We Made it to Esquimalt Ribfest and Surviving the Colossal Onion

20210911_184634Esquimalt Ribfest
Bullen Park

Sept 10-12, 2021

Don and I made it Esquimalt’s Ribfest! Though we met up for dinner elsewhere to sate our appetites (review coming in two weeks), my suggestion to check out this festival was with no regrets.

We saw a new tent that may well be part of the annual show. And, it gave us reason to return since we didn’t want to deal with the long lineup for The Colossal Onion. on the evening we went. We both agree that this event is not the type to return to every year. Our criticism is that the “competitors” hardly change. When compared to similiar shows elsewhere around North America, there’s tons of operations out there who can bbq up a tasty pork or beef rib. Either they’re not as well known to get invited to the island or they’re not into national-level challenges.

20210911_185517There was one new ribber, House of Q, and at it stands, they’re at most an “average” operation. Tasty, sweet and succulent. They didn’t do anything to make their sauce or technique stand out. I also feel I need to bring container with sliced red onions and green peppers to kick up any sandwich meal bought here. When the bread is truly meh, I need other options to enhance these protein bites.

Adding onions on top is not necessary, because of Colossal Onion. They’re a travelling food “trucker” operation willing to travel far to offer deep fried onion bulbs at places that don’t have a fixture in town. The Blooming Onion is a staple in the carnival scene. In the evening Don and I went, we had no room to consider one even after our second meal of the evening. With our bulge (er, budget) being evident, we thought it was best to walk off the night after our meal. The walk from Bullen Park in the municipality of Esquimalt back to downtown Victoria is long, but we drove in.

I’m still walking and drinking tons of water to cleanse off the grease from the second meal. This flowering onion isn’t for the faint of heart to consume. It’s a medical nightmare, but hey, it’s okay to enjoy a guilty pleasure once or twice a year.

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This crispy bloom of onion fries go cold fast. The batter keeps some of the heat and offers its own with a hint of paprika in the crisp. The bacon bits and chives (included with the everything version) made the dish stand out.

This operation wasn’t kidding about how huge their onions are. I don’t know what steroid was pumped into them, but they must own their own farm or only buy from select growers to fulfill the needs of a hungry carnival crowd.

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The organizers behind Esquimalt’s Ribest didn’t add in any effort to control the lineups or medically gate keep. It was a gong show since lines blended into one another, and not everyone was masked up. Everybody was hungry in some capacity. BC Health’s vaccination truck was part of the event because there haven’t been a lot of island cases and its a way to remind people we are still in a pandemic. We’re in the fourth wave, and I suspect more will come when people aren’t taking appropriate precautions. 

Having leftovers after attending this event is rare. I have to note that the crazy pricing of food was noticed by many. The cost to get beef ribs went up by $10 (from $30) and by Sunday, this event ran out of pork ribs! I suspect having an appropriate level of stock was not planned given the circumstances of people wanting to be out before the new vaccine card restrictions kicked in.

Let’s hope next year will be better planned.

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