For the fifth straight New Year’s Eve, my father and stepmother Jane hosted almost 30 people for their locally famous “Wine, Swine and Bovine” blowout. My father assembled more than twenty pounds of pork and beef barbecue from around the nation and their friends brought premium wines and sides. After people ate enough meat to satisfy a small tiger and drank a bottle’s worth of wine apiece, everybody stumbled downstairs to dance and ring in the New Year. No surprise, the food was delicious and the experience was a lot of fun.
Last year, my father (the pit master) ordered ‘cue from The Salt Lick BBQ and Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Texas Hill Country and Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous in Memphis. This year, he stuck with the Lick and Rendezvous, and went big for Snow’s BBQ, which was voted #1 in Texas Monthly’s latest rankings.
Of course it’s impossible to judge a barbecue shack via mail-order, but Snow’s brisket definitely traveled better than the Salt Lick’s version. Snow’s slices had wider streaks of fat, but they also had more give featured thicker smoke rings thanks to 8-10 hours of buffeting. Snow’s pork ribs had a pleasant chew and the Salt Lick’s sausage links boasted their usual snap.
Rendezvous pork ribs were slathered with their signature dry rub, leading to more spice. Still, the Salt Lick’s pork ribs were moister and clearly better, especially when splashed with the addictive vinegar and mustard based sauce.
Family friends contributed oversized side dishes, including cole slaw, baked beans streaked with bacon and mac & cheese. The full complement of sides also included textbook paprika-dusted deviled eggs and sweet squares of “wet” cornbread.
For dessert, Mayor Bill ordered three pies from Grand Traverse Pie Company in Traverse City, Michigan, a city famed for its cherries. Bill bought a tangy cherry pie, a sweet strawberry-rhubarb pie and an apple pie, all with flaky crusts. Jill made moist chocolate chip cookies and Swedish wedding balls, date and Rice Krispies balls flavored with vanilla and rolled in coconut shavings.
Everybody clanked and downed glasses of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Champagne when the clock hit midnight.
I’ll spare you the photos from when Jackie did the worm and Steve led partygoers on a “train ride” around the living room. Those are images better left in the “New Year’s Eve” archives.