The official Memorial Day kick-off to summer isn't even here yet and already my social calendar has been overloaded with festivals. It seems that all you need is a reason to celebrate, a tent to pitch, and a sandwich board directing people ----->FESTIVAL THIS WAY------> and people will flock. So far, I've celebrated drinking wine, various types of meat being cooked on a grill, the roasting of a whole hog, the picking of strawberries and the harvest of the elusive and little known allium tricoccum, also known as a ramp.
I was asked to be a tasting judge for the Baseball & BBQ fundraiser to benefit the Joan Roberts Foundation for Ovarian Cancer. This foundation was formed 7 years ago by Keith Roberts in honor of his mother, Joan, and the money raised helps to create gift baskets that are presented to cancer patients who are currently undergoing chemotherapy in the Charlotte area. How excited would you be if someone offered you free beer, BBQ and a baseball game in exchange for an afternoon of your time? Probably about as excited as I was until the 25th helping of BBQ was set before me. We judged at least 5 different entries within 5 different categories of BBQ: chicken, brisket, pork, ribs, and sauce. Needless to say, I didn't have a craving for meat for quite some time. Until, of course, the next time I was called upon to eat BBQ, which was only a week or so later.
I was surprised to learn that some of the ideas about how BBQ should be prepared were far from the truth. Instead of falling off the bone, ribs should have a slight tug to them before separating from the bone and brisket should have a "web" effect when being pulled apart. The variance of sauces and seasonings used to the flavor the BBQ was about as wide as the cooking method used ~ everything from standard propane and wood fired grills to a converted vintage icebox refrigerator.
Charlotte is one of the 7 stops on the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival's 2011 itinerary and is definitely worth the $35 price of admission.
If you are a bourbon aficionado or even if you're a newbie wanting to explore different brands, you'll definitely want to watch for this festival to roll around next year. It's probably a good thing they give you a small glass for tasting, otherwise you'd never make it through the plethora of spirits before you hit the ground in an inebriated stupor. Of course, there's no rule that said you couldn't go back for a second or third pour!
I'm going to a monster truck rally on May 19th. A line up of trucks with large wheels and modified suspensions. They'll do some mud-bogging, car crushing and tractor pulling, and if we're lucky, we might see a car-eating robot truck. A monster truck rally is motorized professional wresting at its finest.
Actually, no. It's not that kind of truck rally at all. It's the Chow Down Uptown Food Truck Rally to be held on May 19th from 5:00pm - 9:00pm in the parking lot on Seventh St. across from the old Reid's Fine Foods location near Dixie's Tavern and Levine Museum of the New South (don't you just love the way I give directions? "Go down that one road where that place used to be and you'll see it there somewhere...")
Known as the Southern Cake Queen, Emma can't help but draw attention to herself when she rolls up in her flaming pink mobile cupcakery. The first time I met her, I was sitting at a picnic table in the park having lunch with friends when all of a sudden, everyone at the table jumped up and ran to the parking lot. I seriously thought there was some car-jacking going on but when I turned around, I saw what all the excitement was about.
As the window cranked out and the sign advertising the day's flavors went up, a crowd of adults and children started to draw. This was just like the ice cream truck only better because you didn't have to hurry and eat your treat before it melted in the heat. Emma sells the freshly baked treats for $3 each and I chose the Passion Fruit cupcake from her list of flavors. Both the cake and the buttercream icing was light and airy and the cake-to-icing ratio was right on target. The passion fruit flavor was subtle and perfect for a hot summer day.
Look for the Southern Cake Queen on Facebook or around town or follow her Twitter feed to find out where she's parking next. Alot of times she can be found at Price's Chicken Coop at 1614 Camden Road. Good luck with your new venture, Emma!
**Thanks to Becky for suggesting that this post be submitted to How Sweet The Sound's Pink Saturday Meme!