Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 19, 2012

TIM PRESTON: Old book, good barbecue, chicken salad and a straight razor

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — I need some help. Knowing I appreciate local history and old photos and things like that, Bill Castle dropped by the newspaper office a few weeks back with a copy of an excellent book chronicling the history of this area, titled “Greene’s Memorette of Kentucky.”

He stopped by a couple of weeks later with a couple of other equally fascinating books and I assumed he had picked up the “Greene’s Memorette of Kentucky” when he was here, but that was not the case.

I’m entrusted with many things that have either sentimental value or actual value, and pride myself on taking care of each. I’ve searched every desk in the building, however, and I can’t find that book. I’ve asked around and nobody seems to know anything about it either.

So, if you know where I can get a reasonably priced replacement, please let me know. I feel terrible about losing that publication and won’t be satisfied until I can put a copy back into Castle’s collection.

Scattered around my desk and drawers, I also have an extensive collection of old photos and things that have been left with me for safekeeping. If you know I have something of yours, please call and I’ll start hunting it down.

Pure Pit Barbecue

Last week, I mentioned receiving a lone response to my inquiry about a new barbecue restaurant suggesting I seek out Pure Pit Barbecue near Olive Hill. I didn’t have to try too hard for that, because owners Marvin and Tina Carey dropped by the office with a sample of their work just as I was writing this column last week.

Originally from Springfield, Ohio the Careys now live near the Rowan/Carter County line at 33 Banta Road, where they will soon open their commercial barbecue pit. The couple have been vending their barbecue up to now, with the most recent Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival as one of their greatest challenges to date. Carey said one elderly gentleman at the festival liked the barbecue so much he hiked up a hill twice a day just to get some more.

They will be using a renovated camper on their property for the commercial operation, and pitmaster Marvin seemed somewhere between laughter and tears as he talked about the requirements required to get everything approved, noting “We had to get the camper plumbed by a master plumber.” The Careys are awaiting a final inspection and approval for the commercial barbecue operation, and will be open Wednesday through Saturday, allowing Marvin time to keep up with his hickory cutting. The apple wood comes from his father in Ohio, he added.

Marvin said he got barbecue fever “just watching TV,” although his first turn at the smoker didn’t work out as well as he’d hoped. “The first time ... it was like chewing on tree bark,” he said with a chuckle, explaining they were able to salvage a little good meat from the center.

That first bad batch lit a fire under Carey, and he is now proud to say his operation is “pure pit,” with everything down to the baked beans made by hand with nothing coming from a can. “Now, everything I do is all pure pit made. There’s no store bought stuff. I use nothing but hickory and apple wood,” he said, later adding he relies on a dry rub to prepare his meat for the heat, and serves his own signature reddish-brown barbecue sauce on the side. Side dishes are baked beans (no cans are opened in the making of this dish), hand-cut french fried potatoes and Cole slaw.

I gave the barbecue my standard double test, first sampling the meat and then trying some with a touch of sauce. Pure Pit’s product passed both tests. The pulled pork was nice and tender, smoke laden and not shredded into a million pieces. And, Carey’s signature sauce surely is the perfect pairing with that pork. The custom-crafted sauce will also be available by the jar, they said.

The Careys are awaiting final inspection and approval for their barbecue pit, but hope to be able to serve the public soon. For more information look them up on Facebook or call (606)286-0911.

Chicken salad report

I received a brief note related to my ongoing search for the area’s best chicken salad sandwiches advising me to make the short drive to downtown Russell between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

The writer advises I’ll find “some delicious chicken salad ... served on homemade beer bread,” at Corbie’s Gift Shop and Tea Room at 420 Bellefonte St., directly across from Super Quick at the only traffic light in downtown. For take-out and call-ahead lunch orders call (606) 836-0756.

Razor shave

I’m not accustomed to paying anyone to put a sharpened steel blade to my throat, but that’s part of my plan for the week ahead when I plan to drop in on Jimmy Lee Presley for an old-fashioned razor shave at Presley’s Barber Shop, located at 323 Ferry St. in Russell.

Presley said he’s had the shop closed for a while as he pursued his master barber’s license, and is now welcoming customers to the full-time shop. While we were talking about the good-old days of the barbershop, Presley said “I still do a lot of razor shaves down here.” A statement which caused me to admit I’ve never had an old fashioned razor shave (and to think, “That requires more than a fair amount of trust, doesn’t it?”).

Just in case, I asked editor Mark Maynard (the one guy in the world who sports more self-induced shaving injuries than I do)  if he’d ever had a straight razor shave and he also said he has not. So, I invited him to tag along and share the experience.

I didn’t tell him I plan to ask him to go first.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.

com or (606) 326-2651.