Blackbird Kitchen + Bar
1015 Ninth St., Sacramento
She's known as one of Sacramento's signature seafood chefs, but Carina Lee Lampkin of Blackbird Kitchen + Bar also loves some downhome barbecue.
You know, the kind of 'cue that leaves dollops of sauce on the corners of your mouth and the need for Wet-Naps by the dozen. Pulled pork, tri-tip and chicken are all part of her repertoire, which share space on a smoky grill with prawns and crab.
The menu at Lampkin's downtown restaurant includes grilled octopus, seared scallops and a raw seafood bar that's become a favorite of local foodies. She'll also flex her barbecue skills Aug. 1 at Plates, a program of the St. John's Shelter for Women and Children, which helps homeless women gain skills for service industry jobs.
Lampkin's Southern-styled menu for the Plates dinner sounds lip-smacking good, with such items as slow-roasted pulled pork and brined chicken with Jack (Daniels) and Coke barbecue sauce.
Now, that's what we call livin' high on the hog.
Here, we check in with Lampkin and find out what stokes her coals when it comes to barbecue.
Picture in your mind the perfect barbecue. What does it look and taste like?
My favorite barbecue memory is being a teenager and going to my grandpa's. He had a cool house that was absolutely gorgeous, and he'd always smoke a tri-tip.
The best thing for a barbecue is your company. It's about having good friends around, smoking, drinking, telling jokes.
How about your favorite spot to hold a barbecue?
Oh, the favorite barbecue I like is going to Pacifica. Me and a friend will go during Dungeness crab season and pull crabs out of the ocean. We'll put those on the barbie with bacon-wrapped shrimp. Ocean's side, that's definitely my favorite place to barbecue.
Some folks love the convenience of a gas grill, others swear by wood or charcoal. Where do you fall in terms of barbecue fuel?
I'm into charcoal with wood chips. I like cherry wood because it has a lighter smoke flavor. I also use hickory sometimes. It kind of depends what's around.
I'm just a little Weber girl, but with some wood chips. The Weber travels with me in my truck. You can take it with you wherever: your grandpa's house, the ocean.
Folks who are serious about barbecuing usually have their own special spice rub blend. What goes into your rub?
I have a secret spice blend that I picked up from a chef in Portland. It's a blend of chiles. I use a chili from New Mexico, a touch of curry, cayenne, chili flakes. It works for a good all- purpose rub.
Does that spicy rub also get used for chicken?
My chicken gets brined, and I barbecue that with Jack and Coke barbecue sauce.
Are you big on marinades or other kinds of seasonings?
I'm into the idea of simple food done well. If you use fresh ingredients, you don't have to do much else. Just put it on and take it off.
It sounds like you love that Weber, but do you use any unconventional methods for barbecuing?
I like playing with fire. I know an awesome spot for camping and barbecuing near Yosemite. There's these huge, awesome rocks. We'll find some big, flat rocks of different sizes, put them in the fire, then pull them out with sticks and kitchen tongs. You can use them for cooking and play with the heat and use them for coal.
How about some favorite sides when you barbecue?
I always love corn on the barbecue, plus zucchini and summer squash. And you've got to have some cornbread.
I'm pretty simple.
Let's talk beverages at a barbecue.
That we can do. If I'm going to do a barbecue, now I have a concept for a watermelon muddled margarita in a Mason jar with mint. It's a watermelon cooler in a Mason jar.
What's your go-to beer for a barbecue?
I definitely love Moonlight Brewing Co. (from Santa Rosa). That's my favorite.
Any other final tips?
Play some Led Zeppelin, have good people around you, and the food will always turn out amazing.
"Play some Led Zeppelin, have good people around you, and the food will always turn out amazing."
Call The Bee's Chris Macias (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.