June 30th, 2014

The Noble Sandwich Company

Posted in About Allison, New Foods and Flavors, Restaurants, Trends

The Noble Pig Sandwich Company opened its new location here in Central Austin in March of this year to much anticipation. The North Austin location was tucked into a plaza and was limited in seating and parking. They first made a splash on the culinary scene in the summer of 2012 with back-to-back stints on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” for the Duck Pastrami sandwich and “Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America” for the seared beef tongue sandwich.

Chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez take pride in their sandwiches. They first met while attending culinary school in Corpus Christi, TX.  With a focus on made from scratch products, such as the house-cured meats, homemade pickles, fresh potato chips, and freshly baked bread, they have built their reputation as a purveyor of quality products with unique flavor combinations.

The interior of the new location is upscale BBQ décor with clean lines and soft lighting, complete with pictures of little pigs and blue and white checkered tablecloths.

What better way to eat your favorite sandwich but in this calming interior?

While I had eaten at the North Austin location when I lived in North Austin, the distance to that location was not as economically feasible once I moved to way South Austin.  So you can imagine my excitement last year, when it was announced that the newest location would be in Central Austin, putting it 20 minutes closer to my house (which translates to in my belly 20 minutes earlier).

My favorite sandwich hands-down at the Noble Pig is the duck pastrami sandwich, but I wasn’t here for that. I was here for one of the new sandwich combinations that had been added recently.

I started with the Oyster Mushroom Reuben made with house made sauerkraut, sautéed mushrooms and Russian dressing on homemade rye bread.  While this was a good sandwich, it could have benefited from a kick in the heat department.

Next up was the fried bologna sandwich made with house Mortadella, whole-grain mustard, griddled onions, olive oil pickles, garlic mayo and Cheddar cheese.  This sandwich is the grownup version of my bologna and cheese sandwich from childhood, but with Mortadella, fatty and delicious.

The beef cheeks sandwich was a special on the menu. It was very tender and was finished with roasted red peppers and cilantro. The flavor was spot-on with a mild red chili flavor and just the right amount of salty tang in the meat.

And yes, I went and saved the best for last! The pecan wood smoked brisket sandwich with kimchi was my absolute favorite sandwich. By far the spiciest sandwich of the bunch, this one was spread with sambal mayonnaise and finished with white onion.  Overall, it was a powerhouse in the flavor department and will be my go to sandwich the next time I visit. It is the perfect fusion of Texas and Korea.

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to the Noble Sandwich Company for some really flavorful food and friendly faces too.

June 11th, 2014

Regional BBQ Sauce Flavors Across the Country

Posted in New Foods and Flavors, Trends

As Americans, it is safe to say that we are obsessed with barbecue. Although it is believed to have found its origins in Haiti, and named barbacoa by the Spanish who landed there, barbecue is clearly an American institution and synonymous with any/all summer holiday celebrations. Typically, the term barbecue is not understood to be the sauce (at least not among BBQ diehards), but rather refers to the method of cooking: indirect, slow cooking of meat over wood for long periods of time.

From there, it gets a little murkier: depending on what part of the country, the barbecue of the region takes on a distinctive flair and flavor profile that is subject to intense debate among the purists of each BBQ house. Tempers flare and voices are raised all for the sake of pride in the name of BBQ; owing largely to the local traditions ingrained in each region. For the purposes of this blog, we are going to focus primarily on the type of sauce used and the protein typical to each type of BBQ.

So let’s jump in and learn a little about the major BBQ styles:

South Carolina: This state has 3 types of BBQ sauce that it is known for. On the coast “Pee Dee” BBQ uses whole hogs with a sauce that is thin but spicy with components of vinegar and peppers. In the central region, the “Carolina Gold” BBQ sauce is a mustard-based sauce, and the dominant player, pairing well with pulled or chopped pork. The least known sauce in South Carolina is the “light tomato sauce” which is common in the western art of the state.

North Carolina: Eastern North Carolina is known for whole hog roasts with a thin sauce made from vinegar and tomato. Lexington BBQ (Western North Carolina) is ketchup-based and slightly sweeter than the sauce found in the East, due to the addition of brown sugar.

Memphis: Memphis-Style BBQ consists of ribs that are either “wet” or “dry”. The sauce for these ribs is slightly sweet but thinner with more spices, heat, sugar and vinegar than Carolina style BBQ sauces.

Kansas City: An off-shoot of Memphian BBQ, it includes beef in addition to the traditional pork BBQ. In this style, the sauce is the center of attention, and French Fries are a typical accompaniment. Molasses as a component of the sauce results in a richer, darker sauce made most popular by K.C. Masterpiece.

Texas: Arguably the home of BBQ, there are 4 predominant styles of BBQ, including East Texas BBQ (chopped meat, predominantly hickory smoke in a sweet tomato BBQ); Central Texas BBQ or ‘meat market style’(the meat is dry rubbed and cooked over pecan or oak, sauce is thinner and served on the side, served sliced on a tray with sides and condiments); West Texas BBQ (“Cowboy Style” with mesquite wood an direct fire); and South Texas BBQ: (BBQ sauces made with molasses and barbacoa and cabrito for proteins). Texas is among the states where BBQ sauce is optional and usually is served on the side.

Kentucky: In the far western corner of Kentucky, a small pocket of counties specialize in mutton smoked over hickory coals. The sauce, which is Worcestershire-based with black pepper and allspice, is strong enough on its own to cut the gamey flavor of the mutton.

Alabama: In Alabama’s far north chicken reigns supreme in the BBQ scene. The true star of North Alabama BBQ is not the chicken though. Rather, it is a surprisingly unique white sauce. Comprised of mayonnaise, horseradish, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar (and sometimes apple or lemon juice), the sauce is what truly sets Alabama BBQ apart from the rest of the pack.

Whichever school of BBQ thought you find yourself in, one thing is for sure: BBQ is bigger and better than ever. So go on, get your BBQ on – just make sure to bring some friends, because there is always enough to share.