Archive | 6:56 pm

The Legend of Hickory Hollow

26 Jun

The North Carolina BBQ plate offered at Hickory Hollow in Bradenton, FL

Not sure if the above sign was made from hickory

Authentic Carolina – Virginia Cookin’ is a true rarity in this part of “Dixie”

I visited Hickory Hollow BBQ in Bradenton for the first time today. Not too bad. I was greeted at the front door by a peacock — no lie! I had to shoo the crazy bird away just to get inside the restaurant. The decor inside was a little strange with butterfly art and faux flowers everywhere. A little gay if you ask me. Anyway, the place smelled good & smoky and I was impressed with the variety of side dishes offered at lunchtime. I ordered the NC BBQ pork plate with two sides (zipper peas and corn pudding). All entrees also come with giant corn fritters (hushpuppies) … each one the size of a ripe Florida tangerine.

I poured some vinegar-based pepper sauce over the “Q” and dug in. It was pretty darn good, although not as smoky tasting as I would like. The corn pudding posessed just the right amount of sweetness, but it could have been just a little warmer. The zipper peas (sort of a cross between navy beans and black eyed peas) were excellent – you could tell by the taste of the pot likker that the peas were cooked with some kind of bacon or fatback.  All in all a pretty satisfying meal. I’d give them a B- which ain’t bad at all for pork BBQ in these parts. I am happy to know they are here and will probably stop in again when I’m back in the area. It’s not exactly worth an out-of-the-way trip, but a pretty good option when a major “BBQ Jones” strikes. 

Don’t Miss This One

26 Jun

This CD will be released on July 8. Interesting blending of American music styles. It was recorded over a couple of nights in January 2007 at the Lincoln Center in NYC. I think Honest Abe would have been proud.

Here’s the product description from Amazon:

The event was simply billed as “Willie Nelson Sings the Blues,” but the historic two-night stand on January 12 and 13, 2007 at Jazz at Lincoln Center was far more than that. Call it a summit meeting between two American icons, Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis, two of the most significant figures in modern-day country and jazz, who discovered common ground in their love for jazz standards and the blues. Their performance stirred the sounds of New Orleans, Nashville, Austin and New York City into a brilliantly programmed mix that was equal parts down-home and cosmopolitan, with plenty of swing and just a touch of melancholy. To say that these shows were a hot ticket would be an understatement.

Luckily, the tapes were rolling and the results of this unique collaboration now constitute the Blue Note album Two Men With The Blues for everyone who couldn’t cram into The Allen Room. Featuring great playing from one of the hottest bands around these classic tracks are given new life by the extraordinary dual talents of Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. At a time when most people are thinking of retirement, Willie has never been busier. His profile has been high in recent weeks with his various career retrospective releases and sold out tour and this album can rightly stake it’s place alongside anything else he has done. Wynton rarely sounds so relaxed and both of these musical giants are clearly having the time of their lives together on these new interpretations of some of the greatest songs of the 20th century.

View a video clip of Willie and Wynton performing Jimmy Reed’s classic “Bright Lights, Big City” at:

Raleigh’s “The Pit” is Not the Pits

26 Jun

Just learned about this place today and I’m very excited. They are cooking whole hog BBQ in the traditional North Carolina way. Too bad Raleigh is so darn far away. Oh well, at least this discovery has whetted my appetite for some good old Carolina Q. I will be in Ellenton and Bradenton FL tomorrow and I plan on checking out two cool places.

Hickory Hollow BBQ on Highway 301 is said to have the best NC style BBQ (vinegar-based sauce) in the state of Florida. If time permits, I will also make a quick visit to Maria’s Mexican Food inside the Red Barn Flea Market. I found Maria’s while on a quest for vintage LPs. Great tamales and enchiladas with authentic Mexican sauces. Cheap too! Stay tuned for a full report.

As for The Pit, take a gander at

The Pit
328 W. Davie Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

Pitmaster Ed Mitchell