Two new articles up on ESPN.com: Cliff Lee trade breakdown and brief reports on all of the players in Sunday’s Futures Game.
I took a few of your suggestions for Q and sushi in the Traingle area and stumbled on very solid frozen custard joint for my second run through North Carolina.
I’ll start with the sushi: Waraji seems to be, by acclamation, the best sushi place in the Triangle, and it may very well be that, but it’s not very good. Better than Little Tokyo, but still not good. The fish was completely tasteless; one fish, “white fish,” recommended by the chef who served me, was chewy and sinewy; they don’t offer anago or tai and were out of kanpachi; and they charged me for a nirigi I ordered but never received. The seaweed salad cost $8 and was really portioned for two, although it was the greenest I’ve ever seen, making me wonder about its legitimacy.
I tried Allen & Sons and The Pit for Q, and would unequivocally vote for the latter despite its inauthentic setting. The Pit is the only upscale Q joint I’ve come across in my travels – they even have a wine collection – and the place was filled with businessmen and -women at lunchtime. I ordered a combination plate at my server’s suggestion, getting the St. Louis ribs, the pulled pork, fried okra, and collard greens; the platter also comes with a biscuit and hush puppies, so I was full enough that I didn’t need dinner for about eight hours. The pulled pork was dry but both meats had a nice, subtle smoke flavor, and the ribs were fall-apart tender*. The okra was excellent – I’m starting to like eating in the south for the fried okra more than for the Q – and for about $12 the quantity of food was a little absurd. It’s not wow barbecue, and had a little bit of the feel of mass-smoked meat, as opposed to some guy in a shack who does it one pork shoulder at time, but it was very solid.
*There seems to be some real disagreement over whether ribs of any animal should be smoked till the meat falls off the bone. I’m in the “yes” camp, as ribs have a lot of connective tissue that I have no interest in eating. When the meat falls off the bone, the connective tissue will be largely gone. This, to me, is the entire point of low-and-slow cooking, whether it’s smoking or braising.
Allen & Sons looks good in the uniform, but the tools didn’t really play. It’s in a run-down building just off I-40 in Chapel Hill, and the menu is limited to “Carolina pork” and ribs, with the pork as their signature item. What came looked like some had scraped it off the wall after a pig exploded, an oily, vinegary, sloppy mess that tasted only of vinegar and not in the least of smoke. The best thing I can say about the dish is that it came with five hush puppies, as even the cole slaw was drowning in a mayo-vinegar slurry. It’s too bad, since that’s the sort of place where I’d expect to find the sort of artisanal work I thought the Pit’s pork lacked, but if you’re not going to put smoke flavor into the smoked meat, you might as well stick the thing in an oven.
Goodberry’s is a local chain of frozen custard shops that I think would stand up well against the competition of Milwaukee, still the capital of frozen custards as far as I can tell. Goodberry’s felt a little richer, with more butterfat, but the texture was an 80 and the chocolate, despite being a little light in color, had a rich natural cocoa flavor. They offer vanilla, chocolate, sugar-free vanilla, and a rotating flavor of the day; I was disappointed that coconut wasn’t coming until the 16th, since that + chocolate is one of my favorite ice cream flavor pairings. They also offer a long list of toppings, including freshly roasted nuts (I don’t think they’re roasted on site, though), so I’ll recommend the chocolate with Oreos and almonds combo. The location I went to, on Kildare Farms Road in Cary, has no indoor seating but there are tables with umbrellas for shade.