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Foodie Review: Mike Hilburger – Picklehead

In Darwin two or three years ago, the majority of BBQs might have been a four burner gasser, braising stuff on a hot plate – but today, there is a growing BBQ scene in the Northern frontier and, particularly, a love affair with low and slow, smoke, charcoal, wood and primal cuts.

by Mike Hilburger

Enter the good folk at ACCOMPLICE, who managed to convince me (they didn’t have to put a gun to my head) to come to Darwin, and teach a few of the locals the art of smoky, real BBQ.

Before the class, I managed to weave my way around a few of the local establishments – such as The Precinct Tavern and The Cav Hotel – who were purveying the good stuff, and doing it well. 

From impressive Argentinian asado style grills through to full-blown offset smokers, this city has you covered! You can tool up at Barbecue HQ.

The one thing that stands out is the passion in the folks behind the smokers. I’ve witnessed the same level of pride, love and dedication all over this country – people bitten by the BBQ bug – and I definitely see it in Darwin’s skilled pitmasters.

I witnessed first hand the dedication of the locals, the home cooks, who’ve had to be pretty resourceful with how they cook. They don’t have access to all the gadgets and rubs, and even cuts of meat, so they make their own, in true pioneer spirit.

The one thing I would love to see more of is locals embracing their native proteins and smoke woods. Get some wild boar, camel, buffalo, croc, fish, crabs, etc., hitting the grills. And local woods for smoke, your mahogany or exotic Asian fruitwood.

Find a great Asian BBQ recipe to cook at home, then get down to the Rapid Creek Market, grab a grilled pork banh mi and check out the charcoal action from the local food vendors. Then go shopping; you’ll have all the fresh ingredients you need to cook with on tap!

 Mike Hilburger runs Picklehead Pickles and is one part of award winning BBQ outfit Shank Brothers. He was in residency sharing his culinary skills at ACCOMPLICE.


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