Thursday, August 10, 2006

Coming Soon: New Paltz

Next Friday, we head to New Paltz, New York for the Hudson Valley Ribfest. This should be a fun event, and I expect it will be well attended by the top BBQ teams in the Northeast. It has been way too long since our last competition, over the 4th of July in Lake Placid.

Even though Q Haven hasn't been competing in recent weeks, we have been active, BBQ wise. We have done several practice cooks, and have attended two events. The first was Harpoon, which was documented in an earlier post, and last weekend we went to the Brookline Backyard BBQ, where Sheila and I were judges. This was an interesting experience.

The backyard competition was run by Andy King of the Bastey Boys, who is President of the New England Barbeque Society. It is designed to get new teams involved in competitive BBQ, and I feel it was a huge success in that department. There were 19 teams, and all but two of them were competing for the first time. There were definately some creative names, including the Green Goobers, Squealing for Vengance and Smokedelic. There were only two categories, ribs and chicken wings.

The judging was a learning experience. Not to criticize the process used, but it was difficult as a judge. Each table of judges got six turn in boxes, and we had to rank them first through sixth place on appearance. That part was easy enough, but we then had to score the samples the same way for taste and tenderness. I found it difficult to score the six different samples in this way, but I did the best I could.

I was particularly interested in trying the rib turn-ins. Out of the six samples I tried, I really liked two of them. However, two of them were so bad, I could barely get a bite down. The other two were decent, one would have scored better if they removed the membrane. I tried to score as fairly and accurately as possible.

Interestingly, neither of the established teams won the contest, or the individual categories. We did hang around with the Lakeside Smokers for a while after the judging was complete. What a real nice group of people. Mike is their pit boss, and he is a real good guy. He has a great group of supporters around him too, and as a metal fabricater he built his own backwoods style smoker. I had hoped we would get to compete with them soon, but it won't be this year. They're not going to New Paltz, and we're not going to Lowell where they compete next.

Anyway, we are really looking forward to getting down to it next weekend. I miss the competition scene, and this event looks like it will be a lot of fun.

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