|Lockhart Smokehouse pitmaster Will Fleischman. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com)|
A while back, after the lunch rush and long before dinner, I was sipping a beer and talking to Will Fleischman, the pitmaster-philosopher at Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas.
Is the Texas barbecue bubble going to burst? I asked. Will the culinary accolades from around the country and the long lines of customers here eventually go away?
Fleischman acknowledged that the frenzy for Texas barbecue might someday cool. But, he said, he was going to ride the wave of popularity as far as it goes. He had been employed at Lockhart since it opened in 2011. From his point of view, he said, he hadn’t worked a day the whole time. It was fun.
There’s no argument that Texas barbecue is hot. We have VIP tastings, $150-a-head custom bus tours of top Texas joints, and long lines of regular barbecue lovers happily queuing up for hours just to get served.
I know all that. You could argue that the Posse is just a byproduct of the Texas barbecue resurgence.
But the true extent of this phenomenon didn’t become entirely clear to me until this past week.
|Colin Irwin’s backyard pit in the UK. (Colin Irwin photo)|
— Colin Irwin, a reader of the Posse’s Facebook page who lives in the United Kingdom, asked for some advice on building a temporary smoker so he could cook Texas-style barbecue during a trip to Turkey this fall.
In our Facebook correspondence, Colin said that he had made a barbecue pilgrimage to Texas a year ago and, based on that, had built a backyard pit out of cement blocks and was selling Texas-style brisket at his local farmer’s market once a month.
“My inspiration to build the smoker was seeing the ones at Kreuz Market and Black’s,” he wrote of the famous Lockhart joints. “The guys at Black’s were immensely helpful — they gave me a pit tour and took time to explain how the brick smokers are constructed and what temps they run at.”
Colin promised to let us know how his cooking excursion to Turkey turns out. Maybe this best-in-the-world claim by Texas Monthly isn’t so over the top after all.
— A good friend, Alan Hilburg, lives in Virginia. On a couple of his business trips to Dallas, he and I have eaten at Pecan Lodge, one of the best joints in the state.
Alan contacted me Wednesday evening. He said he was flying home from California the next day with his son, Ben, and wanted to stop in Dallas just to eat at Pecan Lodge. Ben, 18, had been talking about doing a multi-state barbecue tour, starting in the Carolinas, and Alan thought he should have a taste of the best first.
They landed at DFW Airport at about 11:40 a.m. and got a ride to Pecan Lodge where I was holding a place in line. We ate brisket, ribs and pulled pork and they returned to the airport.
Ben loved the meal and I could tell by the big smile on his face that he wasn’t just being polite. I’d hate to be the pitmaster at the first Carolina joint he hits on his own tour. The barbecue bar has been set very high.
— That same day, it was widely reported that three suburban cities around Dallas were actively recruiting Pecan Lodge to move from its Dallas location. It wasn’t an outright attempt at stealing a prime culinary asset. There are unresolved issues with the renovation at the Dallas Farmers Market, Pecan Lodge’s current location.
Still, the idea of barbecue — Texas barbecue — as an important engine of economic development is absolutely mind blowing, to borrow a phrase from my long-ago youth.
Yes, we have ourselves an ongoing Texas barbecue phenomenon. And like Will Fleischman, we’re going to ride the wave. This is fun.