Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2015 - 29
Warm Sauce in Styrofoam:
Bridges Barbecue Lodge
halfway through my platter of kung Pao shrimp at an east tennessee
asian eatery, the talk turned to sushi. a former husband's military
assignment had once relocated our server to seattle, and, when the
marriage broke up, she returned home to appalachia. i told her we
had driven from seattle to tacoma one summer for sushi at Fujiya,
after seeing the place featured on public television.
"i can't imagine driving 24 miles just to eat," she said.
"i've driven over two hours, one way, for a plate of barbecue," i replied.
Bridges is one of north carolina's oldest
serving and dispensing system. And
don't forget to round out the
Louisiana theme with a steaming
café au lait.
Louisiana Purchase Food and sPirits
397 shawneehaw avenue
Banner eLk, north caroLina
An Appalachian Take on Tapas
Cured ham. Smoked paprika. Olive
oil. Sherr y. White asparagus.
Almonds. They are among the flavors and fragrances of Spanish cuisine. And they are celebrated inside
a former bus station in Asheville,
Tapas, the little dishes of Spain,
take center stage at Cúrate, a restaurant that has gotten the attention of
Martha Stewart Living, Travel +
Leisure, Food & Wine, the Huffington
Post, and the James Beard
In a building dating to 1927,
Cúrate opened in 2011. The very
next year, executive chef and coowner Katie Button earned a nomination as a "Rising Star Chef" from
the James Beard Foundation in New
With a background in biomedical
engineering and neurosciences,
My destination was Bridges Barbecue Lodge, in shelby, north
carolina. Both sides of highway 74 in shelby, the hometown of earl
scruggs, are packed with national chains, but Bridges is locally owned
and always has been, going back to 1946, when red Bridges and his
wife Lyttle, "Mama B," first started smoking pork shoulders over hardwood coals.
Barbecuing meat is a messy, smoky, sooty business, but you'd never
know it at Bridges. the place is immaculate, even out back, where the
split logs of oak and hickory wood are stacked in careful precision.
Locals attribute such neatness to the fact that women have overseen
the operation for most of its existence. red and Mama B's daughter
debbie Bridges webb, a former professional model, manages the
in the style of the north carolina Piedmont, Bridges only barbecues
pork shoulder. Minced, chopped, and sliced are the options, but be
sure to ask for some "outside brown," the lean meat exposed to smoke
after the skin and fat are removed.
the sauce, in the Lexington barbecue tradition, is slightly thick and
tart with tomato extracts and vinegar. this "dip," as it's often called in
the Piedmont, is brought to the table warm, in a styrofoam cup. the
slaw is seasoned with barbecue sauce, and elongated, grainy, dark
brown hushpuppies are served as sides. Bridges also sells a deviled
egg sandwich, homemade, on toast.
all day long there's carry-out traffic-teenagers digging change
out of their pockets for a sandwich, office workers taking bagsful of
pork trays to their co-workers, soccer moms stopping by to pick up
the evening's meal. the naugahyde seats and booths are rarely
empty. although barbecue is slow in the cooking, it's served quickly
at Bridges. Pork plates often beat ice tea to the table.
in barbecue-obsessed north carolina, where sauces, sides, and slicing techniques are debated with the heat of a hickory fire, Bridges
has remained true to its heritage and its traditions, keeping alive, for
almost seven decades, the local flavor and personality of the north
Bridges BarBecue Lodge. highway 74e across FroM cLeveLand MaLL
(the actuaL address is 2000 east dixon BouLevard, which is a service
road ParaLLeL to the Main highway.), sheLBy, north caroLina. 704-4828567 -FS
Editor's note: In the spirit of Fred Sauceman driving two hours each way for a
plate of BBQ, we herewith invite our readers slightly out of our coverage area
for this culinary treat and to visit the hometown of the aforementioned and
legendary Earl Scruggs.
May/June 2015 29