Farm to Table to Judge at Friendly Fires BBQ Rib Competition — Or Why the Meek Shall Inherit the Ribs — And Bonus Music by RUSH

Some innovative rib cooking on display at Friendly Fires.
Some innovative rib cooking on display at Friendly Fires.

Kawartha BBQ Competition. Tomorrow, from 11am-4:00pm. Judging at 3:30pm. 981 Hwy #7 East, Peterborough.

I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a meat geek. While I do try to have a well-balanced diet that is made up of plenty of local fruits and veggies, grains, legumes, you name it… I do kind of get worked up about the preparation of meats. And let me tell you, I’m not after supermarket cuts banged into the oven or torched on the BBQ. No sir. No ma’am. If I’m preparing meat, it is going to be good quality, prepared with care. I try to respect the cuts of meat that I buy.

So, yes. A meat geek. A meek for short.

And while it is said that the meek shall inherit the Earth, I’m pretty sure they’re not referring to me — although I did once inherit a 13-year-old Subaru Forrester (though that is another story).

Sometimes being a meek (and, yes, I did just make up the term) does have its perks though, and this weekend is a prime example.

For the second year in a row, I’ve been invited to be a “celebrity” judge at the Friendly Fires Kawartha BBQ competition. And, gosh darnit, I’m pleased as punch.

Last year's judges, from left, the Meek, CHEX TV's Keri Ferguson, Firehouse Gourmet's Dave Russell, Chef Brian Henry, and "the Sophisticated Wino," Sherri Darling.
Last year’s judges, from left, Farm to Table‘s “the Meek,” CHEX TV‘s Keri Ferguson, Firehouse Gourmet’s Dave Russell, Chef Brian Henry, and “the Sophisticated Wino,” Sherri Darling.

Here’s the deal:

  • 20 teams, with a maximum of 4 people per team.
  • Homemade sauces, rubs, and spice blends.
  • Ribs are to be St. Louis style.
  • Entrants provide their own smoker/BBQ.

Your judges this year will be: Candice Reardon (Extra 90.5FM), Shari Darling (The Sophisticated Wino) and Mike Judson (CHEX TV weather).

I’m particularly excited to be sharing the tasting table with Mike Judson, who gets excited whenever presented with quality foods. Look for him to be a happy camper when my Daily Foodie segment returns to CHEX Television in the fall.

Last year, was an incredible day, with a quality of ribs that ensured this meek was utterly blissed out.

This year, the event is going to be more family friendly than ever, with plenty of things to see and do:

  • Free hot dogs for kids starting roughly 11:30
  • Free bouncy castle for kids starting roughly 11:00
  • Free pizza samples cooked on our outdoor wood-fired oven starting roughly 11:30
  • Free rib samples slow cooked that day starting roughly 12:00 noon
  • Live music courtesy of “Water’s Edge” starting roughly 11:00
  • MS Society will have a presence for those wishing to make charitable donations

Wondering what exactly a judge is looking for when trying a competition rib? Look back here tomorrow morning, and I’ll let you in on a few of the secrets. SPOILER: That meat shouldn’t be falling off the bone.

Speaking of the meek inheriting the Earth… Why not enjoy a bonus bit of RUSH while contemplating ribs. Yes, you’ll have to wait until the end of the song for that classic line. Also: Does this make me the first food blog to feature Canadian Prog-Rock? I’d like to think so.

BBQ Burger: Blow By Blow

finished burgerLast night I made burgers.  End of story.

Sidebar:  I live Tweeted it and shall now share my technique with you.

Also: Hey, look!  A recipe for BBQ Burgers with Double Smoked Goodness.  I’m not going to guarantee that they are the best burgers in the world, but…  Ah, screw it.  To me, they’re the best burgers in the World.  And I know that you’ll dig them too.

burgerBeing in a rush, I forgot to add the photo of that Primal Cut beef. Here you go, dear readers. You know I would never forget you.

Each patty should be a 1/4 pound — or, preferably, a bit bigger.  Do not — I repeat, do not — go with an extra lean ground beef.  The fat in your burger is what it going to give it both juiciness and flavour.  It will also cause for some of the flare-ups needed to properly char your beef.

Allow me to save you a step.  Here’s that rub recipe:

2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp mixed whole peppercorns
3 tsp dried time leaves (or 3 tbsp fresh)
3 tsp dried rosemary leaves (or 3 tbsp fresh)
1 tbsp coarse salt.

Toast the coriander seeds and peppercorns over medium heat until good and aromatic.  Use a mortar and pestle or food processor to break mixture up into coarse pieces.  Mix in other ingredients.

It is dynamite on steak, burgers, fish, and pork — definitely do try that pork and greens recipe!  I’ve even sprinkled some on peameal as part of a simple sandwich.

But I digress.

mustardAt this point, I was rushing to make sure everything came together just right. My spelling and hashtags fell to the wayside. Worry not, I’ll have the full recipe at the bottom of this post. I also forgot to include a secret weapon that I used to push this burger over the top.

Did I mention the hashtags started to fall apart?  I really do know how to spell burger, you know.

So, let’s recap and fill in some holes, recipe style:

BBQ Burgers with Double Smoked Goodness


1 1/2 pounds of good quality ground beef — I used the ground chuck from Primal Cuts, which had a nice balance of fat to it.
Farm to Table steak rub (see above for the recipe).
8-12 slices of smoked bacon.  In this case, I used a fantastic product from Seed to Sausage in Sharbot Lake, smoked in a hickory smoker.
Smoked cheddar — we usually go with the more local Maple Dale smoked (which is awesome), but had some Cow’s Creamery (P.E.I.) award winning on hand this time around.
4 buns — something that will have a bit of structure to them — we use homemade Ciabatta buns.
A good quality mustard — we grabbed some Kozlik’s Horseradish Mustard, made and sold in Toronto at the St. Lawrence Market.  Definitely go with something that has some oomph!
Pickles OR in-season tomatoes (both are optional — but I wouldn’t recommend using both.  They’re meant to add just a touch of juice/acidity).


  • Divide beef into 4 thick patties and sprinkle a liberal amount of rub on each side.
  • Slice your smoked cheddar (good and thick).
  • Light your grill and set to medium.
  • Grill your bacon with the lid open — keeping an eye on it in case of flare-ups (which, trust me, will happen) — to desired doneness.  Make sure it gets a bit charred and smokey.
  • Once you remove the bacon, set temperature to high and get it good and hot.
  • Grill your burger for 2 minutes and then rotate 180 degrees and cook for another 2 minutes.  Note: This is done to make fancy/shmancy hashed grill marks.  If you don’t care about the prettiness, just cook for 4 minutes without rotating.
  • Flip burger and repeat.
  • At this point your burgers should still be a bit on the rare side (130 degrees or so with a quick read thermometer).  Flip again, add your cheese.  Put your bacon somewhere over indirect heat to warm.  Close the lid.  By the time your cheese melts, your beef should be a late medium rare or medium — I like mine around 150 degrees.
  • Remove everything from the grill.  Slather the bottom half of the bun with mustard, place your cheeseburger on the bun, pile on your bacon, add your pickle or tomato and top with the other half of the (perhaps mustard-slathered) bun.
  • Serve with good quality salt and vinegar chips or a salad.  Or, heck, both.
  • Enjoy with a cold beer.  I had a Blonde from the brand new Smithworks Brewing Company.



Peterborough Ribfest (the Musical Edition)

You’d think that a half-dozen world-class ribbers lined up in a row would be enough, right?

You’d think that local grills from the likes of Shish-Kabob Hut, Dr. J’s BBQ & Brews, Ariyana, and Island Cream would definitely put it over the top.  Am I correct?

Yeah, well, take all of that meaty goodness and then add a soundtrack of some of Peterborough’s finest musicians, and then you’ll have what Peterborough Ribfest has to offer.

The 12th Annual Peterborough Ribfest presented by the Rotary Club of Peterborough Kawartha and the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area runs July 11-13 in Millennium Park at King and Water streets.  And it’s going to be a humdinger!

Sure, I’ll be coming for the ribs — after all, as an annual judge of the Friendly Fires Kawartha BBQ Competition (July 26th) I get to taste some of the best around — but I’ll be staying for the tunes.

In particular, I’ll be grooving to Melissa Payne on Saturday and Al Black & The Steady Band on Sunday.

Melissa Payne is one of my local faves, blending rock, folk, and country into a sweet roots stew.  Her latest album — produced by Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor — is stunning.   High and Dry shows some great musical growth: “departing from the mellow, acoustic sounds of her previous release, she experiments with more guitars, synthesizers, keys and percussion, resulting in a contemporary, indie folk creation.”

Al Black, meanwhile, is Peterborough music royalty.  Before starting the Steady Band — which offers up “New Orleans funk and echoes of the early blues masters” — Al was a member of the multi-Juno-nominated acoustic blues group, Jackson Delta with Rick Fines and Gary Peeples.  Not only that, but he’s chef and co-owner of Maggie’s Eatery — one of the popular stops on the Farm to Table Culinary Tour.

A quick word of advice:  Jackson Delta will be reuniting for a one-off concert at Market Hall on October 17th.  Tickets have been going fast.  If you want to the opportunity to see these legendary gents together on stage, seize it now.

Here’s Al with the Steady Band:

And with Jackson Delta (way back in the day):

On the plus side, no matter when you go, the music will be amazing.  It’s a great line-up — one that should knock your socks off.

Hope to see y’all there.  Ask nicely and I’ll save you a seat in the beer garden.

For a full list of performers, please visit the Peterborough DBIA website.

Peterborough Examiner Coverage of the Downtown Culinary Tours

Farm To Table owner/tour operator Donald Fraser and Black Honey owner Lisa Dixon offer desserts to Catherine Hanrahan of Kruz FM during the Farm To Table Peterborough Downtown Culinary Tour on June 26, 2013 at the Black Honey Bakery on Hunter St. W. The tour is back on Wednesday afternoons this summer and is expanding with forays into East City and possibly some evening and regional treks. Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/QMI Agency file photo.
Farm To Table owner/tour operator Donald Fraser and Black Honey owner Lisa Dixon offer desserts to Catherine Hanrahan of Kruz FM during the Farm To Table Peterborough Downtown Culinary Tour. Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/QMI Agency file photo.

The Peterborough Examiner provided excellent coverage of the Culinary Tours in today’s paper.  But don’t just trust me, have a peek for yourself!

“The third year of the tour includes several new stops, including Two Dishes Cookhouse, The Publican House Brewery, Holiday Inn, Be Catering and new forays into East City with stops at Firehouse Gourmet and the Ashburnham Ale House, owner and tour operator Donald Fraser said. Special evening events and some new regional trips may also be in the plans for 2014.

Last year, most tours were sold out by July, Fraser said. Its growing popularity coincides with renewed interest in local, seasonal eating.

‘There was obviously great interest in what is going on in the (downtown) core,’ he said, adding how most bookings are a result word of mouth advertising. ‘The buzz is definitely there.’

The tour also shows the nice correlation between establishments and producers. Chefs are often are the market only a couple hours before they are serving, he said.”



Early Bird Draw for Culinary Tours

naked2Hello foodie friends!

Many of you will be excited to hear that the 2014 Farm to Table Downtown Culinary Tour schedule has been released.  Just click here to view!

This year we have several new businesses — Two Dishes Cookhouse, BE Catering, The Holiday Inn Kawartha Choice Burger Challenge, new wine tastings, a few East City Tours (including the Ashburnham Ale House and Firehouse Gourmet) and a few surprises yet to come.

We’d love to see you sign up — so much so that we’re offering a prize for anyone who books for the July 9th tour.  Reserve for the 9th and you are automatically put in a draw to win a pair of tickets for another 2014 tour of your choice!  You’ll have to book online to be eligible.

Online sales began last night and we awoke this morning to 17 bookings.  So don’t wait to book your dates today.

Have a tasty summer!