Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ribfest 2011

The last of my summer adventures involved one last trip to Lincoln, NE, to get my boyfriend settled in a new apartment.  Although most of the trip entailed long drives in a Budget truck, setting up apartment viewings, getting an apartment, and moving in, I was able to sneak in two great food adventures: Lincoln’s annual Ribfest and a night out at Upstream Brewing Company in Omaha

After spending the morning moving everything from the rental truck into the apartment, Dennis and I took a break to grab some soda at the neighborhood convenient store.  While there, the clerk mentioned that we should reward ourselves by going to Ribfest.  Although those words seemed puzzling to me, further research disclosed that Lincoln has an annual rib/BBQ festival near the Capitol Building.  Have I mentioned what great food karma I have?  
Ribfest invites BBQ craftsman from Australia, Ohio, Memphis, Texas, and Florida, making deciding where to eat challenging.  Add on that each vendor has trophies piled high and tons of posters bragging about awards and the choice becomes almost impossible.  Luckily, I have a partner in crime.  
I followed pink stickers to Desperado’s BBQ & Rib, a rib joint that boasts “1st Place Winner for Best Ribs and Best Sauce” and  poses the hypothetical, “Millions of Bones Sold: Can all those people be wrong?”  Although there were lots of tempting rib options, I went with my favorite, pulled pork.  I’m a pulled pork girl because at the end of the day, I love BBQ sauce.  Great BBQ places don’t put a lot of sauce on their sandwiches because the meat is so great that it shouldn’t be hidden.  I approve of that, but then I do love when they also have sauce options that I can pile on myself.  I had the option of coleslaw ontop or on the side, and, as the woman at the counter pointed out, my choice to get it on the sandwich gave my Virginia roots away.  Desperado’s pork was super tender, although a little greasy.  I tried both their “Hotter than Hot” sauce and the “Original.”  Both were great.  So great.  Spicy, smoky, tangy, and the “Hotter than Hot” had the right amount of kick. 
Dennis tried the Boneless Rib sandwich from Porky-n-Beans, the “Pride of Port Saint Lucie, Florida.”  They also had a finger-licking good sauce.  It was spicy and got progressively hotter as you ate while not over-powering.  The meat was tender but not too flavorful.  Luckily, though, a great sauce gives that extra punch the meat needed. 
I found out later that the 2011 Lincoln Journal Star Ground Zero "Best of Show" winner was a tie between Desperado's and Porky-n-Beans.  I'm telling you, it's good to have food karma like mine.  

After sampling the meats and trying two such a great sauces, I kinda wanted to know what the other stands had to offer.  Eating a sandwich from each was not feasible, from a belly and a wallet stance.  But, since each stand had sauces out in large dispensers, I took my fork (I couldn’t find a spoon) and went around and sampled each. . .
  • Aussom Aussie’s "Raspberry BBQ Sauce" and "Blue Flame:" The Raspberry was intriguing, but starts raspberry and ends with bbq flavor and I’m not sure my brain reconciled the two.  The Blue Flame was hot and then too hot to be born.  I am used to spices that builds to hot.  I am used to hot that takes a minute and kicks in.  But, the Blue Flame was a hot that had one hit and then a minute or so later, in the middle of nowhere, I felt an explosion of pain. 
  • Bowling Coyote: Interesting, but bordered on glorified sweet and sour
  • Memphis BBQ: Good smoke, full and complex, but slightly too heavy tomato
  • Texas Rib Rangers: Definitely too much like ketchup

The best was the first I tried which was  the sauce from Desperado’s.  They get my taste award. 
After I sampled all the sauces and let my stomach digest my sandwich, my eye wandered to the next important Ribfest fare, fried dough.  

There was fried candy bars, which I have always wanted to try.  Then, fried peanut butter and jelly--a naughtier version of a childhood lunch staple.  Deep fried ho-ho’s which break the rules of what is decent and delve into the world of sin.  But, fried cookie dough?  Really?  Could I walk away from something like that? 

So, Dennis and I got a fried Snickers and a fried cookie dough.  I was giggling and jumping with glee and the people running the truck laughed at me a little.  As I sampled each, so gooey and melty inside, crunchy and caking outside, I kept going back and forth about which was better.  The snickers has soft luscious bites of chocolate and caramel with punctuations of peanuts.  The cookie dough was like pulling cookies out of the oven before their time and throwing conventions about “done” and “undercooked” out the window.   How's a girl to decide?  

With a belly full of meaty, saucy, fried, and sweet goodness, I waddled back to the car. 

Lincoln sure knows how to show a gal a good time.   

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1 comment:

  1. LOOK AT THIS !!! Curry Fried Chick peas!!!


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