I know it’s not pc to say but I think g-d intended for us to eat everything. Grain to grass, sea creatures and land creatures, roots, stalks, nuts and fruit. Now I love my vegetables – right now I’m having a super intense relationship with capsicum (it’s the crunch!), but I also love my meat which is why the moment I heard there was a bbq festival in Sydney I jumped online to book a ticket.
I think there is something magical about American barbecue. You put raw, beautiful cuts of meat in to a monster of a machine, add some coals for heat, wood chips for a smokey flavour and lashings of bourbon/ chilli/ maple syrup concocted marinade and 6-18 hours later, out pops the most unctuous, delicious, fall off the bone, juicy meat you’ve ever wrapped your tongue around. There is some serious technique to this process, but the key is to go low and slow and from dirty dancing to squats – that’s my favourite way to do things! 😜
American diner food and more recently barbecue is one of the biggest food trends to hit our shores in the last year and the Yak Ale Barbecue Festival was heralded as a celebrate of all things meat.
Held for the first time in Sydney at the Domain, the event was centered around local Aussie teams competing for a place at the Texas barbecue competition – a place where barbecuing is a serious sport. In all honestly, this was the most boring part of the day. Given the nature of the cooking, there was actually nothing to see for at least the first three hours besides smoke coming out of medieval looking cooking contraptions and some of the teams were not interested in having a chat.
Scheduled from 10am to 10pm, we rocked up pretty much as gates opened and boy was everything slow to start. Several vender stalls were still setting up, there was no entertainment despite being listed on the schedule and all the food available for purchase was still being cooked – this last though not such a problem as we weren’t quite ready to sweat just yet.
We begun the day with a ride on the Yak’s mechanical bull (90 seconds my personal best) then made our way clockwise around the venue parameter, checking out the vendors and there were definitely barbecues galore – as in the brand as well as the variety.
By about 11.20am we’d seen all there was to see and tasted all the spice rubs and sauces there were to taste -we even bought a bag of wood chips to do some home smoking. We saw the queues forming and decided hunger or no hunger, It was time to line up for food. All I can say is it was a ‘good thinking 99’ moment.
We were super strategic. One of us lined up at Melbourne’s Blue Bonnet in order to get a serving of lamb ribs and beef brisket, another at Hoy Pinoy to get a couple of chicken skewers and the third went to snag seats. I was delegated the chicken skewer mission and while there was a 15 minute wait, I got lucky – Surly’s were passing around a limited number of free pork ribs right next to where I was standing and I got to nab one of those too.
The verdict? The skewers ($12 for two) were sweet and tasty bites of juicy white meat, the pork rib (free) was soft and well seasoned. The brisket ($10 per 100g) oozed with rich fat and just melted in your mouth but the hands down winner was the lamb ($10 per 100g). I’ve never tasted meat like this in my life!! The perfect balance between sweet and savory, soft center with a crunchy outer, fatty and zingy – it was well worth the 8 hour cooking time and 30 minute queuing time.
Despite being a poorly run event (they ran out of food at 1pm!!), there is no question the festival has inspired me to check out some of our local American diners in Sydney and try my hand at a little barbecuing of my own.
I can’t wait till once again I can get my meat on y’all’. Yeeha, Ridin cowboy!!