Wednesday, May 24, 2017

THE THREE STATES OF BBQ

A few weeks back, alright it was  November 2015 actually, I took an epic road trip to nowhere in particular that saw me pass through 11 states in 9 days. Roughly the path you see in that image to the right.

Now I'm not going to drive through 11 states and not stop and eat some BBQ somewhere. However it will take me almost two years to finally sit down and write about it, and actually since I'm going to be basing this on some notes I've kept on my phone, which I'm about to upgrade, so I figured I'd better write this before I lose the notes and photos, this will be mostly pictorial.... Which is probably good as discombobulated as that explanation was.

My first BBQ stop was recommended to me by Anthony Hernandez of Los Primos BBQ and it turned out to be a top notch recommendation..... So first the pics followed by my notes just as I wrote them.










And now my notes...

Naaman's Championship BBQ
Served from a food truck. house made sausage. Peppery made from pork & beef. Brisket moist flavorful. Cheesy corn is a rice & corn casserole. Green chili, pimento added. Beans are good. slightly sweet tomato based sauce with a hint of mustard flavor to them. Ribs almost fall off the bone but have excellent flavor. Salt & pepper appears to be most of seasoning.

And that's exactly how I write notes with grease covered fingers on my iPhone.

I do remember really enjoying Naaman's but I failed myself on this trip... As I was walking out the door I heard another customer asking another customer about their beef rib... Yes... I MISSED OUT ON THE FREAKING BEEF RIBS! ..... But I was stuffed and had a lot of driving to do. So I didn't order one to go... Not to mention eating a beef rib while driving the 2016 model Chevy Impala rental I was in probably wouldn't have been the best idea ever either.


And this trash can at Naaman's has to be the coolest dang trash can I've ever seen!


Now even though my epic 9 day road trip to nowhere in particular was all about just driving around and exploring with no set plans. I had planned pretty much from day one that I would hit Big Bob Gibson's BBQ in Decatur because I also had decided I wanted to see if it really was 26 miles from Zip City to Colbert Heights... Bonus points if you understand what I'm talking about there.


Once again a flood of pictures followed by my notes...







And once again my notes...

Big Bob Gibson's
Brunswick stew is great. Chicken is moist has good smoke and the white sauce complements well. Ribs were too fall off the bone for me but had good flavor from sauce. Pork was moist but bland and a little mushy. Carolina sauce made pork better. Potato salad mayo based and tasty. Slaw is grated and vinegary. Different but good.

I remember that white sauce on the chicken being really good but I wouldn't go back for the BBQ. Looking back on this pic of the pulled pork. I may have just been trying not to be  negative because of Big Bob Gibson's reputation. That pork really looks bland too..... Now that Brunswick stew on the other hand is a dish I would eat daily during cold weather months and I really liked the chicken but if you've read any of my other blogs you'll know I don't usually order chicken because it's dry, mushy, or both. I ordered it here because I wanted to try the white sauce and this chicken was good.


My third stop for BBQ on this trip actually began as a search for a burger at the Big Dipper... It must have been a really good burger too because when I pulled up there were cars lined up down the street waiting to get burgers from the drive-thru window. It was getting late, starting to rain, and I was trying to get to Red Bud, Illinois to spend the night because I had tickets to see the Bottle Rockets in St. Louis the next day.


Right next to the Big Dipper was the Moonlite Bar-B-Q- Inn.... So I thought what the heck. It's supposed to be a Kentucky BBQ icon. I'll try it..... Had I known it was also a buffet I might have sat the line for the Big Dipper..... Anyway... Here are the pics followed by the notes...





 Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn
Mutton has good flavor but is dry. only mutton I've tried I didn't dislike. Pork is a little mushy but has good flavor. Brisket is better than it looked. Good beef flavor and decent texture. Sides are good. Very hot sauce isn't very hot to me. I think it's more popular for the buffet.

I ordered from the menu but I'm pretty sure I was served the same meat as was being served on the buffet. It also appeared that most people there were choosing the buffet option. Other than being dry the mutton was good but I really had to add sauce to be able to eat it. I can honestly say it's the first mutton I've ever tried that I didn't dislike the flavor of.


Of the three Naaman's was my favorite and if I'm ever in the Texarkana area again I'll definitely be going back. The other two weren't terrible but not road trip worthy in my opinion... Well the Brunswick Stew and white sauce at Bob Gibson's would get me to come back just for that.... Not sure what that says about the BBQ.

I ate a lot of other great food on my 9 day road trip to nowhere in particular. A place in McComb, Mississippi called The Dinner Bell was probably the highlight of my trip. I also made the mistake of trying the XXX Hot chicken at Prince's Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville. I can eat spicy but the combination of greasy chicken and way too much cayenne almost killed me. And I also met a really nice husband and wife running a diner in Marion, Illinois (Where I actually ended up spending the night on my way to Red Bud) called the Marion Family Restaurant. Which is now unfortunately listed as permanently closed. That's a real shame because this couple was putting out some really good food. Good enough I ate there for dinner the night I arrived and went back for breakfast the next morning before heading on to St. Louis.

I also tried gooey butter cake from Soulard's Market and Imo's Pizza while I was in St. Louis.... Great trip and 9 of the most fun days of my life. I highly recommend taking a trip with nothing planned some time. You'll be amazed what you'll find in small towns around America.


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