Silicon Valley’s Finest BBQ
by Alexander Quebec
The quintessential summer entree, BBQ is ingrained in the American psyche as the must have items when the weather gets warmer and the days longer. Many different regions of the USA have their own specialties and variations of BBQ, from the deep south all the way to Hawaii.
I mentioned earlier in a previous article that while California has a less renowned BBQ scene, it doesn’t mean we don’t partake in the meaty goodness. I paid a visit to the Silicon Valley BBQ competition in Santa Clara, held at the Santa Clara Central Park.
As I approached the festival, the scent of fresh cut grass gave way to the smells of smokey BBQ wafting in from the event. I took in the sights, the sounds and the smells immediately. Savory meats with a lingering sweetness from different BBQ sauces filled the air. I could hear chefs and cooks prepping and cooking thier meats, the sizzling of different grills and even the crackling sound of wood being burned a grill.
In order to try the food out in this event, you have to purchase chips, which you then trade for food samples from the competitors, as well as drinks and other items.
As this was a competition, it is sanctioned by The Kansas Barbeque Society. All entrants must meet their rigorous standards and regulations and pay the applicable dues to attend, compete and win in one of their events. From one of the representatives, I’ve learned that different competitions offer different purses, with the largest one currently being valued at over $40,000 for top prize.
My first stop was the Bad S BBQ tent. While they offered the standard fare of ribs, chicken and pork, it was their Bacon Explosion that caught my attention. It got my first chip and I was ready to go.
The Bacon Explosion is actually a juicy sausage stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped with a piece of bacon. I have to say that while this wasn’t something I was expecting, it was everything I wanted it to be. You will probably feel guilty after indulging in something decadent like this, I say, your sins are forgiven.
I also gave their ribs a try. Seasoned well with the meat coming off easily off the bone, I’d say that this was another standout feature.
Next was a stop at Bar-B-cuda BBQ, a Hayward based joint. As I am a pulled pork connoisseur, I gave their pulled pork a try.
Sweet and not dry at all, I gave their guy James my props. Without the sauce, it was an amazing piece of pork.
My next stop was one of my favorites, G & Pops BBQ. Headed by their Pit Master Tomeako, thier tent made had some impressive trophies on display.
I was, of course, here to check out the skills of the chef. When it comes to BBQ, I often like to gauge their skills with chicken, as it’s very easy to mess chicken up.
This man’s reputation was well earned, the chicken was juicy, moist and seasoned well. It looked like it was also cooked through, which is a big plus for a lot of people (myself included). I tried it with their signature sauces, which made for another amazing flavor experience.
After a small conversation with a friendly woman who worked at the tent named Rebecca, I mentioned I was a food blogger for Caliplate. Immediately, she went and got me samples of two of their most popular sides: thier Jalapeno Corn and their Mac & Cheese to try.
As far as sides go, these could very well be entrees on their own. The corn was a bit rich for me, but the sweetness of the corn complimented the creamy sauce well. The Mac and Cheese gets points for having a deceptively small amount of cheese, but with a flavor better than the stuff from the blue boxes.
Taking a break from getting meat wasted, I wandered around the food and craft stands to see what was available. I did stop by a jerky stand
then it was off to the tent belonging to Patrick’s Famous Pies, featuring baked goods made with recipes from North Carolina (I tried and bought a small White Sweet Potato pie, it was delicious)
And a stand featuring jewelry and home accessories made with up-cycled bullet casings from The Bullet Studio
I also took in some of the live performances on the stage too.
With a few chips left to go, I decided to make this last one count. After doing some fine tuning, I gave in to trying Uncle Ninos tri tip. I’m not a huge fan of tri tip myself, as I don’t like to have to work for my meat. Buttery and savory, Uncle Nino’s trip tip was actually quite good.
Overall, today was a fun filled afternoon. I do want to give you a heads up that if you do come on down for Saturdays festivities; wear a hat, bring sun screen and drink plenty of water to beat the heat (of course, this is great advice for any outdoor event, especially during the summer)
The Silicon Valley BBQ Championship is at Santa Clara Central Park in Santa Clara. Saturday’s Event will run from 11 AM to 8PM. Admission is free, but parking is $10 at the local church parking lot. You might want to bring cash as some (but not all) merchants accept credit cards.
Have you gone already? Have something to say about the event? let us know in the comments below.