Flying Away on a Rib and a Prayer


Peninsula Ribfest 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
#202 – 9800 McDonald Park Rd.
North Saanich, BC

Cloudy days make for a great outing to the boonies known as the Victoria Airport, but that wasn’t what drew me to the 3rd Annual Peninsula Ribfest.

Initially, I was going there to take some photos, as a favour for my photographer friend, Qué Banh, but since this event involved food, how could I not? And who doesn’t love smooth as silk ribs? You can suck on it, caress it, enjoy the velvety fine flavours of tomato sauces. Ooh, baby.

The event started at 12:30pm and the gang of photographers I arrived with didn’t get there till two. Sadly, I learned a very valuable lesson. For any foodie event that involves the public as judges, show up early if you want the best pickings.

By 2:30, nearly all the food was gone. At the gates, the organizers were saying some contestants closed shop early. That’s not the type of news one wants to hear, but given that we started our day late, we got our just desserts.

Interestingly enough, there was some nice sweets to be found. Wannawafel serves up a pretty mean waffle. It had just the right amount of crisp and maple syrup to make me yearn for more. It gave the waffle a nice flavour throughout. And at $3.50 for a piece, this is easily a place I’d hit up for a $10 meal. Two of these, with any or all of the extra toppings I could want—like Belgian chocolate, ice cream or fruit—will have me revisiting cloud nine for the seventh time and more. I just have to go to Market Square to hit up their establishment.

Yes, I admit I get my sugar highs very easily. I needed something to fill me up as I stared at the empty tables where the last bastions of baby back honey suckled ribs once stood. I was told by one of the event organizers that the contest had around six competitors for the afternoon. But that’s not what the ribfest is about; they’re raising money for “Tour de Rock” Cops for Cancer Charity. And the fun doesn’t end with the cook-off. A silent auction was held and for the evening, there was a dinner and dance that I considered hitting.

That was because I was teased by the pigs in a spit roasting outside the beer garden. I stared at them longingly and they looked almost ready to eat. As much as I would’ve liked to stick around for the dinner, I had no date. I guess that’s one thing a foodie nerd will have to get used to.

That’s okay. There were a few costumed cuties from Victoria Costumes that I could’ve flirted with and perhaps ask out.

But instead, the nerd in me pigged out. The winner really has to go to Clive’s Classic Lounge for their longevity in the field of battle. And the ribs they served up were inspired by the flavours of Asia. From their sauce right down to their presentation, I didn’t have to get my hands dirty with the chopsticks they offered. And I could train my camera in after licking my plate clean (It was amazing that I could juggle chopsticks, my camera and food all at the same time).

Their sweet Asian chili hot sauce was good and tasted strikingly familiar. I have a bottle of the sauce at home, but it doesn’t have the crisp shredded pieces of ginger that I could distinctly taste here.

And unlike food tasters, I limited myself to a few ribs at a time. Others just went hog wild and had more than just their fill.

In a dog eat dog world, I think the judging system needs overhaul. I wondered if it was fair to have some people buy out a complete rack of ribs in one go, and leave people waiting behind the line wanting to scream, “Pig!” At a dollar per rib, one isn’t enough, and hitting this ribfest meant that one could get a meal in just under $15. Now if it was $2 per, the hungry public could perhaps be a bit more hesitant and in control of their appetite.

Although I don’t know the dynamics of how this particular cook off works, I hope to get some information soon so I can report on it.

At least I managed to try out another contestant’s offering before they closed. I have to give Dish Cookhouse & Diner a tip from my hat in what they offered. Their sauce is more traditional, like a cool bbq sauce, but only more flavourful. The meat itself was a touch undercooked, but I liked that. I want some tenderness in my ribs than something totally cooked all the way through.

Sadly, with no more meal tickets in hand, the day wound down just as the clouds started gathering. Perhaps that’s a good thing, because from the looks of things, the indoor event will shine with the roar of airplanes nearby.

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