Friday, September 08, 2006

Rolling the BBQ Roads

Most folks don't want to read postings on the same topic unless they happen to be about sex or food. MUSTANG ROLLING is largely a sex free web log, but it is not exactly low fat. We have an old Clemson buddy who is fond of the performing arts as longs as the venue is a road house and the stage has a single brass pole around which the actresses perform their gymnastics unfettered by garments. That old boy can watch the same set of gals go through the same paces time after time all night.

The only brass poles we're familiar with are those in the fire stations which we've visited and photographed. The only stripping we know of is when the cooks pull the meat from the bones after the slow pit cooking process.

We should be clear that not all barbecued pork is slowly pit cooked the old fashioned way. Some places simply buy the meat from suppliers, but many do the cooking in a real pit on the property. Here at McCabe's " Old Fashioned " Bar-B-Q in Manning , SC, they do everything the old fashioned way.

To the right of the restaurant is annexed a long series of old weathered buildings in which the entire process takes place. We didn't snoop at the windows or take pictures back there since they all have their secret ways of preparation and we consider that to be the intellectual property of the individual BBQ joint. Copying McCabe's methods is certainly not as easy as cloning a CD. There's nothing fast or easy about the process.

McCabe's has pretty negative curb appeal to those who value a cafeteria's gleaming tubular stainless steel runways for their troughs or brightly lit gleaming Formica surfaces over which cheerful coed faces greet and serve them. It's located in a dismal section of North Brooks Street and recessed slightly from the neighboring frontage. We had to cut a sharp U-turn as we nearly missed the place even though we knew its location.

As to our specifications for BBQ joints, McCabe's is flirting with a fourth star. First, it's a bona fide concrete block structure with vaguely colored paint just now peeling. They have a simulated hitching post type of railing and it appears that some conscious effort was behind the faux western motif. Their sign is well posted and weathered with just the type of homestyling we love.

On entering we found the usual dedicated family team which manages the place with a quiet courtesy. They've received every sort of clumsy complement and fielded so many predictable questions that they usually smile in unmoved ways regardless of what is said. You know that they are family because such places cannot afford or won't pay or tolerate outside help. There is a serenity in the fatalism which has cast them in these roles.

Once inside it's all there. It is everything we have come to expect from such a place. The tables and fixtures are aging nicely. The walls are adorned with several fading pictures and a host of casually framed articles and awards which probably puzzle them more than those who visit. There lemon juice is in that usual green bottle which has a little something left over in the threads of the neck. No fresh lemon has been seen there. There is Texas Pete and several yellowed plastic squirt bottles of their wonderful vinegar and pepper sauce.

This is not the mustard based BBQ, but that old Williamsburg County style which has sauce cooked into the meat. The pork is penetrated with the sause rather than being coated as with the mustard variety. They have traditional side orders the best of which is their uncommonly tender tiny butter beans. The hash is darker than most, very tasteful and mysterious of origin as we want it to remain.

The food at McCabe's is very, very good.

As an extra treat we spotted a UFO at about 10 O'Clock high over the roof. The Air Force will not allow us to show such objects in full focus so just take our word on that.


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