Monday, 30 April 2012

RIBSTOCK

Part the Second of the food-filled weekend: #RIBSTOCK.


Appropriately named, RIBSTOCK was a full-throttle meatfest. I might drop the #hashtag from here on out for ease, but this baby is staying in caps - it was hardcore.

Born of a collaboration between the minds of the Rushmore group's JD Downey and Mark "The Ribman" Geveaux, the event brought together ten natural born grillers to compete in a barbeque battle for the ages. The Tweat Up-run event - Downey's own food festival organizing machine - had sold out online in under five minutes, and if you remember, I was willing to give my ribs, or a kidney even, for some of theirs on Friday afternoon. But by the magic of social media, Ben Spalding's sponsors got in touch and they happened to have some spare tickets - BOOM! My Saturday was settled.

(I am at this point obligated to say that Inka Charcoal Ovens are the finest on the market - buy 3.)

I had woken up Saturday to dreary drizzle (love a drought), but the thought of BBQ buoyed me to Soho, where the organizers had clearly thought this one through - anticipating British weather, St Anne's Churchyard had been canopied with one large tent, with the stands surrounding and a separate bar tent behind. Although sun would have been spectacular, it turns out ribs in the rain ain't too bad neither.

After grabbing an eye-opener, a bourbon-ginger mixed by Milk & Honey, my friend Goldy and I did a quick recce of the site. There were stands from The Ribman himself, chef Ben Spalding, Lucky Chip, Jamie Oliver and Adam Lang's Barbecoa, Goodman, and Opera Tavern - these were serious contenders for the crown. So we downed the drinks, did a few quick stretches, and prepared for protein. 


We kicked off with an amuse bouche - the hot sauce competition. After sampling the sauce from six bottles, some sweet and some spicy, we picked a few favorites and moved on to the main event: ribs.



We tried all ten and the verdict: ten plates of BBQ washed down with beer is the best breakfast ever. Some highlights included bourbon in a spray bottle for queuing customers at Andy Annat's stand and Goldy's new obsession, chicken croquettes or coxinhas from Brazillian BBQ spot Cabana. Cabana also had the most interesting ribs, coated in a violently red tomato-y sauce, while Opera Tavern had the most sophisticated, rich shortribs swimming in a truffled and garlicky purée with a port reduction.




Around halfway through the marathon of meat, the decision was made a little more difficult when Goldy decided to give The Ribman's "Holy Fuck" sauce a whirl, dousing our pulled pork against the advice of the Man himself. Golds had taken a few bites and his eyes clouded - he started jumping around like an interpretive silent discoer. Cracking up, I just snorted "pansy", and chomped into the bun. A few bites in and I joined the dance.




WHOA. I like hot sauce. I would even say I love hot sauce. I did NOT like that hot sauce. The stuff is liquid fire - it starts with a gentle burn so subtle you keep on eating, and grows to a steady scald, searing the roof of your mouth and leaving lips buzzing and ears ringing for an hour. We immediately ran to get frozen yogurt, coating our mouths and lips like '70s lifeguards with zinc, but only time soothed the pain. A parable, that. Damn you, Ribman. Damn you and your delicious natural high.

We dried off, de-sauced, and defrosted with a few beers in the newly-refreshed Century Club, overlooking the event, rubbing our bellies in pain while comparing our own notes and waiting for the judges' final call.


Ultimately, our top three choices coincided with the judges', with Redhook coming in first, followed by Lucky Chip, and then Cattlegrid. We loved the tangy and traditional ribs from Downey's own Redhook, served with a sweet slaw of red cabbage and pineapple, but we did think that Lucky Chip, who finished each fatty, boneless rib individually on the grill for charred perfection (and an extra-slow queue), should have gotten top spot.


And there you have it. We left filled to the gills, more full of protein than an Attack phase Dukan dieter. And yet somehow I still managed to sneak in a brownie. Bring on RIBSTOCK2013, this time with a side of sun.

What a weekend.

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