Monday, July 02, 2007

Lake Placid

We had been looking forward to going back to Lake Placid for some time. Lake Placid was our 3rd competition last year, and we had a great time. This year, it lived up to it and more.

We decided to leave Thursday night and drive most of the way up to Lake Placid, so we could get a good night's sleep and still get on site early. This was only our second event since we bought the trailer/camper, so I wanted to be one of the first teams in so I wouldn't have to worry about parking it.

We got on site at about 10AM Friday. Last year, there were only 16 teams, so there was plenty of room. This year, there were 36, so the Olympic skating oval was a little tight. Fortunately, we had a site on the outside ring. The teams that ended up in the middle were pretty squeezed.

For anyone who has never been to Lake Placid, it's a great little town. As you pull in, you can feel the history. Two of the most memorable Olympic memories from my childhood happened within days of each other in Lake Placid in 1980, the Miracle on Ice and Eric Heiden's dominant speed skating winning five gold medals. The competition is held inside that skating oval.

The event is held right in the middle of an upscale village. The scenery of Mirror Lake is beautiful. Once we got our site set up, we went up to The Cottage, a restaurant right on the lake. Great sandwiches and views.

We had a great time last year hanging around with Frank and Carol Zeske, and it was so good to see them again. The Zeskes, Dmitry Feld and Jon Lundin and all the organizers do a great job of making the teams feel welcome. The people and the town really make this event.

Frank Zeske
This was going to be a busy weekend of cooking. Friday night was the midnight grilling bash, Saturday a "Buck-a-Bone" people's choice rib contest, and Sunday the KCBS BBQ contest.

Friday night for grilling was not a schedule we are used to, but it was fun. Cristiaan handled the chicken recipe, and I did the strip steak. For the chicken, Cristiaan did a bbq chicken pizza, with sauteed onions and smoked cheddar. It came out really well, and took 2nd place, despite getting two 5's for appearance.

The steak didn't do as well. I did a bone in strip with red wine butter, presented (open garnish) on a bed of onion strings with the box lined with a plank of asparagus. As it turned out, at least one judge ate the onion strings with the steak. I intended them to be just garnish. We cooked them an hour before the turn in, and didn't even season them. My mistake. As they say, don't put it in the box if you don't want them to eat it. Took 11th in steak, and 5th overall for the event. A good start to the weekend.

Friday night was fun. We cooked a lot of ABT's, and my Mom brought some appetizers and we had a pretty nice feast.

Saturday was the "Buck a Bone" competition. We had never done one of these before. So the question was, how much do we cook? I was very unsure on this one. I didn't want to cook a ton of ribs and end up taking them all home. We cooked 17 racks....and sold every bone in the first hour. Wish I had made more.

We probably broke even with the rib contest. But it was really a lot of fun. We got a lot of positive feedback about our ribs, and the people voted us third place for the contest, only losing to Lost Nation and I Smell Smoke!!! That's pretty good company.

We had hoped to do a lot of hanging around and partying Saturday night. However, it got really cold and rained heavily, so we ended up boarding up the camper early and falling asleep to a movie. The camper has proven to be a huge plus while competing. While it allows us to haul all our gear easily, it is extremely comfortable for sleeping. It was nights like this that made us decide to get the camper in the first place.

Sunday was the KCBS BBQ event, with 36 teams cooking. Overall, we cooked what I thought was some really good, consistent food. I thought the chicken was really good. The scores were pretty high, mostly 7's and 8's, but other teams must have had some huge scores. Chicken was our worst entry, took 19th.

I knew that I missed the mark with the ribs. They were a little tough, maybe a little more spice than I should have used. I messed up the presentation too, when the design I planned didn't fit in the box. We had to blow it up last minute, and the box ended up somewhat sloppy. All the handling of the ribs made them lose that nice glaze too. Two judges gave us 799 on ribs, but the two 6's for taste hurt. Ribs were 9th place.

The pork was what I thought was our best entry. I am very pleased with the injection-spice-sauce combo I have developed for pork. Sheila has been really coming up with some nice presentations, which is helping our overall scores, especially in pork. Scored pretty well, 12th in pork. Thought it would do better though.

Brisket was last. I thought the flavor was right on, but knew it was a little tough. I have been struggling with brisket tenderness lately. I put the best pieces in the box and hoped for the best. To my surprise, we got called for 5th place brisket. The appearance scores saved us here, four 9s and two 8s. Sheila gets credit for this one.

Overall, we were 4th place for the event. A pretty good showing considering the top teams that were on hand.

Now, after back to back competitions, we have nearly a month to recover before Harpoon.

No comments: