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WhiteTrash BBQ -- Real Pit Barbecue from New York City. This is the story of a fire obsessed guy, living in Brooklyn, with a dream of producing award winning, competition busting, real Barbeque. Come live the dream as I compete around the country in the KCBS Championship Barbecue circuit.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Here's wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. Let's hope that 2009 is better than 2008.

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions as I find I never seem able to keep them, but I do hereby resolve to post more often and to focus more on barbeque. I'll never abandon the personal side of the blog, but barbecue will be core once again.

So as the first personal issue of 2009 raises it's ugly head, let's celebrate that we're all still here. Let your fires burn clean and your meat be tender. Let your hearts fill with joy and hope, because after all tomorrow's another day.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Xmas in BK

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Restaurant Review: Ruby's Famous BBQ Joint

There is something happening in the stars about this place. My team mate and friend Peter mentioned that there was a new BBQ place in East Meadow, NY replacing an old Italian restaurant called Arthur Avenue that he and I had visited. I was intrigued, but Pete didn't know the name of the BBQ place. A little detective work was necessary.

Now, my buddy Gary over at PigTrip and I regularly correspond about the various BBQ joints in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, so I asked him if he knew about a new place in East Meadow. He did. "It's called Ruby's Famous BBQ AND it's opening Thursday," says Gary. "Thursday?" thinks I. Hmm, I just happen to need to run an errand on Long Island Thursday and can make a detour through East Meadow to check this place out. Is there a cosmic connection here telling me to go? I think there is.

So with my younger brother in tow, he and I decide to check out Ruby's Famous BBQ on its opening night. We arrived around 7:00pm. The street sign was not lit and the place seems to be closed, but it wasn't. The place was more than half empty and we were immediately greeted by the hostess who escorted us to our table, but not before being offered our choice of a booth, table, or bar area seating. (We chose a table.)

The restaurant is set up with a large bar area and divided dining area. There are large TV screens everywhere, and one is always in view. My brother asked if Ruby's used to be a sports bar with all the available TVs and mentioned that he could see himself coming there for various sporting events. The rest of the decor is fairly non-descript with light woods and touches of cowboy chic. It's not memorable, but comfortable none the less.

After perusing the menu we decide that we will stick with BBQ only because I tell my brother that this visit will be reported on my blog. Ruby's offers up barbecue, burgers, "old school comfort food" like Chicken Pot Pie and Catfish, "fillers" and what it calls "wooden salad bowls." I guess that last one is for them crazy vegetarians. All of the non-Q food sounded good, but it wasn't what we were there for that night.

I've already posted the pictures of what we ordered. I apologize for the poor quality, as they were taken with my cell phone, not color corrected, posted on the fly as I tried to take them on the sly. I'm still not comfortable taking pictures of restaurant food while seated in the place. I don't know how other folks do it so well.

First up was the "Up In Smoke Wings" with Blue Cheese Dip $8.95. We were served 6 large whole wings that were smoked and lightly glazed. The color in the photograph does not do them justice, as they were golden, smokey and flavorful. The skin was rubbery, as smoked chicken tends to be, but not tough and it didn't stop us from enjoying the wings. My first thought as I put them in my mouth was that I was in the backyard eating wings off the grill. The glaze was nice and a bit sweet, a little hot and very unlike the three tomato based BBQ sauces that Ruby's provides. If you're looking for "Buffalo Wings" keep going, because you won't find them here.

If I could improve this dish, I'd grill the wings slightly before serving to crisp the skin. I'd also lose the blue cheese dressing. It's served with Buffalo wings to cool down the heat and there's no major heat to be found here, so the dressing is superfluous. If they continue to serve the dressing, add celery or carrot sticks to the plate. But that all boils down to personal preference.

Our main courses were "Ruby's Famous Pig Out Platter" ($24.95) which included Baby Back ribs, St. Louis ribs, 1/4 white meat BBQ Chicken, Carolina pulled pork and sliced Texas brisket and the "Big Boy Beef Rib" ($21.95). Ruby's doesn't really tell you what the beef rib is on the menu, only supplying the following, "This Bad Boy is Big and Beefy."

Both platters came with a choice of two sides and corn bread. The corn bread was very good, more cake like than bread, and studded with jalapeno flakes that primarily added color and not heat.

My brother chose the "Candied Carrots" and "Hand Cut French Fries" as his sides, and I chose "Sweet Potato Fries" and "Baked Beans" as mine. The French fries were tasty, albeit a bit cold and soggy. My brother tells me that that carrots were good, but I didn't try them. In contrast to the French fries, the sweet potato fries were hot, crispy and salty; just the way I like them.

The baked beans were a disappointment; overly sweet and overly smoked. They arrived in a separate ramekin, as did the carrots, but seemed to have been sitting for a long while as a slightly dried crust had developed on the top. Now, I don't know if these beans would qualify as a vegetarian dish, or if this is the cook's intention, but they were devoid of any obvious pieces of meat.

Our main courses arrived as we were almost done with our wings, and we were pleased to see how generous the portions were. You could easily share the "Pig Out" between two people, but alas Ruby's Famous charges a $5 plate sharing charge.

The Texas style brisket was nothing like the brisket I had in Texas, but none the less, this was one of the best restaurant briskets I've ever tasted. This was a real surprise, because if you look at the picture, it looks boiled and bland. In actuality it was tender, smokey, salty and a bit sweet. I never found sweet brisket in Texas or in any of the BBQ joints I've visited before, but this sure was good eating.

The pulled pork was indeed "Carolina style" with the hint of vinegar and pepper. I enjoyed it very much, but was looking for some additional sauce for the meat. I didn't want to ruin the Carolina connection by pouring a sweet Kansas City style sauce all over it. For all you bark lovers out there, there was no bark served on our plate; just the white interior meat of the shoulder.

The "Big Boy Beef Rib" turned out to be a cross section of three very meaty short ribs. The crust or bark was beautiful, the rub flavorful and accentuated the flavor of the meat beautifully. Unfortunately, the ribs were undercooked; much more rare then they appear in the photograph. Much more of the fat should have been rendered out of the ribs, leaving them a bit on the tough and chewy side of the equation. These guys needed at least another hour in the smoker.

The large white meat quarter of chicken was well cooked with a flavorful traditional barbecue sauce. Unlike the wings, this chicken skin was slightly crispy and much more enjoyable. The meat was flavorful and moist.

We ordered the ribs "Memphis Style," which means dry rubbed with Ruby's "House Mix," as Ruby's provides three different "Kansas City" style sauces on the tables which would allow us to sauce the ribs as we pleased. The first sauce is their "Sweet Talkin'" which is overly sweet and smooth. It could pass for dessert syrup. Their "Original" sauce ups the flavor and the heat, and reminds me a of mix between Sweet Baby Ray's original sauce and Kraft BBQ sauce. I hear all you purists scream, but it was OK. It could pass for any average in-house BBQ sauce anywhere.

Ruby's "Snake Bite" sauce was very good. They raised the heat, dumped the corn syrup for molasses and created a sauce that I'd buy in the bottle. Ruby's claims that this is their "hot" sauce, but by that definition it misses the mark considerably. I would give this to a baby. This is a good everyday BBQ sauce. This sauce would not be out of place in Austin.

But back to the ribs, the baby back ribs were a bit over cooked and the meat stuck to the bone, as if they were cooked in too hot a smoker for not enough time. The "St. Louis Ribs" were not trimmed properly but cooked well. If they took them just a little longer, they would have had some very good ribs here. The flavors were there on both ribs, but the technique and presentation suffered. Was it just opening night jitters?

Our server was very attentive and usually anticipated our needs just before we did. I didn't write down her name, but I did mention that fact on the comment card we left. She was something special and I hope that the management there realizes it.

I like the fact that they owners didn't create a "legend" about "Ruby," even though they did make her "famous." I hate reading all that hoopla about fictional characters.

But unfortunately the staff, from our waitress to the manager who greeted us later in the meal, know absolutely nothing about real barbecue or even how it was prepared in their restaurant. When asked about smokers and woods, both the waitress and the manager seemed stumped.

The waitress told us she'd find out, which she did; Southern Pride Smokers and hickory wood, but the manager said he was "more concerned with the front of the house." I then asked the manager if they had a pit master and I could tell by the look on his face that I could have been speaking Greek. He had no idea what a pit master was. I explained and he told us he would find out and disappeared for at least 30 minutes.

Just before we were leaving, the manager informed us that they used Southern Prides and that the pit master was a man by the name of John DeLoach who earned his chops by working at Virgil's and had been trained by Paul Kirk.

Ruby's Famous BBQ Joint on UrbanspoonIn conclusion, Ruby's Famous has some problems, but it was some of the best restaurant barbecue I've had in a long time. It's easily the best sit down Long Island Barbeque joint I've been to. I hope it sticks around for a long time. After all, they have the stars backing them up!

Ruby's Famous BBQ
2367 Hempstead Turnpike
East Meadow, NY 11554

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Food

Another shot of the pulled pork, chicken, ribs, brisket plate.
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Brisket Slice and a Rib Bone

One of the best restaurant briskets I've ever had. Sorry for the lousy and weird picture.
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Beef Short Ribs

Medium rare?
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The Everything Plate

I've got the name wrong, but 2 types of pork ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, corn bread
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Beef Rib

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There's a new joint in town.

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Up in Smoke Wings

Smokey, large and tender. Needs a little more glaze for me.
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Ruby's Famous Sauces

Sweet - smooth and very sweet
Original - a bit spicier
Snake bite - this could be Texas
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Speaking of Zagat

Since a lot of people give the Zagat guides as presents, I thought I'd pass on this shameless bit of advertising for the Zagat Corp. Guys - when do I get the check?

Let Zagat be your one-stop shop for all of your holiday gifts this season.
From assorted guides and ZAGAT.com gift subscriptions to T-shirts, Aprons and more,
we have something for everyone on your list.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New York City's Best Barbecue

Today, I want to talk a little about New York City's best barbeque restaurants. I recently received a copy of the Zagat Guide to New York City Restaurant's for 2009.

Naturally I immediately checked out the barbecue restaurants, because I'm a BBQ guy don't you know, in New York. I was surprised to see how many didn't make it into the book. Places like Mo Gridder's, Waterfront Ale House, Georgia's East Side, Duke's, The Hog Pit and Jake's aren't mentioned anywhere.

While I don't expect Zagat to cover every restaurant, it would be nice to read how they make their selections. I have no idea how a restaurant qualifies for inclusion in the guide. In my neighborhood, only 2 restaurants are listed, even though in my mind they're nothing but take out joints. Why aren't the sit down places included? Sheepshead Bay has a large concentration of restaurants along the water. But that's another post and would require some research on my part.

This is the list of the barbecue restaurants included in the Zagat Guide to New York City Restaurant's for 2009 and their ratings. Zagat's rating system are - 10 to 15 fair to good, 16-19 good to very good, 20 - 25 very good to excellent.

So here goes (in alphabetical order)...

1. Blue Smoke... 21.
2. Brother Jimmy's... 16.
3. Daisy May's BBQ USA... 22.
4. Dallas BBQ... 14.
5. Dinosaur BBQ... 22.
6. Fette Sau... 24.
7. Hill Country... 21.
8. Johnny Utah... 13.
9. Lookout Hill Smokehouse... No rating.
10. Rack & Soul... 19.
11. RUB BBQ... 20.
12. The Smoke Joint... 22.
13. Spanky's BBQ... 15.
14. Virgil's BBQ... 20.
15. Wildwood BBQ... 17.

My ratings on Monday. As you'll see, I don't always agree with the fine folks at Zagat.

Photo of New York City - Manhattan, courtesy of New York Skyline.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

R.I.P Colonel Sanders

Colonel Harland Sanders
September 9, 1890 - December 16, 1980

Yes Virginia, there really was a Colonel Sanders. In case you don't know the good Colonel, he founded Kentucky Fried Chicken and created its signature secret flavor recipe of 11 herbs and spices that creates the famous "finger lickin' good" chicken.

I love this guy. In 1973 he sued Heublein Inc. (the KFC parent company at the time) over alleged misuse of his image in promoting products he had not helped develop. In 1975 Heublein Inc. unsuccessfully sued Sanders for libel after he publicly referred to their gravy as "sludge" with a "wallpaper taste". I wish there were more like him.

He must be turning in his grave over the mashed "potatoes" and bowls they serve today.

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Hot Sauce!

Some news on the Hot Sauce front. My friend Nick Lindauer has updated the Hot Sauce Blog. He's made it a real internet community with blogs, forums, videos and even classifieds. If you're into hot sauce, as most BBQ fiends are, check it out!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Book Review: Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue

"North Carolina is home to the longest continuous barbecue tradition on the North American mainland."

Whoa. Really? Them's some pretty strong words. Some folks might say them's fightin' words. Some folks in Texas, Tennessee, Missouri and not to mention South Carolina may not take kindly to them words, but John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney seem to prove the point in the superb book Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue.

This is a great read. I received this book on Friday and spent the weekend reading it. It's one of the few barbecue books that I couldn't put down. I really enjoyed some of the humorous side notes on the pages.

In the tradition of Peace, Love and Barbecue by Mike Mills and his daughter Amy Mills Tunnicliffe and Legends of Texas Barbecue by Robb Walsh, Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue is part cook book, part history book and part depository of cultural folk lore of the smoke.

It's all here. The authors trace the origins of North Carolina Q and get into the heated rivalry between Eastern and Piedmont styles. They provide detailed recipes and instructions for cooking barbecue at home. To this NYC boy, "traditional array of side dishes that should accompany the bbq" seem strange and exotic but definitely worth trying out.

In the last part of the book we get to meet some of the people who cook barbecue for a living, and hear about the past and future of North Carolina barbecue.

The whole story is fascinating to me. Living in New York, I'm so used to hearing about how our foods came from the immigrants as each group passed through the city, it's great to read about the emergence of a truly native food style. If you want to read an excerpt of the book, click here.

This book belongs in the collection of anyone seriously into the Q. This book is going to a few BBQ friends of mine this Christmas. Buy it. I can't put it any simpler than that.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Here Piggy Piggy Piggy

So where in the naked city can one get a whole smoked pig? I called around town using Gary's (with one r) site Pigtrip, which lists the BBQ joints in the city for my starting point and worked my way from there. Pigtrip saved me an enormous amount of time and weeded out many of the pseudo 'que places listed under BBQ in the phone book.

If you're a restaurant owner or a pitmaster and you serve whole smoked pig, and by some chance I missed your place, please let me know.

I have not included caterers in my list. I would assume that just about every BBQ caterer can provide you with a whole smoked pig. But don't assume anything. ASK. I was surprised by the responses of some of the places I called where I assumed they would cook whole pig. And you know what happens when one assumes don't you?

As promised, here's the list of the barbecue joints that sell whole smoked pigs. Let me be clear here, all of the bbq joints listed require advance notice when you want a whole pig; you can't just walk in and take one home. As far as I can tell, only Daisy May's has a whole pig on the menu; everywhere else you'll have to ask for it special.

So if you're craving whole smoked pig in two days or so, try any of the following...

In Manhattan
In the wild outer Boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island)
Well, that's all I have. I called every place on Gary's list and you'd be surprised by some of the answers I received. Some of the folks answering the phones didn't even seem to grasp the concept of a whole smoked pig, but that's a post for another time. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Are You Doing New Year's? New Year's Eve.

OK. Now this is usually my buddy Garry's territory over at Pigtrip, where he reviews just about every BBQ related eating establishment between Maine and New Jersey, but I'm gonna scoop him today. I hope he's not too pissed.

Brooklyn's newest BBQ joint, Char No.4, to which I have not been, nor have any connection to, is running a special New Year's Eve Menu that sounds mighty tempting. Here's the highlights....

  • Oysters on the half shell
  • Smoked lobster, hen of the wood mushrooms with white corn grits
  • Whole smoked pig, sage sausage and hazelnut stuffing
  • Walnut cake with an in-house cinnamon raisin ice cream
All for $55 per person. They'll be running their usual menu as well. You can read their menu here. Reservations highly recommended.

But, you may ask, where can I get a whole smoked pig when I want it and not just when the restaurant is running a special? Tune in tomorrow and find out.

Char No. 4
Bar Food, Southern & Soul
196 Smith St, Brooklyn 11201
Btwn Warren & Baltic St

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I'm sorry about the lack of posts recently, but I haven't had much to say about grilling or barbecue. There are a couple of posts that still need be to written about some past adventures in the world of bbq, various reviews, restaurants and equipment but lately my focus has been on recessionary cooking.

What is recessionary cooking you say? Well, it's cooking in the method my grand mother and mother followed while I was growing up. "WTF?" I hear you saying.

Let me explain. When I was a kid whenever my mother or grand mother cooked a meal, no part of that meal was ever wasted. That's not to say that we were raised in one of those "You'll sit there until you eat everything on your plate houses." What I mean is that creative leftovers were regular meals in our house. Every part of the roast, vegetables, starches were reinvented at the next meal(s) until they were gone. Hell, even the dog would feast on the bones when they were no longer of use to us humans

So I've been focusing on using all aspects of our meals in as many creative ways as possible. It's hard to believe but our Thanksgiving bird is still feeding us. The first round of meals after Thanksgiving was the easiest; just a simple microwaved version of the holiday feast. Then came the turkey sandwiches, followed by turkey salad, turkey hash, thanksgiving style grilled pizza and turkey croquettes. Even the cranberry sauce and apple pie were refashioned into toppings for ice cream sundaes.

Then the carcass and was boiled with some aromatics yielding a fantastic turkey stock. This stock was used to create bean and kielbasa soup, turkey noodle soup and a wonderful mushroom barley soup that was flavored with the stock and flecked with the last remaining bits of thigh meat from the bird. On a side note, I love barley and rarely use it, but every time I do I ask myself why don't I cook it more often.

I've also been taking advantage of the food sales. Ricotta was on sale for about 30% of its usual price which led to my creation of a huge spinach lasagna that was so large that my daughter chastised me for its size. (What's wrong with a 10lb lasagna I ask you?) "How could we ever eat all of that?," she asked. I explained that I wanted leftovers. She sighed. She hasn't quite caught on to my recessionary food fever. But that lasagna has been dinner and lunch on multiple occasions and gets better and better as it ages. Our freezer has never been so full.

So, while my daughter may not be applauding this new found thrift, I think I've reduced our food budget for the last 2 weeks significantly. I'm enjoying this new impetus for thrift by rediscovering some old dishes and keeping some money in my pocket.

How's the recession treating you?

Photo of Gray's Papaya courtesy of Eideard

Monday, December 08, 2008

Nothing is Real

John Ono Lennon

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