Monday, December 27, 2010

A Sad Day For Methuen Eaters

Shadi's Restaurant & Lounge caught fire on Christmas morning. The flames moved rapidly and the building is a complete loss. You can read the whole story here.

Out here in Suburbia chain restaurants rule. Methuen has an Outback, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, T.G.I. Fridays, and all the typical fast food garbage. The sad part is that these places are always packed. People flock to these restaurants. So, for a small Mom and Pop place like Shadi's to survive in that environment for 20 years is quite remarkable. But sadly, Shadi's is now gone.

I have been enjoying Shadi's Middle Eastern food for a long time. Kris and I were there on Thursday night. We would eat there often; once, sometimes twice a week. Kris' sister worked there as a bartender for five years back in the late 90's. We've gone there for Christmas parties, birthday parties, anniversary parties, and we've held many company parties there as well. I have many fond memories of just sitting at the bar and enjoying the scene. But what always kept me coming back was the fresh, homemade food. The tabbouleh, tahini, hummus, raw kibbe, and I just recently found out how amazing kafta is. Last Thursday I enjoyed a fattoush salad with grilled lamb. Kris had the grilled tenderloin of beef with rice pilaf. But above all of that great food one of their dishes always made me happy. It was a steak cheese and salad wrapped in fresh syrian bread served with the best fries ever. A simple meal, but so good. The syrian bread was sourced out every morning from a local bakery, the salad was always fresh and dressed perfectly, and the fries...The fries were hand cut then soaked in water overnight. Then they were twice fried. First in low oil to cook, then in hot oil to crisp. The only way that a fry should be made! This is the meal that I will truly miss the most.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Menu


Appetizers:
Blue Cheese and Chive Breadsticks
Spinach and Artichoke Spread
Creamy Mac and Cheese Cups
Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Mini Grilled Cheese with Roasted Tomato Soup
Deviled Eggs

Soup and Salad:
Potato and Ham Soup
Garden Salad

Entree:
Certified Angus Beef Rib Roast
Boar's Head Glazed Ham
Scalloped Potatoes
Cheese Ravioli with Pomodoro

Dessert:
Chocolate Torte
Banana Cream Pie
Cannoli
Mini Pastries

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Some Highlights From The 2010 BBQ Season

Here are some of my favorite moments from this years BBQ season. In no particular order.

Finding a Hotel at The Troy Pig Out
With highs in the 90's and the humidity off the charts it was nice to have a hotel room within walking distance of my pit. It was our third year competing in Troy, NY and it has always been one of my favorites. But, being able to get out of the heat once and a while, and taking a shower anytime, made this comp that much better.

'Tedfest' at Norwalk, CT
An impromptu late night gathering spawned by Ted Lorson sitting in a random chair in somebody's site. Other people followed suit, and the next thing you knew, we had a party on our hands. Quickly dubbed 'Tedfest', we hung out for hours with people joining in. People brought chairs, Jack Daniel's, and we even dragged over a keg. Someone even carried over an already blazing fire pit.

Finally Competing at Pork in The Park
For years I've heard about Pork in The Park in Salisbury, MD but never made it down there. Until this year. It was a great contest and the biggest on the East Coast. The sun was out and the temps stayed in the 70's all weekend. Not bad for April.

School of Rock at Green Lane, PA
After we took a beating from the judges at Green Lane, PA, we had a blast. With the backdrop of a giant bonfire, School of Rock (PA) took the stage. And these kids rocked! They played great rock songs from past and present...and no one wanted to fight anyone. It was a much different experience than what we saw at the NEBS Holiday Party.

Half Naked Guy in My Site at 2:00AM in Norwalk, CT
Upon returning to my site after Tedfest I saw something unbelievable. There was a guy sitting in my site, passed out, with his pants on ground. So, I did what anyone would do: go get witnesses! Steve, Brendan, Charlie, and myself laughed like school girls as we woke up the mystery man up. He was dazed and confused as he pulled up his pants and walked out into the darkness.

The Resurrection of Cape Cod
This competition was only gone for one year, but it seemed like so much longer. It was one of the longest running comps in New England and one of the most loved. Thanks to Ted for bringing it back and making it even better.

Victor's New Shirt
Victor The Golden Pig is Troy, NY's traveling trophy. It was given to us in 2009 for winning that comp. This year we had to bring it back to New York for the next Grand Champion. Like many native New Yorkers once Victor visited the Boston area he fell in love. So much so, in fact, he now wears a bright red Boston Red Sox's shirt and currently resides in Woburn, MA.

Having a Good 'Chicken Year'
Like many competitors, I've struggled with chicken for years. This year it finally came together. We got quite a few calls for chicken in 2010. Including 3 first place calls, a few top 5's, many top 10's, and a 7th place at The Jack. We also took 2nd place in chicken for the 2010 NEBS TOY awards.

Late Night Partying at Eliot, ME
I'm not sure why Maine is one of my favorite comps but it is. We always seem to have a blast there. This year a bunch of us got together at the Meat@Slim's site for a spontaneous dinner. Brendan got a keg of beer from Blue Hills Brewery. Lunchmeat had an epic gathering for Damn Dip. And the judges liked our food way better than I did.

Harpoon Helps Beer-B-Q
Here is the anomaly on the list. It's not a BBQ competition. But it is an event that I really look forward to every year. It has almost all the same elements of a BBQ comp though. All the same people we see on the BBQ trail are there, it encompasses 2 days, and we're all cooking some killer food. The only differences are, we're not being judged (kinda) and we're raising money for a charity.

Sunday Night 'After Hours' at Norwalk, CT
Wow, looks like I had a lot of fun in Norwalk this year! It was Sunday night, the competition was over, and almost everyone was gone. But a couple of us (I'm holding back names to protect the innocent) did not want to call it a night. So armed with a little info and a finger point as our directions we wandered into the night. What we found was awesome! and that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Getting Back Down to Lynchburg
Getting invited to compete at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue really felt great. There's not a particular moment that sticks out in my mind as the highlight. For me the entire trip was special. We drove straight through and got to Lynchburg, TN a day earlier than planned. The weather was just unbelievably nice: sunny, warm, and not a single drop of rain. We hung out with some great people all weekend. We ate at Miss Mary Bobo's again. The Parade of Teams, the party on the hill, the distillery tour...everything. It is all just one big fantastic memory. And I relished every minute of it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Are Blogs Dead?

Well, if they're not dead, maybe they're just dying. Especially this one: Updates are less frequent. Content is lacking. And by the time something is actually posted, it's old news. Why? I've blamed it on a lot of things. The offseason, work has been real busy, not enough food porn, or I just don't have anything interesting to say. But I do think that one reason why some blogs are dying is because of Facebook. And it makes perfect sense. Many BBQ bloggers just use Facebook to get their info out now. It's quicker and everyone you know (except me) is on it. You know where everyone is, who they're with, what they're doing, and how they feel. What they're cooking, what they're eating, and if they liked it or not. At BBQ contests the results are up on Facebook in real time. As people walk up to get their trophy, the BBQ world already knows about it. The info goes viral among your Friends instantaneously. For me to go home after the contest and write about it on Monday or Tuesday seems kind of laughable. I'm two days late to the party. (Even though I was there).

So, if everyone's connected and news travels in real time on Facebook, what's the problem? Why am I late to that party too? Well, I wasn't. I was on Facebook a few years ago. And it just wasn't for me. It just seemed like way too much info. For every cool picture, or interesting update, there was 20 things I could care less about. Like getting 'poked' or getting a 'gift'. I know I'm in the minority with this, and I'm sure a few people will even get mad at me for criticizing Facebook. But, what one of your 'Friends' had for breakfast, really isn't a 'News Feed'. Sorry.

I guess the title of this post should have asked: Is This Blog Dead? Should I start posting more? (When's the last time I did a Try This Beer post??) Can I win readers back with some Food Porn? Or is it too late? The BBQ community loves Facebook. All the players are on there posting daily (sometimes hourly). Why not me? I can't fight off Facebook forever, can I? Well, this blog might not be dead, but it's definitely on life support.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lakeside Gets Sponsored


As Lakeside Smokers enters our 6th season of competing we're adding a teammate. Accent has agreed to sponsor our team for the 2011 BBQ season. And we couldn't be happier about it. Over the years we've entertained the thought of getting a sponsor. We've even had a few offers and I've turned down a lot of free products in those years. I guess I was just waiting for the right fit. If I got a sponsor it was not only going to be something that I used, but something that I love to use. Accent fits that description perfectly. I use it on almost everything I turn in.

Accent is an all natural flavor enhanc...alright, it's MSG(monosodium glutamate). Straight up, 100% MSG. And it has got a bad rap over the years. Glutamate is found naturally in our bodies and in foods such as tomatoes and cheese. Accent is made from corn. Scary stuff, huh? OK, commercial over.

I just wanted to say thanks to Accent and I will be proudly flying their banner in 2011. So, if you see us out there be sure to stop by and get some free samples.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pics From The Jack


Click here for more pics from this years trip to The Jack.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Jack
GC Quau
RGC BBQ Guru

Lakeside:
5th place sauce
6th place dessert
7th place chicken
9th place chef's choice

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

If it Ain't Broke...

A few years ago Kris blogged about the Portsmouth Gas Light Co. You can read the review here, but basically it stated that the Gas Light has some incredible pizza. It was so good: wood fired, crispy, almost charred crust, the sauce tasted of fresh tomatoes, the pepperoni was both sweet and spicy, and the dough had a wonderful chew to it. It was just a damn good pizza; right to the top the list. Wow, how things have changed...

We were in Maine last weekend for the Greater Bridgton Brewers Festival. The weather was perfect for the first weekend of fall. It was sunny and hot with a refreshing breeze. Great beer drinking weather. (I say that a lot) The festival was a short walk from Kris' parents house on Sebago Lake. So, we all could drink and no one had to drive anywhere. We sampled the different beers, talked about them, and really enjoyed the day. After we ran out of beer tickets we walked back to Kris' parents house and continued the party. It was a great day. But, the whole time all I could think about was pizza. Because I knew we were stopping at the Gas Light Sunday afternoon on the way home.

We entered the Gas Light a little after 1:00 Sunday afternoon and sat at the bar.

"Hey guys" the bartender said "something to drink?"

Since I drank a few too many beers the night before, "I'll have a Jack and Coke." And Kris ordered a Coke.

"Are you both doing the Buffet?"

"Buffet? No. We're getting a pizza." I said

"It's an all you can eat pizza buffet." He said.

I should have trusted my gut feeling right there and walked out . A pizza buffet? Really?

"It's $6 each and all you can eat." He continued.

"No thanks. We'll have a large pepperoni with ricotta please."

"Oh...okay." The bartender said as if we were crazy.

We waited, still hoping for a great pizza to arrive. When the pie showed up, we knew right away. It was not going to be special. The outer crust was pale and the whole pizza looked as if it was not cooked enough. After eating a slice I knew it was not just undercooked. It was flawed by design. The fresh tomato wasn't there, the slight sourdough crust was replaced by a flavorless dough, and the pepperoni was now clearly of lesser quality. This pizza was perfect for a pizza buffet. It would be just fine for a Tuesday night delivery. But, it's nothing special. It was kind of sad. We looked forward to an awesome pizza; and we drove by some great restaurants to get there. I believe a trip to Santarpio's is in our immediate future.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Harvard:
GC Mighty Swine Dining
RGC Ique
3rd Lakeside Smokers

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Norwalk Oyster Festival

It was another great time at the Oyster Festival in Norwalk Connecticut this year. The crowds were huge and the weather was beautiful. It was sunny during the day and a little chilly at night; perfect for a late night fire and a few shots of Jack Daniel's. Just like last year the schedule was hectic. All together there were 15 categories over 3 days. But the big misconception is thinking that you need to do all of them. We didn't, and we weren't alone. For the past two years this comp goes under scrutiny by many in the BBQ community. They state that the entry fee is too high, there are too many categories, and even saying it is wrong of the organizers to serve the teams a giant lobster dinner on Friday night. As the old saying goes: if that's wrong, I don't want to be right! I read a lot of misinformation on the forums leading up to this comp. What sucks is that the info was coming from people who have either never been to this comp, or never had any intentions of attending in the first place. To me it does a huge disservice to the organizers and the charity they were raising money for. If you don't want to go to a comp: don't. But don't try to distract others who might be interested in going. Anyway I just wanted to tell the teams that might have heard some wrong info about this comp. It's a good comp, with a lot of prize money. The spots are 20 X 30 (most comps are charging extra for that now). The power and water are great. Cook's dinner on friday night and a team breakfast on both days. Is it perfect? No. But as soon as I find a comp that is, I'll let you know.

We competed in the KCBS, Iron Chef, and the Anything Butt competitions. We took 1st place in the Iron Chef and 2nd place in the Anything Butt. For KCBS we got calls for 6th place chicken and 2nd place pork and finished 6th out of 35 teams. Big congrats to I Smell Smoke!!! for their Grand and to Q-Haven for their Reserve Grand. Nice job guys!

More pics here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Norwalk:
GC I Smell Smoke!!!
RGC Q Haven
Norwalk

Iron Chef
1st Lakeside Smokers

Grilling
GC Red Planet BBQ
RGC Good Smoke BBQ

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Night Food Porn Revisited

Pan Seared Veal Rib Chop

It's been hot and humid all week here in New England. So a veal chop with roasted fingerling potatoes is hardly seasonal food. But, as many of you know, I don't follow any food rules. I saw these beautiful veal chops at the butchers, so I bought them. I served them with an herb infused jus and a side of baby spinach lightly dressed with oil and balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hudson Valley Ribfest
GC Meat @ Slims
RGC Dizzy Pig

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Counting Down The Days

Last year was our first year competing at The Jack. As with most teams, it seems to be the goal to get there at least once; and we were very happy that we made that happen. But, as this season marched on a strange thing happened: I wanted to get back to Lynchburg in the worst way. I wanted to look out over the Hollow one more time. I wanted to walk around Lynchburg square again. I wanted to see some old friends again. I wanted, no, needed to eat the fried okra at Miss Mary Bobo's one more time.

Even before the season started we had a great chance to get back to the Jack. We were in the Connecticut draw with I Smell Smoke!!! A great place to be for sure. If either ISS!!! or Lakeside wins an auto both teams go. This year New England had 4 autos: The Cape, Merrimack, Harpoon, and Maine. But, by late July nothing had changed. It looked like we would be going into The Draw, and that really sucks. Not only because you don't find out until September. But because it's one less New England team to represent. I truly want as many teams from New England down there as possible. Anyway, we had one more chance: Maine. One of our favorite contests. Both teams would be there too. (no pressure, right?) But, in the end I Smell Smoke!!! dominated the competition by 22 points! It was a huge win and came at the perfect time. Nice job guys. Transformer was Reserve and Lakeside finished in 3rd. It was a great way to end a fantastic weekend.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Maine
GC I Smell Smoke
RGC Transformer BBQ
3rd Lakeside Smokers

Friday, August 6, 2010

You Will Be Missed...

Butch Lupinetti of Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ has passed away. He was a big, happy, enthusiastic man. His hugs would always make you smile. He will be missed.

Here is an old blog post about Butch:

What Kris Did Not Mention

In her previous post, Kris talked about last weekend’s competition in New Paltz. The ride up, the hotel/strip club, the pubs, the friends, the awards…but she never got to the highlight of the weekend for her: meeting Butch Lupinetti. She fell in love with Butch’s larger than life, positive attitude when she first saw him on the now infamous Throwdown with Bobby Flay. So when I told her that he would be at the Hudson Valley Ribfest, she got very excited.

The stalking began Friday night shortly after arrival. I said “do you want to go say hi to Butch?”
“Not yet…let’s go walk by his stand…” She said.
So, we walked (stalked) by his stand and spotted Butch talking to some people.
“He’s right there, want to say hi?” I said.
“No. Maybe tomorrow.”

Saturday night we did another walk by, but Butch was nowhere in site. Sunday we were very busy with the BBQ comp and had no time to spy on anyone. But today would be her last chance…

Being the great guy that he is, Butch attended the KCBS awards ceremony. Cheering everyone that got called like they were his best friend. Walking back from the awards I said “this is your last chance ya know?”
“Let’s go.” She said, and started walking to Butch’s stand.
Two lines formed at Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ stand, one for ribs, and one to get your picture taken with Butch.
Kris waited with a smile.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Harpoon



It was another great year at Harpoon. Congrats to Feeding Friendz for Grand Champion and Transformer BBQ for Reserve Grand. I was real happy with our 1st place chicken finish. Our pork also did well and ended up in 5th place. The judges did a great job telling us that our ribs were subpar. I couldn't agree more; they were average at best. Our ribs dragged our overall score down to 7th. Not too bad considering the tough field of competitors. For more pics click here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Harpoon
GC: Feeding Friendz
RGC: Transformer BBQ

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Troy Pics

Congrats to Meat@Slim's for their win this weekend in Troy. I'm glad to see Victor coming back to Massachusetts one way or another. Sorry Sled.

For more pics from the Troy Pigout click here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Troy
GC Meat at Slims
RGC Lakeside Smokers

Friday, July 16, 2010

Victor Returns to New York

Victor the Golden Pig is on his way back to Troy, NY this weekend. This giant pig is the Troy Pig Out's traveling trophy for the Grand Champion. Last year we took those honors but now it's time to bring him back. Victor has had a fun year in the Boston area. So much in fact, he's now a Red Sox fan!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Beast

This Southern Pride smoker was used last weekend to cook for the Tyler Ride. This thing is a monster. It has a rotisserie, propane assist, convection fan, and it's digitally controlled . We had 30 pork butts and 2 cases of chicken in there and it looked empty! This was donated to the Brookline, NH Fire Department. They use it for all types of charity events like the Tyler Ride. It's great to see people paying it forward.

Friday, July 9, 2010

11th Annual Tyler Ride

You could be eating this tomorrow.

The 11th annual Tyler Ride is happening tomorrow at the Westford, MA VFW. Last year was a great time and it's a great cause. On the menu is steamship round of beef (pictured above), pulled pork, BBQ'ed chicken, and more. Info about the event can be found here. Stop by and say hi.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lakeside Clam Bake

Kris and I did a clam bake for our friends and family yesterday. On the menu were steamers, little necks, lobsters, shrimp, and kielbasa all in the pot. Cooked separately was corn on the cob and roasted potatoes. The only other ingredients were steam, lemons, and salt; and of course, 3 pounds of drawn butter. We served the entire meal dumped out on a table in the center of our yard. It was great watching everyone crowd around the table and helping themselves. The communal aspect of this meal makes it a lot of fun. Some take a plateful and find a seat and others just graze off the table. Either way, it was a great meal.




Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mike Grudzinskas Memorial BBQ

This Saturday a Memorial BBQ will be held to remember and celebrate the life of Mike Grudzinskas of the I Smell Smoke!!! BBQ team. The event will start at 3PM on June 26th and will be held at the Barre Sportsman Club in Barre, MA. There will be bands and BBQ. Tickets are only $20 and can be purchased at the event. All proceeds will be used to set up a college fund for Mike's two daughters. If you want to help, but can't make the event, you can send donations to the following:

Athol Savings Bank
P.O. Box 908
Barre, MA
01005
Checks made out to:
Grudzinskas Education Fund

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Merrimack, NH

Last weekend was Lakeside Smokers' fifth year at The Rock 'N Ribfest in Merrimack, NH. A lot of negativity surrounds this contest. I'm not blind to some of the flaws at this comp, but there are some good things about it too. For one, the sites are huge; we had a 25' X 35' site. You're allowed to bring motor homes. The power is good, and the water pressure is unbelievable. The entry fee has been $150 since I've been competing there. That includes both grilling and BBQ. The $4500 prize money is spread out over both days. So, if you compete at the grilling and BBQ it's not a terrible payout for the low entry fee. I have never seen so many portable toilets in my life, and they're cleaned on both days of the event. But, I think what keeps teams coming back is the fact that it is an automatic for The Jack. That's reason enough for us.

Friday night was a blast. We hung out, drank beers, and met some new teams. Saturday we decided not to compete in the grilling. It was nice to just sit and relax and watch other teams compete. Saturday afternoon we had visitors from both of our families. But as the night settled in they left and I got on to cooking. The cook was going well and when Sunday morning rolled in everything was on schedule. The turn in boxes were much smaller than they should have been and we were really concerned about that. But in the end we fit our normal presentation in those tiny boxes without having to trim anything down. That was a relief.

Awards were early at 3:15. I like when they are nice and early like that. For me the worst time at a comp is between the last turn in and the awards ceremony. I'm tired and I'm anxious. So the less time I have to wait, the better. We ended up 1st in chicken, 1st in ribs, 7th in brisket, and finished 3rd overall. The scores were very tight in the overall positions. The top 4 overall scores were only separated by 2 points! But, in the end Lo 'N' Slo BBQ took home Grand Champion honors and the auto for The Jack. Congrats guys! Well done.

Click here for pics.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

NH
GC Lo' N 'Slo BBQ
RGC T'N'T Dynamite BBQ
3rd Lakeside Smokers

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cape Cod BBQ Championship

I don't think any of us realized just how much we missed competing at Peter's Pond until this weekend. It's close, it's (usually) the first New England BBQ event of the year, and it's always a ton of fun! This past weekend was no exception. We arrived Friday late afternoon and were sited by first time organizer, and resurrector of this comp, Ted Lorson. He arranged it so teams could compete right out of an RV site if they wanted to. That worked out awesome. Each RV site was 25' X 50' with dedicated power, water, sewer hook ups, and cable. Teams that did not want an RV spot could set up in the big field. It was very spacious; sites were 30' X 30' with room to move in between them. Friday night we gathered around the fire pit and caught up with some old friends, and made a few new ones.

Saturday around 9:00 AM, just as most teams were showing up, it rained. Well...more like the sky opened up! Lightning, thunder, torrential downpour. But, after a few hours, the rain stopped, and we wouldn't see it again until we got home. During the day Saturday we did our prep, got our site dried off, and started cooking the Anything Butt category. We hosted an impromptu burger bash at our site with a few of our friends. After a few hours we wandered into the field and joined the party already in progress. Lots of drinking, lots of Damn Dip, and lots of laughs. It was a great night.

Sunday morning came and the cook was going good. No rain, no surprises, and the turn ins were uneventful. Immediately after the last turn in we broke down and packed up. Awards were promptly at 3:00 and Ted did a great job up on the stage announcing them. He moved them along quickly and kept it interesting. We had much better results here than we did at our last comp. It was nice to get a little redemption. We took 2nd place in the Anything Butt category, 3 top ten calls for KCBS, and finished in 3rd place over all. Congrats to Ique for GC and Yabba Dabba Que for RGC.

A big thanks goes out to Ted Lorson. This comp was killed last year but Ted brought it back to life. It was his first time organizing but he seemed like a natural at it. He was on site all weekend, completely accessible to everyone. Running power cords in the rain, and picking up trash with his golf cart. Great job Ted. He plans on making it bigger and better for next year. We already can't wait.

Click here for pics.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cape Cod BBQ Championship

GC Ique
RGC Yabba Dabba Que
3rd Lakeside Smokers

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Recent Pics

Pics from Green lane and Salisbury are up on my Picasa site. Click here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Smoke In The Valley

The Good, The Bad, and The Good Again.

Lots of contests claim to be 'cooker friendly.' Smoke in The Valley never claimed it once. So, I'll say it for them. This competition was one of the most team friendly I have ever been to. The organizer Shawn Tucker, the Green Lane Fire Company, and all the volunteers went far beyond any and all expectations. The contest site was a huge open field. All the sites were big and easy to get in and out of. Plenty of power, every team got a 20 amp breaker. They set up a giant water loop around the entire park with spigots every twenty feet. I know that power and water are the basics, but you'd be surprised how many comps get that wrong. We pulled into Green Lane, PA Thursday night and were greeted by Fire Chief John Miller. He told me that it was his goal to make the teams feel welcome. He said if we needed anything, anytime, find him, Shawn, or any of the 20 volunteers and tell them what you need. They weren't too hard to find either. About every 30 minutes a volunteer on an ATV would drive by your site asking if you needed anything. Ice delivered to your site anytime. Trash removal was non stop for the entire weekend. Grey water and grease removal from your site. Seriously. They would drive to your site and remove the grease and grey water. Same deal with the ash, they picked it up! Saturday morning's team breakfast was coffee, juice, donuts, muffins, and about 20 homemade pies and cakes. About an hour after the breakfast I was at my site and 2 volunteers pulled up with more coffee. They were hand delivering gift bags and more hot coffee to all the teams. Oh, and the entry fee was the cheapest I've seen in a while. But the prize money was pretty damn good...not that Lakeside saw any of it...

That brings us to the bad. Yeah, we tanked it. No calls. No prize money, no trophies, nothing. It hurt, it hurt real bad. It's the worst we've scored in a long time. I wish I could tell you what went wrong, but I can't. It just wasn't our day I guess. What really sucks is that we had a decent cook. Everything went well. The smoker ran steady, the food was done on time, and the turn in's went great. We got great appearance scores but everything else fell short. Walking back to our site seemed like it took forever. I sat down and pouted for a while; scrutinizing the score sheet. But, no matter how many times I looked at it, the scores never changed. I put it down, and picked up a La Fin. Just then Shawn Tucker stopped by to say thanks for coming to his event and asked if we needed anything else. I told him that we were fine and would be staying the night. He said that they would keep the power and water on for as long as we needed it, and don't miss the band tonight, they rock.

A few hours later the locals came out to party! There was a huge bon fire, the beer tent was flowing, and the band was awesome. People were singing and dancing, and were just happy to be there. With the perfect combination of La Fin, music, and good people, the disappointing scores slowly left my mind. We drank, laughed, and enjoyed the night. It was the best way to end a great weekend.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Recipes: Braised Flank Steak and Risotto Rice Balls

I make these all the time when we have a good sized gathering at the house. Most of the work can be done way ahead of time which is always a plus. I like to braise the steak and make the risotto the day before, mix them together, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. But, you can certainly do whatever works for you.

Steak:
1-2 pound flank steak
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
Canola oil
Beef broth

Risotto:
2 cups of arborio rice
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup minced onion
6-7 cups hot chicken broth
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Assemble:
Flour
Egg wash
Seasoned bread crumbs

Fry:
Canola oil
Salt

Serve:
Parmesan cheese
Your favorite tomato sauce

Season the flank steak with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sear in a hot pan with the oil. Remove steak and deglaze the pan with the beef broth. Return the steak back to the pan and add enough broth for braising. Cover and cook gently over med-low heat for about an hour. When it's done let the steak rest in the braising liquid while you make the risotto.

Sweat the onions in the olive oil and butter for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the rice and mix well to coat every grain in the fat. Cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes. Gradually start adding the hot chicken broth one cup at a time. When the rice absorbs the broth add another cup. This should take about 25 minutes. When the rice is done, season with salt and pepper, and add the cheese.

Slice the steak into small chunks. About 1/4 - 3/8 of an inch; you don't want them too big. Dip them back into the braising liquid for a few seconds, then fold it into the rice. At this point you could put the rice into the fridge or continue.

Using a small ice cream scoop (I use an inch and a half scoop) make the balls. Just scoop the mixture into your hand, and roll. The same way you would make a meatball. Lay the balls out on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Coat the balls with flour, egg wash, then seasoned bread crumbs. (I use Italian style for these) At this stage they can be deep fried right away or can go into the fridge for a couple of hours.

Bring the oil to 350 degrees and deep fry balls until golden brown. Drain on a cooling rack and season with salt. I do multiple batches keeping them in a low oven until ready to serve.

Serve hot with fresh grated parmesan cheese over the top and tomato sauce on the side. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cape Cod BBQ Championship

After a one year hiatus (but it seems like much longer), Peter's Pond is back! Thanks solely to Ted Lorson of Q-Haven BBQ. It's now officially known as Cape Cod BBQ Championship, but it will always be Peter's Pond to most of us. Same place, but shaping up to be a much better comp. Now a legal KCBS comp, a State Championship, an auto for The Jack, and you can cook right from your RV spot. Also, an increasing prize pool as more teams sign up. I think that is very cool. Most comps set a minimum prize pool and it doesn't change no matter how many teams they get. At last count Ted has 20 teams signed up and getting apps daily. Get your apps in! Believe it or not it's only 41 days away. Just enough time to age your briskets...

Click here for the application.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pork in the park
GC chix swine and bovine BBQ
RGC serial Grillers

Friday, April 16, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Best Pic Ever

Well, I like it anyway. This pic, and about 200 others, have been stuck in my Father in-laws camera since The Jack. I'll be updating my Picasa site soon with some of those photos if you are interested. But for now I just wanted to share this one as soon as I could. It's the open-air pavilion up on Barbecue Hill, as the sun sets over the Hollow.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

BBQ?

I just got an email from Dobbies.co.uk. They informed me that my blog would be included on their web site in an article called 20 More Sizzling BBQ Blogs. I thought that was real funny. If I had to summarize my blog, I don't think I would use the words sizzling or BBQ. Looking back at some recent posts on this blog we have: homemade pasta, an homage to an old restaurant, many posts about pho, and pics of the Caribbean. Clearly not sizzling BBQ. So, I thought the least that I could do would be to post something that remotely resembled BBQ. The pic above is of chicken wings that I cooked in my chicken cooker. I know that some might not think of this as BBQ and their probably right. But I did put BBQ sauce on them; and this was practice for a BBQ competition. So, it's kinda BBQ. Or at the very least: BBQ related.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homemade Pasta




Fresh pasta is so simple to make. Flour, eggs, and a little time. Once it's cut to shape you can toss it in salted boiling water, or dry it out and store it in the fridge for a few days. This batch I'll be cooking later on tonight. Hopefully I remember to take a picture of the finished dish. Stay tuned...