Another weekend draws to an end and I have the aching muscles to prove it!!
We had our first judging event of the season on Friday and Saturday. Trekking across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Salisbury, Maryland, we set off Friday afternoon for the 2010 (7th Annual) Pork In The Park BBQ Competition. Growing by leaps and bounds, this event went from 90 competitors last year to 134 this year! This makes it the 2nd largest BBQ competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (not including the American Royal).
The weather was fantastic!! Friday afternoon saw temps in the mid-80s and bright sunshine. This, and the top-notch musical entertainment combined with great food, carnival rides and other festival events drew huge crowds.We settled in Friday evening to judge Anything Butt (a chef's choice category) and Seafood entries. My personal favorites were a peach pie made in the style of a Southern fried pie but cooked on a grill and a great lobster bisque. I'd have loved to have had larger servings than just a judge's sample of each. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), all judging is blind judging which means we have no way of knowing whose food we've judged. So, there's no wandering over and begging for more! (Good thing, that would then turn into a waddle!)
Saturday morning, we arrived at the fairgrounds early so The Big Guy and I could both perform our duties as "Pig Police" (aka "Pork Police" or "Pig Patrol"). Our duties in this assignment are to supervise the preparation of whole hog entries. Each cook team entered in this category must cook a whole hog in one piece, then cut and present six samples of five specific areas (shoulder, loin, etc.) for judging. Our job is to observe to verify that all samples came off of that one pig. A team cannot begin cutting their entry until we arrive at their cook site. We then stay with the team until turn in time. Another group of judges then judge the whole hog entries.
I always enjoy this particular assignment as it gives me a chance to meet and get to know the team I am observing. It gives us a chance to chat and each see the other's jobs. This year, I was sent to a relatively young team, new to competition cooking. They had two experienced members and three who have only participated in 3 contests. We spent some time discussing what the judges look for in the standard required four judging categories. Turns out, they fared fairly well in the overall judging of the required categories. (Anything Butt, Seafood and Whole Hog are not required categories. Participation in these categories are optional.)
A few hours later, we were seated for the regular judging session. These were the four categories required of every team in every KCBS competition - chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. Being forced to eat samples of some of the best prepared smoked meats known to mankind is a tough job, but somebody ahs to do it. I'm just glad I'm one of those somebodies!! This competition was no exception and the food was top quality. In fact, I think this was one of the best overall selections I've come across in quite some time.
After several hours of gorging, we mosied over to the entertainment area where we heard some really fantastic music. First a rock band followed by one of our favorite blues artists and his band. I'll admit we snuck out during the awards ceremony (although, considering a crowd of at least 10,000-12,000 people, I doubt if anyone noticed our departure.) We had several hours of driving ahead of us to get home.
Belated congratulations to Chix, Swine & Bovine BBQ of Jessup, Maryland who walked away Grand Champions!!! Absolute best of 134 teams. Way to go !!!!
After all that walking around the fairgrounds (probably several miles on rough terrain) and a long car ride, (not to mention a less than stellar motel bed), I was definitely stiff and achy by the time we got home. Unfortunately, The Big Guy had already set an agenda of working in the flower beds for today. Sore muscles and all, we were out ther bright and early in chilly temperatures working the soil.
Thank goodness we have a frost warning tonight, or we would probably have spent a lot more time in planting today, too. Looks like I get a chance to recover before all that bending in a week or two.
My new blog, Splish'n'Splash Kitchen launched today !!!! If you're into food, maybe even consider yourself a "FOODIE", please stop over and check it out here.