Monday, March 25, 2013

World's Best Barbeque

We got to St Augustine after a hurried round up at home Friday afternoon. I watered the plants and prepared the car while my wife got the last items packed. Cheyenne wandered between us seeking assurance she was coming too.

My wife has become a master navigator since she got her iPhone. A woman who can't read a road map much less a maritime chart (we've tried both) can navigate with aplomb with a phone of all things. Wiley's Barbecue is somewhere between Savannah and Tybee Island off highway 80. It's a nondescript store front in a nondescript strip mall. It's like the Tardis in the world of food favors. Inside it's amazing. My wife has learned to love fried green tomatoes ever since the eponymous movie, and while I don't mind them I'm not wild about green fruit with limited flavor. However, like cracked conch, green tomatoes live or die by their batter. These were nicely done with a tangy mustard sauce. The sweet tea wasn't too sweet so I could say, so far so good as we bellied up to the only available space -at the counter.

Wiley's Championship BBQ Their website is a bit forgotten but it has all you need, except the food itself. There aren't a lot of tables inside the store, and we were greeted by apologetic staff telling us the ribs were finished for the afternoon. No problem. I like it when they run out after a busy lunch. That tells me they use real ingredients in limited supply. A freezer full of Sysco boxes never runs out!

Trip Advisor had several comments in support of the burnt barbecue tips. That sounded gross to me little did I know, so I went with my favorite meat which is brisket. My wife's dish, above, was the burnt tips which came with sweet potato that was sweet and delicious and as you'd expect along with a dish of mac & cheese, made with real pasta and a creamy liquid cheese sauce, not at all traditional but delightful. My brisket was the moist tender fantasy you hope for when you plump for southern cuisine. It was soft as butter and made spicy with the hot barbecue sauce on the table. The brown mess is Brunswick Stew, a poor cook's dish traditionally stewed with whatever is to hand and left over. It was delicate soft and filled with barbecue flavor, a dish unto itself. The rice and broccoli with cheese was the perfect foil to the stew and brisket. I was in heaven.

The woman on the left is Jenna the owner of this five year old venture and she immediately bonded with my wife after they both found out they were, or had been teachers. My photographic skills are dreadful when it comes to people so ignore the moronic expressions. The chef in back looks suitably suspicious but the front staff were having a grand time and they included us in their fun. It was a fabulous meal with left overs for dinner in our Rocky Mount motel and a slice of chocolate pecan pie for dinner desert in North Carolina. With a bottle of sauce and extravagant tip we spent $67. Worth every penny.

The barbecue joint isn't in downtown Savannah but we stopped off on our way back to the freeway to walk the dog, patient friend, in the drizzle.

Southern cooking is a cliche but done right it is a cultural expression that is hard to forget. I enjoyed the meal even in retrospect. We have good food in Key West but not like this. Perhaps because as they like to say Key West isn't really in the south. Whatever, I wish it were available which would not be a good thing for my waist.

Cheyenne likes her puddles wherever she finds them. I love my dog but she is no gourmand.