Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ribfest report

Sunday, July 5, 2009
I was "on assignment," sent to investigate the 2009 Toronto Ribfest. I figured I'd go on a weekday to avoid the crush of people. Good idea except for the pouring rain. Centennial Park in Etobicoke was a muddy mess. I folded up my pants, trudged along, and hoped not to fall on my $%% with a pile of ribs.

There was no way I was gonna get to try everything since the smallest order was 1/3 rack of ribs. I figured I'd start with last year's winner, Kentucky Smokehouse. I was biased to try the southern US ribbers as the consensus is that the southern states make them best. I had a 3-meat combo of 1/4 chicken, pulled pork and 1/3 rack of ribs. The ribs were good but not spectacular. The chicken was yummy and finger licking good. However I must say that a really good 1/4 chicken from Swiss Chalet is so much juicier. Given a choice, the recycled fat from rotisseries would win by me. The pulled pork was perfectly cooked with a delicious BBQ sauce and a hint of baked bean flavour. I digress to the thought of Ecuadorian pulled pork usually served at Taste of the Danforth. Pulled pork swimming in pork fat and salt is still tops with me.

Next on the list were ribs from Bad Wolf Barbecue of Kansas City. I had 1/3 rack of ribs with a side of sweet cornbread and beans. These ribs were very good. The sauce was dark and thick and infused with Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon. The cornbread was a little too crumbly, but a good companion to the ribs. As for the beans... nothing special. The bean taste in the pulled pork I had earlier was much tastier.

I rounded things out with a Birch Beer from Pappy's Old Fasion (sic) Soda Pop. It tasted more like Pepsi than rootbeer, though serving it in a stainless steel mug was a nice touch.

Other treats that I didn't get to try were Bob's Bloomin Onions (a battered, deep fried onion), funnel cake, butterfly potato chips (chips that came in flower like clusters), and roast corn on the cob.

The ribfest was definitely a place to fill up on food. Although I must say, I prefer ribs that have been boiled in a dark beer first till the meat almost falls off the bone, before BBQing. I know it's not the traditional way, but doing it at home with Keith's Red and President's Choice Beer & Chipotle BBQ sauce is still my favourite way of having ribs.

- Mark


Katie said...

Man, you should have let us know you were going. Caloy and I went on Canada Day and hit two booths you didn't - he got the "vegetarian nightmare" from ... 31. Smokehouse 31? one of the first as you came through the gate. The chicken was dry, but I don't really think you should be getting chicken at ribfest, IMHO. The pulled pork and ribs were nice. their sauce was mellow and heavy on the peppercorns. His side of baked beans had a similar sauce.

I got a 1/2 rack from Gator ribs (from Florida.. and Port Dover). The sauce was bit of a let down, a bit too sweet for me, but it really allowed the full pork flavour to shine. Their beans were great with a green pepper flavour. the new potatoes were simple, boiled, a little smashed and buttery but a very nice accompaniment to the rest of the meal.

We shared a big lemonade which was excellent and then went halvsies on some of the Pappy's pop... which was disappointing. The root beer was flat and got tossed after we finished half the cup. The wild cherry flavour sounded promising but tasted more like carbonated Dimetapp. It was tossed after 2 mouthfuls (the second sip was to make sure it was actually gross). The sticky red syrup clung to our collectible mug.

We finished our day off with some Tiny Tom's donuts. yummm....

I was super impressed the organization of the event, particularly in regards to waste management. The city was in the beginning of a garbage strike but the Rotary club (who hosted) had volunteers to take your entire meal's garbage and sort into compostable (waste food AND the paper food tray!) and recyclable (pop cans and plastic cutlery)

Great blog by the way. Hope I didn't get too yappy ;)

Tasting Toronto said...

Glad you liked the blog Kate. I also thought it was nice of the Rotary club to have manned recycling stations. Thanks for the comment.

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