Is Calhoun’s the best barbecue sauce ever?

Early days

 I am making no attempt whatsoever to be objective.  From the moment I discovered Calhoun’s (probably at Murphy’s) I have never purchased another brand. I’ve tried barbeque sauces all over the Carolinas and Florida, and in St. Louis, and even the mustard sauce peculiar to South Carolina, which most Californians can’t stand.

But my go-to sauce, which I always keep on hand, is Calhoun’s Original Southside Bar-B-Cue Sauce. It’s light and slightly spicy, not sticky-sweet like the Memphis style.  As Mike Ross, its creator, explains it, there is no real “Chicago Style” sauce; he had to invent it himself.

Talking to Mike Ross is a treat, especially if you love Chicago as I do. Mike grew up in what is now known as the “Historic Pullman District”. Historic it is, and you can sign up for tours which will guide you through the first model, planned industrial community in the United States, built by George Pullman as a place to produce the famous Pullman sleeping car. It was a company town, sort of like Scotia on steroids, and the scene of a violent strike in 1894.  Mike grew up grilling for family get-togethers (oh, those Chicago summer evenings!) and his sauce recipe had its beginnings there. The name “Calhoun’s” , incidentally, derives from the neighborhood’s Calhoun Street. 

Mike  worked as a correctional officer for 12 years before deciding that Chicago had become too small and a change was in order. He came to Arcata to visit his grandparents who had moved there earlier. Once he hit the tarmac and saw the green hills around, he never looked back.

Mike’s bottling machine

The business is clearly poised for expansion. Mike is travelling to Georgia to pick up a catering-size grill and smoker and looks forward to opening his own place.  Meanwhile, a distribution deal is pending with a partner in, of all places, Montreal, which has a long barbecue tradition of its own, especially with chicken.  He currently has seventeen outlets including Murphy’s Markets and Eureka Natural Foods but if the Canadian connection works out, watch for explosive growth. With all-natural ingredients, Calhoun’s may become the Redwood Coast’s next big export. Visit their website here. 

Have you tried Calhoun’s?  How do you think it stacks up next to Smokin’ Moses or whatever they use at Porter Street? Have you worked with the SBDC or AEDC? Let us hear from you!

Are you a spider? Or a fly?

Tech Fatigue

How do you use technology?  Are you comfortably planted behind your mahogany desk at the center of your universe, with phone, fax and computer within reach, like a spider at the center of its web, your control center fully activated?

Or do you operate more like a fly, flitting around freely with your iPhone clapped to your ear, tweeting on the run, wired into Google+ and Foursquare, armed with a laptop or tablet and reacting instantly to every signal,  just like our friends in Silicon Valley?

Most of us are a combination of the two types, although those of us lucky enough to work at home probably have more arachnid  tendencies. We who live here wanting to avoid the fast-track insanity down south  have to provide our customers with the same  instant service available in the Bay Area; that is our competition.

When I placed an ad on Craig’s List recently for help learning WordPress and putting this website together, I got 28 responses. Four were from Humboldt County. I know there’s a recession but I was still amazed at the quality of the responders, both domestic  and foreign, many of whom had their own businesses,  long track records and excellent samples. My favorite was a fellow from India named Prath. He suggested we could communicate through desktop sharing and microphone similar to a Cisco web meeting. As a spider-type control freak, I just wasn’t ready to work with anyone I couldn’t yell at in person.  My loss, no doubt.

How do you work? Do you try everything new or do you get “tech fatigue” every time another Google “must-have” comes along?  Are you a spider, a fly or have you achieived a balance and become the best of all hybrids, a butterfly?  Let’s hear from you. And thank you for visiting.