Barbecue champion to rise from the ashes
Event includes kids’ crafts, culinary demonstrations, food vendors
When the smoke clears tomorrow afternoon at Eau Claire Festival Plaza, the 20th Annual Grand Champion of Alberta barbecue will be crowned. Thirtyfive teams from around the province and into the United States will have competed in a Four Meats Competition to determine who is the best barbecue chef in Alberta this year.
Yes, it’s time once again for BBQ on the Bow, Canada’s oldest barbecue competition.
The BBQ on the Bow event, like many others held across Canada and south of the border, features four meaty categories — chicken, pork ribs, pork butt and beef brisket — all slow-cooked over a low fire. It takes hours for the chefs to reach just the right texture and level of smokiness. Many will arrive sometime the night before and tend their barbecues and smokers through the dark hours, priming their meat for the competition.
Most of the chefs and their teams — they’re allowed three assistants — have been working on recipes and entering competitions for years. Their dream is to advance to the American Royal World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City and the Jack Daniels World Invitational in Lynchburg, Tennessee. All they have to do to move on to that level is win tomorrow’s event.
It’s been 19 years since the first BBQ on the Bow was held on Prince’s Island. Back then, a handful of fresh-faced barbecue teams competed for the first awards, judged by a handful of neophyte judges. Carol and Sandy Dougall oversaw the first few years of competition and established the BBQ on the Bow Society before handing the growing organization over to a new generation of barbecue enthusiasts.
BBQ on the Bow has survived the wonky weather of early September — it’s rained more than once and even snowed on occasion, a revelation to Texan competitors — and a move off the island to the Eau Claire Festival Market. And it’s grown into a terrific event with entertainment all day long.
This year, the festival part of the event includes kids crafts and storytelling, culinary demonstrations and food vendors including Holy Smoke BBQ pit, Big T’s, Toad ‘n Turtle Smoke Shack, Jelly Modern Donut, the Alberta Beef Tasting Trailer and Planet Foods. There will also be non-stop music including blues from Darren Johnson, Donald Ray Johnson and Jack Semple and his band.
BBQ on the Bow is free and runs tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Eau Claire Festival Market. Rain or shine, it’s one of my favourite days of the year.
While one big Calgary food event celebrates its second decade, another hopefully big Calgary food event is about to be born. The Sundown Chowdown, an evening of food trucks, night market and entertainment is set for Friday, Sept. 7 at the Calgary Farmers’ Market (CFM) at 510 77th Ave. S.E. The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m.
A dozen of Calgary’s food trucks will be selling their wares in CFM’s spacious parking lot while indoors, all 78 CFM vendors will remain open for the evening. Live music from the likes of Trinity Bradshaw, Rod Medwid and the duet of Jocelyn Alice and Lisa Jacobs will fill the air. The CFM is also hoping to have Village Brewery pour a few brews that evening and ATB is sponsoring a contest that will allow the winner to host a block party with their favourite food truck.
The trucks will compete for six highly coveted Golden Hubcap awards. Each truck will submit two dishes to a team of seasoned food professionals who will assess the foods and choose the winners. CFM vendors will also vie for their own awards — the Golden Spatulas. Using the same categories and criteria as for the trucks, the judges will assess the prepared foods sold at the market. Awards will be given to both the trucks and the CFM vendors for Best Meat Dish, Best Non-meat Dish, Best Sweet, Best Gutbuster, Best Use of Local Ingredients and Most Creative Dish.
Sundown Chowdown is free and should be a fun evening. For more info, including a full list of all participating trucks, check out calgaryfarmersmarket.ca.
Most of us think of Zinfandel as being a rather robust wine, a powerhouse juice that can take almost whatever you throw at it. You knock it back with some barbecued ribs. Or steak. Or a spicy sausage. Whatever.
Talty, however, elevates Zin to a completely new level of power, complexity and, indeed, elegance. This small (only six acres!) familyowned winery was created in 1997, in California’s Dry Creek Valley, a place that has long been famous for Zinfandel grapes. A little less than 800 cases of this wine were produced, from grapes grown on 48-year-old vines. Very little of it finds its way to Alberta; consider yourself lucky if you get your hands on a bottle to try.
It’s about 90 per cent Zinfandel, with a wee bit of Petite Sirah and Carignan added to the blend. Dark, delicious, with soft tannins, and spicy notes of cedar and cherries.
Price: About $48 at Highlander Wine & Spirits (16th Avenue N.W. and Marda Loop) and Silver Springs Liquor Store. Also on the wine list at Alloy.
Drink: Now, with venison, bison burgers, steak or Spolumbo’s mild Italian sausages. I’d love to try this wine again in four or five years. Cork closure.
This is not a wine for wine snobs or — despite the name — revolutionaries. This is a wine for the last camping trips of the season, for impromptu fall campfires in the back yard, for rowdy Saturday night parties and for those of us on a budget.
What to expect? A very easygoing red sipper, with mild tannins and lots of juicy, fruity flavours. A “new school wine,” according to the label. In other words, it’s a fun vino for parents needing an after-school break from the back-to-school chaos.
Price: About $13 a bottle at Bow Liquor on Bowness Road, BK Liquor on 16th Avenue N.W., select Sobeys Spirits and Sobeys Western Cellars locations, select Star Liquor locations, KJ Wines, Highlander Wine & Spirits, and Willow Park Wines & Spirits.
Drink: Now, with pizza, lasagna, burgers, steak, or just enjoy it by itself. Screw cap.
Jon Lord, BBQ on the Bow President, slices meat hot off his barbecue.