Sunday, August 27, 2017

KCBS Montana Pitmaster Classic

      Welcome to the 1st Annual Montana Pitmasters Classic, the first and only Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) sanctioned BBQ event in Big Sky Country.  Pretty much the State BBQ Championship.  There is still over $12,000 in prize money, championship points, and plain old braggin' rights at stake here.  We discovered this quite by accident online and it fit our schedule without much adjustment.  BBQ, Bozeman MT, and the Best of the West.  There isn't really any boondocking here close.  We were unable to get into the first 3 parks we tried, Bozeman filled up quickly for this.  We set up camp at Bear Canyon RV Park. 
      Bozeman has bittersweet memories for us as this is where we stayed several years back during the sudden, unexpected loss of our pets Bodhi and Dharma.  It is such beautiful country.  Good people live here. Bear Canyon is located just east of Bozeman on the west slope of Chestnut Mountain near the pass.  A very nice, scenic park, but a bit pricey at $49/night.  
     This is a two day Masters Series BBQ Contest.  A Master Series requires teams to cook 4 meats (Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork Butt, & Brisket). The cooking source at a Master Series shall be of wood, wood pellets or charcoal. KCBS Rules and Regulations apply. Master Series are eligible for American Royal and Jack Daniels World Championship, upon meeting qualifying criteria. In addition, all teams who participate in a Master Series earn points towards KCBS Team of the Year awards presented at the annual banquet.  This is BIG TIME, the Real Deal.   Additionally, any and all teams may sell any food item or product during the BBQ N Blues Night.  30% will go to the Gallatin Valley Y.M.C.A. which will be a tax deductible donation for that team. We bought a pack of $20 which entitled us to sample 4 different vendors.  
     Barb and I were ready, our first 'big time' KCBS event.  We arrived a day early in order to be sure to get tickets as well as do some long overdue laundry.  Priorities?   Tickets were NOT an issue as this is a sponsored and fundraising event.  Friday night was just chillaxin' with good blues and food.  Andre Floyd picked the stings and we ate.  Saturday the fun begins.

Schedule of Events - Saturday August 26th

11:55 AM - 12:05 PM

Chicken category is turned in and judging begins

12:25 PM - 12:25 PM

Pork Rib category is turned in and judging begins

12:55 PM - 1:05 PM

Pork category is turned in and judging begins

1:25 PM - 1:35 PM

Brisket category is turned in and judging begins

4:30 PM

Awards ceremony

     Saturday dawned bright, sunny, and warm once again.  Of course this meant Barb and I moved around quite a bit taking pictures whenever we could. It gets quite busy and stays that way.  There is always delicious food.   Pitmasters were always willing to share pieces of leftovers as they finished up their presentations to take to the judges.  We sampled some moist chicken and some of the best pork ribs I have ever had.  These cooks do like to smoke the meat with the BBQ sauce on during cooking.  The quality of food today is a hundred fold better than the fundraiser last night.  

      Congratulations to the Montana Outlaw BBQ Team that were awarded  2nd place in Brisket, 1st place in Pork, 3rd place in pork Ribs, 3rd place in Chicken, as well as Grand Champion.  It really was a great time; an unexpected detour from the route we initially planned.  Sometimes those are the best.  Although the food was good, I STILL MISS TEXAS BBQ.  We move on now north to the Little Belt Mountains and several days 'off grid' once again to chill, hopefully enjoy campfires, and eating well while watching the furbabies frolick in the Rockies.  Interested in a KCBS Tour Event in your area?

"BBQ may not be the road to world peace, but it's a start"
Anthony Bourdain

WiFi courtesy of Bear Canyon RV Park


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Olympia Oyster House

      We have eaten here several times before, but not since the fire and rebuild.  I have trying to find a place to dine out with Mom due to the heat wave and seafood provides a decent alternative, plus it provides her with her meal of choice:  Crab Cakes.  Olympia Oyster House has been in existence since the turn of last century.  The restaurant is the oldest seafood restaurant in the State of Washington.  It is the old original culling house of the original Olympia Oyster Company, which was formed prior to 1900.  Here for many years the Olympia Oysters were culled after being barged in the basin immediately to the north of this building.  As far back as 1859, Olympia Oysters were sent to San Francisco where gourmets would pay $20.00 per plate for them.
Olympia Oysters
      Their menu is extensive, of course specializing in locally grown Olympia Oysters, but also providing an excellent fare of local clams, mussels, crab, and other FRESH seafood as well.  You won't survive here if your seafood isn't fresh.  It is a local landmark.
      We chose our midweek experience mostly due to the uncharacteristically warm temperatures invading the Pacific Northwest and lack of traffic.  Much of the menu will depend on 'Market Price' which is always determined by local catch rates and freshness.  The cuisine can vary from simple entrees to loaded seafood baskets, to full entrée style dinner. 
Battered Halibut
Blackened Salmon
It is only by coincidence that we all LOVE seafood and mom's recent heart procedure dictates a recipe that coincides within reason, but who the hell is complaining?  We always try to get a table near the window so we can leisurely gaze out upon the sound.
      We were seated immediately by the windows and once our large, cold drinks (to combat the hot day) were ordered as we attacked the menu.  Barb is not much of an adventurer and once she finds something she likes, she stays with it, ordering her usual 'Basket of Clam Strips'. 
      Mom has been here several times and LOVES their 'Crab Cakes'.  Not usually on her AHA diet, this was a special occasion and I let her order them as long as she got steamed veggies with them and no taters or fries.  
      I wanted something a bit different.  I have destroyed my fair share of most all kinds of seafood the past 3 1/2 months so I decided on the 'Scallops'.  The waiter did have to ask the kitchen if these were Bay or Sea Scallops, which does make a big difference.  Sea Scallops are MUCH LARGER, NEARLY MINI STEAKS.  Once they arrived I realized these were Bay Scallops and only 7, but in a wine, oil, and butter sauté they were delicious nonetheless.  My meal also came with a delicious assortment of steamed veggies.  

      The service here is very good and the food is excellent, but I do have to comment on the prices.  The seafood is fresh, but the costs are a bit higher than I thought fair.  My scallops alone were $30 and the total bill amounted to $91.  You must be paying for ambience by the water or the fact that this is peak tourist season.  Both Mom and Barb got 'to go' boxes so they will have some snacks later on or lunch tomorrow.  In the end we were treating Mom to a night out in air conditioned comfort with some of her favorite (allowed) food.  It's all worth it.  
      We depart in a few weeks and from here we head east towards our home.  We'll take several weeks getting there as we have several favorite stops enroute for prospecting, boondocking in the Rockies, friends, and fairs.  I'm not sure how the 'furbabies' will take to being OTR again. 

"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls"
                                                                                Anais Nin 
WiFi courtesy of Verizon MiFi