Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Fantastic Mr. Fox - Photographing the Best of Texas BBQ tour

Dallas Morning News staffer Tom Fox works the line at Franklin BBQ. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)
We had several firsts for the Posse on our recent Best of Texas BBQ Tour. This was the first tour spanning three days and also our first trip taken to rank the top joints in the state. The results will be published in The Dallas Morning News and online on March 10.

Another first was to have the Morning News assign a staff photographer to travel with us, documenting the 700-mile journey to the best BBQ joints in Texas. The Posse is made up mainly of photographers and writers, but we'd never had someone fully dedicated to shooting the trip. There's a big difference between shooting with your iPhone or happy snapper, as opposed to using full pro gear.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Here's the best comment we've ever seen about wood and Texas BBQ


Over the past four years, we've gotten a lot of comments from readers about our observations on Texas barbecue. Good or bad, we post them all, with the exception of those with extreme profanity. Texas BBQ is an emotional issue.

However, a comment on Gary Jacobson's Monday post "Memo to Gov. Perry: Texas needs a truth in BBQ law" set a new bar for comments on our blog. A reader tagged as "Anonymous" left a pronouncement that summed it all up better than we could ever do.

Memo to Gov. Perry: Texas needs a truth in BBQ law


Last week on the Posse's Facebook page, we had a good discussion with readers about the use of real wood or other means to smoke barbecue.

One reader, Mark "The Hogfather" Gabrick, suggested that we lead an initiative to get Texas to pass a truth in barbecue law. Or, more simply, we should designate joints that use only wood as "Posse approved."

Gotta admit, that last phrase does have a nice ring.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kreuz Market wins best sausage in BBQ Posse's Best of Texas Tour

Jalapeño cheese sausage at Kreuz Market in Lockhart. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)
Regular readers know we had some internal Posse conflict before our recent Best of Texas Tour.

Should sausage count equally with brisket and pork ribs when trying to rate the best joints in the state?

Initially, we decided, no, sausage should count less. Then we got an impassioned defense of the sausage maker's art from Posse member Bryan Gooding, the sausage king of Oak Cliff after his victory last fall in the Blues, Bandits and BBQ cookoff.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Classic BBQ signs from the Best Of Texas tour

Stanley's Famous Pit Bar-B-Q, Tyler. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves)

A Posse rule of thumb: The more homemade the sign, the more down home the barbecue.

BBQ Signs of our Times is back again, this time with a mix of new and historic photos. This is our sixth blog post on classic BBQ signs.

If you happen to see a cool sign while you're out on the Texas BBQ Trail, please snap a photo and keep us in mind. If you're a fan of our Texas BBQ Posse Facebook or Twitter page, you can upload a photo for us to include on a future BBQ signs blog post.

Monday, February 18, 2013

First trip to 3 Stacks Smoke & Tap House in Frisco

Diners leave 3 Stacks Smoke and Tap House in Frisco. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)
It's a pretty well-known fact among meat lovers that Collin County has historically been a barbecue wasteland. There are numerous places, but mostly gasser joints cooking unmemorable fare. Nothing remotely approaching the level of Pecan Lodge, MeShack's or Lockhart Smokehouse, all located south in Dallas County.

The folks who just opened 3 Stacks Smoke and Tap House in Frisco hope to change the BBQ landscape in the land of strip malls and restaurant chains. As a resident of Plano, I have high hopes after eating there on Friday.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

For sale: A piece of Texas BBQ history

For sale: Snow's BBQ original catering smoker and trailer. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)
Want to buy a serious piece of Texas barbecue history? Snow's BBQ owner Kerry Bexley has a deal for you.

One of the fringe benefits of having breakfast at Snow's on a Saturday morning is talking barbecue with Kerry. From our first visit in Nov. 2009, he's treated us like family as we've caught up on all the Central Texas BBQ gossip.

During our trip a week ago he casually mentioned that his original catering rig was for sale, priced at $2750 or best offer. Several of us immediately headed to the driveway to check it out.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Running into the BBQ Snob is a good sign


Daniel Vaughn, aka: The BBQ Snob, at Snow's BBQ in Lexington. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)
Running into your “barbecue friends” out in the wild is really a pleasant surprise.

Twice this year I’ve run into Daniel Vaughn, a barbecue blogger and author who’s tireless pursuit of great smoked meat has benefitted us all.

I’m never surprised to run into Daniel at a restaurant, because if I see him, I know I’m in for some good barbecue.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Portraits of the great pitmasters, from Best of Texas BBQ tour

Herschel Tomanetz, Snow's BBQ, Lexington. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves)

Check out this amazing set of portraits by Dallas-based editorial and commercial photographer Daniel Goncalves, featuring the pitmasters behind the BBQ we ate last week on our Best of Texas BBQ tour. Daniel and his wife Magda recently moved to the area from Jacksonville, Florida.

His love for both photography and barbecue led him to get in touch the Posse, which is mainly made of photographers, writers and editors from The Dallas Morning News. We invited Daniel to come along and help us document the trip, while eating the best BBQ that Texas has to offer. You can see more of his work at www.fotobia.com.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Is Lockhart losing its title as the BBQ Capital of Texas?

Smitty's Market oak wood pile & Caldwell County courthouse. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)
At the Posse, we're ready to declare State Highway 130, the high-speed tollway that skirts Austin, the Barbecue Super Expressway.

However, we're beginning to wonder whether Lockhart, one of the main stops on that highway, still deserves its title as the BBQ capital of Texas.

Yes, we know that's borderline smoked-meat heresy. But on our recent Best of Texas Tour, we ate at three Lockhart joints and only one -- Kreuz Market -- made our top tier of six. The others -- Smitty's Market and Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que -- were well off the pace.

Lines, lines, everywhere we go there are BBQ lines

Long lines at Franklin BBQ in Austin, top, and Pecan Lodge in Dallas. (Photos © Daniel Goncalves)
Aaron Franklin has made it cool to stand in a long line for barbecue. That has been the norm at his joint in Austin going back to its trailer days in 2009.

Now, the phenomenon appears to be spreading, as we discovered on our recent Best of Texas BBQ Tour.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A respite from brisket, ribs and sausage on the Best of Texas BBQ tour

The Posse digs into a Brother-in-Law sandwich at Stanley's. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves)
Discipline and portion control were the guiding principles of our recent Best of Texas BBQ Tour. They have to be when you eat at 10 places over a period of about 48 hours.

But while we focused on -- and scored -- only brisket, pork ribs and sausage, we did manage to sample other fare on the first day of the tour, when we visited only 3 places.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow's brisket is only meat to score a perfect 10 on Posse's Best of Texas BBQ Tour

Our perfect 10 brisket from Snow's BBQ in Lexington. (Photo by Tom Fox/DMN)
During our recent Best of Texas BBQ Tour, we traveled nearly 700 miles over three days and tasted brisket, pork ribs and sausage at 10 top places in the state.

Each meat was scored on a scale of 1 to 10 (best) by 6 members of Texas BBQ Posse.

Just one received a perfect score: the brisket at Snow's BBQ in Lexington.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fargo's BBQ - New digs, same great BBQ

Fargo's BBQ co-owners Belender Wells & Alan Caldwell in front of their new sign on 720 N. Texas in Bryan. 
We dropped in on Fargo's BBQ's new location in Bryan as our third of 10 stops of the Top 5 BBQ Tour. They were in their old location five blocks north for 13 years, which didn't have a dining room.

Co-owner Alan Caldwell says the move went smoothly, including moving the original brick pit from the old location, which got broken but was put back together with a little masonry work.

Monday, February 4, 2013

It’s the Super Bowl of BBQ tours for the Posse


As we prepared for our biggest tour ever this weekend, members of the Texas BBQ Posse faced their biggest controversy yet:

Should sausage count as much as brisket in determining the best barbecue joint in the state?

On our organized tours and smaller excursions over the past 4 years, members of the Posse have visited hundreds of places in search of the best smoked meats in Texas.

Now, to determine the very best – at least for this one trip -- we plan to visit our 10 favorites over three days, covering nearly 700 miles. Then, we’ll rank the top 5, in order.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

My crash course in smoking with the Knights of Columbus


Tom Rossman loads the pit with pork butts.
This weekend I had the pleasure of hanging out with my dad Tom Rossman and the Knights of Columbus Council 6950 in Katy for a full day of smoking meat.

Several times each year the Knights sell barbecue as a fund-raiser. They presell briskets, ribs and pork butts, cook on Friday and customers pickup on Saturday. This time they prepared 42 briskets, 75 racks of ribs and 12 pork butts.