Monday, June 27, 2011

Back to Back to Back

We have just finished competing in 3 comps over the past 3 weekends. Actually, we have competed 4 out of the last 5 weekends in 4 different states. It has been a lot of work, a lot of shopping, a lot of packing and unpacking, but it has also been a tremendous amount of fun. Hitting the road every Friday morning and coming home late Sunday night can put a huge strain on your everyday life. Kris and I both have jobs and every once and a while, we want to enjoy our home. We have also just put the finishing touches on the Lorson-Wilson-Burek-Healy Suite at our house. So by this weekend we will be ready for company. Kris and I are really looking forward to hosting our annual 4th of July lobster bake at the house this weekend. After the past few months of competing, having a big party at the house sounds like a fantastic idea! We can't wait to chill with our friends and family.

I wanted to write a recap of the past 3 events. Detailing every aspect of each comp. I got half way finished and realized it all sounded the same. Kind of boring I thought. So, I'll sum up the past few weekends: We drove to an event, it rained, we cooked food, drank way too much with our friends, and somehow got a few decent calls to the stage. Some low-lights were: Maggie's injured paw, the cold and rainy weather, and tanking chicken and ribs at New Hampshire. Some Highlights were: The perfect weather at New Hampshire, the impromptu gatherings that happen on Friday nights, the copious amounts of spirits consumed at those gatherings, late night shenanigans, grilling Grand Champs and Reserve Grand Champs, and a run of first place category calls. As always, way more good than bad; and that's why we keep doing it. For every rainy, cold night, there is a bright and sunny day. For every dismal finish in ribs, there is a first place in chicken. And for every 7 hour drive to Lake Ontario, there is a 40 minute ride to New Hampshire. Maggie's paw has healed, my gear has dried off, and, believe it or not, I'm ready for Troy, NY.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Roc City Rib fest

We left a balmy New England at 5AM and arrived on the shore of Lake Ontario 7 hours later. Although Rochester, NY is only one state over from us, it felt like we entered an entirely different climate zone. Raw, drizzle and a slight wind greeted us. We got into our site, broke out the sweatshirts, and did a quick set up. With a brief walk around the grounds we realized that we were real early. (shocker!) So we decided to go outside of Ontario Beach Park and walk around town. Kris and I love when we are within walking distance of restaurants and bars at an event. After a little searching we found a good dive bar and had a drink. We also snooped out a restaurant for dinner later on that night.

Back at our site we watched as teams started to roll in. Some familiar faces and some new ones. I love watching as organized chaos unfolds. Everyone had a preassigned spot, but as the day gets later, the spots get much harder to get into. Other teams, trees, and scattered vehicles make for difficult navigations. A great case to be made for getting to these comps real early. That, and now we get to go have some fun.

The Mitchells, Kris and I headed out to Pier 45. A restaurant just a short walk away. We sat at a high-top table and ordered some drinks. We talked...about BBQ, cooking comps, what comps are next, and what comps we've done so far. The drinks kept coming and we even ordered some food. The beers, the company and the conversation were great! After a couple of hours we walked back to the site just as the rain started to come down. We said goodnight to the Mitchells and took cover in the RV. It was good timing too because as we got in the motor home, the skies opened up. A torrential downpour was hitting Roc City hard. It was the perfect time to call it a night. But that's not what happened. After receiving a few texts and checking FB, I saw that a few friends were hanging out at the dive bar that we were at earlier. Kris and I braved the storm, headed out, and ran to that bar. We hung out with Ique and the Beverage Brothers, did some shots of Jack, and watched the Bruins clinch the Eastern Conference Finals. It was a great night.

Saturday morning the fog started to burn off and you could feel that it would turn into a nice day. Our site was set up next to the Giggling Pigs BBQ. We've known Mike for a while now and him and his team were awesome neighbors to have. Sometimes neighbors can be the difference from having a great time or just an okay time at an event. And over that 3 day weekend, we had a great time and a lot of laughs. Today was the NEBS grilling event. When this is attached to a KCBS contest Kris and I usually do not compete in them. We find it's a lot of work to do right when we should be concentrating on the KCBS contest. But, Brian Wemett, the contest organizer, had some irresistible categories. One of which was bacon. So, when we saw that in the cooks packet we both knew that we were doing the grilling on that day. We put together a good plan and a solid timeline to follow. We had a good cook and everything came together on time. We quickly cleaned up and started our prep work for KCBS.

Usually NEBS grilling events get about 30 teams. On this day we were competing against 57. The biggest grilling event that NEBS had ever sanctioned. My thoughts of doing well were quickly diminishing. I figured our only hope of a decent finish would be in the bacon category. That dish was all Kris; she conceived it, practiced it, and cooked it. Everyone we shared it with, loved it. So, I was keeping my fingers crossed with that one. Awards were delayed a little, so Kris and I just sat there and drank. The time right after cooking and just before awards are always the most dreaded time for us. It's always way too long. All we do is anguish over what we did, or what we should have done. It's brutal. Hopefully, it will be over soon. After Alan Burke and a Solid Gold Dancer entertained the crowd, we were ready for the awards. Lakeside took 3rd place in scallop, 4th in game hen, 7th in tri-tip, and 1st place in bacon. And took Grand Champions for the overall. So far this had been a kick ass weekend....

Saturday night we spent visiting with a few friends. Then Kris hit the wall early and I hung out with our neighbors. It was a nice mellow night. My smoker ran great overnight and everything was on track to finish on schedule. Sunday morning went smooth; boxes looked good, food tasted okay, and everything was turned in on time. We will certainly tank this contest.

83 teams were competing for the New York State Championship. At the end of the day it went to our friends from Smokin' Hoggz. Congrats Bill, Alan and Shaune. Lakeside Smokers finished 12th overall with a single call in chicken. Obviously not what we were looking for, but not horrible. Looking over our scores we were actually (kinda) happy. Nothing tanked, one call for chicken, and the ribs and pork were just outside the money. Score wise, we did okay.

Sunday night we hung out with Smokin' Hoggz, Sweet Chicken, Beverage Brothers, and a revolving cast of characters. We did a beer-run, and even had pizza delivered to the site! It was a great night. The decision to stay until Monday morning was a good one. That 7 hour drive seemed far, far away. We, drank, talked and laughed late into the night. It was a perfect way to end a perfect weekend.