Monday, September 5, 2011

Why, Hello there.

Yes, I've been gone yet again and I gravely apologize.  I've been busy with a thing called l-i-f-e but now that I've gotten things sorted out (for the most part) I'm back!  Aren't you glad I left you with a recipe though?

Instead of starting from the beginning, I thought we'd work our way backwards.  I spent this past weekend on a little Labor Day road trip with my family.  It was a trip that I had been debating about whether or not I should go on since my work load has been pretty heavy these last couple of days (yay!), but they promised me good barbecue in exchange for me being the cheerleader at their bowling tournament, so I relented.

After several, and by several I mean practically all that I've attended, failed festivals and cook-offs I was less than excited to go to another...especially in 85+ degree scorching heat.  But just say the word "pork" and I'll start wagging my tail uncontrollably.

To my surprise the Nugget Rib Cook-Off 2011 in Reno was fantastic!  Though it was incredibly hot, I had no trouble weaving my way through the small crowds of people to get to the best ribs, brisket, and array of barbecue sauces.  Finger-lickin' good.  Not to mention, my mom made the perfect tasting partner--four hands grabbing food and fresh squeezed lemonade are better than two!  Though the likelihood of us going back next year is slim, this was one cook-off that I can actually say I enjoyed.

My mom and I are suckers for roast corn, so our first stop was here, at the roast corn stall.

I was excited to see that Famous Daves was participating in the cook-off.  Though the ribs were a little dry and not fall-off-the-bone as expected, the sauces were really addictive.

The selection of Famous Dave's sauces from tangy and sweet to xxx-spicy.

 I was so impressed and relieved that they had plenty of shaded seating for us right next to Famous Dave's stall.

We got a little insider tip from a veteran Nugget Rib Cook-Off goer that this year, Checkered Pig had the best ribs.
I can't say for sure if they were the best ribs there, but they sure as hell were better than Dave's!

He also pointed us in the direction of Kinder's for the best barbecue sauce so we took our Checkered Pig ribs and trekked across the cook-off in search of Kinder's. 

Of course, we weren't going to stand in line just for a few squirts of barbecue sauce.  We also ordered a brisket sandwich.  I'm usually skeptical about brisket because too often have I had a dry, tough, flavorless brisket plus, I'm honestly not a huge fan of sandwiches.  But again, I was not let down.  Kinder's sweet roasted garlic barbecue sauce on top of moist, chopped brisket, shoveled between two airy buns turned out to be the trifecta of awesome.

Did this cook-off change my impression of cook-offs?  No.  I won't be prancing around excitedly looking for another cook-off or food festival to go to anytime soon.  But I will say that this is, by far, the best one that I've been to.  And if ever I had to attend another cook-off, it would be this one.

To go off on a little side tangent, I thought I'd just share the other half of the rib cook-off day with you since I was also caught off guard by how amazing La Strada at Eldorado was.

Let's set the record straight.  I hate over-priced hotel casino food.  The fact that they would sell you low quality, poorly executed food for over $20 is absolutely ridiculous!  I can't tell you how many times I've protested and cringed when my parents suggest that we eat at a hotel restaurant out of convenience when we all know that we're going to regret it.

But seeing as how buffets have taken a steep turn for the worse, we ventured away to try the Italian restaurant in Eldorado.  Can you imagine how skeptical I was?  Italian hotel restaurant with food priced above $20 per entree.  I was about ready to shoot myself.

Needless to say, they proved me wrong.  I didn't even feel like I was in Reno anymore.  The food was great, the prices were decent for the portion sizes and quality, and the atmosphere was nothing you'd imagine from this part of Nevada.  I am impressed, Eldorado.  Bravo.

Spinach and arugula salad.

Catch of the day: Grouper with lemon caper sauce on a bed of polenta

Dried porcini and saffron risotto with sweet Italian sausage

Seafood linguine in white wine sauce.

I'd say this was a successful little getaway to Reno.

Now I'm off to my own warm bed to finally watch Sideways.  Has anyone else seen it?

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