Today (yes, I'm blogging on the day of!) Darcy and I went to the 2008 Toronto Ribfest in Centennial Park in Etobicoke. Yup, there was a lot going on in the city today including the Toronto Jazz Festival, Gay Pride, Fiesta Mexicana, the CHIN Picnic, but no. We went to Ribfest and it was glorious.
I've never been to any of the big BBQ states before, so I really wanted to try something from a real American outfit. We went straight Carolina Rib King, which is the real deal from South Carolina. Everyone working there had a fantastic southern accent and a really nice, laid back attitude which made me feel like they were confident they had good stuff.
We got a half rack for Darcy and a pulled pork sandwich for me. The pulled pork sandwich was amazing with soft, minced pork that was moist, but not greasy, even without any sauce at all. They had three huge barrels of sauce out front so you could add as much as you want. I really liked it this way because too much sauce can so easily ruin a great sandwich. I squirted on a bit of both sauces (mild and hot) and they were delicious. The hot sauce doesn't taste hot at all at first, but then it really kicks in. So good. Best sandwich from any ribfest I've been to.
I nibbled a bit of Darcy's ribs and they were impossibly tender. Usually smoked ribs aren't as tender as those baby back ones you might get at Baton Rouge that are boiled first then baked, but these were. They came away from the bone and melted in your mouth.
The terrible thing about ribfest is that there is so much there, but you really can only eat so much. So, we got some stuff to go, including another half rack and a 1/2 pound of pulled pork (just the meat) from Camp 31, our favourite from last year, as well as the Vegetarian Nightmare (pulled pork, ribs, and chicken) from Uncle Sam's.
We took everything home, metabolized for a few hours, and then had the ribs, chicken, and half of the pulled pork. Everything was good, of course, but if I had to pick a favourite, I'd say you can't go wrong with Carolina Rib King.
In addition to the BBQ, there are tonnes of other goodies like roasted corn, french fries, hotdogs, Tiny Tom's donuts, and kettle corn. By far the most popular was the bloomin' onions and butterfly chips at Bob's Bloomin' Onions. The bloomin' onion is an enormous whole onion sliced crossways many times, but with one end intact so that when it's deep-fried, the slices fan out like flower petals. I'd never seen the butterfly chips before, but they are made by thinly slicing a potato in one long spiral and deep-frying it so you get a huge, entangled, very 3 dimensional mess o' potato chips. They were as visually impressive as a Thanksgiving turkey. We didn't get any, but I wanted a picture desperately. I tried to get a paparazzi-style one, but couldn't so I found this one on the web.
Toronto Ribfest runs until Canada Day, so you've got a few days to get there. You could even go twice.
256 Centennial Park Rd.
Etobicoke, Ontario Canada
Web site: http://www.torontoribfest.com/index.html