking A) we're hungry and B) we'd better eat earlier than later, so we could enjoy our 1st dinner with the other guests and participants of the workshop.  
So we pull out the trusty technology and the SC BBQ Trail Map once again. We're on the far west side of Columbia, and I asked Linda if she had ever been to Newberry. I had on several occasions for performances at the Newberry Opera House. Totally Cute town! In fact, spent a couple of New Year Eve's there with family and a grandly talented friend, who's an opera singer by trade, and was hired as part of their NYE celebration! 
BBQ... yea.....
We look at the map and on the far side of Newberry, is Wise's BBQ. We look them up, and see that they are only open to the public on Friday an Saturday (catering is the rest of their business). For lunch through dinner.  Well aren't we lucky! Nothing to speak of on the outside, which can often be the case, but the chow made up for it, let me tell you!
We go in and there is a whole steam table for the buffett line... nothing in the steam table, mind you, but a lot of crockpots set up on the top! Like a Church Supper! From BBQ to ribs to bbq and fried chicken, to mac and cheese, green's, slaw, beans...all of it... 
And then we meet the Guy! The Guy who, " Just cooks, cooks cooks...that's all I do is cook!" He was so funny without meaning to be. He talked at the speed of a southern boy who hadn't had company in a while.  He also told us his life story and how he ended up in Newberry.. came down from the upstate to take care of family members, who have all died now, but left him here not knowing what's next. Oh, and he also sews.. all the curtains, aprons and other crafty items for sale in the restaurant.  I laughed ( almost snorted my iced tea) in between bites of succulent chicken and ribs and sides... 

His "cook, cook, cooking" paid off.. we had one of the best meals so far on this journey. I sure hope he figures out what he wants to do, but I also hope the Wise's take good care of him so that bbq stays some that will be hard to beat!