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…)

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When planning the schedule for Meat Week, I had a few really tough choices to make.  In some cases, it was a question of how far afield people would be willing to go for the inaugural edition of Meat Week DC.  In other cases, the decision came down to what kind of impact a particular establishment has on the DC barbecue scene.

After opening Meat Week at Urban Bar-B-Que, one of the most widely praised among the newer ‘cue joints in the area, it was on to two of the veterans in the field.  Both Rocklands and Red Hot & Blue have been serving up smoked meats in Washington for more than twenty years.  In the process, they’ve expanded to several locations each around the DC area.  To me, they embody (in very different ways) the “all cues to all people” mindset that tries to serve up a taste of home to ‘cue lovers from all traditions.

So how do they stack up against some of the newcomers?  Check out some photos, some thoughts and a reminder about tonight’s big Pork Barrel BBQ event after the jump. (more…)

Image by Mike Licht, http://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.

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Pork Barrel DC LogoPork.  Here in Washington, it’s one of those four letter words that you just don’t use in polite company.  Since the time of the Civil War, politicians have decried the wasteful “pork barrel spending” that sends money to their opponents’ districts for pet projects…all the while defending the necessary and important projects they’re fighting for.

With all this talk of pork, you’d think someone would be cooking up good barbecue within sight of the Capitol dome…but you already know our thoughts on that.  Maybe it’s only fitting, then, that the newest entry onto Washington’s barbecue scene has its roots on the Hill.

Back in 2006, Heath Hall and Brett Thompson were staffers for Senator Jim Talent of Missouri.  During the many long hours that went into that year’s budget debate, the two men found themselves lamenting the lack of flavor among barbecue options in the area (a common conversation among staffers from all barbecue regions).  With all the talk of spending flying around, they started joking that they should team up to bring home the bacon, so to speak, and so they coined the name “Pork Barrel BBQ.”

Pork Barrel Sauce and RubThat could have been the end of it – how many great ideas are hatched in late-night brainstorming sessions and never acted upon?  But Senator Talent’s defeat in the 2006 elections soon gave Brett and Heath more free time to focus on their idea.  By February of 2008, they were ready to make the jump into the barbecue seasoning business, and they incorporated Pork Barrel BBQ.  As Heath puts it, “Thankfully, both of us are lawyers, so we were able to wade through all the un-fun stuff you need to do to set up a business.”

Both men knew what they thought barbecue should taste like, but they wanted to make sure that they had a product that would appeal to a broader audience.  So they assembled their Kitchen Cabinet (yeah…the government references fly fast and furious with these guys) and taste-tested five spice blends.  Of course the best way to taste-test a rub is to use it on an actual pork shoulder, so you can imagine how much fun that was to do.  The results were split – there were positive comments about distinctly different aspects of two of the choices.  Brett and Heath did some tinkering and came up with a blend that combined the best parts of both, and they knew they had their All American Spice Rub.

From concept to contests, ABC’s Shark Tank and restaurant after the jump. (more…)