Andy Eats Atlanta: Episode One – Hybrids of the New South

Hey everybody! Its been awhile since I posted anything on here, but now I’m settled in at my new place in Atlanta, Georgia and I thought I would share my culinary adventures in my new City with my friends here on Nosh Pit.

After a long week at work, I decided to take a couple of hours this Saturday to get out of my apartment, and explore the area of Atlanta I’m staying in. I’m renting an apartment in a neighborhood in the Northeastern rim of the Atlanta Sprawl, Brookhaven for those of you who know Atlanta neighborhoods. If you know the Atlanta region you probably recognize this as a pretty upscale area. For the record, I am not a millionaire, or the Cabana boy of one of the Real Atlanta housewives. I found a very small apartment in a complex that caters to Oglethorpe University students for cheap.

Being new to the South, I of course wanted to try some Barbecue, so I thought that would be a good way to start my first food adventure! Google Maps helpfully suggested a well reviewed nearby BBQ place, The Old Brick Pit, and I headed out.

I’m still learning how to judge distances on the map in the urban sprawl setting, so I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled on to the main drag near my complex (Peachtree Street) and almost immediately was greeted by this:

The Old Brick Pit BBQ Stand near my Apartment

The Old Brick Pit BBQ Stand near my Apartment

This place is close enough for easy take-out dinner! Since this was my neighborhood BBQ shop, I now desperately wanted to be pleased with its offerings, despite the dangers of high cholesterol. As I got out of the car, the smell of woodsmoke blowing across the parking lot buoyed my hopes.

I entered and ordered the combination platter (Ribs, Pulled Pork, Slaw, Bread, and Brunswick Stew) and a sweet tea from the hand-lettered chalk board menu. My wait for my food was very short… less than five minutes.

The folks behind the counter at the Old Brick Pit, like so many folks I’ve met during my first few weeks in Atlanta, did not fit the foolish stereotypes of southern institutions I had in my head before arriving here. In a southern institution like a BBQ pit, I expected to see behind the counter blond women in beehive hair, or old white men in Panama hats, or perhaps a family of African-American restaurateurs. Instead, I met a counter crew of Latina women expertly dishing out ribs and sauce. It was an image that, in my mind at least, spoke to the cosmopolitan hybridity of the New South Atlanta is the center of, as well as its racialized class structure.

The couple sitting in the booth adjacent to mine were another example of this. By their accents, they were an Asian woman and a Southern white man. She was explaining to him what she believed to be the difference between the Chinese and Japanese cultures while they discussed a mutual acquaintance. I had brought a book to read while I ate, but ended up eavesdropping on these two the whole time. The story was just too good. “I always told her I would take care of her while she was here,” the man lamented at one point, “but she knew there was no way I could marry her.”

But anyway, back to the food. Here was my plate when it came out:

0822091205aLooks pretty good! I am tickled pink by the Southern BBQ technique of serving ribs on a bed of pulled pork. Why serve your meat with pasta, rice, or potatoes when you can serve it with MORE MEAT. The sauce provided was thin, tangy and a little sweet. I had not encountered this sort of sauce before, though I had heard of it. The white object to the side of the plate is two slices of white bread wrapped in wax paper. The red-orange brunswick stew (another first for this Yankee) can be seen peeking into the frame in its little plastic bowl on the top-right.

First the ribs. They were excellent. The soft, wonderfully greasy meat could be easily stripped from the bone simply by tugging lightly on the exposed bone ends with the fingers. Even the cartilage was soft enough to be easily crunched between my teeth and eaten. As I finished my first rib, I thought the meat might be slightly bland, then, as I started in on my second, realized I had let myself get too hungry before my food adventure and had eaten the first rib too quickly to appreciate the subtle, smoky flavor. I did not make this mistake twice.

The pulled pork was nice, but not as splendid as the ribs. Still it was moist, well cooked, and made an excellent vehicle for the tangy sauce, which grew on me as the meal progressed. The slaw was slaw, good and unassuming, playing its support role as it was supposed to. I wouldn’t even mention it, but I’ve sometimes been to places with slaw that was unpleasant, and I find that can be surprisingly detrimental to a BBQ meal.

I’m not sure what I think of brunswick stew. I think I need to give it another go, perhaps at several establishments. The flavor was nice, with bits of sweet corn to offset the spicy meat and tomato mixture. The stew at the Old Brick Pit was lightly spiced, I’ve heard other places make it more aggressive. The texture seemed mushy and I wasn’t super keen on that. I could see where it would be good comfort food if you grew up with it.

All in all, a good meal at a good price (around 11 bucks or so) and an interesting establishment! I ran some other errands and still had the smoky smell on my clothes when I got home, which I kind of liked. My apologies to my Mother, my Doctor, and my Arteries, but I’ll definitely be headed back to the Old Brick Pit.

Next time on Andy Eats Atlanta, I’ll cover the second half of this adventure, my trip to the Buford Highway Farmers Market.

– Andy

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Published in: on August 22, 2009 at 2:19 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Welcome to the joys of southern food. I’ve been a fan of southern style cooking for years. I think this page is fabulous! Have you tried collard greens yet? That’s one of my faves. My wedding reception next week is going to be all southern soul food. Hard to find in Syracuse, NY… But some fried chicken, collard greens, mac & cheese, candied yams, corn bread, black eye peas, dirty rice, etc. Mmmmmm Heart attack waiting to happy but sooooooo good 🙂 Hope all is well and you are enjoying Atlanta!

    Kelly

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed your meal. If you liked Old Brick Pit, then you’re definitely going to be in for a surprise once you really taste good barbecue (OBP does not have a great reputation with some, myself included, but I say eat what you enjoy. BTW, OBP serves North Carolina style barbecue). Go about 1/2 mile North on P’tree and try Pig & Chik. Much better. There are literally, well over 100 more barbecue restaurants in the Atlanta area. You’ll find that there are varied opinions about barbecue, and the discussions can get quite heated.

    Check out my blog if you’d like to find some other places to eat on Buford Highway. http://eatbufordhighway.wordpress.com/


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