After some much needed downtime, I was eager to head back to the Saturday night grand tasting. After what I had seen in the earlier tasting, I doubted I could sufficiently build enough of an appetite to take on a night of BBQ.
When I walked back into the big tent I was happily reunited with my wine glass, but attacked in the ears by some less than welcome music. Apparently, a band of chefs thought it would be a hoot to do a cover band for the night’s festivities. Now, I will be the first to admit that I am highly critical of music, but I was hard pressed to understand how people with such a sense for food were the same people subjecting me to Mustang Sally covers. I tried to just think of how others enjoyed it and tune out the sound as much as possible.
My first table stop was Le Colonial, a name you might not expect when handed a plate of succulent baby back ribs. These ribs had obviously been cooking since the early morning and were so tender that the bone separated from the meat upon biting into the glazed goodness. The ribs had a sticky, sweet coating with touch of ginger and teriyaki added to a more traditional molasses sauce.
I saw 1300 on Fillmore across the room and immediately made my way back to see what they had to offer. I was happy to see that there were more grits to be had from the first tasting. I was even happier to see that they were also offering andoulie sausage on a homemade brioche bun with Creole mustard and a spicy BBQ sauce. The symmetry of the brioche with the fiery sauce on an already spicy sausage was truly noteworthy.
I kept hearing people rave about the soup from the San Francisco Soup Company. I knew there must be something to this claim as it takes a confident and well armed man to bring tomato soup to a BBQ event. Kent Kobelin was indeed well-armed with his tomato bisque. This soup was thick and rich and paid a true compliment to the tomato. I also sampled a vegetable soup that made me hope this company elects to open a Los Angeles location.
Of all the wines I had sampled, the most brilliant and memorable of the night were the pinots from Nautilus Estate of Marlborough. The presence and purity of the fruits in these wines was remarkable. The pinot gris blended pear and to a lesser degree melon with light spices that had such pleasant sustain. The pinot noir brought rich taste of plum and cherry that one would expect to be much sweeter considering the strong presence. This wine also had a long lasting finish. I cannot believe how cheaply these wines go for, I must stock up when I get home.
As I happened upon the next table I was invited by a man with a physical presence, to rub the pig. The man was Big Jim, who runs a competition BBQ team. The pig was their mascot, whom I did for good luck. Jim was a happy man with a hearty laugh and an even heartier sandwich. Big Jim’s pulled pork was hands down the best meat and sauce I had of the evening and I knew that was the case with other tables to visit. The pulled pork had been an all day cooker with a nice touch of smoke. Jim’s sauce was a Southwestern take on Carolina style sauce that had a nice mellow burn to it. This is the kind of sauce that you would lick off your arm if it dripped…and not eve care who saw you.
At this point I must convey my gratitude to Fuji water for being a marketing partner in this event. This was a warm day and one of much eating and drinking too. With all that, it was so nice to have ice cold bottles of Fuji at arm’s reach all weekend.
Friends had told me I had to survey the chowder from the Blue Mermaid. When I approached their table I was immediately aware of the bold, confident feeling the team exuded. General manager Chris Strawbridge told me how the chowder had won the Rhode Island chowder contest. When I tasted it, there was no surprise. The sweet corn and crab chowder was perfect, absolutely perfect. Pushing the chowder over the top was the dash cilantro oil in the soup, that slight touch of heat was proof that these men had indeed earned the right to the title. I had to go back for seconds on this stuff.
With so many heavy dishes to weigh at my guilty sense of avoiding dessert, I could not resist Silver Moon when I happened upon them. President Sheri Tate was on hand to serve up mojito sorbet that hinted at rum and screamed mint in a way that was light, yet completely decadent. There is talk of this product going retail, I pray that it will.