Sunday, January 27, 2008
Entries have been submitted for Q Haven to compete in two contests:
The first is the "Freeze Your Butt Off 2008" at Jiminy Peak Ski Resort in Western Massachusetts. This will take place the first weekend of March. The Saturday part of the contest is just a People's Choice Wings contest. Sunday will be a KCBS style BBQ cookoff, with some kind of "Iron Chef" fifth category. This contest is not KCBS sanctioned, but it is sanctioned by the New England Barbeque Society, which means it will count towards the 2008 Team of the Year.
The next is the Snowshoe Grilling Challenge in Abingdon, Massachusetts on Saturday, March 29th. This is a one day grilling contest, with the categories of fish steak, sausage fatty, beef of any kind and grilled vegetable. I attended this contest last year and it was a lot of fun. Gary and Michele Taft of the "Lunchmeat" team do a great job putting this event on. This was where Q Haven got its first ever call for grilling, a 5th place for fish. It was also the only time I have ever done a competition completely solo. It was challenging, but fun nontheless.
After Snowshoe, it gets tricky.
Memorial Day weekend brings two area contests. One is Grillin' On the Bay, which will be on the shore in Brooklyn, NY. The other is at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, CT. We will be at one of these.
I will not be competing at the New Hampshire Rock-n-Ribfest in June this year. This is for a few reasons. One is that I have a fundamental problem with an event that charges $5 a person for admission, draws around 20-thousand people over a three day event, then only gives two-thousand-dollars in TOTAL prize money for both grilling and BBQ. Sure, I understand and support the concept of raising money for charity, but that is a joke. But they would not have an event at all without the competition teams, and feel they treat us as an afterthought.
Also, they have decided to go ahead without NEBS sanctioning because they don't want to pay a $50 sanctioning fee. It's silly and petty.
We also will not be cooking at Lake Placid this year either. This one I'm really bummed about. I love the town, and the event has been a blast each of the last two years. But Sheila will be more than eight-months pregnant by then, and it's a six-hour drive for us. We just can't do it.
Hopefully we will be able to do Peter's Pond in mid-June. But, again, Sheila will be very pregnant by then, so this one will have to be a last minute decision.
Since Sheila is due July 22nd, that will likely mean that Harpoon and New Paltz will be out too. I hate to miss Harpoon, especially since it is so hard to get into the contest in the first place. But really there is no other option.
Hopefully we will be able to do one of the September contests, maybe Lowell or Harvard. Since we have the camper with AC and a furnace, we could easily bring the baby. It's best to get them started on the circuit young!
Friday, January 18, 2008
Sauce on the side!
It was my first long cook on the Backwoods, and I learned a lot. I am still learning about the air flow and the amounts of charcoal to use, but I'm pretty confident that I will be ready to use it as my main competition cooker this year.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Fred and Ted
We decided to go to Black Eyed Sally's, which is located about a block from the Hartford Civic Center (now called the XL Center). For those who have not been to Hartford in a while, the civic center is no longer located in a mall as it used to be. They knocked the mall down and built a slick luxury apartment tower. But I digress. I'm stalling because I am about to hammer the food we had at Black Eyed Sallys.
I had eaten at Black Eyed Sally's once before, and had a very dry pulled pork sandwich. I work in Hartford, and have heard people around town say their BBQ was pretty good, so I went in with an open mind. It's a cool joint to visit for drinks, and I have been many times for happy hour with co-workers, but had never ordered dinner before.
I was excited to see "our famous, fall off the bone Memphis style ribs" on the menu. I have not had ribs in Memphis yet, but I can't imagine they are like this.
I ordered the pork ribs, beef burnt ends and chicken, $16.95. Fred had the ribs and crispy catfish combo, also $16.95. The ribs were from the short end of a rack of spares, maybe three bones, definitely not "fall off the bone" tenderness. The only smoke flavor was from the liquid smoke in the sauce. What meat there was tasted old and dry. There was no smoke ring. Fred agreed that these ribs were subpar.
The chicken part of my dish was a small drumstick and part of a thigh. It tasted more boiled than smoked. Very little meat. It was pretty moist though, but utterly flavorless.
The burnt ends were very hard chunks of beef, four of them. Average.
I was extremely disappointed to find the only place that sells BBQ in downtown Hartford represented so poorly. I would be stunned to find a smoker anywhere in the kitchen. Their sign on the door touts "BBQ and Blues." I hope the blues are better than the BBQ.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I also have a pot of chili going. That will be ready during the game, the pork won't be until afterwards, because I wasn't able to drag myself out of bed until 7AM to start the fire.
I'll try to throw some pictures up when everything is done.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
With a baby on the way, the number of contests I will be able to do this year will be limited. I need to do as many early season events as I can. It feels great to have an event coming up. Time to do some serious practicing!
There were around 30 people at the meeting. The meeting was run professionally by NEBS President Steve Farrin. Not sure what they do at their regular meetings, but this was a very open session. It was clear that everyone there could have their voice heard if they had something to say. I wasn't there to opine on any issues really, just to observe.
Like any organization, there are going to be disagreements. The "elephant in the room" on this day involved a dispute over whether contest organizers should pay a listing fee to have their contest placed on the events list on the NEBS web site. I'm not going to interject myself into the debate on this one. I will say that I voted with the majority to support the requirement that organizers pay the fee in a non-binding vote that was held to gauge member support.
Otherwise, there weren't any other major or controversial issues addressed. Steve Farrin was reelected board president, and Gary Taft of Lunchmeat will become vice president.
It was also good to see some of the people from the competition circuit. Two friends from the circuit were joining the board at this meeting, Mike Boisvert of Lakeside Smokers and Brendan Burek of Transformer BBQ. Congrats fellas!
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Gary Goldblatt is clearly the preeminent BBQ reviewer in the Northeast. He gets all over New England and New York, and has a very organized and well written BBQ site. Gary is very passionate about BBQ, much the way Mike and I are about being BBQ competitors. He's very knowledgeable and also judges BBQ competitions. I'm sure he would be a great competitor if he decided to go that route. We had been trying to go out for BBQ for around a year, and I was glad to finally get the chance to go.
The bayou burger was served with a slice of ham and cheddar cheese, and seemed tasteless after the wings.
We finished up with the main course, the Big BubbaQue ($24.95). This grand order includes BBQ ribs, chicken, brisket, pork and hon link sausage, two sides and cornbread. Sometimes my wife and I come and order this to share, and always end up bringing home leftovers.
We convinced our friendly and accommodating waitress to substitute the link for extra ribs, and she also agreed to have both spares and baby back ribs included.