It's been a crazy hectic week at work (wrapping up 2010 budgets) and getting ready for our class reunion, not to mention feeling distracted by other possible life-changing events (the process is dragging on longer than we thought, but all is good so far and please continue to think good parental thoughts about us!).
I was SO distracted that I first drove to the WRONG Stamey's and arrived a half-hour late. The crew of perhaps eight people were pretty much done eating when I arrived (thank you, Tommy, for ordering for me!), but were so kind as to order cobbler & ice cream so I wouldn't be eating my supper alone. The barbeque & red slaw were great as always, and the hush puppies WAY too good.
For my readers outside NC, you may not know about NC barbeque. Let me educate you a bit. Barbeque in NC is not a verb, it's a noun. And it's pork, not beef or chicken. That thing you cook on in your back yard is a GRILL, not a barbeque. What you are doing on it is GRILLING, not barbequeing. In NC, there are basically two styles -- Eastern and Western (also known as Lexington-style). Eastern barbeque uses the meat of the whole hog, while Western barbeque uses only pork shoulders. Eastern sauce is wonderfully tart & tangy, mainly vinegar & peppers, while Western sauce is more ketchup-y, especially in Lexington. Stamey's says that theirs is Lexington-style (because they use only shoulders), but in my opinion, it's actually somewhere in the middle, because it's not all drowning in red or brown sauce. While in college in Raleigh, I acquired a real taste for Eastern style, though I could generally do without the occasional "mystery chunks" that you sometimes find in the whole-hog version. I love the biting vinegar-pepper sauce of Eastern, no matter what. Either way, in my experience, the Stamey's version is unique and a very tasty one. I like the vinegar-pepper sauce they have in bottles on the table so much that I generally buy several bottles to take home. It makes a heck of a marinade on pork OR chicken in the crock pot.
I will admit that it's an acquired taste. I will never forget, near the beginning of our first year in NC (1980 or 81), that there was a big sports dinner at our high school one evening - maybe giving out awards or something? Anyway, as most of these events around here are, it was catered by Stameys. I looked down at this pile of grey (OK, light brown) chopped meat, tried a small bite, and put my fork down. My mouth was in shock! I thought it was awful, and it was quite some time before I tried NC pork barbeque again. Once I acquired a taste for it, however, I start craving it every month or two. Yay for Stamey's!