Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Food Review" Village of Trees RV Resort BBQ Cook-Off!

I received an invitation to be a judge at the 2nd Annual Village of Trees RV Resort’s Barbeque Cook-Off, and prior to the event a meeting was held by four Kansas City Barbeque Society certified judges with the purpose of educating us on the proper way to judge entries. The main points of the meeting were based on the realization that all of the contestants have spent countless hours and money refining their grilling skills for this very moment. The utmost respect to sampling all dishes must be given, therefore, there are rules. No talking while sampling the dishes. Always clean your palette before every sampling and never judge one dish from another, as each item must stand on its own merit. With that, one begins to see that there is more to grilling than meet the eye. The real action is in the preparation; and for some participants, the preparation has been occurring for years. Secrets, techniques and recipes handed down by generations, refined into an art form. One of the judges explained that refining his own technique has become a way of life for him and his family. When one thinks BBQ they often think of the cooking technique- “low and slow” which this judge says explains the very essence of why it is so enjoyable. Barbeque cannot be rushed and the time spent creating the smoky smell that lingers in the air causes mouthwatering anticipation of sharing a great meal, cooked from the grill…low and slow.
Village of Trees RV Resort- Travel Stop 216274 Highway 25, Declo
Winter Hours: 7 a.m.- 9 p.m./ Summer Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
Take out: 654-2133
Chicken, Pulled Pork, Pork Ribs and Brisket are judged upon appearance, taste, and texture. It is a blind tasting, which means that the judges do not know who cooked what item. In all categories there were entries that looked as though they were taken right out of a glossy picture from Bon Appetit magazine. It was obvious that much care had been taken into the consideration of plating and when its appearance makes one want to just dive in, that’s when they receive the highest score which is a 9. In taste, there are many variations from smoky, spicy, tangy, and sweet to citrus. For my palette, it is most pleasing when one taste does not overwhelm another. There were a few entries that made you want to finish off the whole item, plus lick your fingers, and when that occurred they received the highest score. There were also a few items that had such overwhelming taste that it overpowered the flavor of the meat itself and when that occurred it resulted in a lower score. Finally is texture, which is actually quite important in barbecue. With texture, one can tell if an item has been cooked too long or not long enough. For instance, in the category of ribs we often hear the phrase “fall off the bone tender”. This is actually not something one should strive to achieve and indicates that the item is overcooked. When biting into a pork rib, no more than the bite itself should come clean off the bone and when the bone is exposed to air, the juices should immediately oxidize. This indicates a perfectly cooked rib. When a combination of perfect appearance, taste, and texture occurs in one item, it’s pure magic! The great part about this event is that it was free to the public and if you wanted to do your own taste test, the cost was only $2 per plate. If you missed it this year, mark your calendars for the 3rd Annual Village of Trees Barbeque Cook-Off on July 30 & 31st of next year.

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