Trailheads Hike, Then Say, “Play It Again, Sam."
Last week, Roy and Guy (and their booster shots!) were battling Omicron, their hiking boots gathering dust. But for this week’s journey, all six manly Trailheads men (Roy, Guy, Brad, Steve, George, and Patrick) hiked on the Chattahoochee River Loop.
This Cobb County trail has it all: scenic creeks to negotiate across without breaking one’s neck, beautiful views of the majestic rolling river (that sucker just keeps rolling along), challenging elevations, and even some large cement structures strangely reminiscent of the Bories Village in Provence. However, the concrete domes we encountered seep foul-smelling sewage gases, ensuring one maintains a spirited pace on the trail. What more could anyone ask for?
Elvis and Fio scampered on and off-trail, exploring and jumping into the water while Guy made water every 92-steps or so. Steve had a pleasant surprise when he found an old friend hiking the trail. She is a delight, and the chivalrous Trailheads escorted the fair damsel to her vehicle. Actually, as a regular on this trail, she led us.
Discussions ranged from sports, politics, and culture. Here are our viewing recommendations: “The Great” on Hulu, “Landscapers,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO Max. Some people have compared Roy to Larry David in his disposition. Roy shrugged, then insulted the comparison makers. He’s pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good with that.
After 4.2 miles (or was it 4.1?––we believe whichever Apple Watch gives the longest distance) of athletic hiking, we were as hungry as a bear at the Golden Corral buffet. We were close to Sam’s BBQ-1 on Lower Roswell Rd. in Marietta. George, Brad, Guy, and Patrick had been there once before, pre-barbecue reviews in our early hiking days. Patrick didn’t remember having been there until he got inside and saw the trophies and pictures of celebs who have sampled this smoked meat palace (luminaries including Robert Duvall and Mitch McConnell). We think highly of Robert’s work.
The joint’s roots go back to 2004 when Atty. Sam Huff opened his kitchen for weekend takeout. Word spread, and he took on partners. The business grew, the partners parted ways and opened restaurants. But Sam stayed the course, and we are all thankful he did. He smokes some of the best barbecues ever to pass down our gullets.
The pulled pork is incredible. It’s tender, juicy, and has a smoky flavor that makes one thankful Og discovered fire way back when caves were blank canvases for artistic expression. The pork tasted delicious either on a plate or in a sandwich bun. Mighty fine smoked swine.
George and Brad sampled the smoked baby back ribs. The meat quality was excellent, the rub delicious, and the sauce a sweet finish. Their only beef with the pork ribs was they were a bit dry. Brad makes sous vide baby backs as tender as a butterfly kiss. Still, Sam has a gift with smoked flavor. The sweet sauce and the North Carolina Vinegar sauce complemented the meats nicely. They were making a new batch of hot sauce, but the nice fellow went back and scooped a cup right out of the pot for Guy. It was a hit.
Let’s go to the sides, shall we?
You probably know, Trailheads are Brunswick Stew people, and Sam cooks a stew that’s exceptional. It’s loaded with meat and peppered with sweet corn kernels in a tangy sauce of vinegar and spices. There’s no filler in this baby. It’s a stew you can bank on, and we quickly deposited it into our bellies.
Roy said the collard greens were salty, and he is a salt guy––take his comment with a grain of salt. George thought the green beans were perfectly prepared but could have used some more salt. Hmm, we have a fix for both dishes. Patrick was intrigued by the “onion petals” and ordered some. They were pieces of sweet onion battered and fried to crunchy perfection, and he became an instant fan. Bravo, Sam.
The slaw got the Trailheads approval seal. It is crisp and tangy cabbage with some snap and attitude. Guy loved his fried okra so much he proposed marriage to it. It was embarrassing, especially when the okra declined.
Our platters came with Texas Toast, a thick slab of white bread grilled a pale shade of brown on one side, and a whiter shade of pale on the other (yes, that’s a Procol Harum reference, where else are you going to find those?). As a group, we believe Texas Toast should stay in Texas. It’s not our thing. Procol Harum, however, was groovy, and we’d love to catch them next time they’re on tour.
Bottom line: get yourself to Sam’s BBQ-1. And try your best to leave room for dessert.
We failed that test. Boo-hoo.
Rating: Four Ribs*
4958 Lower Roswell Rd, Marietta GA 30068
*About Our Barbecue Rating System
Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palettes. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they’re dishing.
Our reviews feature what we believe are the highlights of the menu we sampled. So our intent is not to trash talk the saintly folks who tend to smoldering smokers on hot, humid summer days. They are sacrificing themselves in the noble art of smoking meats and feeding the drooling masses. Many are independent entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this humming American economy.
Now that you know our standards, you may wonder why every barbecue place gets a four ribs rating. The answer is easy: we have acclaimed designers in our group, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool.
Who are we to argue? Enjoy.