The Smoking Ho provides adventures in BBQ and meaty dishes with detailed reviews of lots of different barbecue joints with great pictures. Perfect to find the next place to go when you can’t be bothered firing up the smoker.
The third annual Hot Luck Fest took place this previous weekend. The four-day food and music festival is a brainchild of Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue), James Moody (Fun Fun Fest), and Mike Thelin (Feast PDX). Daniel Vaughn was not cooking this year (I helped him out the prior two years) so I was just a spectator with the goal in mind of gorging myself silly. There are four main food events- Giddy Up, Hi, How Are You?, Al Fuego, and Coupe de Grille (I did not attend). There was an option for an add-on to attend Any Ricker's Pok Pok pop-up at Franklin. Here are some of my favorites bites this year:
Line to get into the Mohawk
Matty Matheson's beef and cheddar
Bluefin tuna from Otoko
Oysters and caviar from Regalis Foods
Aaron Franklin & Matty Matheson
Hi, How Are You?
Brisket with mustard sauce and seeds
Chef Chris Shepherd of Georgia James Steak
Chris Shepherd's ribeye a la plancha with Thai-style Nam Jim
Charcuterie from Olympia Provisions
Empanadas from Cuyo
Empanadas baking in the pizza oven
Cheeseburger flautas from LePigeon
Spam and rice from Epicerie
Wild Onion Ranch
Smoked pork belly
Smoked pork belly from Bullard
Chicken stuffed wings from Cured
Roasted bluefin collar roll from Uchi - I ate 5 of these
Rosa pizza from Pizzeria Bianco
Flank steak from Alon Shaya/Safta
Vertical smoker for barbacoa from Suerte
Pastrami beef rib from Salt and Time
Pastrami beef rib from Salt and Time
Ham and porchetta from Contigo
Grilled bacon from Pitchfork Pretty
Crispy pork belly from Hotel Ella
Smoked bacon from Kemuri Tatsu-Ya
Beef cheek rending from Fat Rice
This year's Hot Luck was not as hot as last year's. Thank goodness. The chefs brought their game because it was one tasty bite after another. I did not get shots of Emmer and Rye's Koji egg cream with berries and Suerte's barbacoa tacos. Both were quite delicious. It was another fun weekend for me. I did not want to stop eating. I would like to see whole hog done again, but that is just a wish. If you have not been to Hot Luck yet, start planning for next year. You will it enjoy it. I am already looking forward to the next one. Until next time, happy smoking...
This spring has been a busy festival season for me. There was almost an event every weekend. When the Pints the Park lineup was announced, I knew this was another event I could not miss. Barbecue and beer? That is probably the perfect combo. Due to weather concerns, the event was pushed back a day to Sunday. Here are all of the tasty bites from that day:
Bodacious Gladewater (Gladewater, Texas) - Beef tenderloin and pork steaks with a red grape jalapeño relish
Brett's Backyard Bar-B-Que (Rockdale, Texas) - Pork steak on a fried tortilla with a pineapple salsa, brisket, ribs with a peach bourbon glaze, and sausage
Evie Mae's Barbecue (Lubbock, Texas) - Smoked ribeye, brisket, and green chile cheese sausage
Goldee’s Barbecue (Fort Worth, Texas) - Brisket and hot guts with homemade bread and pickles
Guess Family Barbecue (Waco, Texas) - Oysters Oaxacafeller and 44 Farms Beef cheek barbacoa tostada
Helberg Barbecue (Waco, Texas) - Smoked Longanisa with crawfish pimento cheese and pork steak with chimichurri taco
HonkyTonk Kid BBQ (Waco, Texas) - El Oso (pretzel bun, pulled pork, cream corn, mozzarella and mole sauce), brisket, pork belly and sausage
Rossler's BLUE CORD Barbecue (Killeen, Texas) - Brisket burger slider, tri-tip tacos, and spiced banana pudding
Schmidt Family Barbecue (Lake Travis, Texas) - Brisket, cream corn, and banana pudding
I was too busy eating and taking pictures of BBQ that I forgot to partake in the beer tastings. Doh! All is good because it is a two hour drive home from Waco. The Texas summer announced its arrival at Pints in the Park. The event was hot and humid, but luckily there was plenty of shade. This was my last BBQ festival for the season, and it was closed out in a strong way. All of the barbecue joints brought their game, and there was plenty of unique and different dishes. I will close out this festival season with Hot Luck this weekend.
I love attending Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival. It always features some of the best barbecue joints in the state. There are plenty of delicious bites, and the lines are quite manageable. The music lineup is an added bonus. I originally wanted to come up Saturday and leave Saturday evening, but Amber would not let me. So I drove around East Texas eating BBQ. Darn. I took about 200 pictures on Saturday, but I condensed it down to 80+. I wish I had taken a few more though. Here is what everyone brought to the event:
BBQ on the Brazos - Brisket, sausage, and cheesy grits
Black's Barbecue - Brisket and jalapeño cheese sausage
Bodacious Bar-B-Q - Whole hog gyro and Greek sausage
New Bewley hog cooker
Hoodoo Brown BBQ crew in town to help
Pitmaster/owner Jordan Jackson
Bryan Bingham and Ashton Dyer loading the Greek sausage
Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue - NY strip on a loaded potato pancake topped with horseradish crème, and fried onions
Pitmaster Alanmykal Jackson with Steven Rossler looking on
Pitmaster Dominic Colbert flipping the loaded potato pancakes
Pitmaster/owner John Brotherton, Jessica Jackson, and Alanmykal Jackson
CattleAck BBQ - Pastrami
Country Tavern - Brisket and baby backs
Evie Mae's Barbecue - Brisket, green chile cheese sausage, and ribeye
Pitmaster Joseph Rodriguez checking on the ribeyes
Ribeye searing in the coals
Hutchins BBQ - Brisket, jalapeño cheese sausage, and Twinkies
Twinkies - brisket and cream cheese stuffed jalapeños, wrapped in bacon
Kreuz Market - Original and jalapeño cheese sausage
LeRoy & Lewis - Full beef taco, beef cheek meatball, and ambrosia salad
Pitmaster/owner Evan LeRoy and Brad Robinson
Lockhart Smokehouse - Brisket with peach habanero bacon jam sliders
Louie Mueller Barbecue - Lamb pop
Meat Church - Apple & brown sugar habanero pork belly burnt ends, chicken fried burnt ends, and barbacoa tacos
Micklethwait Craft Meats - Lamb ribs, pork belly, pork shoulder with Asian spices
I have never been interested in Austin Food + Wine Festival. Not sure why though. What got my attention was when I saw pictures of Billy Durney, Rodney Scott, and Elliot Moss cooking in Austin last year. I was like what?! There is barbecue? I mean it does make sense considering it is Austin after-all. I attended the day events on Saturday and Sunday, but there are other events (Feast Under the Stars, Grillin' and Chillin' and Rock Your Taco) that you can go to as well. There were a lot of delicious bites to be had. I did not take a picture every dish with my camera though. My bad. I remember the duck fat refried black bean taco from Nixta Taqueria and the pani puri from Lenoir distinctly. They were quite delicious. Here is my photo recap:
Andrew Wiseheart of Contigo
Brad Robinson & Evan LeRoy of LeRoy & Lewis
Curry sausage from LeRoy & Lewis
Lamb from LeRoy & Lewis
Setup from Stiles Switch
Lance Kirkpatrick of Stiles Switch
Beef fajitas from Stiles Switch
Jalapeño cheddar sausage from Stiles Switch
BBQ Hors d'oeuvre - brisket & candied jalapeño and bacon cream cheese on a saltine from Interstellar BBQ
Crawfish roll from Southerleigh
Pork belly cracklins with smoked Brussels sprouts, golden raisin, chili, and mint from Geraldine’s
Lamb pop with chimichurri from Lonesome Dove
Frito pie from Ranch 616
Andrew Wiseheart flipping ribs
Evan LeRoy, Thomas Spaulding of LeRoy & Lewis, and Andrew Wiseheart
Lamb pops from Louie Mueller Barbecue
Wayne Mueller and Clay Cowgill
Chris McGhee of The Switch slicing sausage
Pepperoni pizza sausage
Sliced pork shoulder with watermelon BBQ sauce and honey lime coleslaw from Stiles Switch
Brad Robinson and Evan LeRoy
Texas Hash - Smoked brisket pastrami, duck fat roasted potatoes, salsa verde, and sweet red pepper sauce from Forthright
The craft of making sausage is truly an art form. I have tried making my own before, and it was not easy at all. I give all the love to the barbecue joints who make it in-house. A lot of BBQ spots are coming up with unique and delicious options for their menu. The first ever Sausage Wars brought 10 restaurants together to see who had the best stuff around. Here are the pics from the sold-out event:
Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue (Pflugerville) - Pork, beef, mango & habanero and Shrimp etouffee boudin
If I was a judge, it would be hard to pick a wiener. The judges panel included Phaedra Cook of Houston Food Finder, Hank Lewis of Hank on Food, Leo Longoria of SpindleTap Brewery marketing/Texas Beer Experience, and Shane McAuliffe of The Texas Bucket List. They chose Tejas as the winner. That chile relleno sausage is a special one. It gets me all excited. The one from Louie Mueller was also a strong contender in my book. Smokin' Z's took home people's choice. Theirs were tasty. I need to make it down to Hitchcock soon. Their 'cue looks pretty good. I had a blast at Sausage Wars and was stuffed when we left. It was a well-organized and not crowded at all. I hope this becomes an annual event.
One of the most anticipated barbecue opening in Houston has a familiar name. Truth Barbeque. The same one from Brenham. The same one from the Texas Monthly's Top 10 BBQ joints. Leonard Botello IV and crew finally opened it late in January after numerous delays. The Brenham location has been closed since the end of 2018 to get ready for Houston. Good news to the folks of Brenham though. They are reopening this weekend 4/6. The space in Houston is well thought out and beautiful. There is a plenty of seating, and the line is set up for optimization. The food is just as great, and there is still cake! Here are the shots from my recent visit:
The third edition of the Sausage Kings of Austin presented by 365 Things Austin took place this past Sunday. La Barbecue won the previous one in 2017. The event this year was held at The Brewer's Table. Seven restaurants duked it out to see who had the best sausage in Austin. It was a beautiful day to enjoy some tasty meats and good brews. Let's see what everyone brought:
Banger's - Barbecue jalapeño chili cheese dog topped with BBQ hash, sweet chopped slaw, and fried pigskin
The Brewer's Table - Bouilla - Brat smoked shrimp & pork sausage, bouillabaisse, rouille, and cornichons
La Barbecue - Poblano, jalapeño, and Cambodian pepper sausage
Micklethwait Craft Meats - Lamb sausage, cracker, and pickled veggies
Ren Garcia & Lane Milne
Salt & Time - Reuben sausage (pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, pickles, & caraway seeds), Smash Faced lager mustard, and sauerkraut cracker
Scholz Garten - Baltic hash venison sausage dressed with cactus kraut and prickly pear coulis
The Switch - The Happy Meal - bacon cheeseburger sausage with French fry bits and beer braised onions
Chris McGhee & Marco Oglesby
Micklethwait took home top honors with La Barbecue finishing second. Congratulations to both of them. Micklethwait's entry was a well composed dish, and La Barbecue's sausage had a nice spice and flavor to it. I really enjoyed The Switch's Happy Meal sausage. Very unique and fun. I did not know what to expect from The Brewer's Table, but I was pleasantly surprised. They always put out refine and balance dishes. Evan LeRoy was missing from the event, but he was in Miami slinging burgers. I would like to see him again at the next one. All in all, it was a delicious event.
I have never done a travel guide for any destination until now. We have been to Maui twice so far and have loved it both times. It has the perfect amount of activities to do but still give you some beach/relaxing time. There are no big cities, so you feel like you are getting away. We went five days the first time and 10 days this time. We still have a few things we still haven't been able to do/see/eat.
The island of Maui is a lot bigger than you think. It covers approximately 727 square miles. You can hang out in one area or explore different parts of the island. Expect at least a 30-minute drive to get around the island. We always get a beachfront condo, so we have a kitchen to cook some of our meals to lower our trip costs. We brought a Yeti full of frozen meats this last time. Our first stop on the island is Costco to load up on eggs, water, booze, and other snacks. Here are some suggestions to do while you are in Maui:
Things to Do:
Haleakalā National Park - You are going to be stuck on the mainland time zones. Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings so depending where you live, your body could be starting six hours earlier. Especially after a long day of traveling, you will probably go to bed fairly early that first night. Why not wake up at 3 AM and go see the sunrise? We stayed in Ka'anapali so the drive to the summit took about two hours. Dress accordingly. It was below freezing at the top when we went in January. You are 10,000 feet above sea level, so you will be above the clouds. There are a lot of excellent views. Seeing the sunset is an alternative option.
Just before sunrise at Haleakalā National Park
Sunrise at Haleakalā National Park
Road to Hana - Plan to start the drive to Hana early. It is going to take you at least 2.5 hours to get there if you do not stop along the 50+ mile journey. There are 600+ curves, and the speed limit is 25 mph or less. My arms were sore the next day from all the turning. You probably want to stop and get some banana bread or check waterfalls/beaches. Black Sand Beach is on the way to Hana. I say it is a must stop. The sand is black from the lava, and there are lava caves to explore. Once you get to Hana, you need to make a decision. Do you want to stop here or continue another 15 miles to the Pools of 'Ohe'o aka Seven Sacred Pools? It is a part of Haleakalā National Park so you can get in with no charge if you kept your three-day pass. The roads are dicier on the way here so be careful.
Black Sand Beach
Pools of 'Ohe'o aka Seven Sacred Pools
Whale Watching - Humpback whales come down from Alaska to mate or give birth between mid-December and mid-May. Going on a whale watching tour is awe-inspiring. These magnificent beasts treat the waters on the west side of Maui as their playground. If you go during the peak season, it is essentially whale soup. They are everywhere, and you can see breaches from the beach or your hotel. We have been on three whale watching tours with Pacific Whale Foundation and have loved them. They are a non-profit organization. Do not forget to bring your camera with a longer lens. And an extra battery...
Humpback whale breaching
Snorkeling/Beach Days - All the beaches in Hawaii are open to the public. You will see cars parked on the side of the road. Take advantage of it. Just make sure you do not trespass to get down to the beach. Bring your snorkeling gear. There are a lot of great snorkeling spots. Black Rock, Turtle Town, Napili/Kapalua Bay. You will see all kinds of sea life. We did not have time on this trip, but we really want to go on a snorkeling excursion to Molokini Crater and Lana'i next time.
Iao Valley State Park - The park is a lush rain-forest. It is the second wettest spot on the island. There are trails to explore inside the park. Bring your swimwear if you want to cool off in the streams.
Iao Valley State Park
Nakalele Blowhole/Heart Shaped Rock - If you head north from Lahaina past Kapalua, at mile marker 38.5, you will find this attraction. The road to here is windy and narrow at times. Do not wear flip flops because it would be a great way to twist your ankle. It does require a moderate hike down. You will be rewarded with a geyser shooting up to a 100 feet column of water into the air. Try not to get close to the blowhole. You could get sucked in. The rougher the seas, the better the results. If you look to your right, you will see the Heart Shaped Rock. It is about a foot wide, so it is easy to miss it.
Plantations & Farms - If you want to escape the heat or the sun, there are some fun options. Check out a tropical plantation or a pineapple one. If you head past Kula, there is a lavender farm and a goat dairy farm.
Maui Tropical Plantation
Sunset - If you stay on the west side of the island, you can enjoy this beauty most nights. If you do not, go on a sunset cruise. Depending on what time of the year you go, the sun could set behind one of the surrounding islands.
Luau - We have not gone to one before, but there are quite a few options though.
Things to Eat:
Banana Bread - If you head to the Nakalele Blowhole, you will see Julia's Best Banana Bread. I took some back to Texas. I might have to jump on another flight to get some more. You also can get banana bread at the Halfway to Hana Stand or Aunty Sandy's if you are making the drive to Hana. If you are down in Kihei, Maui Bread Company is also a great option.
Banana bread from Julia's Best
Hula Pie - Sure, you can have a delicious meal at Duke's Beach House. But if you are not capping your meal off with some Hula Pie, can it really be that delicious? Hula Pie comprises of macadamia nut ice cream piled high on a chocolate cookie crust and topped with chocolate fudge, whipped cream, and macadamia nuts.
Hula Pie from Duke's
Huli Huli Chicken - This is an elusive dish for me. The first time in Maui we saw a stand on the side of the road by the beach. A couple of days it was gone. But on the way out of town, we saw it again. Apparently, that location is no more. We did not do the Road to Hana this time, so we missed out on a new place in Hana. There is also a spot in Kihei with limited hours. What is Huli Huli chicken? Huli-huli chicken is a chicken dish cooked directly over kiawe wood and basted with a sweet huli-huli sauce. Yum.
Huli Huli chicken
Lava Flow - It's the Hawaiian version of the piña colada. The difference is that there are bananas and strawberries in the Lava Flow. So refreshing.
Lava Flow from Honu Seafood and Pizza
Loco Moco - typically consists of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy. You might see Portuguese sausage or Spam as well. The ones from Sea House, Slappy Cakes, and Tasty Crust were hearty and fulfilling. We need to try the one from Da Kitchen. It is loaded.
Loco Moco from Sea House
Plate Lunch - You will see a protein with rice and mac salad dish on a lot of menus. A quick and easy grab and go meal.
Fish plate from Fish Market Maui
Poke - is essentially cubed sashimi (raw fish). You can find it on a lot of menus. You can even get it at Costco.
Poke from Pacific'O
Coconut's Fish Cafe - The best fish taco I have had. They use 17 different ingredients to make it. So fresh and tasty.
Fish taco from Coconut's Fish Cafe
Da Kitchen - There are two locations on the menu. It is going to take us a few trips before we can get through this menu. I have no idea where you would start because everything sounds so good. One of the items you must order is the Fried Spam Musubi. Very unique.
Fried Spam Musubi from Da Kitchen
Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop - A great little spot. The banana pancakes were a nice way to start the day. Order pie for sure. Order a few actually. I do not think anyone would judge you if you just ate pies as your meal.
Banana pancakes from Leoda's
Banana cream pie from Leoda's
Mama's Fish House - Make a reservation. This will be probably your most expensive meal of the trip. It is worth it and delicious. The stuffed fish hit the spot, but I enjoyed Amber's Panang fish curry more. I love the Asian flavors.
Mama's Stuffed Fish from Mama's Fish House
Ahi and Mahi-Mahi Panang Curry from Mama's Fish House
Maui Brewing Company - With two locations one the island, it is a great place to wind down or just hang out. While there is food on the menu, the brews should be why you are here. There is a big beer tasting menu to work your way through. The Pineapple Mana wheat is my favorite.
Pineapple Mana from Maui Brewing Company
Tasty Crust - There is not much to this local spot. All you can expect is a good meal without costing a lot of meal. Whatever you order, order an extra pancake on the side. It might be the best pancake we have ever had.
Loco Moco from Tasty Crust
Star Noodle - A lot of the noodles are made in-house. Amber got the ramen, and I got the garlic noodles with Spam. I think it is a companion dish, but I turned it into a main dish. So good.
Garlic Noodles with Spam from Star Noodle
Ululani's - We love the shaved ice from here. They use real fruit puree or cane sugar. I wanted to get one from here every day, but it did not work out. They are so good though. Do not forget to get a topping or an ice cream bottom.
Disclaimer: I was invited to the Friends & Family at Micklethwait Market & Grocery
Get ready everyone. Micklethwait Market & Grocery in Smithville, TX will open this Saturday 2/9. Located at 114 NE 2nd Street, the new BBQ spot will be serving up some of the best barbecue in the state. Micklethwait, huh? Yeah, the same Tom behind the East Austin BBQ trailer. The same joint that is ranked number eight on the 2017 Texas Monthly BBQ list. You can expect to see the same menu items at the restaurant as you would at the trailer. Tom and his crew renovated an automotive shop. It turned out to be a pretty cool looking space. The grocery part to the business will open sometime this spring. The hours will start off at 10:30 AM Thursday through Sunday until everything sells out. It is going to be a great destination BBQ stop or an excellent pit-stop on the way to Houston. Here are some of the pics I snagged from last weekend:
Because I bleed burnt orange, I have stayed away from College Station. I have always wanted to attend Camp Brisket on the campus of Texas A&M though so I knew I needed to swallow my Longhorn pride. I had the opportunity to attend this year's Camp Brisket put on by Foodways Texas and the Meat Science Section of the Department of Animal Science at A&M. To get a chance to attend the event, you must be a Foodways member and enter the lottery. The two-day camp goes over the science and method of smoking brisket. There is a lot of knowledge shared with the attendees. Here is the rundown of the schedule:
Day 1- Rosenthal Meat Center
Introduction- Dr. Jeff Savell, Dr. Davey Griffin, and Ray Riley of the Texas A&M Meat Science ran the show. We met them and the A&M students helping with the camp. We all introduced ourselves as well.
Comparing Restaurant and Competition-Style Brisket with Jess Pryles. She talked about the differences of both. One is really a pageant and the other is for public consumption.
The Anatomy of a Brisket and Trimming Techniques by Dr. Davey Griffin
Bill Dumas trimming briskets
Knife Selection & Slicing & Carving Cooked Briskets with Dr. Savell
Taste Test Brisket Lunch- Different grades of meat. We tasted Wagyu (C), Prime (B), Upper Choice (E), Choice (A), and Select (D) grades. I preferred the Wagyu the most. Although most of the variables were controlled, the students trimmed and seasoned the briskets so it did affect the outcome. It was still interesting to see, and Wagyu was the class's clear favorite.
Beef Grading and Certified Beef Programs by Ray Riley. He talked about the various grades of beef and how they are graded. There are certified beef programs that give you even more options when you go to buy beef.
Wood and Smoke Panel featuring Tom Perini (Perini Ranch Steakhouse), Bill Dumas (Stiles Switch), Homer Robertson (Homer Robertson Chuckwagon), Joe Riscky (Joe Riscky's BBQ), and Kevin Kolman (Weber)
Dinner was served by Pody's BBQ. It was pretty damn delicious. Israel Campos and crew brought some of the world famous green chile hominy. Also, the spicy BBQ sauce with Carolina Reaper is legit. A nice sweet burn.
Robert Sierra slicing brisket
Brisket and pulled pork with potato salad, green beans, green chile hominy, and slaw
Day 2 - Beef Cattle Center at the O.D. Butler Animal Science Complex
Breakfast by Homer's Chuck Wagon
Building a Good Fire- We reviewed different pits/smokers and on how to get a clean burning fire in them.
Barbecue Pit Design and Maintenance Panel featuring Bryan Bracewell (Southside Market), Kerry Bexley (Snow's BBQ), Wayne Mueller (Louie Mueller), Arnis Robbins (Evie Mae's), Sunny Mobery (Moberg Smokers), Ryan Zboril (Pitt's & Spitt's), and Kevin Kolman (Weber)
Seasoning Overview by Brandon Burrows
Taste Brisket Lunch- Different types of wood. We tasted meats smoked in hickory (F), mesquite (G), oak (H), and pecan (I). I liked oak and hickory more. It was a four-way tie based on the class' preference.
Russell Roegels slicing brisket
The Science Behind Barbecue
Checking briskets at different temps
Life as a Pitmaster Panel featuring Tootsie Tomanetz (Snow's BBQ), Arnis Robbins (Evie Mae's), Bryan Bracewell (Southside Market), John Brotherton & Dominic Colbert (Brotherton's Black Iron), Wayne Mueller (Louie Mueller), Brandon Allen (Tejas Chocolate), and Russell Roegels (Roegels)
Taste Test Brisket Dinner- Wrapping vs. non-wrapping. This is a no-brainer. Wrapped. The meat has less of a chance to dry out if it is wrapped.
If you love eating and/or smoking brisket, Camp Brisket is for you. Just make sure you are a Foodways Texas member. It is very educational, and there is a lot of information given to you. You get to learn from and "meat" some of the best in the business. After attending the event, you might become the next Russell Roegels. If you have not heard of Russell's story, look it up. He attended Barbecue Summer Camp put on by the same good folks at Foodways Texas and Texas A&M. Roegels changed his direction of the business and look where it is today. You never know.