Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ABA Early Times Whisky BBQ Cook-Off Pell City, Alabama

Richard & I headed out late Thursday afternoon for the third stop on the ABA/Early Times BBQ Tour without our partner Gary “Nickelback” Lacky. Gary was out of town on business & would not be returning until Saturday, so Richard & I would have to make do without his box making & tasting skills once again. The three hour drive was un-eventful & we arrived at Pell City which is East of Birmingham early evening. We were greeted by our good friends David & Pam of “Getting’ Piggy With It” & Bill & Jan of “Gooby’s”, & of course Debra Talley & the ABA BBQ Crew! After a self induced anxiety attack I settled down with the help of some meds & a few shots of ET 100 proof! To my friends & family that have experienced my “melt-downs” in person, I can only apologize & hope you do not take it personally. You deserve a trophy for putting up with me & I am fortunate that you don’t take out a restraining order against me. Once I got that out of my system the rest of the weekend would go off without a hitch! After a late dinner at the Pell City Steak House the rest of the evening was spent hangin out & visiting with our BBQ friends & family.

Friday morning began with neighbors Jan & Bill (mostly Jan) cookin up some breakfast as Richard & I finished setting up our equipment & getting organized. Shortly after breakfast Sonny arrived for meat inspection & we commenced to injecting, marinating, & rubbin. Richard & I have finally got this part down to a science & by noon we were all done & ready for some socializing. Jan had once again fired up the grill & provided delish hamburgers for lunch! That woman is amazing! All she does at a cooking competition is cook! Jan we really appreciate you takin care of our nutritional needs! After lunch the temperature reminded us that it was summer in Alabama as the thermometer rose well into the 90’s. With the heat & a full stomach, a nap seemed in order in the air conditioned “Casa DoRag”!

I awoke in time to head over to the “Cook’s Meeting” to get the low down from KCBS Reps Ron Harwell & Tana Shupe. Pretty much standard operating procedure for an ABA contest. So we headed back over to the cook-site to prep for Friday night’s dinner. If you follow my blog you know that we love to cook up some chow on Friday night & this would be no different. Gooby’s, JoBeaz, Team Top Chick, & Getting Piggy With It all pitched in as we strapped on the feed bags. We fed most of all of the ABA Peeps, cookers, fisherman, & several people that were just passin by! A good time was had by all & no-one left hungry. Of course as usual the after dinner “Apple Pie” was a-plenty as we congregated over at “Getting Piggy With It’s” camp. David & Pam had the music jammin & the disco ball turning as we all enjoyed some socializin until quiet time!

As our alarm went off at 4:00 AM our big meats (pork butts & brisket) had been on since Friday evening & it was time to get chicken & ribs ready. Again, it was biz-as-usual. And again, Jan was cookin up some breakfast! She should get a award for the most cookin at a contest! As the morning progressed, our big meats seemed to stall throwing our timing off. We usually have the big meats holding in the Carlisle & use one cooker for chicken & the other for ribs. After some re-arranging we were back on track & we went back to our normal routine. One of our routines is the 10 O’clock Early Times Shot! Ron Montgomery of “Team Top Chick”, David Wilson, Victor Fisher, Allison Smith of “Getting Piggy With It” joined ABA VP David Haygood & Richard & I for a shot of “Early Times 150” which is a limited edition release celebrating ET’s 150th birthday. ET is normally bottled at 80 proof but ET 150 is 100 proof! Very smooth & cool retro packaging. Be sure & get you a couple of bottles of this limited edition Kentucky Whisky, one for drinkin & one for putting up for special occasions!

So after the 10 AM shot it was time to get bizzy. Most everything went off without a hitch although I was not happy with two of our boxes. Our boxes just did not live up to Gary’s but we would have to improvise & make them work. We managed to get everything turned in on time in spite of a storm that arrived just as we were putting our brisket in the box. We kept our focus & got through it without any mishaps. After turn in it is customary for us to sit down & discuss our product & predict where it would finish. This was a strong field & any of the 29 pro teams are capable of taking the GC. We have gotten very consistent with our chicken & today’s offering was about our average. We have cooked better but then we have certainly cooked worse (Cookeville 2008)! We both agreed our ribs were pretty good & should finish well. We also thought our pork was better than we had been turning in but weren’t sure how it would stack up against the other’s. Hopefully top 10? For us brisket is our most consistent product. For many teams it is the most difficult. We again agreed it was good but not our best & I did not like our presentation. So as we headed over to the awards we both thought we may end up somewhere in the top 10 overall. All that was left now was to wait & see.

We arrived at the stage in time to see the last part of the fishing tournament weigh in. Remember, BBQ is the supporting act at ABA events & fishing is the star! I am always impressed at the passion each of the Anglers have for their sport & the care the ABA gives to the fish. They strive to return each fish to the lake in the same condition as they were before ending up in the live well of a fisherman’s boat & I commend them for their commitment. Ok it was finally time to hear the good, bad, & ugly! Desert was the first category. While we don’t participate in desert we are always excited to cheer on our BBQ friends that do. Taking top honors for the 2nd ABA contest in a row was Nancy Montgomery of “Team Top Chick” with her 2nd 180 score! Nancy had scored a 180 in desert at Anderson, SC last month & struck again in Pell City! I had the privilege of tasting her “Hawaiian Orange Cake” & it is awesome! Congrats Team Top Chick! Now on to chicken. Taking top honors was Bub-Ba-Q, followed by Wicked Que, Smoke of the Shoals, TNT Southern BBQ, & Team Top Chick. No call for DoRagQ! BTW, in ABA contest they only call out the top 5. This makes it hard to gauge where you stand in the overall but it does keep you guessing! On to ribs it was Boat-n-BBQ taking the win with House of Q in second. Wicked Que took 4th & Justice Smokers took 5th. DoRagQ managed to place 3rd! Nice! Next in pork it was Swamp Sauce Cookers taking 5th, Smoke of the Shoals in 4th, 2 Men & A Pig in 3rd, & E.M. Azing BBQ in 2nd. Drum roll please…….in 1st was (Hell Yeah) DoRagQ! This was our 1st win in pork completing a win in each category! Sweet! Now on to brisket, it was Smoke of the Shoals taking 1st with Smokin’ Butt Crew, Jiggy Piggy, House of Q, & Bad Boyz of BBQ taking 2nd-5th. Again no call for DoRagQ. Smoke of the Shoals was lookin good on my scorecard for the overall. I was still holding out for a top 10 as they announced the overall results. In 10th 2 Men & A Pig, 9th Cajun Mojo, 8th, Jiggy Piggy, 7th Boat-n-BBQ, 6th Smokin’ Butt Crew, 5th Bub-Ba-Q, 4th Smoke of the Shoals, & 3rd Wicked Que. At this point I did not hear Smoke of the Shoals was 4th & thought they were still going to get the GC with House of Q taking the RGC, well I was correct on one count as House of Q took RGC! Then Bub-Ba-Q came over & offered his congrats! I said “WTF? Smoke of the Shoals has this”. David Wilson said “no they got 4th”! Boy was I corn-fused! Then David Haygood said “and the Grand Champion from Nashville Tennessee, DORAGQ”! No way! Wow……How cool it this! It turns out we tied for 10th in chicken but lost the tiebreaker so we were scored in 11th, & took 7th in brisket. Add those scores to our 3rd in ribs & 1st in pork for a 681.1428 score taking the win! Holy Crap-Ola Batman! David reminded us that we are the first two-time Grand Champions of the ABA as we had won last year in Guntersville. Sweet!

After the shock we headed back over to Casa DoRag to hang out with friends that had come to visit us from Birmingham. Lenny & Angela Morris & their girls Rachel & Claire, George Hadgraft, Wayne Silva, & Michelle Greene & her children Ryan & Shelby & many others came over to hang out & party. Even the Mayor of Pell City Bill Hereford was there to offer his congratulations & enjoy the leftovers! Kevin Rake the Early Times Bass Pro & several Anglers also joined in the celebration & “Apple Pie”! It was out-of-control! The Mayor made Richard & I “Honorable Residents” of Pell City & in turn we made him a “Dishonorable” member of the DoRagQ Gang! He looked cool in the ET DoRag! Hope this is not an election year! Check this out, when DoRagQ won our first GC last year in Guntersville, Alabama, Lenny & “The Girls” were also in attendance! Coincidence or not I informed them they would be accompanying DoRagQ on the rest of our 2010 World Tour! I may have to set up a college fund for the girls! The party lasted several hours with many of our BBQ family paying us a visit & offering their congratulations. The evening ended with a few of us hangin out having a few cocktails, listening to tunes, & enjoying the evening. At some point a second bottle of ET 150 was consumed! Thanks to Pam, David, Allison, Victor, Jan, Bill, & the Dude from Clarksville with the jug of Jack Daniels for the after-celebration & thanks to all for making it a special day for DoRagQ!

Sunday morning it was pretty much back to normal as we finished loading up & headed out for the return trip to Nashville. We arrive home safe & sound & full of great memories. We wished Gary had been there with us as DoRagQ is not the same without him. Hope you can re-join us soon. As for Richard, what a great friend! He makes me laugh & keeps me focused. I would not want to do this without him. You have taught me much about BBQ & life & I treasure your friendship. Thanks for being the “Do” in DoRagQ! Thanks to our sponsors Wireless Plus, Motorola, & Early Times Whisky! We appreciate your support! And finally thanks to the ABA for putting on a great contest. We look forward to the fall leg of the tour. Maybe I can get Lenny & The Girls to visit us again in Guntersville! (No pressure, no pressure)! Our next appearance is next weekend at the Tennessee State BBQ Championship in Lawrenceburg, TN. It will be a tough field, I just hope we can hang with them boyz & don’t make anybody sick! Come by for a visit if you are in the area!

1 comment:

ULIKA BBQ said...

huge congrats. I dig those shirts and new dorags.