Packing a heavy punch and offering a fresh new look at Japanese food, chef Scott Hallsworth of London’s Kurobuta restaurant prides himself on reworking the “Iazakaya” Japanese pub style of relaxed eating and drinking. Kurobuta serves food that is both incredibly inventive yet comfortingly familiar. The restaurant’s signature dishes—Barbequed Pork Belly in Steamed Buns with a Spicy Peanut Soy Sauce, Tea Smoked Lamb and Kombu, and Roasted Chilean Seabass—are packed with flavour and are guaranteed to wow friends, family, and hungry gatecrashers.
Nick Smith, left, and his father Matt, of Gator BBQ.
For over 30 years, Gator BBQ has been delivering mouth-watering chicken, pulled pork and ribs to the hungry crowds of Rib Fests all across North America. Touring Canada and the Northern United States, the Smith family of Port Dover continue to win countless awards and events with their signature southern BBQ cuisine. On the eve of Ottawa Ribfest, I caught up with Matt Smith to discuss his humble BBQ beginnings, his secret for achieving great tasting barbecue and if he ever gets tired of being around so much BBQ!
How did you get involved in the BBQ business?
By accident mostly. I used to be part of the carnival circuit for Conklin Shows and eventually crossed paths with a fella who ran these Ribfests. I started my own team and its grown from there—must be 20 years at least. We were there at the very start!
Tell me about the BBQ process. Boil or bake? Smoker? Hardwood or gas?
Always smoked. Ribs, pork and chicken are done in our smoker (Southern Pride) for various times depending on the meat. Although the fuel is propane, there’s a wood oven that heats the smoker and pumps the heated smoke throughout. (more…)
“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child
Behold the feast placed before me. Sticky-sweet finger-licking ribs. Perfectly grilled smokey eggplant and zucchini. Home-made capicola with the just right balance of fat, salt, fresh seasonings and meaty texture. Flavourful roasted eggplant and peppers itching to be topped on fresh bread. Chicken kebabs, juicy and tender. Freshly steamed lobster, oh so succulent and sweet. And enough wine and alcohol to subsist us for days.
These friends o’ mine are kind, cool and definitely ‘the best people.’ The spread was scrumptious and exquisite, mouth-watering and heavenly. It was fun and it was satisfying. And it was definitely the best thing I ate this month.
I found a shrine to serious barbeque. A place that pays homage to the Southern US “Barbeque Belt.” A restaurant that upholds the sanctity and authenticity of barbeque and one that will charm even the most hardened BBQ regionalists. A place called Fatboys Southern Smokehouse Bar-B-Que.
The aroma of hickory hangs in the air, a clear indication that this establishment takes the art of grilling meat very seriously. Many a restaurant prattle on about being the best at this or that. But I do declare that these folks’ crowning glory are its Memphis-style dry rub smoked ribs. Moist, crisp and meaty. Smokey, juicy and gnaw-able. Succulent and quite pleasingly finger-licking tasty. The dry rub of paprika, black pepper, cayenne and brown sugar create complex flavours. The wood burning oven allows the smoke to penetrate the tender meat and gives them that faint taste of caramel and hickory. Sublime. These ribs are bound for stardom. While idyllic on their own, you can also slather them with some of Fatboys’ homemade sauces: Memphis Mustard, Tennessee Sweet or Hillbilly Heat.
If you don’t fancy ribs there are plenty of other offerings to be had. Carolina catfish, Memphis BBQ spaghetti, beef brisket, a smoked burger, a pulled-pork sandwich, the “American Thanksgiving” platter and some smoked bacon mac’n cheese, to name but a few.
Traditionalists may rankle at the thought of real authentic BBQ in the nation’s capital, but they would be wise not to dismiss Fatboy’s dedication to celebrating the art of barbeque in all its glory. As their website states, the “Snow Belt unites with the BBQ Belt, which is why all 13 Southern states flags fly proudly outside Fatboys Southern Smokehouse.” I would go so far as to say that they are not only upholding the BBQ heritage of the South, they are building their own BBQ legacy north of the border with great success!
I have a buddy that’s the coolest guy around. He’s also hilarious and extra kind. He and his wife both. And my buddy just happens to be a pro with the BBQ. You see, he owns a Weber so you know he’s serious. I am lucky enough to score an invite now and again to partake in his grilling extravaganzas. Yes, I am blessed.
Quite originally, he spiral-cuts the hot dogs. You heard me. Check out this video. The spiral-cut improves the wiener-eating experience by increasing the surface area of the frankfurter, thus resulting in a better grilled wiener and an extra tasty hot dog.
My hands are a bit shaky so the image below appears blurry. But there’s no mistaking that the hot dog was delicious.
The burgers looked like steaks on the grill and were juicy and delectable. The salad and the corn was just the right touch to finish off this meal. My friends really take care of me when I come over. I was stuffed. Oh, and if you haven’t already noticed, I like ketchup.
My family knows how much I dig birthdays. Lucky for me they’re always willing to do it up big. This year’s celebration included gourmet burgers, salads and make your own sundaes. Sweet! My family is pretty fly. I’m a very lucky guy. Check out the party pics below.
|Baseball balloon. Coolest thing ever.|
|Choice of drinks. And no, I didn’t go for the Skinnygirl cocktail.|
|Burger toppings: Guacamole, sun-dried tomatoes and aioli.|
|More burger toppings: Bacon, caramelized onions and mushrooms.|
|Burger and salad. A great combo.|
|“Make your own sundae” toppings|
|Sundae in a waffle bowl.|
It’s been a long while since my last barbecue. Some pals of mine threw together the most fancy pants BBQ I have ever had the pleasure of attending. Salad, vichyssoise, steak, potatoes, fennel and my favourite pie in the world, coconut cream.
You’ll notice the absence of a shot of the vichyssoise. I’m a photography dunce. I’m working on getting better so I ask for your patience. [As an aside, if you have tips for taking better pictures with an iPhone, send them my way. I would be eternally grateful.] Suffice it to say, the vichyssoise pic didn’t turn out and I was not going to subject you to the blurry mess. Although I have to say that the salad shot ain’t bad, no?
Thank you kind friends for throwing me a beautiful birthday BBQ. I appreciate you and all of the time you put into this great meal. You guys are brilliant!
|A colourful and delicious summer salad|
|Dinner by candlelight. Steak, potatoes, fennel and wine. Mmmm.|
|My favourite pie, coconut cream|