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Monday, September 02, 2013

Ribfest!


Every year, the Burlington Rotary Club hosts Canada's Largest Ribfest in Spencer Smith Park. Given that this was one of Mr. & Ms. Hungry in the Hammer's first dates, returning annually has become a pilgrimage, even though one half of our couple is a vegetarian.  Please forgive the pictures - we only had cell phones with us today.

This year, we started with the traditional Blooming Onion for our vegetarian.  This is, of course, a very healthy choice, featuring an entire onion, sliced so as to resemble a flower then breaded and deep fried.  It is then served with a mayo based sauce, flavoured with ketchup and horseradish.  It is a delight for the taste buds, should one be able to ignore the filmy coating of grease it leaves within your mouth.  Fortunately, we excel at disregarding disgusting artifacts when deliciousness is involved.
For the meatatarians, we moved onto ribs and chicken.  Our first stop was Billy Bones BBQ, who were enthusiastic about their meat and celebrated winning second place this year with a few pit crew chants. Nothing says winner like second place! 
Bless these people.  It was hot, smokey and despite what the picture seems to depict, they were enthusiastic and fun, singing, chanting and even dancing while BBQing.
First, we tried the chicken.  The skin was crispy and the seasoning was adequate.  The meat was cooked perfectly and moist and tender.  Having said that, it was severely lacking in sauce and therefore flavour.  Overall, this was our least favourite chicken, tasting bland.
These ribs appear quite pink, but were cooked through.  The same problems with the chicken came through in the ribs.  They were dry and not nearly flavourful enough.  In a word - bland. Again, our least favourite ribs. We definitely did not feel they were winning quality ribs or chicken and, to be honest. we were quite surprised they placed second. 
 Our next selection came from Kentucky Smokehouse.
These ribs were saucier and more flavourful than the previous ribs.  The taste was deliciously smokey and charcoaly.  Yes, we just made up a new adjective.  The ribs were fall off the bone tender, and while it was a definite improvement from our first selection, the sauce was not memorable.  In our tasting party, second place.
 Finally we arrive at the best ribs we tasted from Ribfest this year, and this is where our adventure gets interesting. In order to wait in as few lines for as little as possible, we split our resources. The lovely vegetarian half of our couple was sent off with $20 and instructions to pick any combo out any that looked interesting. In fact, the words "surprise me" and "whatever tickles your fancy" may have been mentioned multiple times. This makes us question the judgement of the meat eater as said vegetarian has not eaten meat in 18 years.  Would you trust her to pick out your meat? In the end, she went to Fire Island Barbeque.  For the record, it was mostly chosen because it had a gorilla on the sign, and we are big fans of gorillas here at Hungry in the Hammer.
We purchased the 2 meats for $15 combo, getting ribs and chicken.  We must note that we asked for extra sauce and were taught that this is getting sexy ribs. That's right, sexy. Real sexy. We brought Sexyback.  You're welcome.
These were by far our favourites of the day, both ribs and chicken.  We chose the Manhattan Mild sauce (for we were sharing with some who do not have our enjoyment of spice) and it was delicous.  It left a smokey, lingering sweetness after each bite, with much flavour.  Both the ribs and chicken were, as always fall off the bone tender.  Tender meat is not a problem at Ribfest.  Again, we did ask for extra sauce here, but it is our belief that even without the extra sauce, these would be winners.
Heading down to Ribfest on Monday shortly after lunch meant that we avoided the massive crowds that gather around dinner.  Ribfest also has a children's area and craft vendors, but we were focused on the food. Even with the relatively small crowds, between finding parking (about a 10 minute walk from the site), waiting in line at the booths and then heading back to share dinner, we were at the site gathering food for about 1:15 hours - not a quick way to grab linner (or lunch/dinner, for the uninitiated). Next year, we'll come back at about the same time and we will be sure to ask for all our chicken and ribs to be made extra sexy. Overall, a deliciously fun way to end summer.

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