Southern Summer Barbecue

18 Aug

Barely heard of several short years ago, the bizarre, wonderful and ever changing concept that is the pop up is now a full on thing, each one creative in its own way and truly dedicated to the foodie notion of its creators choosing. With houses, office buildings and rickety old vans playing host to everything from burgers to bubblegum ice cream, the pop up has given us a whole new way of eating, several fabulous new food trends and another brilliant excuse to bring people together through food and drink.

This fully fledged ‘foodie’ trend first came into public consciousness (at least to my mind) with the much publicised and lauded Underground Restaurant, the pop up eaterie established in the home of Kerstin Rodgers, or MsMarmitelover as she prefers to be known. Meat Liquor (formerly known as The Meat Wagon) burst on the scene around the same time, and gave the nation an obsession with the elevated burger that continues to this day, not to mention their find-it-if-you-can-van, which kick started our ongoing preoccupation with street food as well.*

As usual, London has lead the way, but in Manchester, supper clubs have reigned supreme, with particularly notable offerings from Monica Sawhney’s Spice Club, dishing up authentic Indian food, and the now sadly defunct gastroclub. Paying homage to quirkier dishes and unusual ingredients at many of the city’s more obliging restaurants, gastroclub is the sole reason for me trying squirrel, jellyfish and chicken feet over the course of a happy and very adventurous food year.

The one dish establishment is a further extension of the pop up trend, seen at Salt Dog Slims in Liverpool, brainchild of the people behind Santa Chupitos and El Bandito, where American-style chilli dogs and steins of beer are served up. Others prefer to keep it simple in altogether unexpected ways, like Penelope’s Ice Cream of Manchester fame, which serves up creative and creamy concoctions out of a shed in the centre of Spinningfields.

Despite having tried many incarnations of pop up, and greedily indulged in one too many back street burgers of late, I had never been along to dine at someone’s house before and despite a brief introduction at Southern Eleven, American barbecue has remained a mystery to me. So when I realised fellow blogger Mal (of Mangechester fame) was running a Southern Summer Barbecue from his back yard, I knew it was the thing for me.

Having travelled the USA and experienced the Texan legend that is Salt Lick BBQ, a fascination was born, and thankfully for all Mancunian residents, brought it back home with him and built a breeze block pit in his back yard, all in the name of cooking a whole pig. Project Pig commenced, and what followed was a foray into all the other trappings of southern barbeque, from ribs to pulled pork and sauces through to sides.

Southern Summer Barbecue

His Southern Summer Barbecue is the result, and on the evening my London friend Vicki and I attended, we were treated to a menu of deeply flavoursome beef brisket with burnt ends and Alabama red ribs, both the most tender and moreish pieces of meat you could dream to eat. Served up with hush puppies, a traditional southern dish of deep fried cornmeal with jalapeño, creamy mac and cheese and a refreshing Mexican cobb salad, it was one hell of a spread.

Burnt Ends

Brisket

Ribs

Home-made sauces accompanied, including a tomato based Alabama Red, mustard based Georgia Yellow Belly and coca cola based Atlanta Juice, all of which kicked off a big ole discussion on the barbecue traditions of the eleven southern states. Each area keeps true to their specific base of sauce, as well as making a religion out of cooking certain cuts of meat, which we learned vary massively from those we butcher in the UK. It seems Mal is keeping Frosty, his local butcher, on his toes.

Mac and Cheese

Hush Puppies

Mexican Cobb Salad

Whilst the eating took place, there wasn’t much yakking, and initially this was a blessing, as apart from our venerable host, Vicki and I knew no-one. However when you have a mucky mouth and are moaning loudly on account of the excellent food and a full belly, its hard not to relax into the company you are keeping, and we were dining with some truly lovely people

At our table we met Ana, Amy, Pedro and Ricardo, food lovers and fabulous company each. Originally hailing from Portugal, they gave us some great insights into Portuguese food traditions, from villages raising and cooking whole pigs as a community to the popular fish only barbecues they host. Mal’s friends also were also in attendance, having dedicated themselves to enjoying their friend’s culinary adventures, and our evening culminated in gathering round the table as a big group to prep our own dessert.

A melted chocolate and parmesan mix was given to us to inject into Krispy Kreme donuts which were then griddle cooked over a hot ring, making for a creamy and bitter caramelised dessert served with vanilla ice cream. Piled into the centre of the table, friends or not, we took no prisoners and had the dish clean in minutes, shyness no doubt overcome with the help of a few bottles of wine and a shot of strawberry infused bourbon provided by Mal.

Krispy Kreme Donuts injected with Chocolate and Parmesan

Chocolate Parmesan Griddle Nuts with Vanilla Ice Cream

The evening ended with us all round the table, drinking, sharing stories (the majority of them best not repeated) and talking over everything from food to bionics and road trips to rum, all enabled through an evening of great food in an unusual setting. It’s an experience I’d happily repeat over and over again.

Thankfully, Mal is getting ambitious, with a second back yard barbecue taking place this weekend and a pop up Pig Out event at Almost Famous this coming Tuesday 21st August, and aside from a few early doors tickets, both events have sold out. Keep your eyes peeled though my friends. Serving up pork and hospitality as good as this, he’s one to watch.

*Street food is big enough now, apparently, (despite only being done widely in London), to have its own awards. No jokes.

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One Response to “Southern Summer Barbecue”

  1. Ricardo Gândara (@rmcgandara) August 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Yuummm! Thanks for the reference, I’m glad you enjoyed our ramblings about food in Portugal, sometimes we need to be contain our enthusiasm because people may think we are overselling it!

    By the way this is another great post, I really like the way you write them 🙂

    R

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