the trail boss

Trail Boss sandwich

We don’t normally drive over Snoqualmie Pass these days, but every once in a while we have a reason to head straight into Seattle from my folks’ house so we take I-90 over. The last time we did this we had the dog and some artwork and our instruments in the car, so we needed to find somewhere to stop for lunch where we could get some quick takeout. Thank god for cell phones. A little googling led us to pull off at a gas station in North Bend, where we obtained Trail Boss sandwiches from Rhodies Smokin’ BBQ. Who knew?

So how were the sandwiches? Not bad! While I’m not sure I’d put it on a par with Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, as one particularly enthusiastic online commenter suggested, the pulled pork was very good, the sauce was pleasantly spicy, the rolls were just the right combination of squishy and crispy, and they didn’t stint on the sandwich filling. I wouldn’t have objected to a few pickles, though.

mac salad

Jon got coleslaw for his side, which he said was fine but a bit bland. He got mac salad for me (because he knows I always have to have mac salad when it’s an option), and it was positively Hawaiian – nearly equal parts macaroni and dressing, with minimal vegetables. I quite liked it.

The restaurant is hidden inside Ken’s Gas & Grocery, which is very convenient to get to from the freeway, and has several picnic tables and a small lawn for airing the dog. I would definitely stop here again.

What’s your favorite quick lunch stop on the I-90 corridor? Anywhere good in Issaquah?


pulled pork supper

Sunday was another big pork day, mostly unintentionally. We had some maple pork sausages from the co-op for breakfast, with fresh buttermilk muffins studded with dried apricots and candied ginger. Then we had bowls of udon in chicken broth for lunch, topped with a handful of Chinese barbecued pork from the grocery store. And then we had a big piece of pork shoulder slow-roasting in the oven all afternoon for indoor pulled pork. Given how disgusting the weather was that day, this all seemed entirely appropriate.

pulled pork

The pulled pork was from Cook’s Illustrated (you can find the recipe here), which promised to duplicate the effect of a long slow barbecue. It did seem to me that they were a little excessively hung up on the idea of smokiness, and I chose not to add liquid smoke to any part of the recipe. I did do the two-hour brine before roasting, and I did use smoked paprika in the rub (also used hot Dijon instead of yellow mustard, because there’s no way I’m buying yellow mustard), and I have absolutely no complaints about how the pork came out. After four-plus hours in the oven the meat was tender and juicy and the crust was incredible. One problem: there were no “cooking juices” to mix in with barbecue sauce, as the recipe claimed. It all burned onto the pan bottom, which was then a total bitch to wash.

We piled the warm pork onto potato rolls with Pendleton barbecue sauce and a mix of beet greens and chard, with some soupy pintos on the side. It was the best pork of the day.

leftovers onna bun

on the bus again

Old School BBQ

It’s been a while since I first mentioned Old School BBQ, but it’s worth revisiting. We stopped for lunch on a recent trip over Stevens Pass, for possibly the dozenth time, and I really think this place is just getting better and better.

combo plate

The barbecue is Texas-style, with a good smoke ring and wonderful tender meat. I usually get pulled pork and my husband likes brisket, but on this occasion he sprang for a combo with some ribs that turned out to be excellent. The coleslaw is, admittedly, a little bland, but the meat more than makes up for it.

beans and cornbread

I’ve always loved their beans, which are served very hot and soupy with big chunks of pork. I just discovered that if you order just beans and cornbread, you get a great big bowl of it for something ridiculous like $4, and a nice piece of sweet cornbread with butter and honey. For me this is a perfect lunch. Plus you get to eat on board an old school bus, minus the smell of gym socks and all the bullies sitting in the back, and how cool is that?

burnt ends

homemade burnt ends

Day one: thaw beef brisket and rub with BBQ seasoning.

Day two: smoke brisket for six hours with hickory and oak, mopped with vinegar and hot chile. Serve, thinly sliced, with buttermilk coleslaw, cornbread, and awesome wine.

Day three: chop up remainder of brisket and mix with a sauce composed of leftover Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ sauce, vinegar mop sauce, and ketchup. Put in a low oven for a couple of hours to make burnt ends. Pile onto homemade hamburger buns. Make a huge mess eating it. Be happy.

smoky stew


Directions: in August (approximately six months before serving), barbecue some pork ribs. Make sure they’re good and charred and salty. Eat them, then make stock out of the bones and freeze it. In April, take the stock out and thaw it. Cook some beans. Blanch collard greens and chop them. Sear chunks of country-style boneless pork ribs in oil and remove them from the pan. Saute a lot of garlic in the remaining oil, then add back the pork and pour in the smoky, salty stock. Simmer, covered, until the meat is tender, maybe an hour. Add the beans and greens. Eat voraciously, and wish you had thought to make cornbread.

surviving soccer

soccer in the rain

After a lifetime of pretending that organized sports don’t exist, I’m beginning to be at least slightly interested in soccer. We’ve been going to some high school girl’s soccer games, and much to my surprise I’ve quite enjoyed it. Of course, the games always seem to take place on the coldest and/or wettest days of the season. I’m sure everyone else in the universe already knows this, but I’ve found that it’s helpful to lay in some good warming food supplies.


coleslaw and beans

Last weekend we were at a game at Everett Memorial Stadium on a filthy wet day. On the way there we stopped at our favorite barbecue joint, the Depot Smokehouse, and picked up a quantity of Gil’s extremely fine brisket, slaw and hot barbecue beans. Those beans (plus a heavy wool and fleece blanket) got me through the game, although my feet did finally start to go numb during the penalty kicks. Whiskey would probably have helped more at that point.

For those of you who aren’t new to the world of stadium seating, what are your favorite foods or drinks to take to outdoor games?

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

When we flew into Kansas City last week, getting in just in time for dinner, we were sorely tempted to go back to our favorite BBQ joint, Oklahoma Joe’s. In the pursuit of knowledge, however, we felt that we really needed to try somewhere new – you know, so we can say with authority where our favorite KC barbecue is. We’ve tried Gates, Smokestack and Joe’s, but we had never made it to one which is often touted as the best in the city: L.C.’s Bar-B-Q.

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

Located on the corner of Blue Parkway and Sni-a-Bar Road, just off of the eastern curve of 435, L.C.’s isn’t hard to find – there are even signs on the freeway to get you there. It’s not much to look at, and they don’t serve beer, so I would suggest getting takeout – that’s what almost everyone else was doing when we stopped in. If you eat in, though, you get a big bottle of extra sauce and plenty of paper towels.  We also got to eavesdrop on a really interesting conversation L.C. was having with another guy at the corner table.

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

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Kansas City highlights

drink up

We spent a short, but enjoyable time in Kansas City. It was tough figuring out where to go, though, because while KC has a rapidly growing food scene of great variety, it is still a wonderful place to get hunks of meat, whether barbecued, fried or broiled. We managed to work in a fair blend – here are the three best restaurant meals that we had in town.


First stop, straight from the airport: Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ. This is the real thing, let me tell you: the restaurant is set up in a strip mall adjacent to a gas station – in fact, the gas station store is in the restaurant. You order from the vast blackboard menu up at the kitchen, then pick up your food and a drink at the cashier. Then all you have to do is find a seat, not so easy. We got ourselves some Boulevard Wheat in plastic Budweiser cups, then ended up at the bar by the window, which had a good view of the parking lot and plenty of paper towels.

ribs and pulled pork Continue reading

Old School BBQ

Old School BBQ

After our long and rather nasty pass crossing last week, we were starving as we came down the valley. We usually stop at the Sultan Bakery for egg salad sandwiches and soup, but this time we were determined to try a new place that had been recommended to us by Pitmaster Gil of the Depot Smokehouse in Everett. It’s a barbecue joint run out of an old school bus, just off of Hwy 2 by the Reptile Museum. Not very likely looking, but definitely intriguing.

As we were looking over the very short and to-the-point menu, the person in the order window explained that they didn’t have any heat to their second bus, which normally served as their dining area. She offered to bring our order out to us in our warm car, which was nice. We ended up with two sandwiches, one brisket and one pork, plus a side of beans and a side of coleslaw. I’m sure hunger had something to do with this, but the sandwiches were some of the best I’ve had – squishy, tender, smoky and nicely sauced, without being so gooey we had to be hosed down afterwards. The coleslaw was crisp, but not strongly flavored – I might have liked a sharper dressing. The beans were flavorful and tender – they sat in a cup of meaty broth instead of having barbecue sauce dumped over them.

We inhaled everything in very short order and went happily on our way. We’ll certainly be stopping by here again.

Kansas City barbecue

Jack Stack barbeque

The west coast has barbecue. Really, it does exist! I can’t claim to be a qualified BBQ connoisseur, but there are at least two good places to get real barbecued ribs and brisket within fifty miles of our house: one is the Skagit River Brewery, which does its own barbecue out back of the restaurant – I walk through the wonderful woodsmoke scent of it every morning. They do a very untraditional peach-jalapeño sauce that somehow works fantastically, and I’ve probably ordered their brisket sandwich at least two dozen times. Then there’s the Depot Smokehouse in Everett, which has got to be the best kept secret in Western Washington – it’s always mostly empty when we go and the food is just fantastic. Try the chili. And the pulled pork. Heck, try everything, you’ll like it.

Otherwise, I admit, the pickings are pretty slim. We were going to try a place in Burlington called Double Barrel BBQ, but it burned down the week we were going to go there. Most of the Seattle joints don’t get real good reviews – I liked that the OK Corral had collards on the menu but I didn’t care for the big jug of Kool-Aid that was the only beverage available. So you can see why we like visiting Kansas City! Continue reading