How lucky we were the the 4th Annual Ribfest was almost in our own backyard! We arrived at 11:00 AM with empty stomachs and a master plan: go to each booth and get ribs, only ribs. No cole slaw, no corn bread, no potatoes. Nothin' but ribs. Fortunately, each vendor sold a 3-rib taster.
First stop- Desperado's. Despite their banners and trophies, the ribs were a little tough and not particularly memorable for flavor. On to the next!
Blazin' Bronco was the next stop. These ribs were much more tender than the first, but the best thing about them was their flavor! Not too smoky- the flavor was just right. Good sauce!
Porky-N-Beans' ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender (which won big points from my partner), -but- the flavor wasn't as right-on as the last tested ribs. Too much sauce, too.
Fat Fred's won major points for being the first to offer moist towelettes, we were already a mess from using only the cheap napkins from the other vendors. We were also slipping into such a food-induced haze that I forgot to snap a picture of these before we sampled them. The nice lady who waited on us gave me a Fat Fred's sticker, a string of green beads and shared the secret to making the best ribs in the world at home. She explained that Fat Fred's can't make them that way because it's impossible to make thousands using the secret method, but that she makes them that way herself. Fat Fred's ribs were very tender, but much too smoky. Some people like a heavy smoke taste... we aren't those people. On to the next!
Smoke'n Dudes Barbecue Co. hails from Bensalem, PA, just North of Philadelphia. Their ribs were so average that we started wondering if we were getting "ribbed out"- would any ribs taste as perfect as the ones we tasted at the second vendor? Smoke'n Dudes does win kudos for offering moist towelettes. Incidentally, I did buy a dry rub from this company- not that I think they used it on these, but because I want to make ribs with a dry rub when I make the "secret weapon" rib recipe shared with me by the Fat Fred's lady.
Next stop, the Australian BBQ Team. We expected big things from these ribs because this tent had the longest line and the most trophies! As I stood in line for 30 minutes (TLMM went to get the beer), I was hoping these ribs would be worth it. The way the sauce was baked into the rib was nice, it wasn't messy. The ribs had a sweetish taste with a little spicy kick which we didn't care for, but which might appeal to someone else. Not our favorite. Also, the bones of these ribs were a little different from all the other vendors. Were they spare ribs instead of baby backs? We didn't really take the time to ponder that, there were more ribs to be tested!
I forgot to take a picture of the ribs from Hillbilly's, they were tender and very flavorful. Nothing bad about them, just not the best. Were we losing it? Could we recognize a good rib at this point in the day, after having tried so many? We weren't sure, but we did know one thing- we weren't giving up yet!
Sonny's had the best selection of sauces- we tried a key lime sauce, a mild and a hot sauce. All were good, but these ribs were just too smoky for us. We had more to try and our eyes were nearly glazed over as we waddled to the last booth, Pig In or Pig Out. They do their cooking in this locomotive-shaped cooker - pretty neat- huh?
Finally, the last booth was a small and inconspicuous, without banners and trophies. Pig In or Pig Out is a Florida business based in Palm Beach County. They offered ribs, just ribs, not drenched in sauce or cooked in any rub that masked or detracted from the flavor of the meat. These ribs were plan as day, tender and perfect. The pork flavor was all you could ask for from a rib. You could have picked a favorite sauce from that booth, or from any other, dipped these ribs in it and had a winner. We both agreed that these were, hands down, the winners of the day- and, thankfully, the last stop!
Luckily there were other things to walk around to see at the Ribfest- tables of crafty things, t-shirts, a horse show, an antique car show- and walk is what we needed to do. We walked, and walked until.....finally....we decided to have just one more thing that would make the perfect end to the perfect day.
Watch for my next post, "Lady from Fat Fred's Secret Rib Recipe"...and the eggs.