My Barbecue Column for the Houston Chronicle

Patillos Bar-B-Q
Patillo’s Bar-B-Q – Beaumont TX

The Houston Chronicle has asked me to write a weekly barbecue column to appear in the Sunday print edition. It will also appear online as part of the Chronicle’s premium content section. At this time, the mandate is pretty broad – just write about barbecue as I see fit. I am hugely grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank my friends at the Chronicle for the support both now and in the past. Many thanks to Nancy Barnes, Vernon Loeb, Syd Kearney, Greg Morago, Alison Cook, Jody Schmal, Melissa Aguilar, and Diane Cowen.

Here’s the first column: Love of Barbecue Starts Early.

Here is the Nancy Barnes announcement: Introducing a fresh look, a redesigned Zest section.

And the inexhaustible Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn gives his take: New BBQ Columnist at Houston Chronicle.

If this is your first time visiting my blog, here are a few samples of my barbecue writing over the years.

Texas BBQ Day Tripping – Houston Press – 2009
On This Day, Louie Mueller Takes the Prize – 29-95 – 2010
What’s Wrong with Houston Barbecue? – J.C. Reid, Texas – 2011
It’s Not Texas, but the Barbecue Can Fool You – New York Times – 2012
The Character and Soul of Barbecue – 29-95 – 2012
On the Texas Barbecue Trail, in England – Houston Chronicle – 2014

Coincidentally, another piece I wrote a while back for the Escapes section appears in this Sunday’s paper. Another reason to pick one up! But here’s the link: Eating around Abbeville, the new crawfish capital of Louisiana.

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Saint-Émilion, France: An Oenophile’s Playground

Vineyards in Saint-Emilion France
Vineyards in Saint-Emilion France

What I most remember about our visit to Saint-Emilion France is how cold and bright it was. We were there in late January when the ubiquitous grape vines join with tourist hotels and curio shops in desolate hibernation. And I did not believe it could be so cold with the sun shining so brightly.

To say that Saint-Emilion is a seasonal town would be an understatement. Fall – when the grapes are harvested, and summer – when the tourists descend upon the south of France – are the busy times. Now, in January, we wandered the steep, medieval alleyways utterly alone.

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2014 UK Barbecue Tour

2014 UK Barbecue Tour
2014 UK Barbecue Tour – photo rooreynolds

I’ll be touring Texas-inspired barbecue joints in the United Kingdom starting January 8th. Here’s some background.

The export of Texas barbecue – or more specifically the culture of Texas barbecue – is a fascinating story. As recently as six years ago there were no legitimate Texas-style barbecue joints outside of Texas. Sure, there were innumerable “Texas BBQ” joints all over the U.S. But they mostly just paid lip service to true Texas BBQ by serving roast beef drowned in bottled barbecue sauce. True Texas BBQ, which for our purposes is primarily beef cooked using smoke at relatively low heat for long periods of time to tenderize and flavor the meat, simply did not exist outside our great state.

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A Temple (or two) to Texas Barbecue Grows in Brooklyn

Hometown Bar-B-Que - Red Hook, Brooklyn
Hometown Bar-B-Que – Red Hook, Brooklyn

Red Hook is the new Williamsburg. If you’re not familiar with the ins-and-outs of New York City neighborhoods, the story goes something like this. Williamsburg was a down-and-out area of Brooklyn for years. The only reason to go there was to dine at Peter Luger Steak House (that’s why I went there back in the 1990s). Then it started to gentrify. Artists, shops, restaurants all started to take root. It became the mecca of hipster culture.

Then, of course, it got expensive, and only rich hipsters can live there now (I’m exaggerating, though not by much). So the artists, shops and restaurants have to go somewhere else. That somewhere else is Red Hook, a mostly industrial area just south of Brooklyn Heights. The big difference between the gentrification prospects of Red Hook and Williamsburg is transportation. Williamsburg is easily accessed via subway (L train). Not so for Red Hook. As my Brooklyn-born friend Ethan pointed out – there’s basically one bus going into and out of Red Hook. And definitely no subway.

Still, there’s plenty of activity going on. Fairway, the big Manhattan-based supermarket, just opened there. IKEA opened in the last few years too, a sign of gentrification if there ever was one. There’s even an IKEA ferry from Manhattan, which offers another way to get to Red Hook. There are breweries and wineries and the occasional restaurant. One of those restaurants is a barbecue restaurant called Hometown Bar-B-Que.

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Back to Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey

I’ll be traveling to Istanbul, Turkey today as part of a press tour sponsored and paid for by Turkish Airlines and the Turkish Tourism Office. There will be seven other US-based travel writers on the tour. I feel quite fortunate and honored to be chosen as part of this tour.

The last time I was in Istanbul was circa 1990 (photo above). I was all of 22 years old, backpacking through the world, not knowing any better. All you see in the picture, including the scruffy first-time beard and a small backpack, was all the worldly positions I owned at the time. Those were different times.

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