Monday 16 March 2015

More about BBQ, and some thoughts on hot dogs!

I assumed that when I moved to Miami I would have a bunch of free time to write my blog. I don’t. In the nine months since I moved here I have managed to write only a handful of posts. Which is tragic, considering how much awesome food is available here. This last week I was inspired by the one thing that I am (gastronomically speaking) most passionate about : BBQ.

My previous post examined the top five BBQ restaurants in Miami, with Shorty’s as the clear winner. Recently, whilst driving north from The Keys back to Miami, I noticed a little place just off US1 : Shiver’s. It’s pronounced shy-vers, by the way. And that picture above-left wasn't taken in 2015! Because this place is not in the city (it’s on the border of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties) I can’t add it to the previous post as an update, that just wouldn’t be cricket at all. To keep it fair, I ordered the pulled pork plate with fries and BBQ beans, plus I accidentally ordered an additional Andouille sausage on the side. Not sure how that happened?

In summary : heavenly. The fries were good, but that isn’t really important, the beans were the best I have had for a very long time (impossibly tasty) and the pulled pork was crazy flavoursome, it melted in the mouth the way that only the very best slow-cooked pig can! The d├ęcor was excellent (i.e. basic, sticky, with plenty of wood), as was the atmosphere; when I first drove past there was a long queue, which I have only ever seen at Shorty’s.

Big question : is Shiver’s as good as Shorty’s? I would more easily choose my favourite Beatles LP (Abbey Road obviously, because of the B-side medley) but I think I have it nailed. If I was judging it on the pork alone, un-seasoned from the pit, Shiver’s would win hands down. However, as previously stated, Shorty’s season their pork so well it just gives it the edge. If I could work out the perfect combination and ratios of the sauces available in Shiver’s to elevate the pork, it really could win. I feel dirty saying that, like I am cheating on my favourite pig-wizards. The fact that Shiver’s is an hour + away is good and bad. Good : it will always feel like a treat. Bad : it will take me many trips to discover whether the pork can be seasoned well enough to overtake Shorty’s. Oh, and the sausage was excellent too.

Some interesting themes there : beans, ‘base’ meat vs. seasoned meat, sausages. A useful Segway into some Miami hotdog talk.

There are two contenders for the best-dog-in-Miami contest : Dogma (north on Biscayne) and Sweet Dogs (on Calle Ocho, in the heart of Little Havana). Both are great dogs, but in very different ways. Dogma is Shiver’s : if I was just eating a plain dog I would go there every time. The Polish smoked, in particular, is the bomb; so big and so tasty. Sweet Dogs is Shorty’s : the dog is good, but it is the toppings that make it great. Each Sweet Dogs dog is named after a Miami sports team, and the Marlins dog is poetry personified : banana peppers, plantains, fried egg, chopped onions and a guava-BBQ sauce. A truly exceptional combination. Sweet Dogs also do awesome BBQ beans, literally impossible to separate from those served at Shiver’s. I would go to either establishment and be happy with just a simple (but substantial) portion of beans!

Again, hard to choose, but I think that Dogma wins. This is for one simple reason : the ‘base’ dog is so good that (even with average-good toppings) it wins through every time. Actually, two reasons : they sell garlic fries; which are simply covered in freshly chopped garlic and taste so impossibly good. Also, it’s nearer to me and (crucially) between me and the airport; a late night return to Miami often will include noshing a big Polish sausage on the way home. In fact, that is where I am writing this from. I'm sitting here, thinking about sausages, at 33,000 feet.

So, is there an overall conclusion? No, not really. I just promised I would find the time to dedicate to my blog this week. And it was beans, BBQ and dogs that came to mind.

Shiver’s BBQ, 28001 South Dixie Highway, Homestead, FL 33033 |‎
Dogma, 7030 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138 |
Sweet Dogs, 4749 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33134 |