The Dixie Pig, located in Blytheville, Arkansas, is a barbeque experience. (You should pronounce the town name as BLY-VULL so they won't think you're a foreigner.) I had read about the "Pig" for years, and was excited to finally be there, and even more excited to be chowing down!
I ordered their chopped pork plate, which consists of a very healthy size portion of excellently smoked pork shoulder, finely chopped, with both Mr. Brown and Miss White*, mounded on a platter, served dry and covered over the top with French fries. As my tour guide Jeff tried to do, you can ask for the fries on the side, but you will probably still get them heaped on top of the meat. Too funny! I liked hearing the sound of the cook in the back, as he was chopping up the pork in the kitchen, probably with a large knife or a cleaver. Just hearing that sound created much gustatory anticipation for me, as I knew exactly what he was doing! The barbeque pork sandwiches are served as they are in much of the south, with a scoop of slaw right on top of the meat. If you don't want it that way, you need to tell your server you want your slaw on the side.
Anyway, the "sauce" is not what you may be used to, go easy with it until you see whether you like it... I detect some North Carolina influence here. It is not really what most of us in the Midwest (who are used to tomatoey/molasses-type sauces) would call a 'sauce', it is really just a very thin and vinegary liquid with flecks of black pepper and other spices suspended in it; and perhaps some Worcestershire sauce?; that visibly settles to the bottom.
The closest commercial product I have used is a marinade/sauce put out by Wicker's of Hornersville, Missouri. The company started by Peck Wicker is definitely still in business! In Missouri, many grocery stores carry it; I just saw it again in April of 2001. The product is actually intended as a marinade for beef briskets, but it is also very close to the Pig's 'slosh". The "Pig's" sauce is served in ketchup bottles that have a nail hole punched in the lid for sloshing. You slosh out this "sauce" onto your chopped pork on the plate, or onto your sandwich. I really didn't care for it at first, but it kinda grows on you! I love it, and I know they sell bottles of it to take home. This kind of sloshing sauce will be encountered a lot in the South. If you want some recipes for this slosh, try the Lexington Collection's page of Finishing sauces, or check my sauces page for a "copycat" recipe. Some of those are very close!
The Dixie Pig has a very down-home atmosphere, you will see a lot of farmers and families with kids here. Blytheville is located in Northeast Arkansas on I-55, on the way to Memphis. The Pig is at the west end of town on Highway 67, which will eventually take you back into Missouri the back way. Give them a try if you are going that direction. Three and a half stars, minimum.
The Rendezvous is to Memphis what Arthur Bryant's is to Kansas City, ground zero for the Mid-South.. This restaurant dishes out the personification of Memphis-style BBQ, and indeed is attributed for creating what came to be known as Memphis BBQ! Back-alley dining at its finest! Their ribs are charbroiled, as opposed to being smoked, but they do have smoky flavor, and they have that famous coating of spices which makes them very distinctive and defines "Memphis-Style BBQ". I read in a newsgroup that their secret coating was simply Old Bay Seasoning with some white peppercorns added. Could be! Unlike KC-style ribs which often come slathered in sauce, sometimes to the extreme, these Memphis ribs are prepared and served dry. By Dry, that means with a liberal dusting of a paprika-dominant dry rub blend dusted all over the top of the slab just before serving. Yes, I know I was shocked at first too!! At the Rendezvous they don't use the terms "slab" or "half-slab", you either say you want a full order or a half-order. The waiters have personality beyond belief, and you will have as much fun listening to their banter and carrying-on, as you will chowing down on the ribs, ... well, almost as much. We had a great time with the help of our faithful "tour guides", Beth and Jeff, who kept us from making any first-timer gaffs! It was a total barbeque cultural experience and I can't wait to go back- which we did...
Revisit in 2001
We returned in April of 2001 for another very special occasion and found that things are pretty much the same. They still bring you two small side orders; portions of mustard-based slaw and some barbeque beans- which us Kansas City-style BBQ aficionados could give them some help with. They really are not intended to be a filling part of the meal, that is obvious, but most people come here for the ribs. This time, I took the combo plate with shredded pork shoulder and a serving of ribs (three). It was acceptable, I would say, but the portion size was on the small side compared to how I remembered it from 1999. To be totally honest, I left there hungry. What I had was good, but they seem to have reduced the portion size, I think... I would recommend you just get a full order of ribs. Now, keep in mind that a full order does not equate to a slab. If you are from KC and you are thinking that you will be getting a full slab, think again. It is probably about 7-8 ribs instead of the full "St. Louis" size slab you are probably used to. I still love the Rendezvous, don't get me wrong, and every restaurant has ups and downs. I just am not used to going away from a restaurant hungry!! If you are going to Memphis, though, it is still a must-go. For me, it was a long old trip all the way across Arkansas to get there, about 400 miles!! But any time spent with special friends is precious, moreover when it is a special event! Be sure to check out their website at the link I have provided above, and you will get a look at some of the wait staff that will make your trip so memorable!
*BBQ TIP OF THE DAY: You will hear this usage in the south a lot. The crispy outside edge of a smoked pork shoulder has a luscious deep brown color, (it had better, or you are getting oven-smoked as opposed to real BBQ) and they call the chunks of meat that have this brown edge "Mr. Brown". The pieces of tender whiter meat on the inside, with no dark edges, they call "Miss White". A waitress might even ask you the question "Did you want Mr. Brown or Miss White?". They are asking you which type of chopped pork shoulder meat you prefer on your sandwich; it has nothing to do with people, OK? The correct answer would be "A little of both".
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This page last updated 10 August 2009 0421Z