Posts Tagged ‘Brisket’

Perception never falls into the simple categorization of black versus white. Perception falls anywhere within a boundless spectrum of antipodes. The problem lies with people’s ability to conceive perceptions beyond their scope. You can ask a person what type of music they love the most, while the next person may loathe that type of music. Most people claim to not like country music, yet the truth reveals that they simply have no preference for it; however, few people actually get adamant about the music. Going beyond preferences commonly exists in food and beverages. Where one person may call something “the best,” another will claim something else as better. For example, my father swears by the $2 wine from Trader Joe’s, unable to accept that pricier fine wines taste better. Some people say that no other burger can top a common burger from corporate fast food or corporate restaurants. People truly get attached to their fast food burgers and refuse to believe that better burgers exist out there. Whether or not you claim to know about the best burger in the world, I encourage you to seek out these five burgers in the greater Los Angeles area this season and give them a try. Who knows – maybe you will alter your opinions after one bite!

5. Eat Chow‘s Chow BBQ Burger

Portion size means a lot to the typical person who goes out to eat. Fine-dining restaurants focus on quality over quantity, so while fine-dining entrées appear small, it makes up for it with outstanding flavor. Generally, people want that happy medium between fine-dining and fast food, a restaurant that serves high-quality yet affordable food, something that Eat Chow specializes in. Now with three locations in Orange County, Eat Chow does not boast too much, perhaps because their foods speaks for itself. Eat Chow takes common foods and makes them well, from their burgers to the sandwiches to the entrées and more. Clearly a lot of care has gone into the dishes, evident by how much of the food’s natural flavor one can taste. In addition to the heightened food quality, Eat Chow doles up generous portion sizes too, such as in their Chow BBQ Burger. This grass-fed chuck patty comes topped with housemade barbecue sauce, smoked gouda cheese, crispy onion strings, bacon, mayonnaise, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes on a brioche bun. You can take on this huge burger for just $13.

4. Ocean Diner‘s Kiss Me Kate Burger

Different ingredients yield different flavors to the palate. Some ingredients have mild flavors, while some ingredients have extreme flavors. Some of the extreme-flavored ingredients may come with inauspicious side effects, such as spicy foods attacking the taste buds or foods invoking halitosis, or bad breath. Some of the latter ingredients taste so good that people often endure the side effects, such as garlic. For a calamity of ingredients that can cause bad breath, Ocean Diner has found just the combination. From the outside, Ocean Diner looks like your typical small-town American diner. However, Ocean Diner truly has some amazing things going on in here, such as their Kiss Me Kate Burger. This specialty burger comes with bacon-roasted garlic puree, grilled onions, and goat cheese. This $11.95 comes served with French fries, mashed potatoes, brown rice, coleslaw, or cottage cheese. As a special menu item, it will not last forever, so head over to Ocean Diner fast before this burger leaves their menu!

3. green2Go‘s Grass-Fed Bison Burger

A simple human truth states that people desire control in their lives. When someone lacks control over a situation, they may start to feel stress or panic. Give someone control, and they feel a lot more comfortable over their situation. This applies to all walks of life, including food, and green2Go gives you that control over your food. green2Go uses only the freshest all-natural ingredients to ensure pure flavor and nutrition. While you may certainly order any of their items as the menu describes, green2Go proudly offers a Build-Your-Own section where you get to dress up your favorite menu items, such as their Grass-Fed Bison Burger. This bison patty comes on your choice of brioche or squaw bread, or a lettuce-wrap, organic lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a dill pickle. From there, you can select up to four add-ons to accompany your plate, which you can pick by walking up to the BYO bar to the left of the front counter. For $16, this burger comes to you with your choice of a side salad or roasted mini potatoes.

2. Abricott‘s Lemongrass Chicken Burger

Who says that a burger must contain a ground beef patty? Not all burgers must contain beef.  We have seen multiple different types of burgers, such as turkey burgers, salmon burgers, and even vegetarian patty burgers. We rarely ever see a chicken burger, much less a chicken burger done right. Abricott would like to turn that perception around. Known for their French-Asian cuisine, Abricott remains a staple in local Pasadena food, and has attracted the attention of locals and travelers alike. Pasadena brings in huge amounts of travelers between the convention center and the Rose Bowl, and travelers often want to savor the local flavor. Abricott’s menu covers multiple forms of food, including their Lemongrass Chicken Burger. Not just any old burger, this burger contains a ground chicken patty seasoned with lemongrass, topped with tomato, onions, lettuce, and mayonnaise served on a bun with coconut tamarind sauce. At $10.95, you can taste this unique burger that few other places can match in flavor.

1. Gus’s Barbecue‘s Brisket Burnt End Burger

When one orders a burger, one can typically expect a ground beef patty supported by various toppings, correct? The beef patty usually stars as the protagonist in the story known as the burger, but once in a while a burger may feature more than one co-protagonist. For a story featuring more than one star, we turn to Gus’s Barbecue in South Pasadena. A local barbecue legend, Gus’s Barbecue has done barbecue right for such a long time that they know exactly how to apply their prized meats to other forms of food. For example, take their Brisket Burnt End Burger. This beef burger comes topped with beef brisket burnt ends, cheese sauce, pickled jalapeños, and mustard on a toasted pretzel bun. All burgers come with your choice of French fries, sweet potato fries, potato salad, cole slaw, or BBQ baked beans. You can pound this mound of meat at Gus’s Barbecue for $13.95.

The 5th Annual Dana Point State BBQ Championships returned to Sea Terrace Park in Dana Point this past Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Over a hundred teams of Grill Masters from across the country gathered here to serve up their finest BBQ to win yet another coveted award for bragging rights as well as cash, prizes, titles, and fame. Free to attend for all ages, visitors could purchase sample tickets for $2, with all proceeds going towards the VFW charity, and use those tickets to exchange for samples from any of the participants. Visitors found all sorts of BBQ meats here, from pulled pork to ribs to brisket to bacon and more. A true test to the home Grill Master, this competition does not allow anything corporate to set foot in this area – only amateur or local groups could enter, and all foods come from non-corporate sources, such as locally-raised meat or homemade BBQ sauces.

I have attended this BBQ event ever since they got started, and I plus many others believe that it disappointed us all this year. The past two years saw the expansion of the event area to an additional area of the park to the east section, which also added a craft beer tasting component. Just like the barbecue tasting, visitors would purchase beer tickets at $2 each, and each ticket would redeem four ounce’s worth of beer. So what happened this year? First off, the organizers completely got rid of the additional craft beer tasting section, opting for a Budweiser beer truck near the entrance. That entire eastern section belonged only to barbecue teams who entered the competition, and not a single team in this section offered any food to visitors. Speaking of offering food, though the event website advertised over a hundred barbecue teams, less than 20 of them had public tastings. For an event that draws over a thousand visitors annually, not even 20 teams can accommodate all of them. Also take into consideration that more than half of the teams offering food did not have any food ready until 1pm at the earliest. The high-demand meats like ribs and brisket did not come out until 1:45pm due to judging, and that caused abnormally long lines at almost all the teams. Not surprisingly, these teams ran out of food within minutes because of everyone waiting at all those booths. Despite the event running until 5pm, nobody had any food left by 3pm. As a minor complaint, many people did not like that such small food samples cost them $2 each.

I love barbecue, and I have loved this event for the past few years. Sadly, this year’s competition left a sour taste in many people’s mouths. I hope the organizers realize that things went wrong during this year’s event, and that they fix it for next year’s event. Fortunately, they have good reviews of the previous years to ride on. For next year, I hope to see a lot more barbecue teams serving food to the public and not just like 20 out of 100. I also hope to see the return of the craft beer garden, and not just a truck driven there by Straub.

The hot summer days lend perfectly to grilling weather. As an American tradition, people officially start the grilling season on Memorial Day weekend, as that signifies many things. First off, on that weekend, Americans celebrate an important federal holiday to celebrate and honor the lives of those lost while serving for the United States Armed Forces. The weather starts to significantly heat up by this weekend, following the inconsistent weather of April and much of May. As a result of the warmer weather, Americans take advantage of a holiday weekend off of work until the next federal holiday, Independence Day, to gather some friends & family for a party involving grilling. When thinking about grilling for a group of people, what food exactly comes to mind? All sorts of foods can cook on a grill, from meat to vegetables and more. However, across all people who utilize their grill, barbecue meats rank as the top favorite food to cook on the grill. While beef burgers get consumed the most, other forms of beef also see grill time, such as ribs, tri-tip, and brisket. For enhanced flavor, use a fatty meat since much of the fat will drip out in the grill, so you will want meat higher in fat to preserve its moisture. For the perfect example of moist, juicy meat, look no further than Smoke City Market.

Out in the San Fernando Valley, the people love their BBQ meats. Plenty of BBQ restaurants exist in the San Fernando Valley, and it takes a while to visit them all to evaluate their meat. If you seek a great spot to start, check out Smoke City Market in Sherman Oaks. Smoke City Market serves up traditional Texas-style BBQ with full attention and care to highlighting the natural flavor of the meat. As a BBQ restaurant, they carry a typical lineup of meat types: ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork, sausages, plus a few extras such as pastrami and turkey. Sides include the typical coleslaw, beans, chili, mac & cheese, and more. Their care to the natural quality of the meat comes out the best in their Beef Brisket (Moist). Unlike their Brisket (Lean) that removes the fat, the moist brisket uses the meat’s natural fat for flavoring. This preserves the texture of the meat so that each bite carries a rigid bite, where every nook & cranny holds a pocket of… fat, for lack of better words. Also if you arrive at Smoke City Market early enough, you may receive the end cuts of the brisket that holds the most flavor. If you manage to acquire the brisket ends, you may never want brisket from another restaurant ever again.

Got a hankering for delicious beef brisket? Make an appointment to visit Smoke City Market to savor it, and consider bringing friends & family along too. For more media on Smoke City Market, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter for news about menu items and upcoming events. Additionally, download their mobile app, available for Apple and Android devices, to preview their menu on the go and make preorders.

Barbeque exists all around the world in multiple forms. Most Americans visualize barbecue as Southern style, such as smoked chicken, pulled pork, ribs, tri-tip, brisket, and so on. In Mexican cuisine, grilled meats have the word asado/a in it. Korean culture has introduced the western world to Korean BBQ. Pacific islanders have graced the world with their renditions of barbecue that include short ribs and Kalua pork. Regardless of the nation of origin, people worldwide recognize the general savoriness of barbecue foods. Due to the general craving of it, some crafty people have started to learn how to utilize every piece of the meat. While some methods go to rather extreme lengths to utilize all parts of the meat (see Rocky Mountain oysters), most people prefer to consume these extraneous cuts of meat. Commonly, Southern style BBQ restaurants may serve rib tips and burnt ends. If you have yet to try either of the aforementioned, you owe it to yourself to seek it out soon, such as at Smoqued BBQ.

With a handle on what the people want, Smoqued BBQ ensures that they rarely run out of customer favorites. This BBQ restaurant in Old Towne Orange delivers classic BBQ dishes using their own recipes, while slinging out over a dozen different types of craft beers at any given moment. Their extensive food menu carries multiple variations of their signature BBQ meats, from brisket to pulled pork to tri-tip to ribs and more. Perhaps the one dish that brings customers back the most resides on their appetizers section. In the appetizers section lies the appropriately named Brisket Burnt Ends. Sure they list this in the appetizers section, and they present it in a way that multiple people can share it. However, after you bite into one of these juicy morsels, you will want the plate all to yourself. This half-pound mound of meaty goodness consists of double-smoked brisket cube ends, which they caramelize in their house BBQ sauce. For burnt ends, the pieces retain their juiciness, as the seared caramelization of the sauce on the outside seals the meat’s natural juices inside. As if the outside did not contain enough heavenly flavor, the meat itself gives a rich, hearty, beefy taste that only true grillmasters can produce.

Smoqued BBQ vows to always have the Brisket Burnt Ends available for customers to order. However, if they get slammed on any given day, they may run out by the end of the day. As a result, if you desire some top-notch burnt ends, head on over to Smoqued BBQ in Orange as early in the day as possible, and order up some burnt ends for yourself for $13. The price tag may appear steep, but once you get hooked, you may quickly overlook that.

The 4th Annual Dana Point State BBQ Championships returns to Sea Terrace Park (33501 Niguel Rd, Dana Point, CA 92629) this Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Over a hundred teams of Grill Masters from across the country gather here to serve up the finest BBQ visitors will ever taste, as these maestros of meat compete for cash, prizes, titles, and bragging rights. Free to attend for all ages, visitors can purchase sample tickets for $2, with all proceeds going towards the VFW charity, and use those tickets to exchange for samples from any of the participants. Visitors will find all sorts of BBQ meats here, from pulled pork to ribs to brisket to bacon and more. A true test to the home Grill Master, this competition does not allow anything corporate to set foot in this area – only amateur or local groups could enter, and all foods come from non-corporate sources, such as locally-raised meat or homemade BBQ sauces.

As a free and all-ages event, visitors should definitely prepare themselves properly for this event. Limited free parking exists at a lot sectioned off of Ritz Carlton Dr, with a tunnel that leads to the park. Most guests should seek the overflow parking at Dana Hills High School, and take a free shuttle that will ferry visitors to and from the two sites. Please bring plenty of cash, as nobody will accept credit or debit, and I do not recall if I saw an ATM here last year. This event takes place purely outdoors on a very hot day with minimal shade, so dress appropriately, have sunscreen available, and remain hydrated. As a public park, visitors may bring their pets to the event – I advise anyone doing so to remain courteous, never lose sight of your pets, and keep your pets close to you.

Beyond the BBQ area, visitors would find an entire second half to the fest, filled with more booths to check out. From merchandise vendors to service providers to other food vendors to the kids’ activities center and more, visitors can fall back to this second half when in need of a break from consuming all that BBQ meat. For the adults, a row of craft beer & wine booths, featuring some of the country’s favorite breweries & wineries, will establish itself across from the music stage. Small 4oz beer pours cost $2 each, while large 12oz beer pours cost $6, and visitors can walk freely around the festival with drinks in hand.

The BBQ area covers a wide expanse of Sea Terrace Park, allowing for over a hundred entrants to set up and grill up their finest meats. A regular visitor may feel overwhelmed at the available choices, and will want to try everything. Like any sort of festival like this, it helps to have a plan going into it. Doing prior research may leave a visitor empty-handed, as the website does not list the names of all the entrants. Instead, for a BBQ festival like this, it helps to look for key words among all the participants, based on what you desire. In my situation, I sought anyone with a good cut of brisket, especially end cuts or burnt ends. Anyone with candied bacon also stood out to me, so I prioritized those two items. Last year, I ended up sampling the following:

I had liked Twisted Brisket‘s Brisket Ends so much that I wanted to return to them to use the last of my sample tickets to get them again. However, they had run out of ends by the time I returned, so I settled for regular brisket, plus some candied bacon that they had just finished preparing.

Resources:
Information Page
Competition Results

The Dana Point State BBQ Championships has everything that food fans will love. With this much tantalizing meat around, the scent would drive anyone crazy enough to crave more. By opening up the competition to the rest of the country, the organizers ensure inviting only the best of the best not only to compete for the prizes, but to serve the visitors the best of BBQ to keep them coming back for more. By making admission free, this gives visitors the freedom to explore at their leisure, and only buy as much as they want to consume. With Fall having just started, this may motivate you to get out there and grill something up for yourself, friends, family, or more.

2013 came and went, and with it came dozens of new food trends that surfaced around the world. This year, people around the world saw a resurgence of traditional foods resurrected in another form, in one way or another. For example, the cronut fad (croissant doughnut) got everyone talking about this hybrid of a pastry, and soon social media networks like Instagram exploded with tons of posts featuring said pastry. This year, we also saw the revival of ramen, both traditionally and modernized. Ramen places like Shin-Sen-Gumi sees lines of people for hours, while any place daring enough to craft the infamous ramen burger will see lines for days. Some past food trends have managed to persist up until now, such as breakfast any time of the day, juice cleanses, food trucks, locally sourced ingredients, “housemade” foods, and especially kale. In any case, just like time itself, tastes and flavors constantly progress, leading to the progress of menus at many different restaurants. People go out to eat all the time, but sometimes certain foods really stick in their heads. Observe below five eats from Southern California that really stuck in my head this year.

5. The Griddle Café‘s Red Velvet PanCAKE

People truly cannot get enough of their breakfast foods. The world does not tote breakfast as the most important meal of the day for no reason. Breakfast provides the necessary jump-start of nutritional fuel humans need to tackle the day. The nutrients in a person’s breakfast dictate how that person may feel the rest of the day. Eat a protein & vitamin-packed breakfast, and go on with the energy of a race car. Sometimes, one just wants to indulge for breakfast. In that case, look no further than The Griddle Café in Hollywood. This iconic breakfast spot always has lines out their doors for hours, and not merely for breakfast. The Griddle Café looks at traditional breakfast items, and takes them to a brand new level. For example, their Red Velvet PanCAKE combines horizontal progression with vertical progression. Not only do you get the charm, visual appearance, and flavor of red velvet in a pancake, but it comes out thick like a cake. Just for the thrill of it, they top it off with swirls of cream cheese icing and powdered sugar. Not surprisingly, diners may not orders this for take-out. How could anyone attempt to carry this thing out? Freshness should mean something to anyone dining out, and Griddle Café does not skimp out on freshness. For the best breakfast in town, give yourself some time to wait for The Griddle Café.

4. Lazy Ox Canteen‘s Pig Ear Chicharrones

When reading a menu, the product description does more than paint a picture of the item. In some basic cases, the name of the item sufficiently states the nature of the item. For all other times, consumers require an accurate product description to understand the item. In rare cases, the name could potentially turn off some customers. In a classical “do not judge a book by its cover” moment, we take a look at a particular dish from Lazy Ox Canteen in Downtown Los Angeles. Not to knock on Lazy Ox – as one of my favorite restaurants in Downtown Los Angeles, they bring some of the most amazing dishes to the table that I have ever seen. One time, I brought my sister here, and the moment we saw Pig Ear Chicharrones on the menu, I immediately ordered it, while she turned away. No one should feel disgusted by seeing the word “ear” in the name, as the dish tastes like pork, not ears. These fried goodies come with tomatillo salsa and harissa sauce. For as thin as they appear, these chicharrones pack quite a bit of meat in every bite. Better yet, anyone can score these chicharrones for 50% off during Happy Hour. Do not let the name fool you – pork still tastes like pork, but the way Lazy Ox prepares it, your taste buds will thank you for this delicacy.

3. Scott’s Restaurant‘s Calamari

Ever come across something so butchered across America that people immediately draw a picture in their minds when they hear the word? For example, when people hear “burgers,” they usually picture the small dinky burgers from fast food chains, not the gourmet burgers from some restaurants. When people hear “pizza,” they picture large pepperoni pizzas, not the individual-size Neapolitan pizza found at Italian eateries. When people hear “calamari,” they picture small onion rings. We must teach ourselves to shed these preconceived notions and open up our minds to new visions while dropping our expectations. Now in 2013, we should expect to drop all of our expectations, and observe food the way it should taste, not how it appears. When you find yourself in Scott’s Restaurant, expect to receive a fantastic meal unlike what typical restaurants may serve you. The level of quality behind Scott’s exceeds that of conventional “steak & seafood” restaurants with their use of ingredients direct from local farms. As such, their prices match the effort they go to serve you such tasty meals. For a tasting that will not break your bank, check out their appetizer menu, which lists a handful of seafood appetizers like their Calamari. Whereas regular restaurants serve calamari plainly fried, Scott’s gives you a plate of calamari lightly fried, but dressed with lemon, garlic, shallots, and a spicy provencal sauce. This creates a combination of tastes that require no additional dipping sauces, as all the flavor you need comes right there on that plate. Feel free to have a seat on the bar/lounge side to order this and a drink, as you receive the same service there, but at a quicker response rate.

2. Spring Street Smoke House‘s Burnt Ends

Certain regional dishes often get imitated, but never successfully duplicated. For example, the Philly Cheesesteak does not gets its name simply from its origin – only the real thing comes from Philadelphia, and nowhere else in the world can anyone obtain an authentic cheesesteak other than Philadelphia. Many other types of food receive some attention from places far from its origin, but sadly cannot compete with the original. Many people believe they understand true southern-style BBQ, which, in the United States, originated on the east coast. Sadly, tons of “southern BBQ” restaurants exist in California that come nowhere close to the real thing found in the originating regions like Memphis, Carolina, or even the midwest. Once in a while, a true gem shines out of the pack, such as Spring Street Smoke House in Downtown Los Angeles. As one of the few BBQ restaurants in Southern California doing BBQ right, Spring Street Smoke House takes what we love about southern-style BBQ and applies it to a Southern California setting, complete with a fine selection of local craft beers on tap. Among the menu of smoked meats like pulled pork and brisket, Spring Street Smoke House features specials like their Burnt Ends plate. Diners may choose a 1/2 pound or full pound of these crispy trimmings from the ends of their smoked brisket, and these come smothered in BBQ sauce along with a pickle and a choice of two sides. In one dish alone, anyone ordering this will experience crispy, meaty, tangy, smokey, salty, crunchy, and lots of other words that can describe the perfect BBQ plate. Head on in to Spring Street Smoke House soon and order this baby up, along with a nice cold pint of your favorite local craft beer.

1. Crazee Burger‘s Muddy Pig

Places with the craziest ideas often receive labels from the public. Depending on how unconventional things appear to the public, the public may embrace it or question it. As long as a strange concept gets marketed properly, the public generally will keep an open mind to it. When Slater’s 50/50 first described their concept of a burger made of half bacon and half beef, the public initially started skeptical, but soon came to embrace it. Other fads like cronuts and ramen burgers relied on the internet to virally market those concepts. The right marketing can quickly turn the tide for any business, regardless of how much effort the marketing receives. If the locals love it, the locals equate to free marketing, and locals love Crazee Burger. This small burger shack in North Park, San Diego has garnered quite a following of fans that has stretched across the nation with their penchant for exotic, unconventional burgers. They embrace their given name of Crazee with the odd quirks found only here, such as a Happy Hour that runs from 2:23 to 6:19, instead of the traditional “on the hour” start and end times. Even more crazy lies in their menu of over 20 burgers, which features odd combinations and exotic meats. So far, the craziest burger I have tried, the Muddy Pig, comes with Nutella, bacon, and caramelized plantains. Breakfast burgers definitely exist, but none have come close to this sweet deal of a meal. Unfortunately, Crazee Burger currently does not list the Muddy Pig on their menu anymore, so if you seek this burger, I suggest calling them to see if they can still create it. Even if they no longer make this burger, the rest of their menu contains plenty of other great choices, so pop on in soon, especially during Happy Hour, and order up a burger and beer, and experience Crazee for yourself.

With a cold winter approaching, what do we as humans seek out to escape those unfavorable conditions? Usually a blanket or a nice warm bed will do the trick, but most people cannot just carry a bed around everywhere. When the cold weather has people down, they seek warm, comforting food and drinks to warm out the body. A hot drink such as coffee or tea may make you feel warm, while something heavier like soup or noodles will retain the heat better. When people think of warm and comforting food, they will likely think of comfort food – food that we enjoyed while younger that made us feel good. Grilled cheese and tomato soup make for great examples of comfort food. In today’s culinary world, every chef and cook has placed their own spin on classics, bringing traditional comfort food to the table using exquisite ingredients or preparation styles. One can find a grilled cheese around every nook and cranny, or just wander around Orange County until Porko Rico BBQ comes into sight.

After an exciting first month in business, the Porko Rico BBQ food truck has not only acquired a generous following, but has launched a few new items for their current menu. Currently roaming in Orange County, Porko Rico BBQ specializes in Southern-style BBQ with a Caribbean spin. The overall vibe of Porko Rico BBQ has changed over the past month, now that not only does the menu fit the theme, but the staff fit the theme as well. Their Pulled Pork Sandwich that I reviewed last month now goes by the name Pillager Pulled Pork. They have introduced some new items to their menu as well, such as their Shipwreck Grilled Cheese. This meaty sandwich comes with tender brisket, fire-roasted tomatoes, coconut pesto, and muenster cheese, all on buttered & grilled toast. At first bite, you can immediately taste the beef, accompanied by the pesto. The brisket just oozes out natural meat juices, exhibiting its freshness. The pesto stands out with its use of coconut in the ingredients, meshing well with the fire-roasted tomatoes for a balance of flavors to highlight the beef.

You can crush your own Shipwreck Grilled Cheese for just $9 from this Orange County food truck. Why look anywhere else for a great grilled cheese sandwich? Stick around for a bit, and Porko Rico BBQ will eventually come to an area in Orange County near you.

Despite the changing seasons, Americans still consider this time of the year as part of grilling season, which apparently does not end until Thanksgiving weekend. As such, we can still enjoy the season’s best in barbecue and grilled meats, such as at the 3rd Annual Dana Point State BBQ Championships. Having wrapped up this past Saturday at Sea Terrace Park in Dana Point, this BBQ festival & competition saw over 100 teams of Grill Masters gather from around the country to serve up their finest BBQ and compete for cash, prizes, and titles. Free to attend for all ages, visitors purchased sample tickets for $2, with all proceeds going towards the VFW charity, and used those tickets to exchange for samples from any of the participants. Visitors could find all sorts of BBQ meats here, from pulled pork to ribs to brisket to bacon and more. A true test to the home Grill Master, this competition did not allow anything corporate to set foot in this area – only amateur or local groups could enter, and all foods served had to come from non-corporate sources, such as locally-raised meat or homemade BBQ sauces.

Beyond the BBQ area, visitors could find an entire second half to the fest, filled with more booths to check out. From merchandise vendors to service providers to other food vendors to the kids’ activities center and more, visitors could fall back to this second half when in need of a break from consuming all that BBQ meat. For the adults, a row of craft beer & wine booths, featuring some of the country’s favorite breweries & wineries, established itself across from the music stage. Small 4oz beer pours cost $2 each, while large 12oz beer pours cost $6, and visitors could walk freely around the festival with drinks in hand.

The BBQ area covered a wide expanse of Sea Terrace Park, allowing for over a hundred entrants to set up and grill up their finest meats. A regular visitor may feel overwhelmed at the available choices, and would want to try everything. Like any sort of festival like this, it helps to have a plan going into it. Doing prior research may leave a visitor empty-handed, as the website does not list the names of all the entrants. Instead, for a BBQ festival like this, it helps to look for key words among all the participants, based on what you desire. In my situation, I sought anyone with a good cut of brisket, especially end cuts or burnt ends. Anyone with candied bacon also stood out to me, so I prioritized those two items. Although I had countless entrants to choose from, I eventually ended up sampling the following:

I had liked Twisted Brisket‘s Brisket Ends so much that I wanted to return to them to use the last of my sample tickets to get them again. However, they had run out of ends by the time I returned, so I settled for regular brisket, plus some candied bacon that they had just finished preparing.

Resources:
Information Page
Competition Results

The Dana Point State BBQ Championships has everything that food fans will love. With this much tantalizing meat around, the scent would drive anyone crazy enough to crave more. By opening up the competition to the rest of the country, the organizers ensure inviting only the best of the best not only to compete for the prizes, but to serve the visitors the best of BBQ to keep them coming back for more. By making admission free, this gives visitors the freedom to explore at their leisure, and only buy as much as they want to consume. With Fall having just started, this may motivate you to get out there and grill something up for yourself, friends, family, or more. Keep this BBQ Fest in your calendar for next year, as you will not want to miss this host of a roast.

People love to go out to eat all the time. More often than not, time plays an important limitation on the ability to seek out a place to go eat. Time also plays an important role when eating at home, as that involves prep, cooking, and cleaning time. As an element not to squander, everyone should consider time an intangible measure of money. When considering food, do you also consider the time necessary to cook the food? While fast food takes little time to make, the quality comes nowhere close to restaurant quality. Even at restaurants, people act impatient when food takes longer than 15 minutes to arrive at the table. They do not realize that great quality food requires time to prepare and cook. If plausible, food should cook slowly over a period of a handful of hours. Crock pots exist for the home cook, but what do you do if you go out to a restaurant? Most servers bear a commitment to serve guests in a timely manner, meaning food cannot take too long to cook. Slow-cooked foods absorb the most flavor and end up at the perfect texture, and the folks at Hopscotch Tavern have honed in on that concept and delivered it in individual plates.

Nestled in historic Downtown Fullerton, Hopscotch Tavern recently opened as a craft beer & whisky bar emphasizing slow-cooked foods. With a wide selection of craft beers and whiskys from around the world, Hopscotch caters not only to the after-dark crowd, but those seeking a wonderful meal as if cooked in a crock pot at home. The food menu includes appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, entrées, and desserts, but their BBQ takes the place as the centerpiece of the menu. BBQ items consist of St. Louis Ribs, Pulled Pork, and Brisket. Ordered as 1/2 rack/pound or full rack/one pound, these BBQ meats come served a la carte, simply with house pickles, crispy onions, and house BBQ sauce. The nature of these slow-cooked meats gives it an incredibly tender texture and juicy meaty flavor. If you order the Brisket, eat it immediately to preserve the tenderness of the meat. Allowing it to sit a few minutes allows the outer pieces to cool down, losing its tenderness, while the deeper pieces remain tender. Because they come a la carte, I suggest ordering an appetizer or side to go along with the Brisket, of which I recommend trying the White Hominy Cheesy Grits. Really though, you cannot go wrong with anything you order from Hopscotch. Their slow-cooked foods will remind you of home-cooked food, like mom made it. Come on in and taste what comfort feels like.