Hop just over the border to Badger’s Island to find food from the Lone Star State. It’s all about Texas here as Houston native Chef Will Myska pays tribute to his home state with dry-rub BBQ, a brisket sandwich served with Texas napkins (white bread) and a legendary banana pudding, all offered with local craft brews and Texas’ Shiner beer. The name is also an ode to Myska’s grandmother and cooking inspiration, Ore Nell, now in her early 90s. The former Blind Pig Provisions space was a perfect fit, as it already had the traditional look of a BBQ joint with galvanized steel and pine walls. But Ore Nell’s is more than tradition. Sure, you can order brisket and ribs by the pound with your choice of the usual sides, but specials are Myska’s road to fame with beautifully executed Korean ribs, beef short ribs with tomato jam and his take on Frito pie…
This Badger’s Island barbecue outpost serves up meat smoked in the Central Texas-style (pitmaster Will Myska is from Houston). With barbecue staples like brisket and St. Louis-style ribs, meat lovers will be in heaven. But vegetarians shouldn’t despair—this barbecue restaurant serves vegan sides and even vegan barbecue, made from smoked tofu.
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Now about that brisket. Much of my time is spent in Austin as many of you know and I have some of the best barbeque trucks and shacks within just a few miles from me – and many of them including James Beard Award-winning Franklin Barbecue. I’ve tried plenty of them and Will’s barbeque is easily just as good, and better than many.
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...Southern food is much more nuanced than we’re seeing, of course. Like all food traditions, the dishes vary within regions and even within families. There are some commonalities, however. Fried chicken, cornbread, brisket and ribs, each done differently depending on who your grandparents were and where they hailed from. That goes for dessert, too, and in Texas you’ll see a lot of cobblers and pecan pie but also banana pudding, creamy, sweet and many prepared just like the delicious version chef Will Myska is whipping up at Ore Nell’s Barbeque in Kittery. There are even banana pudding festivals in Georgia and Tennessee...
...McSharry and Vargas have tapped Vida’s current chef de cuisine, Will Myska, to work as Ore Nell’s pit master. Myska grew up in Houston before moving to the Seacoast when he was 19. He grew up eating Texas barbecue with his grandmother Ore Nell, and he is excited to share his favorite childhood cuisines with the Seacoast.
“I’m beyond humbled and excited, growing up barbecuing and making a career out of it now and share it with other people, what’s more exciting than that?” Myska said. “I want people to feel like home. I want people who have traveled all over to take a bite of barbecue and say, ‘this reminds of the time I was in Austin, Elgin and Taylor;’ anywhere in Texas and bring families and the community together like we always try to do here and at Vida.”