Barbeque! Smokey, tender, unmistakable! It’s southern through and through. I can hear you saying, you can get barbeque, or barbecue, or BBQ, or just plain Q all over the U.S., so it’s not just southern. First of all, in many states below the Mason-Dixon Line it’s a felony to suggest such a thing. Secondly, have you ever heard someone say, “Let’s drive up north and get some barbeque”? I have to add that Kansas also has some excellent smoked meat, but it still counts because a big part of the Civil War was fought there. End of discussion and no more nit-picking.
And another reason I say BBQ is a southern tradition is it’s found ALL ACROSS the south, from the Carolinas to Texas. Now that’s not to say the barbeque is the same across that broad expanse.
In the east, the folks favor pork and as you travel west you get into cattle country. And, as a general rule, the sauces follow the same trail, from vinegar and mustard based sauces in the Carolinas to the deep, smoky red sauces in Texas. Anymore, there are no hard and fast rules and I for one am not too particular, but I am in a constant search for ‘the best.’
I’ve driven miles into deep forests and across wide-open spaces, just because a casual friend happened to mention there ‘might’ be a good Q shack somewhere. Some places are deserted for miles, until you find yourself surrounded by open fields with a shack in the middle, billowing smoke and surrounded by pickups.
But, I never expected to find superb barbeque in northern Florida. Surprised is not too strong a word. Fernandina Beach, State Line Barbecue Company is a touch of BBQ heaven. Run as a small mom and pop operation, in a former pizza joint, right next to a gas station, astonishes and delights in a number of ways. Mike and Marci are the owners and Mike tells me he’s been smoking meat since he was a teenager. His big grin when he talks about his barbecue tells you he knows what he’s saying. And with each bite, you can taste the love he puts into his passion!
Marci kicks in with delicious homemade potato salad and slaw. Here I have to emphasize, even if you’re a strict vegetarian it’s worth a trip just for Marci’s
|Marci at work.|
But, of course the meat is the main event. Mike tells me he smokes all the meats in his big smoker that sits right behind the counter. Pork is smoked for up to 20 hours, the brisket for up to 30 and the ribs for about 6 hours. Forgive me, Mike if I got those numbers wrong. See, I just finished eating one of your barbeque pork sandwiches and my memory for anything else is awash in barbecue sauce.
|Here's Mike, serving the best barbecue around!|
So, what do I usually get? All three. Pulled pork sandwich, a brisket sandwich, and some ribs. At my house there are usually two hunger-tinged eaters, especially during football season. Matter of fact, there are still more games to go…and I happen to be within a mile of State Line.
That’s my cue for Q! Don’t forget the name. State Line Barbecue Company, 2020 Sadler Road, Amelia Island, Florida 32034.
Open every day. Call (904) 310-6652