Barbecue is one of those fighting words. You love it and you have your favorite spot. Whether it’s vinegar-based South Carolina or tomato-based Virginia ‘cue, there are defenders of every style and spice. Good thing, too, it gives everyone a chance to try every style at every chance.
Lay down your arms and pick up your forks. You are in for a treat that will make your tongue throw a party for the rest of your mouth. The drive is worth it, even if you live in Iowa. Head to a tiny spot in the Shenandoah Valley called the Blue Ridge Pig. Officially, the spot is at 2190 Rockfish Valley Hwy in Nellysford, Virginia. You’ll never find it that way. Instead, get on Virginia 250 about five miles East of the town limit of Waynesboro. Turn South on Rte 151 heading toward the ski resort of Wintergreen. Before you get to Wintergreen, you’ll find The Pig on the East side of the road (that’s left side if you are driving from Rte. 151 to Wintergreen).
It’s in the center of a (kindly called) strip mall, consisting of a tiny row of three stores held up by old paint and dust. The Blue Ridge Pig is a tiny store decorated in pigs–stuffed, wood, metal. Never mind. Walk ten feet through the entire place and order up some barbecue.
The sauce is subtle and powerful. Neither over-sour nor dull, it coats slivers and chunks of pork, beef or chicken in a taste that combines a hint of smoke, a deep satisfying wave of herbs, spice enough to make it interesting but not so much to overwhelm, and flavor enough to call people from hundreds of miles away.
A “plate special” will have dilled potato salad that is rich and creamy, but not a spec of greasy mayonnaise in sight. It has a circle of dill pesto and a great crunch mixed with smooth potatoes. Next to that, you’ll get a scoop of beans and meat, lots of meat. Hardly a side dish, it’s rich enough to be a meal in itself, but you get it as a side dish.
If after this delight, you are still hungry, visit the Abrosia bakery and deli next door. The cannolis have a fresh and lemony flavor. The key lime pie or the raspberry torte are incredible.
Both are worth the drive from anywhere. Don’t miss them.
–Quinn McDonald rides a motorcycle and is glad she found The Pig, about 150 miles from her house. See her work at QuinnCreative.com