Friday, June 2, 2017

BACON SEED BEAUTY… MY NEW BLOG!
Introduction

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!

Monday, May 1, 2017

BSB Chapter 12, Lewis BBQ



Bacon Seed Beauty Chapter 12: Lewis BBQ, Charleston
So there’s all this scuttlebutt about this new guy in town from Texas cooking up BBQ that will challenge anyone’s BBQ in South Carolina. I went last spring to see what they were up to. I had gotten the opening date wrong, so they weren’t serving quite yet, but what I got to see was all this renovation that John Lewis had done with several buildings in the east side of Charleston. Yes, it’s gentrification, but I think it was from old buildings, not homes. And with the cost of every retail space downtown being almost prohibitive except to big chains, the restaurants opening in the upper part of the peninsula are garnering the traffic. Just to be able to park is a big deal. Also, there is now the trifecta of BBQ in that general area. Home team, which has always been good in their West Ashley location, and now Rodney Scott’s on upper King, so the competition should keep them all on their toes.
 I went back once the opening took place. Interesting
Concept. You go up to the counter and order meat by the pound,and sides by the portion. A Meat cutter or butcher takes your order, cuts, and weighs it then calls out the sides that another person gets for you.   I got BBQ (pulled pork), Brisket, and tried 3 of the 4 sides. Buttermilk potato salad, Lemon Slaw, and Cowboy Pinto Beans. One of the butchers cut me a piece of the Hot Guts Link to try. Too spicy for me, but good flavor.
They have a bar, but it was lunch time and at this age, I really can’t drink and go back to work, (lucky for my clients!) So picked a table to sit at and chowed down.
The sides were just ok. Not the flavor that should be with the descriptions. But, Yep, John wins on the brisket. I’ve had it in a few places, but his was tender and smokey and just enough fat. Get his brisket. Seriously.  At $21 per pound, it’s a bit overpriced to me, but worth at least one try.
I’ve gone back once since with the same consistency, which is always a good sign, and want to go again, now that it’s spring. The atmosphere of sitting outside and having a Agua Fresca and some brisket is calling.

Monday, April 10, 2017

BSB Chapter 11 Low Country Bill's , Georgetown, SC



Bacon Seed Beauty Chapter 11, May 27th 2016
 Low Country Bill’s BBQ  in Georgetown

So most of our trips take place over a full day, but Linda needed to see her eye doc this day, so we revamped our trip to go someplace closer. I find that most time, these things work out for the best, since I was able to get a bunch of things done in the am. You know, the stuff that needs to be done, but gets pushed to the bottom of the never-ending list.
We hadn’t explored Georgetown, so figured we’d look there. I’m not sure whether Linda found places on the SC BBQ Trail Map, as sometimes we’ve just googled BBQ places in whatever town we are headed to, or passing through.  She found a couple of places, both listed on Fraser street, so we figured we’d get there and decide based on the looks of the places. So, we headed to Georgetown around 3:30 on a Friday. We got out of Mt Pleasant before the crazy traffic, and with time to have dinner and daylight to explore a bit.
We got to Fraser Street and saw 2 different BBQ places, and picked Big Bill’s. They are open Thursday-Saturday at 5:00 for dinner and we got there just as the doors were opening. Cute, clean and a freshly loaded buffet! Definitely family run, with Mr. Bill and Mrs. Bill in attendance, along with a couple of either school kids or grand kids busing tables and running the register. Excellent all the way around. 
Now, I am not a hash fan. It’s too many “parts” for me. But Mr. Bill insisted I taste his hash, since he has a secret recipe, and wanted a convert. So even though I was nervous, I accommodated him and tried a tiny plastic sample cup. It was better than most, but still had that liver thing going on, which I just can’t do. My Mom tried to cook it for us from time to time, thinking it was a healthy thing. She had grown up having to make it for her anemic mother. She tried to disguise it every which way, but  as soon as it hit the pan, I pleaded for  peanut butter and jelly and in this instance,  she kindly obliged.

Ribs, Chicken, pulled pork with sauce on the side, thank you very much, were all tender and good. I think I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but the way a place cooks up some collards is a give away that the BBQ will be good. I don’t know why they are connected, but they are. Bill’s collards hit the mark. And the desserts! Mrs. Bill makes them all from scratch! It’s a little weird, because she is a petite, slender thing, so I’m guessing she likes to bake, but not eat her creations!
Then, we got our customary to go order for Linda’s Jimmy. He loved it as well, and get this, he’s from Georgetown! He goes weekly to visit his 90+ year old mom yet, had never heard of or gone to the place.. now he’s a convert… but not sure if he likes hash!
After dinner, we headed toward downtown Georgetown. There are a lot of cute stores, a couple of museums, and beautiful old southern homes. Now unfortunately, for a Friday evening, there wasn’t a lot going on. Not sure why, since it was a nice evening. I think there was a small crowd at one of the waterfront bars, but not what you’d expect for a Friday evening. Maybe, they were all going to Charleston… geez.
As an update, I just checked the BBQ Trail Map, and can’t seem to find Big Bill’s listed. The Map has been updated, since a couple of newer Charleston BBQ places are on there.   Just take my word for it and go. Hopefully you’ll agree! And leave me comments so I know!







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.
www.Penncenter.com.
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.