Summer and Smoke: Ray Ray's burnt ends sandwich special

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

Now that the weather has finally settled into a summer-appropriate pattern, I suppose chilly and blustery air is just around the corner. So let's celebrate these long, sultry days - and the inevitable nostalgia they will engender come winter - with a seasonally appropriate pop quiz.

"Burnt Ends" refers to

A) The frazzled patches in your yard where even weeds don't grow

B) The last round of goofy summer blockbuster movie releases before the more "serious" Oscar-contenders premiere

C) The morning-after repercussions of homegrown chilies

D) The wonderful new Thursday special from Ray Ray's Hog Pit of "16-hour smoked beef brisket, cubed then smoked again in BBQ sauce, then topped with sautéed red bell peppers and white onions, then placed between a Dan the Baker hoagie roll!"

Yes, the answer is "D," most of which I copied straight from Ray Ray's Facebook page. For the underprivileged few who don't know about Ray Ray's - pound for pound, the best barbecue in town - it's a great food truck that operates Thursday-Sunday out of the parking lot of Ace of Cups in Old North Columbus. It's easy to find: just allow the siren-call scent of meats smoldering over hickory and oak woods (detectable within about a two-block radius) to lead you to a line of aesthetically advanced carnivores with ravenous expressions.

Unless you enjoy squatting in an alley or chowing down in a vehicle (or, unlike me, can wait to eat this at home), ferry your foil-wrapped burnt ends sandwich - i.e. the best $8 you will spend that day - to a table on the patio behind Ace. If it's after 5 p.m., you can enjoy it with one of the bar's 16 draft beers (Ace opens at noon Friday-Sunday).

The sandwich - "it goes to 11"- stars juicy, extra-smoky strands of pulled beef bearing dark spots of intense "bark;" a tangy sauce is cooked into the meat. On top are sauteed onions and peppers that play off the zesty-sweet sauce and add a little crunch. The whole shebang is contained in a sesame-seeded roll that's sturdy and crisp on the exterior, soft and puffy underneath.

In a few weeks, summer will be gone again. But every Thursday, this concentrated taste of the barbecue-happy season will continue to be available at Ray Ray's.

Ray Rays Hog Pit

2619 N High St., Old North