saturday around noon, 30 houston chowhounds including the bloggers of she eats, i've got the munchies, eating our words, and food in houston met for our 1st annual bbq smackdown. this month's texas monthly featured their picks for top 50 bbq joints in texas. alas, only 2 joints made it from houston, but this prompted many visions and daydreaming about smoky meats and a fun planned event to blind taste and judge those 2 against some local bbq darlings.
this was definitely the most strategically planned chowhound event we've had to date. we had an advisory team which included me, dorothy and brucesw to discuss judging criteria, organization of the event, and contestants (which involved some heated debate), but ultimately, i got to choose the 6 super secret locations. i lined up the bbq orders with specific instructions (no logos on packaging, sauce on the side, center rack ribs, etc.) and had a chowhound volunteer pick up each of those orders right before we all met at pearl bar for beers and some crazy amounts of bbq chow.
barbeque was queued for pick up at burns, virgie's (both tx monthly top 50), luling city market, pierson & co, kozy kitchen and swinging door in richmond. thelma's was considered but she accosted me when i was setting up the order in person (which turned a lot of heads in the restaurant) and wanted me to pay for all the food more than a week in advance. she was just too scary and hard to deal with. on the day of the event, less than an hour before the smackdown was to commence, i got a call from a frazzled katharine telling me that virgie's was closed. a last minute order was placed with goode company bbq and the order was ready for k by the time she arrived.
when the bbq arrived onsite, i quickly labeled containers with a number and updated my master list with the corresponding number. we had 30 paper boats labeled with each number ready to go. this is what our serving station looked like:
we served 2 versions of bbq at a time. chowhounds were given 1 boat from each place containing half a piece of brisket and 1 pork rib with sauce on the side.
after getting 2 boats, chowhounds went to their tables, tasted the brisket and ribs and rated each on smoke, tenderness, flavor, moistness, and seasoning. then we repeated the process two more times until the 'cue from all 6 places were served. members then rated brisket and ribs in order from their favorite to least favorite and turned in their rating sheets.
we also had lots of yummy sides including coleslaw from houston's, jambalaya from goode co., sausage from burns and pierson, beans also from pierson, a homemade couscous salad from dorothy, corn on the cob by andi, and avocado cilantro potato salad by suzanne. yes, a chowhound feast!
photos of the aftermath...
after everyone was finished scoring, rating sheets were turned into dorothy who calculated our winners in warp speed. also, i reviewed rating sheets to see who matched up or guessed the most number of bbq joints correctly. 3 chowhounds tied for guessing 3 correctly: katy p., nell s., and anonymouseater. after a random drawing, anonymouseater won the prize which was a $30 gift certificate to sur la table.
dorothy announced our results. for brisket, pierson & co (a newcomer to the houston 'cue scene) won 1st place followed by burn's for second and luling city market in at third. for ribs, luling city market took first place, followed by pierson and burns at 2nd and 3rd. swinging door came in at 4th place in both categories. kozy kitchen and goode company came in close to last place in both categories. read more on the event and judging results in the houstonist's write-up.
after clean up and a lot of pawning of leftovers, i dropped a few things off at home and then ran over to volcano's for the houstonist's crawfish boil. couldn't pass this event up b/c for $5, you could eat all the crawfish you wanted. they had 500 lbs on-site to boil up for houston mudbug enthusiasts. 3 hours and 3 lbs later, my stomach cried "uncle" so i battled montrose gay pride parade traffic and spent the rest of the evening hanging out with chris and sarah and co. oh my liver!