Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oyster Bay Wrap Up

We cooked the first annual Oyster Bay Smoke & Steam grilling competition this past weekend on Long Island, New York. We went into the event with high hopes, had a lot of fun while we were there, took it on the chin from the judges, then returned home tired and confused. Here's the rundown.
The plan was to stay overnight in Long Island Friday night, as we were supposed to be on site around 7:00 in the morning, and we didn't want to have to leave the house in Connecticut at 4AM. I am not a morning person. So we stayed at a hotel in Melville, NY, around 20 minutes from the contest site.

I packed the truck Thursday night so all we would have to do is throw the cooler in the truck and leave Friday after work. That plan worked out pretty well, and we were on the road at around seven p.m. with the jam packed vehicle.
The drive was rough because it poured the whole ride, but we arrived at the hotel at around 10PM. The cool thing was that Brendan and Julie from Transformer BBQ were staying in the same hotel. Once we checked in, we went downstairs to the hotel bar and had a few drinks and a lot of laughs.

The contest site was a town street in front of the historic railroad station. It was a unique place for a contest. It was hard to tell exactly where to set up, so we grabbed the first spot we could find. Here is our site.
Ended up next to a team from Long Island called "Rub This." I remembered them from Sayville last year, except I did not meet them at that event. They are a cool bunch, and we had fun bantering throughout the day and trying each other's food.

The categories were beef steak, pork chop, chicken and oysters.

For the beef steak, we cooked NY strips with red wine butter. If it wasn't for one of the teams being DQ'd for missing the turn in time, we would have been last place, instead it was 11th out of 12. I'm not going to dwell on this a whole lot but this one bothered me the most.
We bought nice NY strips from a good butcher, gave them a splash of extra virgin olive oil, rubbed with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, grilled to medium rare, hit with a dab of red wine butter and sliced. I would eat that six days a week, regardless of what the judges thought of it.
I'm just bummed we gave the judges three whole strip steaks. Hope they choked on it.
Next was pork chops. Did a frenched chop with apple butter. I thought it was OK. I was hoping the quality meat would carry us here, but it didn't quite get it done. Pork chop was 5th place, our best finish of the day.
The chicken. What might have been.....
I hit them a little too hard with the smoke and left them on a pretty hot smoker a little too long as I was cooking the first two categories. I kind of took it for granted that they would be fine. The color ended up really dark. The meat was still pretty juicy and tasted good, but the color pretty much did me in. Three 5's for appearance tells the story, and the judges were right. It's a meat contest, and the meat didn't look very good. 10th out of 12.

The funny thing is that one of the judges gave this a 9 for appearance.
Oysters was last. Until around two weeks ago, I had never cooked oysters in my life. I have had oysters Rockefeller a few times and liked it, so I decided to make them for the contest. Took a basic recipe and added a few of my own touches. I thought they were good, and some of the judges agreed. Three gave it an 8 for taste, another gave it a 3. Another second to last finish, 11th place.

So in the end, we would have been dead last if it wasn't for the team that got DQ'd in steak. If they had turned in a slab of horse meat we would have been last. It was not the best feeling for sure. Transformer BBQ won the grand championship and just rocked the whole event. Sheila and I tried so hard to be happy for them but we were both pretty depressed. They obviously cooked some killer food.

Transformer BBQ
I was really bummed because this is basically it for us on the competition circuit for some time, and we will have to wait a long time to redeem ourselves. Sheila is now seven months pregnant, so we cannot commit to any more competitions for a while. Our next event will probably be in September. We will be at Harpoon but depending on the baby situation, I may not be there at all. Hopefully I will be able to make it for at least part of the weekend.

Baby Mama Sheila

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