Entries tagged with “Barbecue”.

Can you imagine a Super Bowl watch party that doesn’t involve massive quantities of beef, pork or chicken?  Crazy talk, I know.  But if you make it through eight days of Meat Week, you may not just imagine it…you might actively crave it.

For the third year in a row, Washington will be celebrating “the holiday that time forgot” with a tour-de-carnivore that will highlight some of the best barbecue the area has to offer.  Beginning at Urban Bar-B-Que’s newest location on Sunday night and ending at long-time favorite Rocklands the following Sunday, we’re taking it to the next level for this year’s Meat Week.  We’ve got so much new talent on the DC barbecue scene, we just had to add an eighth day (finally bringing us in line with the national organizers’ recommendation).  And with one of those shiny new logos that plays off the DC flag, you know we’re ready.

If you’ve been following along from the beginning, you know that we started DC’s Meat Week chapter after an introduction to the event by the Washington City Paper’s Tim Carman.  I’m pleased to report that our Meat Week team from last year is back together again this year, with Jenelle Dennis (aka Babeque) as our Captain and David Gootzit as First Mate.  Both are KCBS-Certified Barbecue Judges, and they’re quick to extol the virtues of crisp bark and a well-defined smoke ring in quality ‘cue.  I asked each a few key questions about Meat Week and will be posting their answers tomorrow.

As befits a celebration of the best of the area’s barbecue offerings, we’ll be returning to several of our most popular venues from last year.  In addition to the two I mentioned above, we’ll be hitting up the PORC crew for a second response-requested buffet at Wilson’s in Shaw) and Mr. P’s Ribs and Fish for another round of parking lot barbecue.

We’re also proud to finally be able to visit the guys from Pork Barrel BBQ in their own space after two consecutive Meat Weeks featuring “coming soon” sneak peeks.  They’re rolling out the red carpet, with a Meat Week sampler special and the first official taste of their new Carolina Vinegar sauce.  It’s been a long time coming, but good barbecue is all about taking the time to get it right.

The rest of our Meat Week slots this year are given over to ‘cue joints that didn’t exist when Meat Week 2011 rolled around:

Hill Country’s DC outpost has been winning rave reviews since they opened, and their all-you-can-eat Monday night special seemed like the perfect way to welcome them to the lineup.  As it turns out, this Monday Hill Country offers a chance to do some good with your meal: they’re holding a charity concert to benefit the victims of the recent Texas wildfires.  Tickets are $20 and the restaurant is also donating 20% of their food and beverage sales for the night to the relief efforts, as well.  If you’re thinking about coming out Monday night, please consider making a donation.

Smoke & Barrel knows how to draw a crowd with their combination of barbecue and beverages (most notably bourbon).  Due to their limited size – at least until expansion is complete – they’re participating in Meat Week with a reservations-required.  That’s the good news.  The bad news?  Reservations are already completely booked.  If you’re not already on board, you’ll have to check them out another night.

Finally, Memphis Barbeque in Crystal City is doing its namesake city proud, smoking everything from pork to salmon (not to mention a few sides) in a massive sit-down space on 23rd Street.  What better way to celebrate the Friday night of Meat Week?  We had the privilege of taking a First Look when they were ready to open.

The official website features the schedule, addresses and special offers that will be available each night.  While you’re on the site, take a look around at some of the photos from last year and check out the Meat Week Hype that we’ve created for this year, too.  Like that flag logo?  You’re in luck – t-shirts will be available for sale each night (just find the Captain or First Mates).

Except where noted above, all events are come-as-you-are and everyone is free to order whatever they please.


<<EDIT 11:30 AM, 12/1/11: An alert tipster just let us know that Memphis has decided to delay its opening until Monday.  Staff are handing out coupons for a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees during the month of December and explaining that the restaurant just got its liquor license today.>>

Back to back barbecue openings, and it’s not even my birthday!  Consider it a practice run for Meat Week 2012.

If you smell smoke in Crystal City tomorrow, don’t be alarmed.  Memphis Barbecue opens its doors at lunchtime, and they’re going to be bringing the low-and-slow taste of that great southern barbecue city to the former site of Mackey’s Public House on 23rd Street.  We stopped in for a look around the dining room and a peek inside the kitchen.

The name that Chris George and his father, Dr. William George, gave to their restaurant is at once generic and super-specific.  On the one hand, it channels one of the five major styles of American barbecue (and one of the two major competition circuits), connecting itself to the history and the tradition that comes with it.  At the same time, that connection tells you everything you need to know about the meal you’re about to experience, conjuring up memories of smoky pork laced with spicy dry rubs and tangy-sweet sauces.

As it turns out, Crystal City’s take on Memphis does all that and quite a bit more, with a menu that only begins at hickory-smoked barbecue.

More of what’s in store after the jump. (more…)


In September of 2009, we reached out to a couple of guys named Heath and Brett whose locally-made barbecue sauce had earned them a chance to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank.  Since then, we’ve worked with the Pork Barrel BBQ team to participate in two DC Meat Weeks, each time offering attendees a taste of what they could expect at the “soon-to-open” restaurant in Del Ray.  And they’ve been more than a little busy themselves, winning the Perdue National Chicken Championship and taking the title of Grand Champion at the Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle in June.

But the wait ends tonight.

Pork Barrel BBQ officially opens its doors at 5 PM, and when we took a look around this weekend the restaurant gave every indication of being worth the wait.  As Heath Hall put it, “This is barbecue.  We wanted to make sure everything was just right.  You can’t rush good barbecue, no matter how much you might want to.”  With five smoked meats and more than half a dozen sides on offer, that meant a lot of testing and retesting of recipes while the restaurant space was finished to everyone’s satisfaction.

All the dirty details on the smoker, the sides and the space after the jump. (more…)


Just when you thought it was safe to hit the salad bar, Meat Week comes roaring back into Washington ready for round two.  Last year, Snowmageddon forced the cancellation of the final two Meat Week events in our area, leaving hungry carnivores unable to enjoy scheduled outings to Branded ’72 in Rockville and Mr. P’s Ribs and Fish on Rhode Island Avenue.  Some folks might have taken that as a sign, a warning from on high to repent and change their ways.

Not us.

This Sunday, DC Meat Week will once again provide carnivores with seven nights of barbecued deliciousness at some of the area’s best ‘cue joints.  And for the second year in a row, Meat Week will be one of your first opportunities to check out a highly-anticipated newcomer to the DC BBQ scene.  Some of the venues have stayed the same (we HAD to kick things off at Urban Bar-B-Que again, and you know we wanted take a second run at Mr. P’s), and a couple of recent additions have been added to the list as well.

Perhaps the biggest change in DC’s Meat Week chapter is who’s running the show.  I’ve passed the Captain’s hat to Jenelle Dennis, aka BabeBQ, though I’ll be staying on as First Mate along with David Gootzit.  Jenelle brings an impressive barbecue pedigree to the role – she’s a KCBS Certified Barbecue Judge and one of the architects of the Snackadium.  Seriously impressive.

Check out the full line-up of venues for this year’s Meat Week after the jump, and pay special attention to Tuesday and Wednesday nights: they’re RSVP-required sneak-peeks at two of the best things that are about to happen to the DC barbecue scene. (more…)


It’s Memorial Day weekend, the official (unofficial?) start to summer.  If you’re like us, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to be grilling and barbecuing more than a few times over the next few months.  Of course you know the difference…right?

I’ll admit, I had to learn the hard way.   Growing up in New Jersey, I always referred to any situation where meat was being cooked outside as a barbecuing.  Burgers, hot dogs, whatever…if it was being cooked over propane or coals, you were barbecuing.

But step outside the northeast, and you’re likely to be met with funny looks if you talk about barbecuing a burger.  Barbecue is low-and-slow cooking that involves smoke, low temperatures and tough cuts of meat that combine to form something magically delicious.  And although you can call any old cookout a barbecue, you can’t call just any cooked meat barbecue.

Need more insight into the different styles of barbecue?  Check out this video that Tim Carman dug up over at the City Paper.

Now that we’ve established the difference between grilling and barbecue, I wanted to share a recipe for homemade barbecue sauce that I used for a community potluck earlier this month.  When word got out that I’ve got some experience with barbecue, I was asked to smoke some up for our new neighborhood.  So I cooked up forty pounds of pork shoulder in a neighbor’s bullet-style smoker, and I decided to go one step further and cook up my own barbecue sauce to go with it.

A while back, I found a barbecue sauce recipe at AmazingRibs.com, a site I’ve used on a couple of occasions as I’ve learned the ins and outs of good homemade ‘cue.  I tried it and found it tasty but not quite what I’d grown accustomed to as I’ve tasted my way around Kansas City.  There were a few flavors that seemed to be missing, most notably tomato, celery seed and cumin.

So I worked with it a bit and came up with the version you can find after the jump. (more…)


Image by Mike Licht, www.notionscapital.com

One week ago, we announced the arrival of Meat Week to Washington, DC.  Since that time, we’ve been blown away by the amount of attention that this celebration of all things barbecue has received.  Not surprisingly, Tim Carman was the first to give us a shout-out over at the City Paper, but his nod seems to have triggered an avalanche of additional coverage: Zagat Buzz, UrbanDaddy, Brightest Young Things, DC MetroMix, Notions Capital…even Modern Domestic!

The word is clearly getting around: Meat Week is Real.  But we’ve gotten more than a few emails asking about the finer points of what this is all about.

And we’ve had A LOT of people asking about our Meat Week Special Sneak Preview of Pork Barrel BBQ on Wednesday night at Mango Mike’s in Alexandria.

All your questions answered – and the details on the Pork Barrel preview – after the jump.



pomBottleA little while back, our friends at Endless Simmer let on that they had received a sample of pomegranate juice from the folks at POM Wonderful.  Intrigued, I reached out to them to let them know that we, too, are food bloggers who appreciate the healthful properties of pomegranates and their juice.  Even though I was a bit hesitant to do so, I was really hoping to hear back.

Lo and behold, POM responded with an offer to send us some of their juice so we could see what we could do with it.  I first experienced pomegranate juice while I was working at Trader Joe’s, so I definitely had some ideas.  It was one of those products that would frequently find its way to the demonstration stand in an effort to introduce it to customers who had never tasted it before. 

Between the taste and the health benefits, pomegranate juice has definitely made its presence known in the juice aisle since then.  When I first tried it, I remember finding the juice bracingly tart.  These days, I’d describe the flavor as something akin to cranberry juice (the juice, not the sugary ‘cranberry juice cocktail’).  And the folks at POM are quick to boast about studies that have linked their pomegranate juice to heart health, prostate health and erectile function (they’re especially eager to point out the fact that it is their specific pomegranate juice that has been tested in these studies).

All of this combined to mean one thing for us – we needed to use this normally somewhat expensive beverage to the fullest of our foodie abilities to figure out just what the fuss is about.  Like Endless Simmer’s BS, our first thought was to find a way to boost the nutritional value of our drinking habit.  But we also took advantage of the opportunity to use the juice far more liberally than we might if we had paid for it.  Suddenly, juice-intensive reductions and glazes seemed well within reach…so we went for it.

Recipes for a POManhattan cocktail and a pomegranate-shallot reduction (with some photos) after the jump. (more…)



Being the barbecue snob purist that I am, I’ve frequently found myself giving dismissive answers to friends’ questions about where to find good ‘cue in Washington.  Hell…I’ve even said as much here at Capital Spice.  But a few months back the City Paper’s Tim Carman spread the word that Rockville’s Urban Bar-B-Que had upgraded their smoker and that their brisket was much improved for the change.  I had to check it out.

Sure, Urban’s smoked meats are done in the Texas style, so they were bound to be a bit different than the heavily sauced ribs I’ve come to know and love in Kansas City.  But I was eager to see what their new XLR-600 Southern Pride smoker was turning out, so I joined up with Carman and a handful of other carnivores for a taste test.  urban-brisketAnd since there are limits to how much meat even the most dedicated barbecue enthusiast can order in one sitting, I invited Nell to join me so we could try a broader range of items.

So how was it?  On the whole, this was some of the best I’ve had in DC…but there were definitely some missteps in the mix, as well.

Details on Urban’s cooking method, tasty meats and “Ugly Bits” after the jump. (more…)


ribsFor Elizabeth, our annual holiday trips to visit her family in Kansas City just aren’t complete without lunch at Andres’.  Me?  I need the ‘cue.  Ever since I started taking the trip with her, I’ve had a bit of a barbecue obsession.

lcs-smokerAnd although her family has been at this far longer than I have, giving them ample opportunity to determine just which local barbecue joint is the best, I’ve been working on coming to my own conclusion.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday this year, I got to check out two more versions of the local specialty. 

First, I turned my attention to a rarity: a nationally-praised barbecue establishment that the family had not yet tried: LC’s.  Afterwards, I joined the family in a barbecue run to Gates & Sons, a local chain with six locations.  As I’m quickly learning, the odds of finding that one true barbecue nirvana are pretty slim - it seems like every place I try has something to recommend it over its competitors.

Tasting notes and photos after the jump. (more…)


Big Green Egg

With last week’s weather doing an excellent impression of early September, I decided it would be foolish not to put the Big Green Egg to use again.  And since I’m becoming fairly comfortable with various cuts of pork on the Egg, I figured it was high time I tried my hand at one of my favorite types of barbecue: Beef Brisket.

Like pork shoulder, brisket is a tougher (and thankfully less expensive) cut of meat which requires a low-and-slow cooking method to tenderize the meat and render it truly delectable.  Sure…you could braise the meat in an oven or a slow cooker, or you could brine it and turn it into corned beef, but there’s no substitute for really good beef barbecue.  And the best part is that it’s actually rather forgiving – even if you overcook it a bit (which I may or may not have done…don’t judge me!), you should still be able to enjoy plenty of delicious, tender brisket.

Details on preparation and cooking and a few cautionary notes after the jump. (more…)