Results from BBQ & Tres Leches Chowdown (MSP)
Thanks again to everyone who came out to the Chowdown BBQ and Tres Leches Taste Off. And thanks to the organizers (KTFoley, katebauer, TDQ and myself).
We were able to taste nine different barbeques from all the big names in town.
There were barbeque pork ribs from Pastor Hamiltons, Lee & Dees, Ted Cooks, Roosters, Market BBQ, Scott Jamamas, and Big Daddy, plus Danny picked up some beef ribs from a guy on the side of the road and also brought pulled pork from Aesops.
We had Tres Leches from Bread, Cake and Chocolate, Millies, and a few other places whose names I neglected to write down. I'm sure my fellow chowhounds will help fill in the blanks.
There were lots of tasty sides, too, but the focus was the BBQ and Tres Leches. So now I bring you photos and a few results. Chowhounds, chime in.
We conducted a blind taste test. BBQs were removed from their original packaging and were numbered in no particular order. We tasted all of the barbeques first and then discussed what we liked or didn't like about each one before revealing the place of origin.
Pastor Hamilton's were my favorite. They were tender enough that I could suck the meat right off the bone. They were sauced, so I was a little surprised that they were first for me as I usually like a drier BBQ.
Lee and Dee's were prototypical ribs, but were not outstanding.
Ted Cook's were good but a little dry and chewy.
Rooster's were heavily sauced and the sauce had an odd cinnamon/allspice taste that several of us found distracting and off-putting.
Market was a surprising hit. They came unsauced, which worked in their favor as the sauce on the side was blech. But the meat itself was pretty good.
Scott Jamamas were a little to bony and fatty for me (more than I like in a rib).
The beef ribs were a complete change of pace and were wonderful, leading many of us to surmise that the best barbeque is 'side of the road' barbeque. This was Danny's find and he can tell the story.
Big Daddy's ribs were tender, with a good smoke ring and lots of flavor. They came with sauce on the side which was good for those who like drier ribs or who want to modulate their amount of sauce. They were my second favorite.
The BBQ came from a guy we drove past in North Minneapolis. I had recalled seeing a bunch of people BBQing out there a couple of months ago, so after picking up our Tres Leches Cake in Crystal (more on that below) we followed CR81, and eventually West Broadway to I-94.
We found one group BBQing on the south side of W. Broadway about a half block west of where Broadway, 26th Ave, and Sheridan Ave all come together. There were 4 or 5 guys sitting out in front of a storefront (that may be abandoned) with a couple of large grills.
Spotting them, I pulled the car over, and asked what they had. When I was there, all that was ready were the beef ribs, but they had a TON of chicken wings on the grill, and also mentioned Brats and Italian Sausages.
Since nothing else was ready, and we were heading for a rib extravaganza, this was a no brainer. The "Beef Rib Dinner" included baked beans, cole slaw, and 2 slices bread for $15.
The guy working the grill asked if I wanted "Old Home" (I think thats what he said) on the ribs. I said, "You're the pro, do whatever is best" and he topped the ribs off with a little pour of what looked like store bought BBQ sauce. (They also had another store bought sauce.) I wouldn't have thought that a store bought sauce would so perfectly compliment the ribs, but they did.
He said that he had been out there all summer, and only missed two weeks - and that if the weather stayed nice, he'd be out there a few more weeks.
So, if you don't want to wait on line for Big Daddy, this is another option.
It also may be the inspiration for a beef rib chowdown. After all those pork ribs, the beef ribs really, really stood out.
Three of the Tres Leches were from the following West Side (St. Paul) locations:
Milly's Bakery, 421 S. Wabasha St. St. Paul 55107. 651-714-9516
Bread, Coffee and Cake, 385 S. Wabasha. 651-222-7608.
Don Panchos Bakery, 140 Cesar Chavez. 651-225-8744.
Tres Leches results: I neglected to write down names so I'll rely on Danny, TCL and clepro to fill in the blanks. I can say that my favorites were Millies (light flavor, lovely amount of moisture evenly distributed throughout), TL2 (small and soaked with a rich milk flavor, this one squished when you ate it). The mocha cake was wonderful in and of itself.
Dang! I was out of town this weekend so I missed this wonderful chowdown. Y'all had great weather for it, too!
I'd really like more info on the Tres Leches cakes. For example, where is TL2? (Is this a place or the name of the cake?) Where was the mocha cake from? What was the cake from Don Panchos like?
And was there a general favorite, or did people pick different favorites?
The mocha cake and the cake with the yellow looking frosting both came from Panaderia La Loma in Crystal. (In the strip mall kitty corner to Crystal Bistro). The mocha cake was really good, the other one was just okay. We also brought along some tamales - they have styrofoam coolers of Tamales for $1.50 each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Well, personally I think that following up a passel of pork and beef ribs with milk- soaked cake may have been asking a bit much of ourselves. But, we did our duty.
Looking at Usiage's photos above, going left to right, is Tres Leches cakes from Bread Cake Coffee, then Milly's cake, followed by the two cakes from Panaderia La Loma. Usiage's photo below is of Don Pancho's cake. (I think the reference to "TL2" just meant "Tres Leches 2," i.e., the 2nd Tres Leches cake pictured, which is, in fact, Milly's).
General consensus favored Milly's version and La Loma's mocha. Don Pancho's cake might have been the one Usiage called "small and soaked with a rich milk flavor" in her note above. And, I think BCC's was generally deemed tasty, but not moist enough. I'm not sure...I was sort of rib-stunned at that point.
As for me, I've always liked both Milly's for a traditional Tres Leches and BCC's lighter, fresher variation. Don Pancho's was too wet for my taste. The mocha cake was delicious--a good mocha flavor and great texture. I didn't try the yellow frosted one.