Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Maryland BBQ Bash- 8/14-8/15 2009
Things are running way too smooth…………
I tossed, turned, fretted and worried during the weeks leading up to the BBQ Bash. What would be the reaction to my blanket e mail informing folks that we would not be hosting the much anticipated party Friday night in Bel Air. Would I be shunned, scorned, stoned, or run out of town on a rail. The answer was none of the above. The overall reaction was that of understanding, support and well wishes. Gee, what a swell group of friends.
Jo and I took the trailer for the short drive to Bel Air Thursday evening and dropped it into our spot. Several teams were already on site while the set up crews were busy erecting fences, placing vendors and exhibitors. Friday was a scheduled day off for me. Al, Jo and I arrived at the site around 9 AM to begin to get things set up. In no time we had the site organized and were working on trimming the meats. Meat trimming went off without a hitch and we even had time to sit a spell and enjoy a bit of people watching. If you have never been to this contest and are in the area, it is a great venue with two day crowd totals over 20,000, meaning there are plenty of people to watch.
It was a beautiful summer evening, warm with a light breeze, couldn’t have been much better. We had some folks stop by, most hung around for a while then went on their way, certainly not any type of a distraction. By 8:30 or so, most folks cleared out and we were free to light the cookers and get things ready for the all night session that was ahead. Dean Ayers of Pork & Deans BBQ fame organized a team dinner for 9:00 Friday night. The spread that was put down was unbelievable. Many said that had never seen so much of a selection at a cooks dinner. What a feed.
Around 11:30 we took a walk around the contest and found most sites quiet and most cooks horizontal. A bit unusual, but not unheard of. We returned to our site and found our cooker purring along, topped her off with charcoal, then bedded down for the night. Wow, we might even get some sleep. I sat in my new zero gravity chair placed in front of the Tallboy and slept with one eye open. The Guru alarm never sounded the entire night, the cooker was dead on temp, no muss, no fuss.
Daybreak found the who are those guys? crew loading the ribs into the smoke. The big meats were on schedule and began to make their way onto the Cambro to be held until turn-in. The contest organizers put out a very nice continental breakfast that as far as I knew, had been previously unannounced. We noshed on bagels, muffins and sweet buns while our big meats finished their cook, right on schedule. The sauces were made, the chicken was prepped, so far, no problems, not even a hiccup. I even had time for a little late morning walk about. While drifting around exchanging pleasantries, in the back of my mind I was thinking, man, what would I give for some type of a problem. Not a big one, but something to knock the shine off of this morning and get us more focused.
I stopped by and wished my friends Dan & Jason with 3 Eyz BBQ good luck. Dan asked the inevitable question, “hows it going?” I proceeded to tell him the morning was running like a finely tuned engine, no problems, no troubles. As I railed on I could see the apprehension in Dan’s expression as I am sure he could hear the trepidation in my voice. Dan just stood there, shaking his head, “kiss of death” he was heard to say, “why don’t you go over there and cut yourself or drop something heavy on your foot, there is still time!”. We both had a good laugh, but deep down, I knew he was right.
I returned to the site to begin the chicken cook, again, the procedure was on auto pilot. My friend and cooking instructor Tom Meyer was joining us as a guest member on the team for this contest. He was a big help and jumped in like he had been prepping boxes all along. It seemed like the boxes went together without problems, although, we did venture into the backside of the turn-in window on several occasions, we never were really rushed.
Our stuff was in, we had no issues, no fights, no yelling, no disagreements, something just wasn’t right. I wasn’t very happy with what we sent to the judges, but that is another story. I ranked our submissions, pork, chicken, brisket, then ribs. After reviewing the results, I wasn’t far off. We did not get a call to the stage, at this contest; they call the top 8 spots. We finished 7th overall. We were the highest overall finish without a call to the stage. The next overall placement without a call was 16th. No complainants, just a good, solid, consistent cook, just no dingers, no homeruns. Its like we are hitting doubles, some triples, we are reliable, but can’t hit the long ball.
Rest assured, we will keep swinging, watching game film, practicing and working on our game. I don’t think we are far off, at least I hope we are not. What I am fairly certain of, another trouble/issue/problem free cook occurring during one of our remaining two contests for this year is not likely. Mr. Murphy, a longtime lurker throughout my entire life, will not permit that to happen. On the outside chance that he is asleep on the job, I know the gremlins are laying in wait just around the corner, just waiting for the chance to spring into action.