I have a very good friend whom I have met exactly twice. He’s Dan Kenney, best known to our readers as the co-Founder of the Annual Beer Snob Pig Picking held at Dan’s historic home in Lumberton, North Carolina, every April. Dan graciously invited Nancy and me to the last two Beer Snob Pig Pickings. As if founding a Beer Snob Pig Picking weren’t enough for one person, Dan is much more. Dan is recently retired from a distinguished career as a coach and university executive, and is a font of insight and wisdom about people, human relationships, and success. He shares these insights daily on the remarkable Coach4aday blog. You will be a better person if you follow his blog. Dan has now joined our staff as Senior Carolina Correspondent, Principal Whole Hog Cooker, and Chief Turkey Fryer.
Dan posts, as I say, every single day, and each post in a given year fits a theme. One year the theme was beer, and Dan wrote about a different brand of beer every day for a year. This year, he writes around a different word. The word for August 4, 2019 was “ASSIGNMENT”, and Dan’s assignment, for which he volunteered, was to report on Shuler’s Bar-B-Que, a place I have tried and that I strongly recommend. As always, Dan brings new insight and perspective. Rather than overtax my erratic block and copy skills and repeat his full post — which you should read on Dan’s blog — I’ve excerpted the Shuler’s report portion:
Shuler’s BBQ sits on SC 38 about 4 miles east of I-95 and Exit 181A. If you are visually impaired or still distracted by the early wooden cotton press you saw three miles back, you might miss it. What helps you know you have arrived is the GIGANTIC American flag, the Shuler’s Bar-B-Que sign, and a packed parking lot.
John told me that I should be in at least one photo, so here is a selfie outside of the restaurant.
When you enter Shuler’s BBQ you follow a corral to the cash register where you place your order. I immediately got excited when I read some small print on the menu that said Senior Discount. I got ahead of myself for being recently deputized as Senior Carolina Correspondent on ASSIGNMENT. The senior discount only applies to the buffet for those over the age of 65. John this is good for you to know.
My wife ordered the lunch buffet and I went with a BBQ meat tray with two sides. Both orders came with a drink and dessert and the tab was $20.02. I am pretty sure that John’s international correspondents on ASSIGNMENT are not turning in receipts with that amount of frugality for reimbursement.
After placing your order you get a number mounted on 12 inch metal pole and go find a seat. They have inside and outside dining. The outside overlooks a pond that may be habitat for alligators. For the record, I didn’t see any, but opted for indoor seating.
The food arrives in a hurry and a waiter/waitress will take your drink order when you’re seated. Here are pics of my wife’s buffet plate and my BBQ plate.
My wife’s plate is below, and mine is below that, with cornbread.
In the world of journalism I don’t know if there is such a thing as full disclosure, since this is my first ASSIGNMENT. Whether it is or is not appropriate here comes the disclosure.
I want some form of Eastern North Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce with my ‘cue.
If you don’t know how to make Eastern North Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce, here is a simple explanation. Get one gallon of apple cider vinegar with enough poured out so that the gallon jug can hold one inch of ground red pepper, one inch of ground white pepper, and one inch of ground black pepper. Then let it sit for a week or more before use. That or some variation of it is how I like it.
When my friends and I cook for the Annual Beer Snob Pig Picking, we use apple cider vinegar and a few other ingredients. For the record John Tanner has been on ASSIGNMENT at that event. My friends and I think Lumberton is on par with Lyons, France or why else would John have visited both places. For the record he has been to Lumberton twice–take that France and your “formule”.
Okay, with the journalistic disclosure out of the way Shuler’s BBQ sauce is tangy and mustardy with some tomatoey taste but it is not EASTERN NC sauce. The BBQ was lean and you can taste the salt and pepper. I did not use the sauce. The meat was not overly moist. It was chopped well and you could see the smoke ring. My sides were good with the mac n’ cheese being a little better than the slaw.
The value and service when dining at Shuler’s is excellent. Adjacent to the restaurant is a General Store with some big time grills for sale inside. They also have a bakery and ice cream shop. Outside on the porch of the general store they have an industrial scale to weigh yourself. It might not be a good idea after the buffet.
If you are traveling down I-95 close to the NC/SC line and feel the need to taste some SC Barbecue, take it on as an ASSIGNMENT and give Shuler’s BBQ a try for lunch or dinner.
FYI they have Banana Pudding and a soft serve ice cream machine for dessert.
This is your Senior Carolina Correspondent signing off.
Characteristically, Dan filled in lots of gaps in my reporting. He got the details on the cotton press, which I had noticed but lacked the initiative to investigate. Dan also noticed the senior discount, which I had overlooked, but, if I’m honest with myself, which happens now and them, I’ll admit I probably got anyway. And wasn’t Dan’s comment about turning in a receipt for reimbursement hilarious? The idea that I would reimburse him brings tears to my eyes.
Many thanks to Dan, and, really, do follow Coach4aday.
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