Walking down the condiments aisle in the grocery store is absolutely exhausting. If you’re not careful, you could get lost in a sea of BBQ sauces for hours! From the housemade stuff you find at Valley Smoke to the jarred options at your local supermarket, we’re here with the top choices to flavor your meat this summer.

Kansas City Classics

Sweet and smoky KC sauces are the perfect complement to a hot summer meal. The Valley Smoke BBQ pros draw flavor inspiration from our whiskey wall, local cuisines and adventurous palates.

We might be biased, but our favorite version of Kansas City BBQ sauce is what we make in-house. It’s the perfect thickness and mixture of sweet molasses, vinegar and a couple of other secret components. Hey, I guess you’ll just have to stop by and try it!

If you’re in a pinch and need to pick something up from Publix, you can’t go wrong with Sweet Baby Ray’s. This bottled option has served the masses for decades. The sweet, tangy profile and extra thickness is great for any backyard BBQ.

Can’t-Miss Mustard Options

South Carolina brought mustard-based sauces to the world of BBQ, and boy are we thankful. This popular option graces your dinner table in the form of a thin sauce with a distinct zing. Valley Smoke regulars love our take on this Carolina classic. Drizzle some of our mustard sauce on some meat from the pit for a serious flavor experience.

It’s hard to find a good grocery store option of a Carolina Gold, but Trader Joe’s does a solid rendition of this cult favorite. Their name brand BBQ is made with pure cane sugar, which is a rarity in the world of mass-produced corn syrup sauces.

Vinegar-Based Varieties Dominate the Scene

An absolute staple in any serious BBQ joint is a ho’made vinegar sauce. Yep, we’ve got it going on at Valley Smoke with our vinegar version. We worked tirelessly to develop two sauces (that’s right, we have TWO vinegar options) that strike the perfect combo of vinegar and spices. One is more traditional while the other kicks it up a notch with red peppers. Whether you want some heat or like to keep your cool, we’ve got what ‘ya need.

Stubb’s Original is a good store-bought option that’s been around for ages. It even used to be served in a whiskey bottle! No wonder we like this option. Give it a try if you don’t have time to pop into Valley Smoke for a bottle of our version.

Find Your Favorite at the Valley Smoke BBQ Pit

We serve BBQ lovers from the First Coast and beyond seven days a week. From our twist on Sunday brunch classics to slow-roasted meats, every one of our BBQ sauces is the perfect complement to your order.

Make your reservation to snag a table with an Intracoastal view. We can’t wait to serve you!

Your first thought for summer sipping probably isn’t a dark bourbon or a single malt scotch. Mix it the right way and your mind will change forever. From a kick of ginger to a squeeze of citrus, we have a few tricks up our sleeve to give whiskey its time in the spotlight this summer.

Whiskey doesn’t have to be sipped around a fire as a seasonal indulgence. Toss your coat in the closet and slip into something a little lighter, because these cocktail recipes are beach ready for your hot summer. Our team at Valley Smoke knows a thing or two about great whiskey and how to serve it. Here are a few of our favorites:

Block Party Bourbon Fishbowl

Nothing says summer like a strong cocktail with heavy notes of citrus and sweet fruit. Grab a group of friends and give this gallon-size cocktail a try on a sizzling day this season.

Ingredients:

5 Shots of Black Tea Bourbon

3 Oz Fresh Strawberry Simple Syrup

1 Oz Clover Honey Simple Syrup

3 Oz Key Lime Juice

5 Dashes of Bitters

Combine all of the ingredients in a fishbowl then stir in plenty of ice and the sliced citrus, strawberries and cherries. Garnish with halved strawberries, lemon slices and a few cherries. This serves four-to-six people, so proceed with caution!

Backwoods Bourbon Punch

This one’s courtesy of the pros behind the bar at Valley Smoke. Have a hankering for something fruity that still packs a punch? We’ve got ‘ya covered.

You need to find a good bourbon for this one — we use Old Forester 1897. Now, the proportions are top-secret but we can break down the components:

Ingredients:

1-2 Shots of Bourbon

Grapefruit Juice

Sweet Vermouth

Aperol

Mix ingredients together and garnish with a slice of orange and a booze-soaked cherry. Voila! You’ve got yourself a top-shelf cocktail recipe. Grab a seat around the Whiskey Bar at Valley Smoke for a taste of the real deal.

Jacksonville Julep

Skip the races and head to the St. Johns River instead. We love sipping this version of the classic Mint Julep on a boat in the middle of the water.

Ingredients:

2 Shots of Bourbon

.5 Oz Coconut Lime Simple Syrup

Sprigs of Mint

Crushed Ice

Muddle five mint leaves and simple syrup in a julep cup (an old fashioned glass will work just fine in a pinch). Fill the glass to the brim with ice and pour in the bourbon. Stir. Garnish with mint and a slice of lime.

Swing into Valley Smoke for Waterfront Sunset Cocktails

The team behind the bar at Valley Smoke really knows their stuff. From the perfect pour of Prosecco to the unrivaled Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (another Valley Smoke bourbon staple), you can’t go wrong with summer sipping on the Intracoastal.

Want to grab dinner while you’re here? Make a reservation to ensure a table with a view. We can’t wait to see you!

The BBQ pit crew over here on Roscoe knows allll about the perfect grilled meats and veggies to try out each season. What you’d eat when it’s cold and rainy outside is often very different than what you’re in the mood for on a sizzling hot day in Florida. We’re here to talk about the best foods to throw on your grill this summer and a few Valley Smoke favorites you’ll have to stop by and try. (more…)

There’s no right or wrong way to eat BBQ around these parts. Everyone has their preferences and the team at Valley Smoke embraces different likes and dislikes. Whether you prefer KC ‘que or something a little more southern, make 2019 your year to experiment with fresh flavors.

 

Barbecue is all about combining tender meat, great sauces and good company. Grab a few of your friends to sample some different approaches to everyone’s favorite type of food. Valley Smoke offers a selection of freshly prepared sauces to every table we serve. Give our Alabama White a try for something out of the ordinary! (more…)

If you have the lucky job of writing, blogging or posting about the food you eat or restaurants you visit, it’s worth putting in the effort to get A+ pics of your plate. Even though there may be a bit of a learning curve to master the lighting, you certainly don’t want to spend more time staring at your food through your phone than actually enjoying it. You know what they say, phone eats first. Here are a few tips for the perfect food photo opportunity:

Natural Lighting is Key

One of the most critical pieces of advice we can give you is to use natural light when taking a picture of your meal. Let’s be real; bright yellow lighting doesn’t do any favors for perfectly cooked fish and sauteed collards. Whatever you do, don’t use the flash! You’ll end up with a washed out picture that entirely doesn’t capture the meal how you want it to look on Instagram or your blog.

Close-up Frame

That beautiful piece of fish on your plate is just dying to be featured on your Facebook, and Valley Smoke would love a shout-out, too! In today’s day and age, it’s pretty standard to see our guests try to get the perfect shot of their delicious broiled oysters before taking that first bite. If you’re trying to show off the size of the meal instead of snapping a close-up, take a step back and maybe even fit in some of the pretty scenery!

Food Focus

We know it can be hard when you’ve got a great meal in front of you, but don’t lose focus. By this, we mean that your camera shot should focus solely on your food and none of the surrounding distractions. If you have a nice camera, try to get everything out of focus in the background, so the viewer’s eye draws right to the meal in the foreground of your snap. This will make your primary object, that delicious meal, really stand out.

Experience Exposure

Don’t just snap a photo and leave it at that. When you share your image on your social networks, tell your followers why! Was it the best meal you’ve ever had, was that salmon something special or was the soup just like your mom used to make? Tell everyone why the meal deserved a post, and don’t forget to tell your followers where you had that excellent meal!

Taking a picture of your food for social media can be a tough task, especially when your stomach is rumbling. If you spend this much time focusing on how to take the perfect picture, imagine how much time we spend perfecting the taste and quality of our food. Come to Valley Smoke, take some pictures, have a great meal and share your experience with your friends. We can’t wait to see you!

 

In a time where there’s a brewery on every corner and everyone is an IPA-expert, there are still two traditional varieties that are sipped the most: ales and lagers. Whether you keep it simple and only pay attention to flavor or you get fancy with the fermentation techniques, we’ve got the low-down on these two variations of beer and how they’ll play into your Super Bowl Party. With Jacksonville’s ever-evolving craft beer scene, it’s important stay in the loop about what’s brewin’ in the Bold City. Here are some important similarities and differences between ale and lager:

Ales

If you didn’t know already, the brewing process is the main difference between ale and lager. That means the first step to understanding these two beers is learning about the brewing process! Ales originated in England in the 1700s, where they created the idea of brewing at warmer temperatures (between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit). This distinct process results in a beer with very unique taste, smell and texture.

Ales are a craft brewery favorite, typically focusing on IPAs (India Pale Ales) and APA (American Pale Ales). Another common ale variety is a stout, which is typically an acquired taste reserved for seasoned beer drinkers. They’re dark, robust, heavy and certainly not for everyone.

When someone talks about an ale, “citrusy, robust and bold” are common buzzwords that find their way into the conversation. We have no doubt an IPA will make its way into your Super Bowl beer selection. At Valley Smoke, we’ll be serving up some of our favorite ales to keep the party going. From small-batch craft options to our rotating draft, there’s something for everyone to sip on during the big game.

Our Favorite Menu Items to Pair With Your Ale:

– Farm House Mini Sandwiches: Buttermilk Biscuits, House Cured Country Ham, Pepper Jelly

– Carolina Style Chopped Pork

– Smoked Chicken Wings: Alabama White BBQ Sauce or House Buttermilk Blue Cheese

Lagers

The cooler temperatures used to brew lagers causes the yeast to settle at the bottom during the fermentation process. The result of this German process is a crisp, clean beer. Compared to ales, lagers are far lighter in color; often transparent. The most common crowd-pleasers are lagers. Lagers are a go-to choice for novices and experienced beer drinkers alike.

While ales may have more complex layers of flavor, “crisp and smooth” are good descriptors for a lager. Lighter beers typically fall into the lager category and are usually high in carbonation. Many casual beer drinkers prefer lagers because of their mellow flavors.

One of our favorite things about a lager is how well it pairs with pretty much all food, especially BBQ. The menu at Valley Smoke is right up any beer drinker’s alley. Here are our favorite menu items to pair with your cold lager:

– Crispy Chicken Livers with Red Pepper Jelly, Whipped Lemon Cream and Fried Shallots

– Valley Smoke Beef Brisket

– Local Shrimp & Chorizo Pasta

 

Thanks to the brewing and fermentation processes created by some old guys a couple hundred years ago, we now have the beers we love and enjoy today.While both of these beers are distinctly different, we have a great variety of both. Whether you’re sipping a cold beer watching the game or enjoying a private party at Valley Smoke, we recommend trying one of each to see what you prefer. We can’t wait to see you! Cheers.

Now that Halloween’s over, it’s finally time to think about Thanksgiving, everyone’s favorite holiday! Whether you celebrate with family or friends, begin your day with a marathon, parade or snuggled in bed, it’s important to focus on what’s really important and leave the stress of meal planning to us. These side dishes are the perfect accompaniment to grandma’s traditional turkey, will impress the in-laws and are super easy to bring to your best friend’s potluck.

 

Creamy Baked Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Mac ‘n’ cheese never lasts that long, but this recipe is going to blow your mind! In a food processor or blender, combine one cup cottage cheese, two cups milk, one tsp dry mustard, a pinch or two of cayenne (depending on how spicy you like it), grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Combine cheese mixture with 1/2 pound uncooked macaroni and close to a pound of grated cheddar cheese (save 1/4 cup of the pound for topping) and add to a buttered baking dish. Bake for 30 min at 375° then top with butter and the 1/4 cup of leftover cheese. Bake for another 30 minutes.

 

Not in the mood to prepare mac and cheese for your big group? No problem. We make the best dang mac ‘n’ cheese this side of the Mississippi…but we may be biased. Order a pint or two for your Thanksgiving dinner and find out for yourself.

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

The best part of Thanksgiving is that calories don’t count (just go with it), so we know you’ll come back for seconds of this sweet potato casserole. In a large bowl mix four cups of mashed sweet potatoes,1/2 cup white sugar, two eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, four tbsp butter, 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Once smooth, move to a 9×13 baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, three tbsp butter and 1/2 cup chopped pecans and sprinkle on top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Cranberry Sauce

We fully believe this slow cooker cranberry sauce will beat all others and have you drizzling it all over the turkey, potatoes and everything else on your plate. Nobody has to know you made it in a slow cooker, either! Serve it in a beautiful crystal bowl and your guests will think you’ve been working on it all day. In your slow cooker, combine 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon and 12 ounces of fresh cranberries. Cook on low for three hours, then bump the temperature up to high for another 45 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the mixture once every hour.

 

Green Bean Casserole

This classic recipe is nearly impossible to mess up, can be made ahead of time and travels great in a casserole dish. All you need is a can of cream of mushroom Soup, 3/4 cup of milk, a pinch of black pepper, two cans of drained green beans and one 1/3 cups of crispy fried onions. Mix the soup, milk and pepper in a 1.5-quart baking dish and then stir in the beans and 2/3 cup of the crispy fried onions. Bake at 350° for 30 min, top with the remaining onions and bake five more minutes, or until onions are golden.

 

No matter how you celebrate this year, these dishes are sure to knock it out of the park. Hey, you might even get off the hook for cleaning duties! One of the best things about celebrating Thanksgiving in the south is the variety of dishes and the ability to stray away from the traditional. Happy Thanksgiving from the Valley Smoke family!

 

Whether you’re watching your alma mater and reliving the ol’ college days or rooting on your favorite pro team Sunday night, I think we can all agree that half the fun of a football game is the tailgate party. The perfect tailgate requires a great playlist, some ice cold drinks and flames under the grill. It doesn’t matter if you’re a grill master or a novice…the folks at Valley Smoke have some great ideas to help you win the tailgate (no matter the score of the game).

 

Burgers

No reason to reinvent the wheel here. Keep the day easy and stress-free with some simple, juicy burgers. Prepare the seasoned beef patties the night before the party and you’ll impress your friends on game day, not to mention you’ll still have plenty of time for a few rounds of cornhole! This may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t forget to supply the buns, condiments, pickles, lettuce, onion, tomato and whatever else you think your guests will prefer on their burgers. A perfectly cooked burger is great, but it’s nothing without the right fixins.

 

Chicken

Whether you choose to bring buffalo chicken wings, barbecue chicken breasts or beer can chicken, you’re sure to be a huge hit at the tailgate. No matter how you make your chicken, a strong buffalo sauce and a tangy barbecue sauce will give your friends options and make everyone happy. If you choose to bring wings or chicken breasts, be sure to marinate them the night before.

 

Corn on the Cob

When tables are occupied by avid flip cup players and every truck’s tailgate is covered in food and party supplies, having food you can eat right out of your hand can be a lifesaver. Unlike what you’re probably accustomed to, there are a variety of ways to season and cook corn on the cob. One easy way to prepare the corn is to remove the husk and rub the kernels in butter, salt, pepper, chili powder and lime. Wrap the freshly seasoned cob in aluminum foil like a tootsie roll, and that’s it, you’re ready to grill! This is a great game day dish because it can be prepared the day before and thrown on the grill when ready. If you’re in the mood for some Mexican flare, simply throw the husk-free cob on the grill and coat the hot corn in mayonnaise, sour cream, dill, lime juice, salt and pepper, and top with feta cheese and chili powder.

 

Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Bring the heat on game day with some grilled shrimp skewers. Skewers are easy to prepare and even easier to eat at a laid-back tailgate. Coat the shrimp with salt, olive oil, lemon, parsley and cayenne pepper. If you want to make these skewers even healthier, we recommend adding some roughly chopped veggies, such as onions and bell peppers. The prep work is easy: Marinate your favorite veggies in Italian dressing and soak the skewers in water before adding the meat and vegetables (pro tip: soaking your skewers in water prevents food from sticking to the kebab).

 

Keep these great foods at the top of your list for your next tailgate and nobody will even remember the score. If you’re really looking to impress your guests and keep the day carefree, then our amazing team has you covered with carry-out options. Here are a couple of our favorite BBQ dishes that transport well and fit perfectly into any tailgating spread:

Smoked Chicken Wings

Wood-Fire Boneless Beef Short Rib

Fire-Spice Pork Belly

Wood-Fire Local Shrimp

Any dish from the Pit

Pickles add a certain tang to any dish and we can’t get enough of them! We make our pickles in-house and they add the best flavor to all of our meals that come from the pit. There are so many things you can do with pickles. You can enjoy pickles with a plate of fall-off-the-bone meat or simply blend them into a relish. The options are endless, but we have a few favorite ways to incorporate sweet and spicy pickles into your next meal:

Pickle Relish

There’s nothing like tailgate food during this football season (can we get a #DUUUVAL?!) What’s better than a hot dog on a Sunday before watching the Jags play? A hot dog with pickle relish before the game. It’s delicious and super easy to make. All you need is a jar of your favorite pickles, chopped onion, a pinch of sugar and your favorite mustard. Simply, throw the pickles and onions in a food processor until they’re finely chopped, then add in the sugar and mustard. Stir them all together, then you can store your homemade relish up to a week!

Dill Cheese Ball

We love cheese almost as much as we love pickles, which is a lot. Put them together and you’ve got a match made in heaven. This recipe is perfect for any and all cheese boards, whether it’s for a holiday party, tailgate or just because it’s a Thursday and you need a pick-me-up. It’s an easy recipe that you can enjoy any time, for this recipe you’ll need cream cheese, dill pickle relish, finely chopped onion, cheddar cheese, worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise and fresh parsley. All you need to do is combine all of the ingredients, excluding the parsley, until smooth. Then form into a ball, refrigerate and then serve and sprinkle parsley on top. So easy that you can make it for any occasion, big or small!

Cuban Sliders

Here in Florida, we’re familiar with delicious Cuban food, thanks to our neighbors south of the equator. The popular Cuban sandwich is well-known for its ham, mustard and pickles, of course! We have a special spin on the traditional Cuban – we make them into sliders. Pick out your favorite roll bread, thinly sliced ham (the good stuff…cold cuts have no place on a good Cuban), a tangy mustard, the best pickles you can find and some swiss cheese. Throw them all together and you’ve got a kickin’ Cuban slider that highlights your favorite pickles.

You’ll never go wrong with pickles: sweet, tangy or spicy. There are so many reasons to celebrate this Fall, whether it’s for football, holidays or a big life event. You have the best pickle recipes to please any crowd. If you want to see how we treat our pickles, stop by and order the best meat from the grill you’ve ever had. We’ll add some pickles on the plate to take your meal to the next level. We can’t wait to see you at Valley Smoke this Fall!

 

Cookouts might be full of grilled meat and veggies, but they’d be nothing without a sweet treat at the end! Sweeten up your next Ponte Vedra beachside cookout with one of our favorite summer desserts. Desserts come in all shapes in sizes and flavors. You can go the tangy route, the rich indulgent route or you could go the refreshing route. Whichever type of dessert you choose, you just can’t go wrong with sweet.

 

Lemon Tart

 

Summer and citrus go together like sand and the ocean. Lemons are so fresh during the summertime and complement any meal you’ve got on the grill. A sweet and a little bit salty crumble underneath a layer of tart and tangy lemon custard is a match made in heaven. Serve this dish with some whipped cream for guests to pile on as much as their taste buds desire.

 

Berry Parfait

 

Whipped cream and berries…does it get any more simple and delicious? Masurate the berries before assembling the parfait with sugar, lemon zest and some juice so that the berries pack a punch of flavor. Layer the berries you just perfected with the whipped cream, and just like that your dessert is ready for enjoying. Cookouts have a lot that goes into them and this dessert will take a little bit of the pressure off.

 

Summer Fruit Pie

 

Nothing screams America quite like homemade pie. The great thing about a summer fruit pie is there’s so much flexibility with the ingredients. In the mood for strawberries and peach? Awesome. Want to go for something a little more tart like blackberries? Throw ‘em in! If you choose to stick with the seasonal theme, we suggest strawberries and peaches. Throw in some lemon zest and you’re well on your way to rocking the dessert table.

 

Peach Crisp

 

Layered peach slices with melted cinnamon sugar and butter and granola on top all baked to a gooey perfection is definitely hard to resist. We suggest that you get the first plate of this dish because it’ll go quick. It’ll be a crowd pleasing dessert for a big cookout. It’s hard to go wrong with these ingredients and your fellow partiers are going to a adore your baking skills.

 

Killing it in the kitchen is a masterful skill that will certainly make your friends jealous! Pick out a dessert you know you’ll enjoy and make it your own! We’d like to think of this as a suggestive list of desserts to inspire your next cookout. But hey, if you and your group aren’t much of the cooking type, stop by Valley Smoke for some waterfront sweets.