It’s not without its advantages, this having to cook at home thing. No parking fees, no reservations, no having to don my branded blogger mankini (coming soon to the inevitable merch store) or my influencer salopettes for this. Just drag my carcass into the kitchen for a bit, muck about with someone else having done all the hard stuff, fall on it like a starved (grey) wolf and then drone on about it.
I have high hopes for Andy ‘Low n Slow’ Stubbs’ barbecue. We’ve eaten it three times, loved it three times, so when he announced national deliveries I didn’t hang about.
His is a story born of desperation. Bored of a crushing routine, he started Low’n’Slow 7 years ago, needing some way of earning a living that didn’t sap his soul. Many of us have felt that ennui: few have the courage to reinvent themselves so convincingly.
From back yard smoker experiments in the rain to festivals and now nationwide deliveries, via pub pop ups and local hero status. All supplemented with time in Texas, absorbing a food culture like brisket absorbs smoke.
The accompanying letter details the work Andy does with small farms and producers, choosing his materials carefully. It’s the kind of uncompromising attention to detail some might call obsessive. If it means his food tastes this good, then obsess away.
His partner Donna keeps the machine oiled and running. She’s the one who also has to deal with annoying customers so keen to get their order in that they let their laptop autofill complete the form and arrange delivery. To the wrong side of the city. Like an idiot. Thankfully, she’s graciousness personified.
Andy has been a regular at Digbeth Dining Club since 2013 and cooked at the prestigious Meatopia three years in a row, which is where we stumbled across him. I say stumbled: we hadn’t heard of him before his debut, but since then his stall has always had a visit early in the day. (He has a wonderful way with tacos al pastor). You don’t get to have one of the standout dishes at Meatopia without being right at the top of your game. Just ask Hang Fire, who always do themselves proud. Anything less than your best would see you embarrassed by the company you keep that weekend.
The box drops unsubtle but welcome hints as you open it. There’s a welcome waft of smokiness to tease you. The Texas Holy Trinity pack is a twist on the classic line up: it’s still meat, beans and pickles: brisket and sausages are there, but the ribs have been substituted with pork belly. And I’m very glad they have., because this is one of those things which pulls you up short with its sheer brilliance.
That pork is something approaching… perfection. That’s not a word I use lightly around food, and I know you’re probably sick of it being thrown around indiscriminately. I have tried not to use it. But I give up. How good is it? I’ve never had better. It’s absurdly tender and reminds me strangely of what our our server at Mannix, more than a thousand miles away, muttered to himself as he carved our lamb: ‘Como la mantequilla…’
It really is. Like butter, that is: rich and joyously fatty. You can only wonder at the expertise (such a cold word for something so life affirming, so pleasing to the senses) that drops this on your plate. Wonder, and applaud.
Not convinced you yet? I’m not alone in being bowled over by this stuff. Leyli Homayoonfar, one of South Wales’s most respected young chefs ordered a similar pack the following week: for her, the pork was ‘the best thing I’ve eaten this lockdown.’
There’s more brisket in them thar beans, a thick smoky sauce giving these a rich meaty quality which means a little goes a long way.
This is brisket of a very high order, grass-fed beef from a Staffordshire farm, with a palpable smoke ring and a peppery bark playing against the beautiful fattiness of the meat. It’s an expertly rendered cut, a balance of lean and intricately marbled.
These sausages pack a punch. A pork and beef mix, oak-smoked- a coarse grind- with gamey flavours, they work well with the acidity of the pickles. The latter are snappy with coriander seed and just the thing, because there’s a lot of fat in these things. Lovely, rich, meaty, smoke-tinged fat.
Shipping is not cheap (around £14) but that’s apparently what the courier company is charging him, though you could feed three for your £50. Balance that against the sheer skill and flavour on show here, and you still come out ahead. Andy tends to vary what’s on offer in his shop, so this lot might not be available this week. Impressive though this batch was, it’s clear you’re in very safe hands here.
Andy’s online shop is here- https://andylownslow.co.uk/collections/all. Catch him at Digbeth Dining Club (and Meatopia) when things improve.
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.