Monday, June 13, 2011

To Beef or Not to Beef

This past weekend was the Texas Pete Twin City Ribfest in Winston-Salem, N.C. I had a real bee in my bonnet to go ... so I did. As it turns out, it wasn't the greatest experience. This was due mainly to the high price of admission, lack of proper organization and absence of secondary vendors. The food, however, was quite good. And, I got to sample beef ribs for the first time (as opposed to pork), so I'll consider it a win.

Unfortunately, I only had ribs from one of the pit masters. The festival sells "sampler" tickets, which allow you to taste a rib sample from each booth, but apparently they ran out on the first day of the festival. And since ribs are expensive and I'm not a Rockefeller, I couldn't afford to buy 10 half racks of ribs. So, I ended up at this stop:

You gotta love their sign: "I'm from Texas. What country are y'all from?" Anyway, Texas Thunder appealed to me because, as I mentioned, they had beef ribs, which I've wanted to try. (Texans have very peculiar ideas about barbecue and ribs being beef rather than pork, which challenge my North Carolina sensibilities.) And I have to say, beef is very good. I still prefer pork, but beef will do in a pinch.

The particular beef I had from Texas Thunder was very good. It was a little fattier than I'm used to in ribs. But, frankly, the fat adds to the flavor, so I'm not complaining too much. I also thought there was a hint of an excellent rub or sauce that I felt they could have been heavier with. My taste buds wanted a little more. Overall, though, still quite good.

A few other stops I wanted to make were Carolina Rib King (Spartanburg, S.C.):

Porky Chicks (Fayeteville, Ark.):

And Big Boned BBQ (Hixson, Tenn):

Check out those trophies!

This year's winner, however, (because the ribfest is also a competition) was the local Bib's Downtown. I look forward to trying them out soon--and without having to pay an admission price!

For a more comprehensive rundown of each pit master at this year's festival/competition, check out The "Q" Review. And I'm not sure if the BBQ Jew will have a review up this year or not, but he was a judge at last year's ribfest and wrote about it here.

So, would I recommend Twin City Ribfest? No, not until they can get better organized and offer more for admission. Would I recommend beef ribs? That's a firm "yes." They're different, but they're still very good. At least Texas Thunder's were.

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