Sunday, November 19, 2017

8th annual Blues, Bandits, and BBQ, Oak Cliff

sampled 11/18/17
This was our third year in a row at this fun little event held in a city park in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas.  There were about 30 teams competing for trophies and bragging rights.  For $25 you got to sample a bit of everything for the People's Choice award.  The crowds are always small and you never have to wait in long lines.  Several blues bands took turns playing on the small stage during the afternoon.
The main issue this year was the wind.  Planning anything outdoors in North Texas this time of year is always iffy.  Sustained winds blew through at 20 mph with gusts up to 40.  A number of tents, pans, and plates were casualties.  Temperatures were in the 60's which made for a pretty nice Fall day, even with the wind.
The food was a mixed bag of mostly average competition BBQ.  Sample size also varied widely from a full boat with sides, to just 1 piece of sausage.  Few samples had good smoke flavor.  Brisket was all over the map from inedible to very tasty.  The best brisket I had came from these guys.
 

Pulled pork was at almost every stand but only one had whole hog this year.  None of it stood out to my taste buds.
I think I had ribs at 4 stands but each was either under cooked or over cooked.  Sausage showed up at about half the stands but there was one that really stood out.  Midway Hollow Meat Company had a home made jalapeno cheese sausage that was just awesome.  It was a little wetter than the Kreuz variety that I love, but it also had more heat and a casing with a nice snap.  They got my People's Choice token.  In fact, I went online and tried to see if they had a local location where I could get more of that sausage.  Sadly, I can't seem to find anything online.  If I can find them I want to buy more of that sausage!  I could never get a good photo of the sausage being sliced because they always had one of the longer lines.
Four of the stands had candied pork belly so that has definitely become a thing.  1 was great, 2 were average, one had no meat, just fat.  There were also lots of little pulled pork and brisket tacos, and even a bacon/doughnut sandwich.
I still think this is one of the best bargains on the BBQ festival circuit.  There is lots of good food, music, kids throwing footballs, folks bring their dogs, and it's just a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  We will be back next year!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Veterans Day BBQ at Lakewood Brewery


3 local craft beers plus BBQ with proceeds going to benefit a veteran's charity.  Get tix before they are gone.

Thanks to Scott for the heads up.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Blues, Bandits, and BBQ coming November 18th


Tasting tickets available now.  This is a fun event with lots of tasty BBQ.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Smokey Mae's BBQ, Mansfield

Sampled 10/21/17
A band I enjoy was supposed to be playing this place tonight so I took the 40 minute trip down to Mansfield to check out the Q and hear some tunes.  This place opened May 6 and is set up like a central Texas BBQ joint or similar to Hard 8 which has several locations in North Texas.  You enter through the pit room and order off a warming pit.
The pits that do the real work are off to the side in the same open air building.
They have a large selection of meats to choose from, but I stuck with brisket, sausage, and pork ribs. 
I also added some big armadillo eggs (peppers stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon) and some Texas fries. 
I got through the line pretty quickly and moved out to the bar area which is where the live music was taking place.  My fries and armadillo eggs were delivered hot and crispy to my table and I grabbed some of their complimentary pinto beans by the drink counter.  Unfortunately, my food photo was a bit messed up as I dumped half my cup of beans on the ribs while trying to set up for a photo. 
I won't say this was the worst BBQ meal I have ever had, but it was right up there.  If you look at that brisket it looks great.  However it failed the pull apart test in a major way.  I literally could not pull the brisket slice apart with my bare hands.  I sort of had to gnaw on it like a stick of beef jerky.  There was zero smoke flavor and the fat was un-rendered chewy rubber.  Yikes.  Next I tried the ribs and they were a little more tender, but only just so.  Again I had to gnaw the meat off the bone.  There was no smoke flavor but there was a bit of bitterness which might have been from some slightly green mesquite smoke or maybe from some spice combination I could not recognize.  They were also very dry, even though I had dumped bean juice on them.  The sausage was very average fine ground with tough casing that needed removal before swallowing.

The highlights of the meal were the french fries and the pinto beans. 

Despite the shortcomings of my meal they were doing a great business and there were more people in the bar than in the main dining room.  The band I drove down to see never showed up and I did not wait around for them.  Maybe they had stopped to eat some dinner elsewhere before the gig.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pecan Lodge, Dallas 10/15/17

sampled 10/15/17
We had some friends from Canada staying with us for a couple of days this week and we decided to treat them to Pecan Lodge BBQ while they were here.  I went down Sunday and got a whole brisket, a couple of racks of beef ribs, and some jalapeno sausage and we warmed it up from the fridge all week.  The express line made it easy.  They enjoyed it so much they even asked for brisket to go with their morning pancakes.  The best part is they didn't eat it all so I have plenty of tasty leftovers for the freezer.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Houston vs Austin BBQ throwdown, December 3rd





Since the folks at the Houston BBQ Fest can't seem to get enough BBQ, they've come up with a new event for this December.  This is an Austin vs Houston BBQ throwdown which so far includes 4 restaurants from Austin and 6 from Houston. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

5th Annual Pitmaster's Picnic, Dallas

Sampled 10/8/17
We have missed the Pitmaster's Picnic the last couple of years, but this year Scott grabbed us some VIP tickets.  This event grows a little every year and benefits a great cause, Cafe Momentum.  Learn more about Cafe Momentum here:  http://cafemomentum.org/about/

This year the event featured 13 pitmasters from as far away as Oregon and New York, but we were mainly interested in the excellent list of Texas joints appearing.   The venue was the parking lot behind the Granada Theater on Greenville Avenue.  Parking is ALWAYS an issue in that area so I met Scott at his place and we car-pooled down.  We showed up about an hour early and stood around talking BBQ til the VIP gates opened at 12:30.

Inside we found several of the booths were not ready.  They had some power issues just before opening and that threw some folks off.  I managed to scoop up samples from 10 joints with plans to catch up the last three on round two.  We managed to find a shady table in the VIP area and dug into our first samples.  Surprisingly, we even had a guy come up and offer to buy our beer box trays.  That was a first!
 
After the first round we went back and got some samples from the 3 who were not ready when we first went in.  Then we sat around and drank some cold Shiners while the general admission folks streamed in.  The VIP area had a dedicated bar where we could cash in our two drink coupons.  The 30 minutes lead time for the VIPs proved to be just enough.  While we were rehydrating, Chad started the music stage and the first band included pitmaster Nick Pencis on drums.  No, he did not play drums with a rib bone, but he should have.   Hey, it's a BBQ festival!
After we downed our Shiners and let the meat settle for a bit, we wandered around and took some photos of the crowd, booths, and meats.  This fest is a little smaller than Smoked Dallas, but the meats were just as tasty.
As at all of these fests, there was a wide variety of portions sizes and servings.  I thought the brisket from Hutchins smoked all the competition while the ribs from Stanley's Famous were the best.  There were a lot of specialty items and most of them were excellent.  Heim's served their famous bacon burnt ends which are basically small cubes of candied pork belly.  I could sit and make a meal of just those.  Louie Mueller's had their awesome lamb sicles, Cattle-Ack had their "Que-T Pie" brisket empanadas, 18th and Vine had lamb ribs, Peg Leg Porker had dry rub baby backs, and Riverport had pulled pork sliders.  No one could complain about just brisket, ribs, and sausage at this festival.  One item that didn't work for me was the pastrami "spam" sandwiches offered by Hometown BBQ from Brooklyn, NY.  They took their house made pastrami, ground it up, then fried it on a grill and added cheese and mustard.  It sounded like a good idea, but it just wasn't BBQ to me.  A for effort, though.
Bodacious BBQ had boudin, sausage, plus some chocolate covered beef belly toffee bars.
Hard Eight had 3 different brush poppers to choose from; chicken, chipotle, and shrimp (all were excellent).
Lockhart Smokehouse had some very tender smoked prime rib.
Overall it was just an excellent day of BBQ.  We may have missed the last couple of Pitmaster's Picnics, but I think we will try not to miss any more of them.
If you have been peering at this blog for any amount of time, you might suspect that what follows below are more photos of food and booths.  You would be correct.  Just click on any photo for a larger view.