Lunch 1/14/23

Barbecue brisket and hot sausage combo plate with cornbread and macaroni & cheese

Got together for lunch on Saturday with my three high school/college buddies Mark, Tony and Joe in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They were all at my brother’s funeral in 2021, but otherwise we hadn’t gotten together since before the pandemic, so it was fun to hang out for a few hours. We ate at Portsmouth Feed Co., in the old Pourtsmouth Savings Bank building in downtown, and I hadn’t been to Portsmouth for several years, either. The blurring of time from the pandemic really washes away one’s connections to the world.

The food was okay but not memorable. There are some barbecue joints around New England that do a good job, but there are a lot of mediocre places, and even some terrible ones. This was middling, but acceptable because the food wasn’t really the point. Frankly, I thought the mac & cheese was the best thing on the plate. The brisket was lean, which is how I prefer it, but without any serious smoke or bark. The sausage was spicy, but dry. There was a much better barbecue place in downtown Portsmuth a few years ago, but it closed even befoe the pandemic. Our server also seemed less than enthusiastic to have a table of geezers.

Anyway, we sat and chatted, then walked around downtown for a bit, before landing in a coffee shop to get out of the cold. All the kids are grown up and leading their own lives, some of the parents are passed away and others dealing with the ravages of afvanced age, and we’re not the wild and crazy guys we used to be, but there is an ease with old friends you can’t find anywhere else.

Lunch 10/29/21

BBQ rib and brisket combo with BBQ beans, mac & cheese, cornbread, and flatbread

On our trip to Vermont back in October, we stopped for lunch at Big Fatty’s in White River Junction. I had the ribs and brisket combo. As I mentioned previously, this meal left me so full that I had absolutely zero interest in dinner when we got to our hotel in Burlington that evening. I think you can see why.

Barbecue is still a bit niche in New England, but there are some very good ones here and there. And some bad ones. This place was one of the good ones. Brisket is probably my favorite barbecue meat. I prefer the leaner flat cut, which this was. I know most people tend to like the point cut because it stays juicier, but for me it’s just too fatty. I also prefer flat cut brisket for braising at home. Braising brisket keeps it a lot more moist and tender than smoking, but good barbecue brisket is a joy to eat.

My usual go-to sides at a BBQ resturant are mac & cheese and collard greens, but Big Fatty’s doesn’t have collards on the menu. The greens and the vinegary pot liquor are a nice contrast to heavy, fatty meat, making them the perfect side in my opinion. The M&C was really good, as was the cornbread. The beans were just okay. We didn’t set out to find this place on purpose, it just happened to show up online as we were trying to find a place for lunch along the way, but it was worth the stop.