Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ottawa RibFest is an annual event happening on Sparks Street. This is the first time that I'm spending the whole summer in Ottawa. Food festival means food crawl. I went on a rib crawl with my roommate Justin. Since I had no idea which ribbers to go to, I rely on the power of social media with #ottawaribfest. Another trick is to find the longest queue. Since we were going on the third day, we assume by now, these people where to get the best ribs recommended by friends and family.

Not only ribs are served, you can opt for BBQ chicken, pulled pork. Some offers brisket and big turkey drumsticks as well as sides - baked beans, cornbread and coleslaw.

There were 13 rib vendors to choose from. We went on to try four. We ordered 1/3 racks of ribs with something else just so we can find the best of the best. I have to say the competition is fierce, the food were equally finger-licking delicious. At the end, it comes down to a matter of preference. 

The prices are fixed for all stalls:
- $23 for full rack (8 bones)
- $13 for 1/2 rack (6 bones)
- $9 for 1/3 rack (4 bones)
- 1/2 chicken for $12
- Pulled Pork Sandwich for $8

There are also lemonade and twisted potato chip stand on Sparks Street. 

Twisted Potatoes
New Mott's Clamato Lime
 Here is a quick overview of each of the ribbers visited. It is in order of preference based on the ribs served:

1. Boss Hog's from London, ON is the last one visited. We probably saved the best one for last. The pork ribs and chicken were lip-smacking delicious - tender and fall-off-the-bone. The fat on the chicken skin is rendered down nicely to give a thin crispy skin. What makes them the best for me is their BBQ sauce - rich, sweet, smoky, thick and sticky, a perfect balance of all these elements. 

Boss Hog's - Pork and Chicken
2. Crabby's BBQ Shack also from London, Ontario could also have made it on my #1 spot. Boss Hog's is just a notch better. Their ribs use the 'low and slow' technique to permit the flavours to be infused into the ribs. All this effort is well worth because the flavours come through and they fall right off the bone. The BBQ sauce is thick, glossy and flavourful. It is not as rich in flavours as Boss Hog's. We also opted for their brisket, it's thinly sliced and pepper. It has good flavours almost like a roast beef, but I was imagining of getting a thick slab of brisket. 

Crabby's BBQ Shack - Pork Ribs and Brisket
3. Gator BBQ from Port Dover, ON. Originally from Naples, Florida. Their ribs are tender, but have a bit of resistance when pulling off the bones. The mop sauce is light, thin and subtle. They offer, on their utensil table, their signature BBQ sauce to be smothered on your food. Their sauce is addictive. I can wat a bowl of it. Their pulled pork is the best I have eaten - juicy with loads of flavours. Their cornbread is an absolute must. It's light, airy and sweet. Gator BBQ offers a free bib on your order. 

Gator BBQ - Cornbread, Pork Ribs and Pulled Pork Sandwich
4. Silver Bullet BBQ from Guelph, ON pride themselves in using dry rub for their rubs then smothered in their signature BBQ. The ribs were also tender and delicious, but it has some resistance when biting into it. The sauce is light and subtle. The flavour of apple is noticeable. 

Silver Bullet - pork ribs
The end of Sparks find an old time Western stand called Pappy's Old Fashion Soda Pop. I always finish my meal with something sweet, I get to the chance to do this here. They are like dessert-drinks. We had the choice of five flavours served in a barrel. I got to sample each one of them before filling completely my mug. I couldn't resist getting the butterbeer which is popularized in Harry Potter. Butterbeer is described as a foamy beer with butterscotch flavour...

The verdict... It does have foam and it tastes like butterscotch. 

Pappy's Old Fashion Soda Pop - Butterbeer
Don't miss out on the first annual Montreal RibFest happening on August 14-16, 2015 at Pierrefonds-Roxboro in Borough Hall. Crabby BBQ Shack will be attending this event. I have my finger-crossed that Boss Hog's will be there too.


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