The 2008 Ottawa International Invitational Chicken-Rib Cook-Off

Ya ya ya.I know this happened three weeks ago, but I still had to add a few thoughts about this year’s ribfest.I moved to Ottawa 11 years ago, and every year at the end of June, I am looking forward not only to the end of the parliamantary session, but more importantly to the International Chicken and Rib cook-off, held on Sparks Street.

Folks often don’t realize that east of Bank St., there are more bbq shacks. And usually not as busy. Carmello’s patio is big, and they invited you kindly to enjoy your ribs as long as your purchase a beverage.  It is the case for most patio on Sparks Street, kudos to Carmello’s and Brixton’s especially, but for some reason the people at the Centretown Tavern (the trendy-ish waterhole attached to the not-so trendy Yesterday’s) are stubbornly refusing to join the fiesta and are turning ribfesters away.  We were six enjoying a beer there, and we left when we realized we couldn’t eat the tasty bbq treats there. Not very smart, and not good for business.  Shame.On a funny note, Jazz’oo Cafe’s daily special on the Friday was ribs.  Interesting timing.


Kilgore: Smell that? You smell that?

Lance: What?

Kilgore: BBQ, son. Nothing in the world smells like that. [kneels]

Kilgore: I love the smell of BBQ in the morning. You know, one time we had a pig roasting, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ‘em, not one stinkin’ bone. The smell, you know that sweet smell, the whole pig. Smelled like… victory.


This year, I had the opportunity to try – in chronological order :
Uncle Sam’s, Silver Bullet, Camp 31, Gator BBQ, Crabby’s.

Camp 31

Now, I wouldn’t want to upstage the stellar judges (btw, you must see the performance of Sandy Sharkey of BOB-FM), but here are my choices:

Gator BBQ had baby back ribs, which were cooked to perfection, even though we went on Saturday morning as most of them bbq folks are still waking up.

Gator BBQ

A little citrus tangy taste to the sauce, I enjoyed them at Carmello’s with a pint of lager. Great combination.

I’ve got to go with Gator BBQ again.  The crew from Florida’s chicken was tender, juicy, tasty, with none of the dryness that sometimes plague the birds at the BBQ shacks.

Silver Bullet, no questions asked.  Spicy, very nice heat, not too thick, it was certainly one of the highlight of this year’s cook-off.

Silver Bullet

It was particulary great with the pulled pork, as the meat absorbed the flavor very well.  Not bad on the ribs as well.

Silver Bullet, I think mostly because of the sauce, but also the tenderness of the meat.  Unlike Camp 31′s pork, which was really oily and had no distinct flavor to it, the Bullet’s hit the target with their slow cooked piggy meat.  No dryness to it at all, and very well pulled in small chunks as opposed to sloppy big dry pieces we could find at other locations.

The familly deal at  Crabby’s.   For 40$, you got half a chicken, full rack of ribs, a pound of pulled pork, two servings each of cole slaw and beans, and a bottle of sauce.  Sweeeeet.


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