Monday, December 31, 2007
We hit Big Bubba's BBQ at the Mohegan Sun Casino, Chesters BBQ in New London and finally the Bank Street Roadhouse, also in New London. We had a great time and a lot of laughs. I will be posting a review and more detailed recap of our day soon.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Last year, we tried Daisy May's BBQ during our December journey, so this year's dining choice was a no brainer. Hill Country. I was really bummed that the Brethren Bash at Hill Country last month took place while we were on vacation in California. So this was an easy decision.
The beef ribs were ok. I only got one and it didn't have much meat on it. Still tasted good. Beef rib below.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Sheila is pregnant!
This was not something we planned, and in fact the timing could not be worse. Her projected date is July 22, which is right in the dead center of her busy season at work. It is also a few days before Harpoon. It will be unfortunate if I have to miss the birth because of Harpoon, but that's just how it goes!
Just kidding Sheila!
I have proposed having a midwife on hand at Harpoon and having the baby in the camper, but Sheila has rejected that idea.
Even though this was unplanned and unexpected, we are extremely happy and excited by this news.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
In 2006, we hit the scene with a pretty good splash. A no-name team from Connecticut, grabbing awards and even winning our second contest out of the box. We qualified for the Jack Daniels, which was our fifth ever contest. It all seemed so easy.
It's not that easy.
The competition is very stiff in New England, despite what many people across the country may think. I learned quickly that in order to remain competitive, you have to bring your A game to every contest. While we didn't win any contests in 2007, we did have some great showings and I hope to build on that in the off season and into 2008.
The 2007 unofficially started with the Winter Sizzler in Lincoln, New Hampshire in January. We were among a dozen or so brave teams who battled each other and the elements on a snowy weekend. We took 2nd place in pork and 2nd in chicken, taking reserve grand champions for the event. It was a great start.
Next were a pair of grilling events in successive weeks in March. I cooked alone at the Snowshoe in Massachusetts, getting one call for 5th place fish and finishing 7th overall. Ironically, the next week at Grilling on the Bay in Brooklyn, NY, we got one call for 5th place fish and finished 7th overall.
Our BBQ season finally got underway in late June with a flurry of activity. Complete with our brand new camper/toy hauler, we hit the New Hampshire Rock-n-Ribfest in Nashua, NH. We didn't get any calls for grilling, but in the BBQ event we were called for 2nd place ribs, 4th place pork and finished 7th out of 36 teams.
The next weekend, it was off to Lake Placid, New York and the I Love BBQ Festival. In the midnight grilling bash Friday, we took 2nd place for chicken and 5th overall. Saturday was a "buck-a-rib" contest, where teams were able to sell ribs to the public, and they voted for the best. We took 3rd in that contest. In the KCBS contest Sunday, we only got one call for 5th place brisket, but finished 4th overall among some extremely stiff competition.
After three weekends off, we competed at Harpoon in late July. While we didn't score all that well, we did get a call for 7th place pork and finished 7th overall for the event. We also had a ton of fun, and sold a ton of food. I cannot wait to go back to Harpoon in 2008.
After a week off, we decided last minute to cook the Great State of Maine Grilling and BBQ festival. This was an interesting contest, held on a sloping cornfield on a farm in Maine. We did pretty well overall for the contest, especially in grilling, taking first place for steak, second place for pork and 3rd place for blueberry dessert. After briefly being awarded the grand championship, upon further review we were actually third and had to give the trophy back. In the BBQ event, we got calls for ribs and pork, finishing 6th overall.
A week later, it was off to New Paltz, New York and the Hudson Valley Ribfest. Again, we excelled in the grilling contest, taking 2nd place fish and sausage and finishing 4th out of 41 teams. Then, tanksville, our best score was 18th place pork, and we finished 22nd overall.
Not wanting that to be the way we finished our season, I entered us in the Battle of the BBQ Brethren in Sayville, Long Island, NY. Again, we did great in grilling, with first place chicken wings and first place fruit, along with 5th place steak. Reserve grand champions. In the KCBS contest, we got calls for 5th place chicken and 8th place brisket, finishing 12th overall.
That's our season. We were 7th in the New England Barbeque Society team of the year standings, and finished towards the top in almost every contest we entered, picking up two reserve grand championships along the way.
We will head into 2008 with a new smoker, and with the same determination and competitive spirit that got us into this racket in the first place. I'm hoping that some kind of winter contest happens again, because I will not be able to say no. I'm ready to get back at it. In the meantime, the practicing has begun.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, before we headed out of San Francisco, we decided to add a little BBQ to the trip. After renting our car for the drive to Carmel, we drove to Memphis Minnie'sBBQ Joint in the Haight-Ashbury district. We got there around 10:30 AM and the place didn't open until 11, so we waited in the car until they opened the doors. Once inside, we met a bunch of cool people who clearly take BBQ very seriously.
I ordered the three meat combo with beef ribs, St. Louis spares and pulled pork. The beef ribs below had a super smokt flavor and were very tender.
The pulled pork was my favorite thing of the meal. It was perfectly seasoned with a delicious, smoky flavor.
Sheila had the brisket sandwich. Very moist and tasty.
Overall, we had a great time at Memphis Minnie's. It was a great place to spend our last hour in San Francisco. If you're in the city, take a little time and head over to Memphis Minnie's. It's real BBQ in a city where real bbq is very hard to find.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I had the smoked salmon with bagel and cream cheese, and it was really good. Clearly superior salmon, no fishy aftertaste, and the bagel appeared to be homemade. Sheila had a waffle with pear, walnuts and whipped cream, which was outstanding too. Fortunately she didn't finish it, so I got around a quarter of it. We normally wouldn't spend 50 bucks on breakfast but this was worth it.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I normally just focus on BBQ in my blog, but have decided to turn it into kind of a trip journal for the week. We plan to hit a few BBQ places along the way too.
Yesterday was a travel day. We flew out of Bradley International Airport on a 2PM flight to Philadelphia, where we caught a connecting flight to San Francisco. I have never flown first class before, but being crammed like sardines for a six hour flight makes the huge first class price tag seem more than worth it. Flight was ok, very little turbulence.
We landed at the San Francisco airport at around 7PM Pacific time. Taxi to our hotel was around $40. It was dark and rainy, so we have seen nothing of the city at this point.
We are staying at the Serrano Hotel, a restored Spanish revival boutique hotel (Thanks Zagat)on Taylor Street near Union Station. The hotel is nice, but like in most cities, the rooms are extremely small. Very nice though, with some interesting and odd appointments. There is a yo-yo and a mini Etch-a-Sketch in the minibar. If I get bored later maybe I'll try to walk the dog for the first time in two decades.
Also, the rooms have leopard print robes.
We made a reservation for 10PM Saturday night at Ponzu, which is an Asian fusion restaurant located in the lobby of the hotel. We went down a half-hour early, and they were able to accommodate us and seat us right away, even though the place was pretty packed.
I am fighting a cold and was a little hazy during dinner. The place was loud, but I liked the decor, definitely an old school restaurant with lots of nooks and banquettes.
We started with chicken spring rolls with sweet chile pepper sauce. The chicken was ground and bland, but the sauce stole the show here, very spicy.
For dinner, Sheila had the grilled pork chop with a ginger pineapple glaze. This was excellent, very juicy, tender and flavorful.
I had the duck breast, served with duck confit, lardons of bacon and what seemed to be broccoli rabe, along with chestnuts. The duck breast itself was ok, but what blew me away was the duck confit part of the dish. It just exploded with flavor.
Overall, a good start to what we expect to be a week of great food, despite what I would call average service at Ponzu.
Today, we're going to head up to the Ferry Market on the bay, then possibly try some dim sum in Chinatown. Tonight, we are going to Frascati, on the recommendation of Brendan and Julie of Transformer BBQ. Well, the sun is up, time to go see the sights!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The temperature slowly rose to 225, and with very little air flow adjustment it stayed there. I added three chunks of apple wood and one chunk of hickory.
The ribs went on, and cooked for two and a half hours at 225.
We had some friends over, and the ribs disappeared quickly. I forgot to take pictures of the sliced finished product. I thought they were pretty good, but could have used a little more time in foil. They were a little tough. I'm trying to learn to cook good spares, but am finding the process difficult. They are much harder for me than baby backs or loin backs, but that's a discussion for a later post.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
This past weekend, Q Haven competed at the Battle of the BBQ Brethren in Sayville, Long Island, New York. We had originally planned to compete at Dover this weekend, but after much deliberation we decided to head to Long Island instead. It turned out to be the right decision for many reasons.
Getting ahead of myself again....
Sheila and I decided that we would take the ferry to Long Island instead of driving the long way, down I-95 to New York City, then back up to Sayville. Even though it cost over a hundred dollars each way, it was well worth it, as getting the SUV and trailer on and off the ferry was a snap, and the drive was easy on the NY side.
We arrived at the site of the contest mid afternoon Friday. The contest was set in a park in the middle of a neighborhood. Will Breakstone aka Willie B greeted us and set us up with a nice site at the back of the contest area.
Next were ribs. I decided to take a chance and marinate the ribs, something I had never done before in competition. Also, I bought the ribs at Restaurant Depot, which is a place I use for a lot of things, but not usually for ribs. Not sure if those things were really factors, but the ribs really missed the mark. 22nd place.
Missed with pork too. We thought this was our best turn in of the weekend. The judges disagreed. Also, 22nd place.The final category was brisket. We thought brisket was our worst category of the weekend. Dry and tough. There must have been a lot of bad brisket turned in too, because we took 8th place.
The people who put this contest together did an awesome job. Especially Eric Devlin (motoeric), who despite a foot injury hobbled around from team to team on crutches every day to make sure everything was OK. Will Breakstone (Willie B) did a great job too, as did the too many to mention people who did little things behind the scenes that made the contest such a success.
Now, the long off season begins. Believe me there will be a lot of practicing.