Sunday, February 28, 2010

Countdown To Little Rock!

It's the last day of February. That means March and its eventual warmth are here. The Olympics are in the book and the opening ceremonies for Holla-N-Swalla's barbecue season start on March 19th in Little Rock, AR. No huge fanfare or parades. Just we four with our ez-up and equipment hoping to strike gold, or should I say green, against some of the countries top competition. It will be challenging but it will also be fun! I can't wait to get started!

Last weekend all four of us were able to gather at Darrin's house in Louisburg, KS to have a practice run through of all four KCBS categories (but sadly no cider or doughnuts). A big thanks to Darrin for not only suggesting this but hosting as well! This was the first time we had done this and I am not sure why we never thought about it before?

We have been very fortunate that we all can come to an agreement about how we cook each category. Chicken and ribs have been solid categories. Brisket varies for us -some contests it is great and some not so great and pork has been all over the map. We were looking to incorporate some new procedures in brisket and pork I learned about in the off season. This get together enabled us to successfully work through these new processess. I feel very confident in what we are doing and I'm looking forward to getting things kicked off!

Now we just need the calendar to speed up and the weather to warm up!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Big T's Bar-B-Q

February is the time of year I find most difficult. So close to the warming days of March but yet still locked in winter's death grip. On these gray, cold days, I look for any kind of respite or release from nature's injustice.

My release today was venturing over to Big T's Bar-B-Q on Blue Parkway to meet my buddy Larry for lunch. To be honest, I had not heard of Big T's until about a month ago. We have a gluttony of riches when it comes to barbecue restaurants here in Kansas City and I am guilty for overlooking many of these places. Today, I wanted to extend my barbecue dining experience yet again.

We met at 1pm to avoid the lunch rush. Parking was not an issue and service was friendly and quick. The place itself was clean and appealing. I would describe Big T's as a "BBQ Joint." When you walk in you are immediately hit with the familiar smell of french fries cooking inter-mingled with the aroma of meat smoking. A nice jolt to the senses on such a blah day. The walls were ordained with pictures of past Kansas City sports teams. Black and white pictures of the NBA's long gone Kansas City Kings, a picture of the 1946 Negro Leagues All-Star Game, and a 1998 team picture of the Kansas City Chiefs to name a few. A napkin dispenser, bottle of Heinz ketchup and salt and pepper shakers adorned the tables. Extra barbecue sauce was available if you asked for it at the service counter.

The order process here is quite familiar. Place your order at the counter and they call your number when it's ready. I ordered the brisket on a bun , fries and a small ice tea. The total was $7.81. The brisket was thinly sliced and served with sauce on it (I need to start asking for sauce on the side). The meat itself had a slight hickory smoked flavor while the sauce was sweet and thin. I felt the sauce detracted from some of the flavor of the meat. Also I prefer my brisket to be sliced a little thicker than what I received today. The fries were greasy and were your average fare. Larry ordered the burnt end plate and said that the ends were tender and had a good smokey flavor.

I guess a good sign if you don't like something is to leave it on your plate. Both of our plates were empty so we must have liked it. Is Big T's my favorite barbecue place? No, but I would visit again to try out more of their menu.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Silver Dollar City Festivals 2010: Bluegrass & BBQ

Sweet sounds and sweet sauce will prevail during Bluegrass & BBQ at Silver Dollar City, May 13 through May 31. The top names in bluegrass will perform while experts cook up the ribs and burnt ends. The House of BBQ will serve Memphis dry rubs, sweet and tangy Carolina vinegars, smoky Texas-style and Kansas City-style barbeque that will make your nose twitch and your mouth water.

Silver Dollar City has earned its reputation as one of the nation’s premier amusement parks with events such as Bluegrass & BBQ. Located in Branson, Missouri, within walking distance of the well-known Lodges at Table Rock, Silver Dollar City offers a 1800s-themed environment complete with arts, crafts, cooking lessons, period displays, rides and much more. Bluegrass & BBQ is only one of a number of extended events held throughout the year.

For 19 days, Bluegrass & BBQ will serve up electrifying performances by rising stars and veteran favorites in bluegrass music. They come from all over the country to the place bluegrass belongs, the Ozark Mountains.

Some of the acts you can expect to see and hear include:

Nothin’ Fancy-Formed in 1994 to compete in the East Coast Bluegrass Championship in Crimora, Virginia, Nothin’ Fancy has since released eight albums and one CD single. The group has played the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee; Lincoln Center in New York; and the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia. The band has also hosted its own festival in Buena Vista, Virginia, and won The SPBGMA Entertaining Group of the Year award in 2008 and 2009.

Red Head Express-This group has it all — a variety of musical styles, dancing, comedy, you name it. And they all get along, even though they’re family: Mom, Dad, four daughters and three sons. They’ve played throughout the Midwest and South in performing arts centers, at festivals and in theaters and opry houses, and they’ve had two seasons playing in Branson.

Hunt Family Bluegrass-Born in Orlando, Oklahoma, in 2004, Hunt Family Bluegrass has become known for its hard-driving style. The family includes Terry, the dad, who plays guitar; Leanne, the mom, who plays bass; 17-year-old Andrew on mandolin and fiddle; and 15-year-old Jonathan, who plays banjo.

In all, about 40 bluegrass bands will perform during Bluegrass & BBQ, and the barbeque will be available the whole time. Whatever your taste in music or food, this event is sure to satisfy.

While you’re in Branson and visiting Silver Dollar City, you should consider staying at The Lodges At Table Rock. Among lodges in Branson, it has a reputation for family-friendly excellence. Many people think of it as the Silver Dollar City lodge because it’s so close to the park, or the Table Rock lodge because of its proximity to Table Rock Lake. It’s also one of the most popular Branson lodges for people who are visiting the area to enjoy the lakes and Branson attractions other than Silver Dollar City.

So, when you’re looking for lodging near Silver Dollar City, be sure to visit where you can learn more and make your Table Rock Lodge reservations. You’ll enjoy the convenience as you take in Bluegrass & BBQ.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Say Good Night Gracie

Tonight season one of Pitmasters rides off into the sunset. I find myself running after it and calling its name like Brandon De Wilde chasing after Alan Ladd. "Shane" didn't come back but hopefully TLC will heed the calls and "BBQ Pitmasters" will return for a second season.
This series was eagerly anticipated by the barbecue world. Sure the Travel Channel or Food Network would occasionally throw us barbecue cooks a bone but I was always left with wanting more - enter Pitmasters. What the competitive barbecue world received was not only a show for us but also a show to help enlighten non-Q'ers on what competing is all about. Like a zombie drawn to a mall, I was drawn to the show.
From my experience, the show has opened up the barbecue competition world to more people. I have talked to many people who have no real interest in barbecue but have watched the show and enjoyed what they saw. In fact, the question I have to answer most is regarding Myron and "What's he really like?" It's good to see the interest generated about barbecue.
I will not be surprised if we see a second season of Pitmasters. If TLC wants no part of it, I am sure some other network would. The show has clearly marked out its territory on the reality show map. It will be interesting to see the impact the show will have on the competitive trail this season. Will there be an increase in rookie teams? More contests? More barbecue groupies? I can't wait for our competition season to start so I can find out. In the meantime, I'll head back to the farm and see if Shane shows up!
Happy Trails!