I like writing about economics, cultural concerns, technology, and of course digital marketing. I realize that sometimes I can be a bit pithy and more aspirational than reality. So I am going to depart from my norm and talk about one of my passions: Barbecue!
For the better part of 20 years, I’ve been traveling across the United States visiting BBQ restaurants. I’ve traveled every major highway east to west and most of the north-south routes. So that you get a sense of the scale, it takes about seven full days of driving to cross the US. Texas and Montana are so large that each takes one full day to cross. Often times I travel alone and sometimes with my family. It’s become a meaningful way for me to clear my mind and think about things.
I’ve visited hundreds of BBQ restaurants over the years … always in search of the best. I usually have a sample platter and then try to talk to the owner, swap recipes, and stories. I’ve met so many restaurant owners it’s hard to remember them all, but what I love most about talking to Pit Masters is the passion and dedication they have, most of them have learned family recipes passed down over generations. There is something about BBQ cooking that inspires people. I also have three smokers in my backyard and while I am not ready to go on the completion BBQ circuit (just yet) I’m pretty good for a weekend chef.
In any event … I had the great pleasure of going to Graceland Bar-B-Q in Amsterdam during a recent trip. Graceland is modeled in a North Carolina style of BBQ. Which means lots of pork with a vinegar-based red sauce. For anyone reading this who is familiar with BBQ styles in North Carolina, the part of NC which is closer to Kentucky uses tomatoes instead of mustard in the sauce.
Now I’ll put my critic’s hat on. The ribs were boiled before they were smoked for seven hours. This is a “cheat” in the business. It makes the rib meat “fall off the bone” but it changes the texture and limits the absorption of the smoke. In all, I would give the ribs a C. However, the pulled pork was excellent and obviously well-smoked, they said 16 hours which is typical for pork shoulder. The sauce was fantastic and applied in the proper amounts. Pulled Pork gets a B+. Then there were a number of side dishes—succotash, mac-n-cheese, collard greens, and coleslaw and pickles. The succotash and mac-n-cheese were outstanding … of course, because we are in the Netherlands the cheese in the mac-n-cheese was real and quite delicious! Overall, I would give the sides a B+.
It was a terrific experience and now that I’ve traveled the entire United States in search of great BBQ, it’s time to expand my horizons and see how the rest of the world does it.
Well done Amsterdam!