Saturday, June 30, 2007

Toronto Ribfest 2007: It's all you need

This afternoon, Darcy and I went to the 8th annual Toronto Ribfest because ribs are pretty much his favourite food in the world. It was held at Centennial Park in Etobicoke, which isn't the easiest place to get to by TTC, but where there's ribs, there's a way. If you're planning on going this weekend (it runs every day until Monday), the best TTC plan is to take the subway to Kipling and then the 112 bus to Rathburn. It's about a 10-minute walk to the park from there.

This was our first time so we didn't really know where we were going, but you honestly can smell the barbecue goodness a mile off. Before you can get to the rib area, you need to go through the small midway set up with carnival rides, games, and lots of food that will stop your heart (cotton candy, donuts, french fries, corn dogs, sausages on a bun, funnel cake, caramel corn, bloomin' onions, etc.).

The rib area was fabulously organized with all of the stands next to each other facing the same direction with plenty of space in front for long lineups to form. Every stand served the same things (ribs, chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, beans, cornbread, coleslaw) for the same prices so all you needed to do was make a completely superficial and uninformed decision on which one to try.

By eavesdropping on conversations, we learned that some people went wherever the line was the longest (because that must mean it's good) while others went to the shortest because they couldn't wait. We scanned the signage and tried to let the advertising lure us in ('Cooked Over Open Flame', 'Bone-suckin' Good', 'Voted Best BBQ in the United States', 'Put Some South in your Mouth', 'Best Butt in Canada', 'Slow Smoked Texas Style'). I got seduced by one that said it was 'a K.C. Legend - Best Ribs in North America'. In truth, this 'Kansas City' joint is actually from Toronto (Bad Wolf Barbecue), so don't believe everything you read. But, I think every place is pretty decent so you can't make a wrong move.

We got a half rack of ribs for Darcy and a pulled pork sandwich for me. The pork in my sandwich was delicious and velvety soft. Definitely the best I've ever had. The sauce was maybe a tiny bit too vinegary for me, but the meat was dressed lightly so it was okay. Overall, excellent sandwich on a nice fresh bun. Darcy really enjoyed his ribs as well.

After taking a walk around the grounds, we went back for more. This time we went for the Texas-style BBQ (Silver Bullet BBQ), which didn't have much of a line-up but proved to be excellent nevertheless. I was too full to get another pork sandwich, but I wanted to compare so I asked for a little bit of just the pork with my half rack, which she sweetly gave me for free. Darcy liked these ribs even better than the other ones. I had a couple and they were very tender with a nice, spicy sauce. The pork had a great, spicy sauce too. I would have loved to have the shredded pork from the first place combined with the sauce from the second.

Afterward, to cleanse the palate, we got a roasted corn on the cob. They had heated vats of melted butter that they would dunk your cob in of desired, but I need a break from grease, so I had it au naturel and it was sweet and delicious -- a very nice tonic after the heavy meat and sauce.

We ate at about 3PM, but Darcy didn't have anything to eat for the rest of the day. It really is all you need. I wish I could say I didn't eat again tonight either, but skipping meals makes me uncomfortable. I'm going to have to go for an extra long run tomorrow. But, it was worth it.

2 comments:

The Micro Felt said...

Yeah, the ribfest was good. Really, the only difference between the stands is the rub and/or sauce used. That is pretty much what they are judged on.

There is another one in Scarborough at the end of July/early August...just an FYI.

k-chan said...

Thanks! I saw that there is also one in Mississauga in a couple of weeks. At this rate, I can try every vendor before the summer is over.