Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New York Adventure

During our annual trip to upstate New York last weekend for Sheila's job, we decided to hit a couple of BBQ restaurants. One was Route-7 Grill in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the other was Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse. Since we were going to be eating out for three straight days, it seemed only fitting to work in some BBQ too.

So we left Friday and took the back way through Litchfield County and into Great Barrington, a neat little Berkshires town where antiquing seems to be the biggest economic driver. We had hit Route-7 Grill a couple of years ago, and I was looking forward to another visit.

No dice.

It might have helped if I had checked their web site. Closed for lunch on Fridays. I considered pulling a Clark Griswold at Wally World and storming the place, forcing the kitchen staff to cook us a great meal before being taken out by a swat team. Decided not to do that.

Sheila was expectedly steamed, as we had passed probably a dozen places that would have been great for lunch along the way. It didn't help that it was 2:00 pm either.

So I said "we're eating at the next place we see, regardless of what it is." That totally worked out.

We rolled up on a place called "Bizalion's Fine Foods" about a mile up the road. We walked in and it was clear that we were going to have a special lunch.

This place is a little French cafe and food shop owned by Francois and Helen Bizalion. They bring a lot of the great things about France to their shop, and we had a great lunch served by Francois. I had a prosciutto, brie and butter panini that was just outstanding. Sheila had a quiche Lorraine that she loved. Francois created a special cheese and baguette plate for Max too, choosing a cheese that I don't remember the name but he said was the favorite of his four year old daughter.

We loved our stop here. We will be back next time we pass through the region.

Saturday, we decided to hit Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, which was on the way to our destination of Canandaigua. I could do a whole post on this place, as this was the fourth year I had a day to explore this town while Sheila was busy with work. Strange place.

Anyway, the plan was to hit Dinosaur early Saturday night before it got too busy. Again, a little research might have been helpful. The St. Patrick's Day parade had been held that afternoon in Syracuse, and by the time we got there it was packed with hammered people with green painted faces, dumb hats and green head to toe. At least an hour and a half wait. See ya later....

So after Sheila's work function Sunday, we hit the road and I decided to give Dinosaur one more try. Took a different tact this time, called ahead when we were 30 minutes out. We got there and were seated immediately.

A wait had already started when we got there, so it was good that we called ahead. We ordered fried green tomatoes as an appetizer, which were probably my favorite thing of the meal. probably because I had never tried them before, and they were awesome.

For dinner, I got something called Tres Hombres, which is a three meat plate of spare ribs, beef brisket and pulled pork. The pork was the best part of the plate for me, very moist and flavorful. I only got a little bit, because Max was grabbing fistfuls of pork and jamming it into his mouth.

The ribs were very good. Sheila got a half rack dinner so we had plenty of them, and they were pretty moist and tender.

The brisket was just ok, one piece was really tough but a couple of others were tender.

Sides were good, Sheila enjoyed the mac and cheese, I had chili and fries, both were fine.

Overall, I liked Dinosaur. The place is clearly doing great business, it's nice to see that it can be done to make a killing in BBQ.

After we left Syracuse, we stopped at a travel plaza and I got a venti Starbucks coffee and two of those canned double shots, and I drove the entire way home without stopping (around 250 miles). It felt good to do a monster driving shift, it had been a long time since I had done big miles like that. Was good to see that I could still do it....

Saturday, March 13, 2010


We started the season off right last weekend at the Snowshoe Grilling Challenge, taking reserve grand champion honors for the event. It was a lot of work to get there though...

For weeks before the contest, I was torn about what to cook. The categories were ribeye steak, chicken wings, sausage fatty and chef's choice. I debated a lot of different things, but in the end I followed my gut and it paid off.

I decided that we were going to travel absolutely bare bones to this contest. I always bring way too much crap to contests, which is a pain for several reasons. One, things get confusing and hard to find when you have so much unnecessary stuff. Also, loading and unloading is made more difficult when there is too much stuff. So I brought my smoker, portable gas grill (allowed at the Snowshoe), two tables, one bin, one cooler and the three bin wash station. That's all.

The contest itself is just a great time. While the prize money is not huge, most of the big New England teams are there, so the competition is very stiff to say the least. So to do well at this contest is significant for us, and hopefully sets the tone for a great 2010 season. There were 21 teams at the contest. The weather was perfect, and organizers Gary and Michelle Taft did a nice job putting things together.

For the ribeye steak, I changed my mind numerous times before we settled on the final recipe. At one point I considered just slapping A1 on the steak and turning it in. In the end, I decided to grill the steaks with salt and pepper, then finish it with a gorganzola horseradish cream sauce. The sauce was ok but tasted too much like bleu cheese dressing. The steak took 11th place.

Next was wings. This was a no brainer for me, just used my KCBS flavor profile, smoked the wings and finished with BBQ sauce. No garnish made this category easier. Took 5th place.

Next was the sausage fatty category. I had been working on something that I was calling a "pizza" fatty. Unfortunately, I really wanted to put pepperoni into it, but when I found out it could contain no pre-cooked meats I abandoned this plan. Without the pepperoni it just tasted like a meatball. Went back to my core fatty recipe, breakfast sausage, cheese, peppers. Finished with a maple chipolte glaze. Came out really good, better than expected. 2nd place.

Chef's choice. What the heck do you cook here Ted? My first thought was that since the turn in was at 1:30, I would do ribs. If I did baby backs, I could probably get them done with plenty of time to spare. However, it would have required us getting there extremely early by my standards. So after much deliberation, I took Sheila's advice and decided to go with ABT's. They came out pretty good. We had a whole elaborate plan for the turn in box, but it never came together. However, Sheila made the box look pretty good, and the judges gave it 6th place.

So three calls in the top six and one 11th place was good enough for reserve grand champions. Couldn't top I Smell Smoke though, Charlie and Carlotta put up a monster score and won the contest. They must have cooked some awesome food.

So in the end, it was good to see a lot of friends and make a few new ones at the Snowshoe. Can't wait to get out there and cook again!

Friday, March 12, 2010


Oh yeah Mongolian beef!
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Scenes From The Snowshoe

A little video from the Snowshoe Grilling Challenge this past week in Abington, Massachusetts.

My video skills still need a lot of work, but this stuff is new to me so bear with me. Maybe next time I will actually shoot some video of our own food!

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Q Haven started the year off right Saturday at the Snowshoe Grilling Challenge. We took 2nd place sausage, 5th place wings and 6th place chef's choice to take reserve grand champion honors. It was a great time, and we really enjoyed seeing people from the BBQ circuit for the first time in months.

Full wrap-up is coming. In the meantime, a greeting from Sully!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Fried Oreos At Red Rose Cafe

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