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July 05, 2011

Alice Eats: I Love Barbecue Festival

IMG_2491 Another summer, another chapter in my never-ending story of barbecue highs and lows. Saturday, July 2, I made the trek to Lake Placid for its annual I Love Barbecue Festival.

I wasn't the only Vermonter there. John Delpha of the Belted Cow Bistro was representing his team, I Que. Chittenden County teams Green Mountain Smokeshack and Sweet Breathe BBQ were also competing. Unfortunately, the guys were all taking it easy before competition heated up that evening and none were vending their wares to the public.

Substantially smaller than the Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue that takes place in Windsor each year at the end of July, only a few teams were selling food in Lake Placid.

IMG_2487 Delpha was able to point me in the direction of one of his friends who was, Jacked Up BBQ.

The team was already sold out of its famous chicken, but there were still plenty of brisket and ribs. Of course, I had to try both. I dove into the brisket first, which I ate in strands like spaghetti, twirling the meat around my fork. I would have preferred not to do this, but the puddle of grease in which the beef sat had rendered it so excessively juicy that there was no choice.

The ribs were better, though they too suffered somewhat from languishing in a chafing dish. They were finished with a dry rub primarily composed of sugar and IMG_2489 chile powder that was more than a little addictive. The texture was perfect, too, with meat stripping easily from the bone but not falling off. But, believe it or not, the best thing about Jacked Up wasn't the meat.

The beans were tender but not mushy, and sweet but far from saccharine. The coleslaw was a marvel. I usually have an aversion to the creamy kind, but this was so flavorful, I didn't mind. Heavily vinegared and dressed with chile powder and celery salt, it was one of the most complex, delicious slaws I've ever tasted. I only wished there had been more.

It's lucky I still had room, because the best was yet to come.

IMG_2490 The Pigasus competition, a people's-choice award based on a $3 serving of pulled pork and wings, was winding down. Most competitors had sold out by the time I was ready to partake, but luckily, Bastey Boys had not.

The wings were glazed in a dark, complex sauce which mixed beautifully with the smoke that burrowed deep into the chicken flesh. It was good, but something on the little plate was better.

The pulled pork looks a little weird, right? Yellow? Too finely chopped? After one bite, all my fears were put to rest. The meat itself was smokey and interspersed with a wonderful, roasty bark. But the sauce still owns a prime piece of real estate in my psyche.

It was mustard-based, tangy and slightly sweet, and I simply couldn't get enough. You better believe I filled out my Pigasus ballot with a 3, the highest rating. My score for the day was high, too, but I'm still counting the hours until I head down to Windsor for more 'cue.


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