Archives: March 2008
"Hopocalypse Now" at Jake's, Apr 28
From the people who bring you Rib Wars each summer comes Hop Wars, an epic battle of the IPAs at Jake's Dixie Roadhouse (Waltham MA). On hand will be celebrity judge Kerry Byrne, food writer for the Boston Herald and beer writer (nice gig) for Esquire magazine. The line-up of brews, served in a blind tasting, will be IPAs from Boulder Brewing, Dogfish Head Brewing, Harpoon Brewery, Smuttynose Brewing, Stone Brewing, Wachusett Brewing and Waltham's own Watch City Brewing. All of these will be paired with an unlimited supply of all-you-can-eat barbecue.
The event costs $29.95 and requires reservations.
Competition Grilling: Dirty Dick Wins Snowshoe (with guest chef Robbie Richter); Wildwood BBQ Makes Contest Debut
Local team Dirty Dick and the Legless Wonders were the grand champions at the 15th Annual Snowshoe Grilling Contest (Abington MA) on Saturday. The team from Norwell MA also took the first place trophy in the beef category. Familiar to many as a barbecue competitor on the Versus Network, Richard "Dirty Dick" Westhaver also had a familiar guest teammate for the event: longtime friend Robbie Richter, the opening pitmaster at NYC's Hill Country and soon-to-be pitmaster at Zak Pelaccio's Southeast Asian BBQ joint in Brooklyn, tentatively called Fatty 'Cue. The reserve grand champion trophy went to Cape Cod's Dr. Frank 'n' Swine.
Grand champions Dirty Dick
and the Legless Wonders.
Reserve Grand champions Frank and
Tammy of Dr. Frank 'n' Swine.
Also making the trip from New York were Lou Elrose ("Big Lou") and Matt Fisher ("the Hampton Smoker"), the executive pitmaster and pitmaster, respecively, at NYC's Wildwood BBQ, the latest B.R. Guest restaurant scheduled to open on April 21.
Robbie Richter experiments
with some halibut.
Lou Elrose and Matt Fisher
of NYC's Wildwood BBQ.
The Snowshoe was a well organized event, run by Gary and Michelle Taft of the Lunchmeat BBQ team. From raffle sales alone, the event generated more than $6000 in groceries for the Abington St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry.
permalink with more photos
Long Island BBQ: Rocky Point Has A BBQ Joint
Fatty Beltbuckles opened last weekend in Rocky Point, another entry into the barbecue explosion that is hitting Long Island. Check the Joints directory for the address and contact ino. Thanks to Guy for the heads up.
Boston BBQ: A Little Allston, A Little Brighton
Yesterday I stayed home while the plumbers worked on our living room pipes all morning and into the early afternoon. By the time they were finished it was too late to head into work, so I headed into Boston for a late lunch.
My first stop was Smoken' Joe's (Brighton), now open a little more than 8 months. They have new signage and a new website, but the menu looked similar if not identical to what I saw when I visited them on opening night. I now have three visits in, so a review is overdue. I'll try to have this by early next week.
The second stop was SoulFire (Allston), where I tried their relatively new BBQ Reuben sandwich and a single spare rib. SoulFire is one of those joints that's steadily improving over time, using new methods for their brisket and achieving greater consistency across the board. I thought the rib was fantastic, a pink behemoth whose photo on the right doesn't do it justice. The sandwich was impressive too, with very thick slices of tender brisket and generous use of condiments. My only qualms with the sandwich, which I still heartily enjoyed, were that the bread wasn't grilled and that the whole wasn't greater than the sum of the ingredients, a must for all great Reubens.
An impressive BBQ Reuben at SoulFire.
Hartford BBQ: An Updated Review for Danny's Little Taste of Texas
I added some new photos and commentary for my review of Danny's Little Taste of Texas (South Windsor CT) to reflect my recent meal there a few weeks ago.
The Need To Update Reviews
This is the first of many updates that will need to be written over the next few months. Some of these updates will be to add more photos and describe more of the menu as I revisit joints I only hit once previously. Some will be to flesh out the very early reviews which only had a few paragraphs and a few photos. And some will reflect changes of opinion: as I mentioned yesterday, there are some joints that have let me down on my last few visits and these need to have their reviews updated to reflect that. Interestingly, over the last few weeks I've received emails bemoaning the drop off in quality for a few of the same joints I had in mind.
NYC BBQ: Wildwood Progressing, RUB Still On
The main reason for last Saturday's trip to New York City was to attend the Southern Hospitality dinner, but I made it a point to get in early and poke around the city. I made winter treks to Brooklyn and Long Island over the winter, but I hadn't been in Manhattan since November, so I was eager to do some research.
My first stop of the day was 225 Park Avenue South, the future home of Wildwood BBQ. This is will be the barbecue entry in Steve Hanson's B. R. Guest restaurant stable that includes Fiamma, Blue Water Grill, Dos Caminos, Ruby Foo's and others. The outside of the restaurant hasn't changed at all, and though the Ole Hickory smokers are in place, the inside is still very much in its early stages of construction. I was assured by an onsite spokesman that the restaurant will open by April 21, with a killer beer and bourbon list. I'm not holding my breath on the opening date, but I am very much looking forward to trying them out. With execitive pitmaster Lou Elrose ("Big Lou" of Daisy May's and Hill Country) and pitmaster Matt Fisher ("the Hampton Smoker") involved, the 'cue should be worth the wait.
Wildwood is replacing Barca 18, whose
sign is still over the doorway.
Stop number two was Shake Shack, where I exhibited rare self control by eating exactly half of a Shake Shack burger. The texture was perfect, the ratios were right on and all the ingredients from the bun down were super fresh. I remember liking Shake Shack a lot on my first visit but wondering what all the fuss was about. After visit #2, I knew. After visit #5, I can't wait for visit #6.
Stop number three was a light lunch at RUB, where I hadn't dined since last November. Wanting to save room for my two bottles of Shiner Bock (available only at RUB) and my dinner a few hours later, I only grazed gingerly on some spare ribs, babyback ribs and the signature burnt ends. The hammy ribs were moist and screaming with pork flavor. The velvety burnt ends had a lot of rub on them, the way they did when I first tried them in 2006. I went with the underrated greens as one side and potato salad as the other. I hadn't tried the potato salad yet, but I really liked it. The vinegar added a nice tartness without getting in the way of the natural potato flavor.
I've endured a string of mostly disappointing barbecue meals over the winter, with many of my favorite joints falling short of previous heights, so it was nice to see that RUB could still bring it, even after opening a second location in Las Vegas and even on a Saturday lunch visit.
Grilling Contest: 15th Annual Snowshoe
On Saturday March 29, 18 competition teams will do battle in Abington MA at the 15th Annual Snowshoe Grilling Challenge. The event will be held at the VFW Post #5737 at 30 Central Street, where you can watch the teams compete in four categories (grilled fish, sausage fatty, beef and vegetable). The challenge is widely considered the kickoff event for the New England competition season. Organized by the Lunchmeat BBQ team, the Snowshoe is also a benefit for the Abington St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry.
Starting at 11:00, there will be grilling demonstrations led by Gary Taft, Lunchmeat's pitboss and the Vice President of the New England Barbecue Society.
judges and VFW members are encouraged to donate non-perishable items needed by the Food Pantry to assist some of Abington’s struggling families. There will also be raffles that include grilling and BBQ related items.
NYC BBQ: Brethren Bash With Ray Lampe at Southern Hospitality
Last Saturday, I joined a group of about 20 of the BBQ Brethren for a special dinner at Southern Hospitality, hosted by Ray Lampe ("Dr. BBQ") and organized by barbecue competitor-judge-organizer-socialite Eric Johnson. It was a chance to meet the good doctor and see what he's been doing with the menu at Southern Hospitality since he became their executive chef late last year.
Ray Lampe, Dr. BBQ.
Deep fried ribs.
More ribs: spares, babybacks and beef.
Mac and cheese.
read the full story with menu details and more pictures
Stout & Porter Dinner at Redbones, Mar 24
Will Meyers of Cambridge Brewing, Tod Mott of Portsmouth Brewing and Allen Rietz of Dogfish Brewing are the guest speakers at Redbones (Somerville MA) for their stout and porter on Monday, March 24. The event, including the speakers, dinner and beer, costs $45 and requires reservations. www.redbones.com
Easter Dinner at Route 7, Mar 23
Route 7 Grill (Great Barrington MA) is presenting a 3-course Easter buffet this Sunday, featuring Heritage Breed turkey, house cured and smoked ham and roast beef. The dinner is $30 for adults, $15 for children 12/under and requires reservations. The regular menu will also be available. www.route7grill.com
Recommeded Reading: Some More Links
I added some more sites and links to the Links page over the last few days.
The Road Food section now has link a very recent RUB review by Billy Boy, the Northeast's #1 BBQ contributor to Roadfood.
The Restaurant Blogs section now has links to NYC Food Guy, with three barbecue joint reviews, and Beef Aficionado, who has four different (and I mean very different) takes on Hill Country.
In the BBQ Blogs With Restaurant Content section, there's now a link to Ted Lorson's review of Danny's Little Taste of Texas (South Windsor CT), where I joined him for a barbecue meal last week. I also modified the description of the Hampton Smoker blog, whose author, Matt Fisher, is now the pitmaster of the soon-to-open Wildwood BBQ in New York City.
In the Northeast Competition Teams section, I added the week-old Lakeside blog by Mike Boisvert of Lakeside Smokers.
Finally, I added another Hawaii food blog, Tasty Island. This site and Ono Kine Grindz are essential reading before any trip to Hawaii.
It's important to note that I'm not just another links slut, because I don't link to just anyone. The links I add are all sites I visit fairly regularly, most of them daily. I hope you'll find them interesting as well.
Channeling Mario Batali, BBQ Style
One of the epic shames in modern television is that the great Mario Batali has been exiled to a once-a-week 10AM Monday time slot. He’s a favorite not only because his food is fantastic, but also because he’s such a great educator. The sheer number of words per minute on his shows has to exceed any other, and his words are well chosen. While some of his colleagues (I’d seriously hesitate to use the word “peers”) at the Food Network are satisfied with catchphrases like “Bam!” and “Yummo,” most of Batali’s mantras are actually complete sentences, and—you were probably wondering where all this was headed—they actually apply quite well to barbecue.
Dress it like a salad. I must have heard Batali say that a hundred times while talking about how much sauce should coat the pasta. If your sauce-to-pasta ratio is similar to how you’d dress a salad, you’ll have a chance to taste both the sauce and the pasta. Just as there are some who believe that the pasta is merely a vessel for the sauce, there’s the barbecue camp who believe that the meat takes second fiddle to the barbecue sauce. Go ahead and use sauce, but if you let the sauce complement the meat without obliterating it, you’ll be having ribs Mario style.
Buy what’s fresh. Batali’s recipes are demonstrated using a specific fish or a specific vegetable, but he always reminds us that the quintessential Italian cook heads to the market not with that specific fish or vegetable in mind. So if the asparagus look particularly fresh that day, that’s what goes into the dish even if the recipe calls for broccoli. If the mussels look off and the clams look great, go with the clams. The backyard chef should use the same approach: if the spare ribs don’t look so great but the babybacks look fantastic, I’ll take the babybacks even though that’s not what I came in for.
Develop relationships with your fishmonger. Batali is always trumpeting the importance of establishing good relationships with all of your key purveyors, whether it be your fishmonger, your butcher or your cheese man. Sure, going to specialty shops is going to cost you more than a trip to Wal-Mart or BJs, but you’re going to get a better product. If you have a regular butcher that you’re loyal to, that loyalty will probably be returned—whether it’s tastings of new products, special ordering of hard-to-get items or better cuts of meat set aside specifically for you. Finding that perfect rack of spares won’t be a problem, because it’ll already be wrapped with your name on the butcher paper.
The spectrum of flavor. There might be parsley cooked into a dish as one of its base flavors, but you’ll see Batali add fresh parsley at the end, to give you both ends of the spectrum. The same herb cooked and raw offers two related but quite different flavors. Or that extra splash of extra virgin olive oil to finish the dish, even though there’s plenty of olive oil already there. It adds richness but also a complexity, with two different takes on the same flavor. Barbecue offers many opportunities to apply this same technique. How about serrano powder in the dry rub and more serrano in the barbecue sauce? How about cherries in the sauce to coat ribs cooked over cherry wood? How about a mustard slather topped with a dry rub that includes mustard seeds? How about toasting half of the mustard seeds in a fry pan and using the other half untoasted? The possibilities are endless.
The bitter component. If you haven’t developed a taste for it, you might think it odd when Batali talks about the “bitter component” to round out a dish or a meal. But as Italians know, sometimes bitter greens offer a welcome counterbalance to heavy dishes like braised pork shank or the overly sweet flavors of an agro dolce sauce. And so it is with barbecue, where I’ll go for the collard greens over the potatoes every time.
Weekend Wrap Up
It was a slow weekend for barbecue, but it was a hectic week. On Monday I attended the New England Barbecue Society's monthly meeting at Firefly's (Marlborough MA), where I grabbed an order of wings, the surest bet on the menu. Over a Chinese dinner on Tuesday, I interviewed one of the Northeast's (and the country's) top competition pitmasters, who also has experience and thoughts on the restaurant side. This will appear a few weeks down the road. On Thursday, I drove to Connecticut, where I had a barbecue dinner with another top area pitmaster at Danny's Little Taste of Texas (South Windsor CT). On Saturday my wife and I had Italian small plates, then Sunday was a grilling day: lamb chops, pork chops and SPAM.
grilled SPAM with ginger compote
Joints Directory Madness
Here's the latest batch of Joints directory activity, spanning three states. This time, there are two new joints, two moves, one new menu and two into the dead pool.
Barnstormer BBQ (Newburgh NY) has moved to Fort Montgomery NY, taking over the spot formerly held by its sister restaurant, Pineapple's Steakhouse. Thanks to Kevin for the lead and Geoff at Barnstormer for the info. www.barnstormerbbq.com
Big Daddy's BBQ (Acton ME) served what one very recent Chowhound poster called "the best St Louis style ribs ever." I can't vouch for the validity of the claim, but it's worth adding to the directory.
Jackalope BBQ (Fishkill NY) doesn't have its own website, but I found an extensive menu that I added to the Directory. http://www.umamicafe.com/jackalope-bbq.html
Woodfire BBQ (Worcester MA) is no more, leaving the state's second largest city with Westside BBQ and Steak as its lone "BBQ" (big quotation fingers here) restaurant. Thanks to Sully for the info.
M & M Ribs (Dorchester MA) is a Boston BBQ institution that's operated out of a truck in a variety of locations over the years. They're now located in a vacant lot at the corner of Hampden Street and Norfolk Avenue. This is a Wednesday-through-Saturday proposition, with an 11:00 AM opening and a closing time that progresses from 6:00 PM Wednesday to 8:00 PM Thursday to 10:00 PM Friday to 3:00 AM Saturday night into Sunday morning. Thanks to "Little Mo" for the info.
Smokin' Lil's BBQ (Northampton MA) closed on March 7. According to this newspaper article in The Republican, owner Elizableth Chiliki admitted that business was down, but the main reasons for the closure were to get married and to get away from the 16-hour days.
Mara's Homemade (NYC) has been around for a while, but slipped through the cracks. The barbecue may take a backseat to the Southern and Cajun offerings, but at least according to the menu, the stuff is smoked. Thanks to Nick for the heads up. www.marashomemade.com
Boston BBQ: Corned Beef at Blue Ribbon
For St Patrick's Day Blue Ribbon Bar-B-Que (West Newton MA and Arlington MA) is offering "World Class Corned Beef Platters" with steamed carrots, turnips, brussel sprouts and potatoes, all smothered in horseradish butter.
Events: East Coast Grill Disco Hell Nights
At East Coast Grill (Cambridge MA), disco is back, for three days only. On March 17-19, the pulsating Hell Night cuisine will dance in your mouth to the pulsating rhythms of disco. Prepare to sweat.
more details and more events on www.eastcoastgrill.net
Events: Swingbelly's Beer/Whiskey Tasting
Swingbelly's BBQ (Long Beach NY), is holding another of its beer and whiskey tastings this Wednesday night. The event is $65 per person with a 7pm seating. Swingbelly's will be closed for regular business.
LI BBQ: Smoked Corned Beef at Willie B's
The St Patrick's Day spirit is running rampant at Willie B's BBQ (Bay Shore NY), where they're offering smoked corned beef throughout the weekend.
Massachusetts BBQ: St Patty's at Route 7
The corned beef is being prepared now for the special St Patrick's Day buffets at Route 7 Grill (Great Barrington MA) this Sunday and Monday. Lunch and dinner will be offered on Sunday, dinner only on Monday. The 3-course buffets will include corned beef, cabbage and potatoes, and will be capped by a Guiness-chocolate layer cake for dessert. Reservations are required.
Some Northeast Competition Team Links
I said from the beginning that this was a BBQ restaurant site first and foremost, and that's always going to be the case. But since many of this site's readers are deeply entrenched in the competition scene and I'm starting to get more interested in it myself, I figured I'd beef up the Links page with links to all of the Northeast competition teams I could find. If you know of any teams that I missed, please drop me a line and I'll add to the list.
Getting in the Flow, Like Larry Bird
It was 23 years ago today that Larry Bird scored 60 points against the Atlanta Hawks, setting a new Celtics scoring record. I remember watching that game on TV in my apartment in Somerville MA, just a few blocks from Cambridge's Inman Square, which would soon be home to East Coast Grill. But my longing for city life isn't the point. If you've seen that game, you'll remember that Larry Bird scored all those points not just in an attempt to set a record, but within the actual flow of the game. The points kept coming, but nothing was forced. Nobody else's game suffered. That's what I've tried to start doing with my BBQ joint visits, trying not to force visits just to have something to write about. And even without forcing it, just like Larry Bird's points, the 'cue will still keep on coming.
Some Weekend Fatties and "Pig Newtons"
I've had this idea rolling around my head for a few months now: fatties (sausages) stuffed with figs. The name? Pig Newtons. The original concept was to use either fig jam or fig paste or cooked figs, and flatten the fatty a little after rolling so that the cross section when cut would resemble the familiar Fig Newton cookie.
Not only did I like the name, but I like the combination of figs and pork. I've had several grilled double cut pork chops at nicer restaurants that featured some sort of fig reduction as an accompaniment. The flavors work really well together.
This weekend I gave it a first try (there will be more), and I saw two obstacles from the outset. First, in order to approximate the classic Fig Newton profile, I'd have to use a higher ratio of filling to sausage than normal. This translates to a thinner wrap, so I knew the seams might not hold up during cooking. Second, the fig jam I located was runnier than I planned, which made general handling a challenge. So I made three versions: one using one package of sausage, one using two packages, and a third with actual Fig Newtons instead of the fig jam. Even though they separated at the seams, I liked the flavor of the jam-filled fatties best.
So was it a success? Sort of. I'll work on the shape, using less filling next time, but the flavor is a winner.
I also made some peppadew and cheese stuffed fatties, along with some chicken wings. More photos here.
Oh, on more thing. I bought my second Weber Smokey Mountain cooker on Saturday night, building up my arsenal to include three smokers now.
Bourdain Visits Hawaii (and so did we)
If you know me, chances are you know that I love Hawaii, and if you know my wife, you absolutely know that she loves Hawaii. Given that love and the fact that we now have our cable system's DVR option, we were psyched—no, make that stoked—to learn that last Monday's episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations would be an eating tour of Hawaii. We liked that most of the hour was spent on familiar Oahu, where Bourdain's first four stops were all places we've been to at least twice.
The first stop was Puka Dog, one of the newer joints on Kuhio Avenue behind the International Marketplace in Waikiki. It's not what I call traditional Hawaiian fare, but it's a damn good hot dog, served in an unsliced bun that is instead impaled with a hot prong to create a hole ("puka" in Hawaiian) to hold the dog as well as your choice of exotic mustards and hot sauces.
Puka Dog, a respite from shopping and a must for hot dog aficionados.
Next was Bailey's Antiques, one of our regular stops for Hawaiiana. My thing is Hawaiian posters and soda bottles, but the specialty of the house is Hawaiian shirts, most of them vintage. They sure smell vintage, because that's the first thing you notice when you walk in. The selection is incredible; the prices are high (it's about a mile from Waikiki, so they get what the traffic will bear, such as the $3000 for the shirt Bourdain bought).
We usually hit Bailey's after a visit to Ono Hawaiian Foods, across the street and just a few blocks further North. Despite being so close to the tourist trap that is Waikiki, Ono is the real deal, offering authentically prepared Hawaiian specialties such as the richly succulent pork lau lau (bundled in ti leaves and steamed, sometimes smoked). I think Ono serves the best rendition of this dish on the island, and I'm also a fan of their lomi lomi salmon, a cold preparation with salt and locally grown onions and tomatoes massaged into the mix by hand. Their kalua pig, Hawaiian's version of smoked pulled pork, is pretty good too.
Pork lau lau, one of the bast ways to enjoy pork shoulder. Look at that pink meat in the close-up.
Pork lau lau in the center, surrounded by (clockwise) kalua pig, lomi lomi salmon, kim chee, rice and onions.
Bourdain's dining companion at Ono was chef Colin Nishida of Side Street Inn, where he dined next. Side Street Inn is located in a busy, difficult-to-park-at urban area behind the Ala Moana Center, Honolulu's largest shopping mall, so their recent valet parking option (just a few bucks) is a huge plus. The joint (and Side Street Inn truly is a joint) is famous as a late night gathering place for the city's famous chefs, so it wasn't just a stunt to have Bourdain joined by culinary stars such as Russell Siu (of upscale 3660 On the Rise and downscale Kaka'ako Kitchen) and Alan Wong (of upscale Alan Wong's and just-slightly-less-upscale Pineapple Room at the Ala Moana). Wong is rightfully credited as the "Godfather of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine" and is our all-time favorite chef. If there was one restaurant I could choose for my last meal, the choice would be a no-brainer: Alan Wong's on King Street.
Crispy spicy wings at Side Street Inn.
A stack of St Louis ribs at Side Street Inn.
Ahi tuna appetizer at Alan Wong's.
Pork and the infamous poi (not bad as a dipping sauce) at Alan Wong's Pineapple Room.
Butterfish at Alan Wong's Pineapple Room.
BBQ in the Media: Men's Fitness and Pork
Check out the March issue of Men's Fitness magazine while it still may be on the stands. Sure, it has the sultry Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls on the cover, but what grabbed my interest (besides Nicole) was the article on pork.
You'll have to get your own copy to see the details (I don't believe in copying and pasting copyrighted material), but the short story is: pork loin good, pork butt bad. But you probably already knew that.
Connecticut BBQ: Pig Out BBQ Review
The site's 135th review is now posted for Pig Out Barbecue in Southington CT, which may be home to more "BBQ" joints per capita than any other city or town in the region. See the review via the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
New York Magazine Names Hill Country Best
Early March means it's time for New York magazine's annual "Best of New York" issue. This year the barbecue honors go to Hill Country, the Texas style joint that's still in its rookie year. The magazine calls the moist brisket "a potent, smoky, meltingly rich expression of all that makes barbecue great."
The Pigtrip Interview: Home of BBQ's Eric Devlin
I have a few different interviews in the pipeline, some with restaurant pitmasters and some with competition pitmasters. But today I'm pleased to present an interview with Eric Devlin, blogger/webmaster of the site Home of BBQ.
There are very few BBQ blogs that I look forward to reading every day, but Home of BBQ is one of them. The main focus is on barbecue sauces, with sauce giveaways and sauce reviews. But you'll also find rants about barbecue competition topics, book reviews and interviews with some of the movers and shakers in the barbecue world. I particularly like his most recent interview.
Read the Pigtrip interview with Eric Devlin here
Long Island BBQ: Beer/Bourbon at Swingbelly's
Sorry for the late notice, but I just found out about this yesterday. On Wednesday March 5 and Wednesday March 19, Swingbelly's BBQ (Long Beach NY) will be offering special beer and bourbon dinners. Both spirits will be paired with unique 5-course menus a little more upscale than their usual fare. These dinners start at 7:00PM, with reservations suggested.
Here's this Wednesday's menu:
Smoked Crawfish Bisque w/ Ancho Chili Oil (Magic Hat, Jim Beam Black 8yrs)
Wood Roasted Portabello Mushroom & Goat Cheese Salad w/ Baby Spinach, Crisp fingerling Potatoes & Warm Bacon Vinaigrette (Pilsner Urquell, Ancient Age 4yrs)
Jamaican Jerk Rubbed Pork Shoulder with Chayote Slaw & Grilled Mango Salsa (Sunset Ale, Eagle Rare 10yr)
Adobo Glazed Chicken Thighs w/ Smoked Garlic Yukon Potatoes (Peroni, Maker’s Mark)
NY Style Cheesecake w/ a Bourbon-Honey Black Cherry Confit (Raspberry Honeyweisse Shandy, Jefferson’s Reserve)
On Friday night my wife and I visited Firefly's (Framingham MA), where we had the fried green tomatoes that we missed ever since they came off the menu over a year ago.
A good part of the remainder of the weekend was spent at the 2008 Freeze Your Butt Off BBQ competition (see details and updated photos below), where we visited some teams and attended a pot luck Saturday, and where I judged on Sunday. Six of the thirteen teams had experience cooking at the prestigious Jack Daniel's Invitational, so I was expecting much of what I tasted to be first rate. Although there were a few disappointments in the mix, on average this may have been the best barbecue I have ever judged. I even gave my first perfect score ever (9 for appearance, 9 for taste, 9 for tenderness) in the rib category. Congratulations to Grand Champion Chris Hart of IQue, who also finished first in ribs and first in brisket.
(03/02/08)(second posting)(photos added 03/03/08)
IQue Wins Freeze Your Butt Off
2. Transformer BBQ
3. I Smell Smoke!
1. Transformer BBQ
3. I Smell Smoke!
5. The Anchormen
1. Purple Turtle
2. I Smell Smoke!
3. Transformer BBQ
3. I Smell Smoke!
4. Transformer BBQ
2. Transformer BBQ
4. I Smell Smoke!
Iron Chef (pasta)
1. I Smell Smoke!
5. Chico's BBQ
Jamie, Kenny and lead cook Chris Hart of IQue. It's not a trophy, just a way to stay warm.
Contest organizer Eric Johnson with Grand Champions IQue, who also took trophies for ribs and brisket.
Transformer BBQ took Reserve Grand.
I Smell Smoke! took third.
Michelle Taft and daughter Rebecca of Lunchmeat sleeping in.
Ted Lorson of QHaven, his new Backwoods smoker and contest rep Ken Dakai.
Purple Turtle Catering Company.
Chico's BBQ of Guilderland NY was the only restaurant competing, their first foray into competition BBQ.
Vicki and Ted of Casual Smokers.
Sean McCabe of Q Ball BBQ.
Below Freezing at Freeze Your Butt Off
At 5:45 AM as I type this, the temperature in Maynard MA is 26 degrees and the wind is blowing west at 12 mph. Most of the teams at the Freeze Your Butt Off contest are just getting ready to put their ribs in the smoker.
Eric Johnson and Grace Thompson,
organizers of the 2008 Freeze Your Butt Off contest.
Maynard Rod and Gun Club,
site of the event.
NYC BBQ: Robbie Richter's Coming Back
Last night Grub Street finally unveiled just a few of the details about former Hill Country pitmaster Robbie Richter's next project. He'll be teaming up with Zak Pelaccio (Fatty Crab, Chop Suey) on a Southeast Asian barbecue joint in Williamsburg.
Much like his signature brisket, Richter's juices are flowing right now. "I feel like together, we’re going to do things in barbecue that have never been dreamed of before."
read the Grub Street post on the Richter/Pelaccio colaboration
Competition BBQ: Freeze Your Butt Off
As I type this at 8:30AM, the temperature is 30 degrees, the snow is falling and there's four inches of it in my driveway. A perfect day for smoking some ribs and pork butts, right? For 15 competition teams, the answer is "Yes!" They'll be competing at the Freeze Your Butt Off contest being held at the Maynard Rod and Gun Club (Maynard MA). The participating teams include I Smell Smoke, grand champions at last January's Winter Sizzler held in Lincoln NH as well as QHaven, who pulled reserve grand.
The complete list:
There'll be a lot of talented BBQ chefs competing at this contest, so I'm fortunate to be judging tomorrow. I'll also be happy to be indoors.
Boston BBQ: Fried Green Tomatoes Are Back at Firefly's
There's a new menu in the works at Firefly's Bodacious Bar-B-Que (Marlborough MA, Framingham MA and Quincy MA), with some shuffling of old and new items (look for sausage). The actual menu is still a week or two off, but last night I tried the Fried Green Tomatoes, which are making a comeback. They had been off the menu for over a year, primarily because it was difficult to obtain the tomatoes.
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