Heading down the office on Saturday, for some peace and quiet, figured I'd check on the Flint's mothership location, just see what's happening. Good sign, smoke coming out the chimney; oh yeah, can smell that 'cue across the street. They lined up in there? No, only one client, fat white guy, no problem. Well, yes, problem: this oversized euro-american brother has just bought up all the brisket and all the links! As he staggers out to his pickup with load after load of fragrant meat, the ladies inform me in unison, "No slice beef an' no links. An' won't be any till about six." Well, OK. Gimme pork ribs.
Drive in a hurry to the office, this paper bag breathing fumes of joy beside me. Sometime recently, Flint's became the last of the BBQ set to convert from paper plates to styrofoam takeout containers, so I arrived without the customary leakage of sauce onto seat cushions.
First impression: these are some of the meatiest pork ribs I've ever seen. The meat-to-bone ratio is truly amazing. The bones themselves are small and round in section, rather than flatter as common in ribs. (I'm guessing this means the pig was less mature?) And since I got the short end of the slab, there's this big solid hunk of pretty meat at the tail end. The texture is perfect for my taste, tender but chewy, and separating easily from the bone. The meat is tinged pink all the way through, the color of long smoking, and the surface is a sort of dark-gold, glossy, almost-crisp shell. Flavor is solid pork, not much hint of a rub, fairly smoky; there's just enough fat for a little bit of succulent mouth feel, but this is really lean pork.
Ate the first rib with no sauce atall, then comes the surprise. It's Flint's sauce allright, big tone of molasses, high note of dry mustard, accents of onion salt and garlic, bass note of coffee--but where's the heat? They ain't none!! I asked for medium, but even if she gave me mild by mistake, there ought to be a little buzz. But no burn, no glow, not a tingle. Even as good a sauce as this is otherwise, without the heat, it's just--simple. Any other sauce, I go to the bottom drawer, sort through the hot sauce bottles, heat the stuff up with some Bufalo or Sontava. But not the Flint's. I can sulk and grumble, but I can't alter the Primary Substance, here.
Maybe I should have been alerted when the service was, if not cheerful, reasonably polite. Any road, guess I just got to go on back to our "most tempermental of artistes" and try the hot, in order to render a fair appraisal. Real soon.
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