Nancy and I recently took a major detour on our way down to Cove Point. It’s a long story that you don’t want to hear. At any rate, we found ourselves on MD 2 south of Annapolis as time for lunch was receding. Nancy’s emergency internet research revealed a highly rated place, Pinkie’s Eatery, that boasted Cajun/Southern food. It was just a few miles ahead, right on our path, so on we drove to a nondescript commercial building that’s home to a church, a barber shop, and Pinkie’s. It looked promising from my slanted point of view.
As we pulled into the parking lot, what to my wondering eyes should appear but three smokers and a wood pile. O frabjous day! All the time I spend looking for barbecue cooked only with wood, and here I stumble on a hidden gem.
Pinkie’s is a small place, with room for several tables but, under state law COVID restrictions, room for only four people at a time to peruse the menu and order. There are lots of choices.
There’s another sign or two for specials. Note the Farm to Table sign. Good ingredients. Both Nancy and I ordered the rib tips, Nancy with a tossed salad and their sweet potato casserole —
and I with collards and cabbage and the Southern macaroni and cheese. Both orders came with cornbread.
I also surreptitiously ordered a generous slice of sweet potato pie (at an absurdly low price.)
Nancy and I took our food to the picnic table out front to eat. It was a nice sunny January day, temperature in the 40s, just the sort of day people eat outside in COVID times. Both of us liked the rib tips. Pinkie’s gives a healthy portion, enough for three meals for Nancy and a meal and a half for me. The rib tips had a good flavor and texture — al dente, just what you want. And the taste of the pecan wood Pinkie’s uses to cook the meat comes through. Pinkie’s cooks exclusively with wood, no gas or electricity, and I was pleased to give them a window sticker on behalf of the Campaign for Real Barbecue.
Nancy happily volunteered that the sauce was not excessively sweet. It certainly was not the gloppy, super-sweet sauce I so dread. What a relief! Pinkie’s sauce was just a touch on the sweet side for my vinegar-centric tastes, but it was thoughtfully seasoned and didn’t obscure the flavor of the meat. Those of you new to the Blog may see that as damning with faint praise, but regular readers will understand it as praising with faint damn. Anyway, the rib tips were very good.
My collard greens and cabbage were the real deal. I do need to start carrying vinegar pepper with me in these days when you can’t share condiments, but I really liked the collards even without it. As I say, they were the real deal. And I loved the macaroni and cheese. It’s billed as Southern macaroni and cheese, and it is just that, church social macaroni and cheese, made in the traditional style with more time, energy, and skill than most people are willing to commit. It’s the kind Dear used to make, and Nana before her — and Cora, too.
Nancy’s sweet potato casserole was delicious. For those of you unfamiliar with Southern cooking, sweet potato casserole is basically a celebration of butter and sugar. It’s a magnificent dish, one of the prides of the Meat and Three. It is hard to beat. Know, however, that for holidays it can be improved by one addition, as per this great recipe.
The corn bread was fine, except that it had been made with sugar. Sigh. You have to get into North Carolina before you get cornbread cooked in cast iron with bacon grease (see recipe). If there is a place closer, please leave a comment. And once in the Tarheel State, you can get glorious corn sticks. But up here in the Washington area … people add sugar. Another sigh. That’s part of the price I pay for living in a culinary backwater. But truth be told, most people will like Pinkie’s cornbread. I ate all of mine and enjoyed it, despite a tinge of sadness over what it could have been. Within the ranks of cornbreads made with sugar, Pinkie’s version stands pretty tall.
And the surreptitious sweet potato pie? Nancy got wind of it, and took a bite that led to several bites. Not so many bites that I didn’t have a good-sized slice of pie for myself, but you may want to get individual slices for everyone. Or a whole pie. Pinkie’s knows pie.
I’m eager to go back to Pinkie’s Eatery. It’s my sort of place. Once things open up again, you’re liable to run into all sorts of people there, all races and incomes and walks of life, all attracted by very good food at a reasonable price. I want to explore Pinkie’s barbecue options and also try some of their Cajun offerings. And their pound cake looked beautiful. You definitely should try Pinkie’s. I know you’ll like it and, really, you do need to get out more.
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