St. Lawrence Market - barbecue/beer event this weekend!
The weather forecast promises warm and sunny days tomorrow and Sunday. The link below provides info on the BBQ Cook-Off and Craft Beer Show event happening this weekend.
I won't be attending, as my doctor has recently given me hell about my cholesterol level. But I hope some of you Chowhounds that are always complaining (with damn good reason!) about the lack of good barbecue in Toronto will check out this event.
I had a rib & chicken combo at Camp 31
dunno, maybe it was just bad luck, my ribs were pretty dried up, a bit too burnt, definitely not fall off the bone, and quite tough. This'd be indicative of being cooked too fast, I was hoping for ribs smoked at low temperatures for several hours like you see on those shows on FoodTV--Not ribs that were just completely grilled on the BBQ, but maybe that wasn't what the competition was about (it was a BBQ cookoff, not a smoked ribs cookoff afterall). They did taste ok though.
the chicken was alright, but I'd prefer our local churascco joints myself.
No thanks to all you evil Chowhounds who raved about the ribs from the Camp 31 bunch from Alabama, I found myself racing down to St. Lawrence Market shortly before the BBQ event ended on Sunday. I'm supposed to be avoiding foods that mess with my cholesterol level....but I couldn't resist...
Man, those ribs were good.
Two of us went to the event right at 11 on Saturday and then I returned with another friend later in the evening.
In the morning, we tried the pulled pork from Gator and Bibbs. We both like the Gator sandwich much more than the Bibbs--it had both a lot less fat and it was cooked in a nicer sauce. We also compared the ribs from the Bad Wolf and Gator. Once again Gator came out on top with moist ribs and its semi-spicy sauce versus what we thought was Bad Wolf's tough meat and their thin tasting sauce. Our pleasant surprise in the beer category was the Niagara Apple Ale. This beer was made for BBQ--the hint of fresh apples really complemented smoked pork.
When I returned in the evening I insisted that my new BBQ festival "rookie" try the Gator ribs. Unfortunately they were a lot drier than they had been 9 hours earlierthe meat did not slide of the bone this time. The good news for us was that we did try the Camp 31 ribs as well. They really were the best ones there. I would go to their restaurant to try them at their home, if I was in the Paris area. The meat on the ribs slid right of the bone in your mouth. And the rub/sauce combo was nice, although not too spicy. The beer that we discovered in the evening was from Pickerings own County Durham ESB and their cask conditioned Triple X Ale. Perhaps not the best thing to go with smoked pork, but they were both really smooth beers.
Overall I really enjoyed both the beer and BBQ pork aspects of the festival. Even with the BBQ pork available this past weekend, I do agree that Toronto has much room for improvement in the BBQ department. That said all three of us will be back next year. For now, though, the next festival that I am looking forward to the Toronto Beer Festival and Taste of the Danforth combo in August.
If you liked the ribs or are kicking yourself for not getting there, I have good news. Most of the ribs will be available at the Ribfest on the Canada Day Weekend at Centennial Park. The link is below.
The BBQ continues through Sunday. Managed (with the help of Chowspouse) to try several versions.
First, the winner (on both our cards)
Ol' Camp 31. Good meat texture with a smoky and sweet sauce, slight spice in finish and served VERY hot.
And the loser (again on both cards)
Bibb's BBQ - very tough meat and bland sauce with no character.
We disagreed on those in the middle - depends on individual taste. The most distinctive sauce was
Gator - strong molasses flavour, but the meat was a little on the tough side.
Bad Wolf had an excellent sauce (my #2), both smoky and tangy with a kick at the end - but again the meat could have been more al dente.
Billy Bones (Chowspouse's #2) had the most tender meat but the sauce was very subtle. Both sweet and sour tang but no guts. And
Crabby's sauce was too tomatoey (and a small portion too).
Didn't try Purple Pig (had those before and not impressed), St Lawrence Mkt, Crazy Canuck or Uncle Sam.
Overall, a fun event, worth the trip, but only proves that Toronto still needs a great (or even very good) rib place.
I have just returned, having consumed chicken, ribs, and an enormous pulled pork sandwich. The ribs and chicken were from the place from Alabama with the Confederate flags (name?) and the pulled pork was from the Albequerque place. The ribs were good- a bit tough-and the chicken was excellent. The pork sandwich was a bit sweeter than I like, but it was an enormous 2/3 lb of pulled pork butt for $6, so I'm not complaining. The friend I went with is scheming to go back again tomorrow.
I may die of cholesterol poisoning.
I was there last night too. The Alabama team was recommended to me also so I brought a few home. I am a rib neophyte so take my reviews as you will. I thought they tasted really ummmm, "piggy", not really in a bad way though! Just something I am not used to getting up here. Does anyone know if they bring there own meats with them?
A bit on the sweet side but smokey enough to cut through it. Less meat on the bone than I am used to. These were the only ones I tried.
I liked them enough to buy a bottle of their sauce and go into the market to purchase a rack of baby back ribs to cook at home tomorrow. Wish me luck!
I looked on the bottle and the Alabama team is called Camp31 and they have a website.
Enjoy the weekend!