We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
How anybody can drive up Route 91 through Vermont without stopping at Curtis' place (just west off the Putney exit (Exit 4), next to Ron's gas station) for some authentic Mississippi barbecue is beyond me. Curtis is a Mississippi-born and bred barbecuemaster, but he spends spring to fall in Putney, VT (of all places), cooking over hardwood smoke all day long, with his pet pig and dog following him around the smoky pit. Now he sells his own Curtis' Root Beer and Barbecue Sauce too - but only at his place.
He is a busy old codger, but he will chat with you if you have anything worth saying to him. It had better be interesting, though. You do not see many places like this in New England. I'd be willing to claim that it's the best southern barbecue in Vermont.
Top Of The Hill Grill on the Putney Rd in Brattleboro, I thought, was better BBQ - it just doesn't have the romance and poetry that Curtis does. i.e, looks like the real deal in some Mississippi backwater. I haven't been to either in a few years so not sure if Top Of The Hill is still the same owner and quality.
2010 Update: Top Of The Hill Grill, Putney Rd., Brattleboro VT. Stopped on the way home from an Easter Dinner in MA. Same owner, same wonderful BBQ. Highly recommended. Curtis is fine, too, certainly more the kind of operation you would see down south in BBQ-land. Both places serve sinfully good BBQ, and only 1 exit apart on I-91. Try one for lunch, the other for dinner!
You're right, BD, not many left. We lost Joe Grates place (but not NC native Joe or his lovely wife) a few years ago here in Hamden, CT. For Yankee BBQ (steamers, lobsters), try The Place on Route 1 in Guilford, CT.
Yankee Smokehouse at the intersection of 16 and 25 in NH, on your way to North Conway.
Assistant Village Idiot
Great memories! Good to see he is still cookin'.
Back in the early 90s I was traveling up that way with a poor southern rock band and we were looking for something to eat, frustrating by the lack of signage on the Interstate. We decided we were going to just have to settle for convenience store food and we randomly got off at the next exit, which happened to be Curtis. I truly understood hog heaven at that moment.
Had some outstanding ribs, and a great conversation with Curtis, truly a fine gentleman.
Only a very few. There's a place near me that claims to be Texas barbecue but ain't. There's KC's Rib Shack in Manchester which is OK, but is kind of a hodge podge of regional barbecue tuned for New England palates. Now that I know about Curtis' though...
I consider myself a connoisseur and have eaten BBQ ALL over. I have to recommend that If any of you folks ever get the chance, absolutely try these two spots:
Louise's in Crystal Springs, MS - absolutely the BEST dry smoked ribs I've ever eaten. They use a vinegar based "clear" sauce which is, at once, sweet and slightly hot. They are firm, but juicey - not mushy. The real deal.
Old Timer's Barbeque in Richland, MS - smoked brisket sandwiches. Again, best I've eaten.
STAY AWAY from the following over hyped places:
The Shed - a local franchise that's all over - some of the worst BBQ in the US that is living off it's self-promotion skills
Letha's - Hatttiesburg, MS - merely "ok" - but gets tons of hype. Overcooked - mushy.
I'll be staying 30 minutes from there in about a week, and it gives me a chance to check out some back roads on the way there and back. Thanks.
Assistant Village Idiot
I think those Trans- Snow Birds are more common than you know. My grand parents use to summer in VT and winter in Florida but considered themselves Floridians. Also know a guy that runs a camp ground in Michigan but lives in Texas (resident). If you ever experienced summer in the deep south you wouldn't wonder why.