Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
We've talked at some length about the excellent food coming from the bright yellow belly of the Southern Gourmasian food truck, but Justin Patterson and company keep bringing out impressive new dishes. When the high-quality local tomatoes they were using in their BBALT (Benton's Bacon and Arkansas Lettuce and Tomato) sandwich went out of season, they replaced it with a sandwich made from home-smoked beef brisket and served with a side of a tangy, savory sauce that's a cross between Asian plum sauce and traditional Southern barbecue sauce. When people begged for a sandwich made with the chicken normally used with their Chicken and Waffles, they developed a sandwich spiked with sriracha aioli that took that chicken to an entirely different place. Their mastery of barbecue became all the more apparent lately when they brought out their version of that tried-and-true Labor Day food — pork spareribs.
Ribs from Gourmasian are exactly the way they should be: dry-rubbed and smoked slowly until the meat turns into a fork-tender slab of pure, succulent favor. The ribs themselves are of superior quality, with only enough fat on them to provide a touch of flavor and keep things moist without ever resulting in a bite that's less than perfectly meaty. It takes a lot of skill to turn this tough cut of meat into something special, and the fact that ribs of this quality are coming from a food truck make the dish all that more incredible. Eaten dry, the smoky flavor of the meat and the subtle spice of the dry rub conspire to make a tasty mouthfull. Pouring on a healthy dose of the plum barbecue sauce takes these ribs to a place that no other barbecue joint in Little Rock goes, with a nice dose of sweetness adding another interesting layer to the excellent flavor of these ribs.
I've learned to trust the culinary instincts of The Southern Gourmasian, from the month I spent eating their chicken and dumplings for lunch nearly every day to their wonderful steamed buns and almond-encrusted chicken sandwiches. These guys are justifiably proud of the work they do, and they've got the knowledge and skills to back it up. These ribs aren't an every day menu item for the truck, but they do run as a special regularly. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook for regular updates and your chance to get as blissed out on this pork as I did.