If you like your pulled pork with a side of sweat, Saturday’s Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival at the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival was the place for you. Beer Bites Editor, Peter Culos, and I fought the heat with the rest of the loyal beer and barbecue fans to sample some of our area’s best bites and of course, get a quick glimpse at two of my favorite Food Network Stars, Paula Deen and Tyler Florence.
Despite the heat and sweat pouring down my back, we were able to make our way around to sample some good beer and some mighty fine ‘Cue. The best part about these events for me is meeting the owners and chefs who are so passionate about their restaurants and their food. I chatted for a while with Bob, from Bitter Bob’s in New Hope who told me the big reason he opened his restaurant was that he couldn’t find any good barbecue in his area. We also talked about how hard it is to make everyone happy when it comes to barbecue, because we all have our own definition/preference of what sauce is the “right sauce.” After sampling his Pulled Pork over Mac & Cheese, I can testify he’s done his homework. Their dish was probably my favorite of the day.
Local Smoke BBQ from Cookstown and Neptune City, New Jersey were there with their stuffed jalapeno popper wrapped in smokey bacon. This was a favorite bite for me as well. You might remember them from the Barbecue Competition at Monmouth Park last year. They also recently competed in the New Jersey State Barbecue Championships in Wildwood. I was a judge at the Monmouth Park event, and still have dreams about their barbecue chicken.
Some of the other participants included Rosey’s BBQ from Ambler, Pennsylvania with Chef Chad Rosenthal at the grill. Rosey’s served up a Sliced Smoked Turkey sandwich that was a nice change from all of the barbecue sauce slathered meats being served.
Chef Zakary Pelacci, the award-winning Chef and Founder of the Fatty Crew, which owns and operates the critically-acclaimed restaurants Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue, was serving up Pork Burgers and Lamb Burgers at the Amstel Light booth. (Amstel Light was the official sponsor of the event.)
Tuckahoe Brewing showed up with their Marshallville Wit which you would expect in the summer but then made the gutsy call to pour their Steelmantown Smoked Porter along side it. It was oaky and peaty and well suited to anything a barbecue could conjure up. The liquid version of hardwood charcoal. I’ve developed a taste for the spicy flavor of rye beers lately and Turtle Stone’s is a great example. However, their American Stout was roasty, smooth and dry enough to cut through the inevitable fat you will encounter with any barbecue fare. Boaks had a bunch of beers but the Wooden Beanie had to be the best. Dry vanilla goodness just begs for barbecue! Jersey’s biggest craft brewer, Flying Fish poured the expected summer offerings, but I was happy to see their Abbey Dubbel on the table. It’s what you expect from the style; cherries, raisins, and some brown sugar. I’d like to use it in a barbecue sauce. These may seem like unlikely beers for a blistering summer day, but they aren’t as heavy as you think and barbecue never tasted better!
Stay tuned for more coverage of the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival later this week. You can check out all of our pictures of the Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival on Facebook.