His main beef's as I saw them:
- While ribs are smoked, the membrane on the back is not removed due to volume of rib selling.
- Chicken is roasted in ovens and tossed onto the grill at the last minute.
- Propane is used to cook most of the meats with wood added for smoking or last minute grilling.
- Judging isn't professional: there's no how-to's, no criteria, and no drink prohibition to affect flavours.
So were these cursings substantiated or was this the rantings of a BBQ food snob? Let's get to the meat of the issue: the rib tasting.
Make that rib/chicken/pork tasting. We didn't have a lot of time, or money to do a broad sampling as my gang does normally in London. And we were also looking to try more than just pork ribs, as this was a 'Rib-Chicken' cook off. There were several crews that don't visit the Forest City, so narrowing down the list to choose to try was a bit easier. We hit 2 establishments, Camp 31 & Billy Bones BBQ, and got their rib-chicken-pulled pork combo and did some sharing.
I've heard a lot about this place and its ribs. And by place, mainly the restaurant in Paris Ontario. You might think, Paris Ontario can do good, Southern BBQ? Well they can, and that's because they are really from Alabama. AND they do some ribfest circuits as well.
By far they had the best looking outfit - with smirking pigs, warning signs, wood motifs; they were a visually interesting booth.
They have a monster rig for smoking and cooking. And I liked the 50's style advertisements and re-pigged movie posters out front. There was no line up (but really, no one other than Camp 31 had a line up at that hour) and I had our second meal in my hands in seconds.
Their meal was the "Big Daddy Special." Clearly presentation was not important.
- Because the event is JUST selling of meat, it wasn't that exciting (that sounds so crazy coming out of my mouth). So your food better be good. And it wasn't.
- I've always known you can't go by the trophies because everyone seems to win somewhere sometime. There is no professional competition here.
- The baked chicken is pointless. It's not BBQ, and it doesn't even get on the grill long enough to count.
- The membrane dealie didn't bother me. The ribs are cooked for so long that you don't taste them, and their texture wasn't terrible. That's not to say I want them on, but it wasn't a deal clencher for me.
So I agree with Mr Eade and have to bow to his experience. People should be aware that this isn't all authentic 'Que. And it wasn't that fun an event to begin with. And the food we tried was really weak. And yet the people keep lining up. I know London's Ribfest may not be light-years ahead in terms of the event, but I just found the food on the whole to be much better there, but then again I have had the opportunity to try more vendors.
As a celebration of ribs and chicken, this was a failed event for me. Billy Bone's pulled pork on the other hand was definitely worth the visit. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a sourpuss or a hater walking around, but for LJ who had never been to such an event, I really had to explain that this was not the same experience for what me and my friends flock to every year. I feel sorry for Ottawaians, this is the best they can get.
RESULTS OF THE JUDGING for 2009:
Best Chicken: Boss Hogs
Best Ribs: Camp 31
Best Sauce: Camp 31
Either the judging was a sham, or I didn't get the same ribs from Camp 31. Kudos to Boss Hogs, I like their work.