Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

Los Angeles Barbecue Festival

September 28, 2008

My feet are cold. That’s the first thing that comes to mind on the first day of fall. I’m sitting here in my office, with the cool night breeze creeping through the screen door tickling my bare toes, tapping away at this dusty keyboard. I can hear my cat, Ignatius J. Reilly, working on a particularly large piece of kibble in the kitchen nearby. See, we can’t bear to take him to the vet to have his teeth cleaned so we assuage our guilt by feeding him giant, tartar-control kibble. His method of eating ‘said’ kibble is to remove a single piece with his mouth, bring it into a darkened room and just chaw on it a’while. Little bits of kibble fly from his whiskers like a log through a wood-chipper. We generally find these pieces first thing in the morning, under our bare feet.

In a last nod to summer a few weeks ago, we decided to join some of our friends at the Los Angeles Barbecue Festival
right next to the Santa Monica Pier. What could be better than kissing summer goodbye with lips sticky with sweet barbecue sauce as the ocean breezes whipped the smoke from numerous pitmasters through your hair?

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It was a perfect late summer Sunday afternoon, hot and sunny but cool breezes prevailed at the beach. We were running a bit late because it was Maggie’s first trip to the beach. We had all sorts of stuff to get together before we left but once we were on our way, Maggie was a little angel.

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We arrived at around 3pm, so the parking lot was already packed. There was a huge stage with an 80’s rock and roll cover band playing songs by Def Leppard and Quiet Riot. We managed to snag a good table and I wiped it off with baby wipes.

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We were starving, so we all took turns guarding the table while a couple of us went to get food and beer. The cool thing about the festival was that it wasn’t just BBQ from around LA. It was BBQ from all over the country. I had my eye on LC’s BBQ from Kansas City, MO. I had first read about them in a Saveur magazine years ago. I used to use their dry rub recipe when I was energetic enough to make one from scratch.

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These guys are the real deal. Check out these ribs:

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one that had heard of them. The line stretched around the parking lot and I heard that people were waiting up to an hour to get their ribs.

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Uh uh…no way. I wasn’t waiting in that line. The hickory smoke was wafting over from the tent next door, so I went to check it out: Bandana’s BBQ from St. Louis, MO.

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They had a completely different set up from LC’s BBQ. Not quite as romantic-looking but that ended up being a good thing because the line was really short.

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I have to say I was not disappointed. Their ribs were dryer in style than some of them but still succulent and I really like their sauces.

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Everybody was taking a break after their first beers, brisket and ribs.

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I decided to go see what else was available. I was excited to find Elgin Hot Sausage from Southside Market in Elgin, TX. Unfortunately, they ran out of BBQ and had closed up their tent. I tried to wheedle some extras out of them, appealing to their charitable side by explaining that my parents were without power from Hurricane Ike, that I was thinking about home and missing the Elgin (El-gin…not El-jin) sausage, but alas, they were truly out.

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I discovered there were quite a few BBQ restaurants here in LA that I didn’t know about, like Baby Blues BBQ from Venice, CA. I made a mental note to check them out someday. I had already had two helpings of the ribs from Bandana BBQ, so the Baby Blues BBQ ribs looked like A LOTTA rib now that I was starting to get full.

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Sean enjoyed some brisket from Parise’s Pit BBQ from here in LA:

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I talked to the owner a little bit. I noticed they were using la Caja China, which is one of those dream BBQ toys I’ve been wanting. You can roast a whole pig, Cuban-style, in those bad boys.

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Down at Gus’s BBQ from Pasadena, CA, they had a different set-up still. They were grilling brick flattened chickens over a huge bed of coals.

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It all looked delicious, but I had my mind set on ribs, so I gave up and went back to the table where Miss Maggie was holding court.

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The sun was sinking lower and lower in the sky. We were full of pork fat and smoke and wiped clean with baby wipes, when I noticed a few people hanging out by L.C. BBQ tent watching the pitmasters at work.

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Suddenly, the lovely Sarah, came over with a rib from LC. It seems like she managed to snag one without having to wait in line.

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Unfortunately, my hands were too sticky to take a picture, but it was delicious: bigger and definitely juicier than the ribs from Bandana BBQ. I recognized my old dry rub right away. Still, I have to say, that the Bandana BBQ ribs had their charms. It was a toss-up between the two. They were very different.

I could tell Maggie was starting to get sleepy. All this smoke and noise and the crowds were starting to get to her. She had already had a bottle and naturally took a giant dump right afterwards. There were certainly no changing rooms in the Port-a-Potties, so I ended up having to take her out of the festival and onto the beach bike path to change her in the sand with bikes whizzing by us. It was the most traumatic poopy diaper I had ever changed.

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It was time to go. Maggie seemed to be licking her lips in anticipation of the BBQ in her future as we strapped her into her car seat.

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We were parked several blocks inland in one of the parking garages so we were able to walk off just a FEW of those ribs on the way back to our car.

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On the way back home, the setting sun was pouring in the back window on Maggie, so I had to drape her carseat with her blankie. I amused myself taking pictures of Maggie underneath the blanket as the shadow patterns on her face made her look like some sort of alien baby.

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We lucked out on traffic as it was a Sunday and it was pretty light.

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All in all, it was a fabulous end to the summer…Miss Maggie’s first summer ever and one I’ll never forget.

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