I've had to take a few days to recover and let my thoughts settle after the 3rd Annual Houston Barbecue Festival. Though I was on site for almost 30 straight hours, it still seems like it all went by so quickly. So I spent the past few days reflecting on the event and the people, and what it means for Houston and BBQ in our area in general.
A written report, even with photos, will never be able to capture the true essence and spirit of this significant gathering, what it means for Houston and its diverse BBQ community, and all the great people I met and was able to share the experience with over a two-day period. The volunteers I worked beside who gave their time and their sweat and their muscle to make sure this was a successful experience for all those attending were amazing. Our reward? Seeing all the guests "ooh" and "aah" over the offerings of the talented BBQ pitmasters and their crews, hearing people laugh and share stories about that one "amazing bite", and maybe getting a chance to sample a few bites here and there ourselves.
|J.C. and Kat going over last-minute details with some of the volunteers|
|J.R. and Richard, off on another mission for the set up|
People often refer to the blogger community with disdain--we're "just a bunch of BBQ groupies" or "hangers-on", or "all hat, no cattle", as they used to say. One thing for sure--I would not do this, or get involved in something like the Houston Barbecue Festival, if I wasn't truly proud of our Houston-area BBQ, or I didn't believe in what great BBQ represents to Texas, both culturally and socially. I wouldn't do it if I didn't believe in my ever-increasing BBQ family and want them to succeed. My hope is that my involvement and what I write and what I share on social media helps bring positive attention and respect to Houston BBQ and its people. Houston deserves it, the pitmasters and families that have toiled in this business for many years deserve it, and the young, upcoming, creative pitmasters deserve it too. You are all doing great things, and need to be recognized, locally and nationally. And the Houston Barbecue Festival is just the kind of venue to help move one of our greatest food assets even more into the spotlight.
|Blood Bros. BBQ, young BBQ gunslingers in Houston|
If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, some of these pics might be repeats for you. Here are a few of these, plus more of my favorite shots from this event.
|Patrick Feges firing up his burn barrel to make coals for his whole hog cook|
|Quy of Blood Bros. BBQ getting brisket ready for the pit|
|Texas sunset, night cook crews starting to ramp up their efforts for the big day|
|Night cook, NRG Stadium|
|Hog box, burn barrel, smoke, and fog moving in|
|Burn barrel, hog box, smoke, Pappa Charlies and Roegels beyond|
|Taking a break at the night cook, and a surprise visit from Chef Erin!|
|Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue getting a hand from friend Billy Durney of Hometown BBQ in Brooklyn, NY|
|Brothers in BBQ|
|@BBQBryan, rockin' the Google Glass. Danny of Texas Brew & BBQ beyond.|
|Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly with Wayne Kammerl of The Brisket House|
|Greg Gatlin of Gatlin's BBQ, always with a smile, lovin' what he does|
|Thomas Abramowicz of The Beast (Paris, France), with Daniel Vaughn and David Hale Smith|
|Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ with half of his whole hog from Black Hill Ranch|
|Lily Jang and Kelley Louis, friends having a good time.|
|Spring Creek Barbeque|
|Whole hog from Feges BBQ|
|Beautiful boneless beef rib burnt ends from Killen's BBQ|
|Boneless beef rib burnt end, and sausage, from Killen's BBQ|
|44 Farms beef sparerib from Tin Roof BBQ|
|Fried corn-on-the-cob from Ray's BBQ Shack|
|Boudin, Ray's BBQ Shack|
|44 Farms beef ribs by Blood Bros. BBQ|
|Killen's BBQ preps boneless beef short ribs for burnt ends|
|Brisket-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapenos from Spring Creek Barbeque|
In summary, here is a short list of a few of my more memorable bites from this year's Festival:
- Brisket, overall: Pappa Charlie's Barbeque, Blood Bros. BBQ, Louie Mueller Barbecue
- Brisket, lean: Roegel's Barbecue, hands down.
- Sausage: Killen's BBQ, followed closely by The Brisket House and Southside Market and BBQ
- Lamb: chile rubbed lamb sliders from Pappa Charlie's, and lamb pops from Louie Mueller Barbecue
- Unique Beef bites: 44 Farms beef sparerib from Tin Roof BBQ, beef belly from Killen's BBQ, barbacoa from Gerardo's, brisket tacos from El Burro & the Bull
- Unique Pork: whole hog from Feges BBQ, and the boudin-stuffed pork roll from Corkscrew BBQ
- Pork Spareribs: Gatlin's BBQ, The Brisket House, Brooks' Place
- Turkey: Pappa Charlie's, and Tin Roof BBQ
- Memorable sides: fried mac-n-cheese brisket balls from Oak Leaf Smokehouse, bacon-wrapped brisket stuffed jalapenos from Spring Creek BBQ, fried corn-on-the-cob from Ray's BBQ Shack, roasted cream corn from Blood Bros. BBQ
Yes, our BBQ is spread out all over the place, and sometimes our nightmare traffic makes it hard to get to. Guess what--big cities have traffic, but so do the smaller cities (have you tried driving around Austin lately?). It's 50 miles from Corkscrew to Killen's, two of our more popular local destinations. If you're from out of town, it can be tough if you want to hit more than one of the more popular BBQ spots, unless you happen to be here for a few days. There are great places in between, and despite their recent rise in popularity, they tend to be known to a limited number of folks. Hopefully, the Houston Barbecue Festival brought some of these places to the attention of many more people in our area and beyond. Make it a point to seek these places out; they're open most days, and rarely will you find the long lines you see at the better-known joints. And I'll let you in on a little secret: there are even more great BBQ places in our area than featured here or at the Festival.
If you need help finding them, let me know.
I promise you won't be disappointed.
|That's a wrap for this year. Can't wait until the 2016 Houston BBQ Festival!|
All pictures (c) Scott Sandlin, Texas Pit Quest. All rights reserved.