Monday, December 31, 2007

Connecticut BBQ Crawl

Sunday, I went on a Connecticut BBQ crawl with Gary Goldblatt of the noted BBQ review site and Mike Boisvert, pitmaster of Lakeside Smokers. We had a great afternoon of BBQ, beer and friendly conversation.

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

Video: Chef Terry Noyes of Bocca

This is normally just a BBQ blog, but I'm going to give a plug to my friend and former boss, Chef Terry Noyes, owner of Bocca in East Haven, CT.

We worked together in the mid 1990's at Terry's restaurant at the time, Armory Square Cafe in Milford CT, when we were both a lot younger and skinnier. I waited tables, and eventually was a manager at Armory Square. I credit Terry a lot for my interest in learning to cook. He used to blow me away with his cooking style, and I remember the two plus years I worked in his restaurant with him as some of the best times of my life. It was certainly the most fun I have ever had at work.

Terry appeared on Channel 8 in Connecticut for an entertaining cooking segment over this past weekend. Click HERE to watch the video.

Also, be sure to visit his restaurant in East Haven for some great food. It's a short drive off I-95 for you readers who may be passing through the area at some point. Here's the web site:

Hopefully we will be able to lure Terry to a BBQ competition this year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hill Country, NYC

Every year, Sheila and I travel into New York City in December to kind of fire up the Christmas spirit. For me, NYC has a way of taking things and energizing them, and we have really come to enjoy our December getaway.

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.

We arrived at around 3PM. When you arrive they explain the market style ordering process to the rookies like us. You come in and go to the barbecue and sausage counter and order.
Then you go to another counter and order sides. At your table the waitress takes your order for drinks.

In order to get a good sampling, I ordered a bunch of meats. I got some pork ribs, one beef rib, some moist brisket and a jalapeno and cheese sausage. You bring a ticket up to the counter, they put the price sticker on it, then they give you your meats on butcher paper.

The brisket is carved to order, as are the ribs.

Now, I can see why some people could find this type of system a little confusing. But I found it easy to navigate, and a refreshing change from the restaurant norm. It helped that the staff were all very friendly.
I thought the moist brisket was fantastic. Sorry about the bad picture.

But my favorite was the pork ribs. They also offer lean brisket, which I did not try. They were spares, very tender and flavorful. We didn't use sauce on anything.

The sausage was fantastic, but I only took a couple of bites and brought the rest home.

The beef ribs were ok. I only got one and it didn't have much meat on it. Still tasted good. Beef rib below.

As a bonus, we were able to get a tour of the kitchen and check out the smoker area. They have three huge Ole Hickory smokers, each of which operate at different temperatures for different meats. The smokers are situated right behind the meat market counter, basicly the centerpiece of the place. Here are a few pictures from the smokers.

I even go to sign one of the smokers. I didn't make it on the celebrity wall but I did get a nice spot on the pitmaster side.

As we were wrapping up our tour, pitmaster Robbie Richter arrived for the evening.

It was good to see him again. We met at the Hudson Valley Ribfest in 2006, when the restaurant was still in its formulative stages. We had a long conversation as we were packing up after the event.

We had a great visit to Hill Country, and I cannot wait to bring my Texas sized appetite back to Hill Country for some awesome BBQ, Texas style.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Breaking News

We received some breaking (and very unexpected) news yesterday that will in all probability have a huge impact on our 2008 BBQ season.

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.