Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ribstock 2014

What is Ribstock you ask? Only the most magical place on Earth, and that my friends is a fact. Can you image a night of eating ribs and drinking whisky and cocktails? Well that is Ribstock. Organised by Tweat Up,  it's an outside street food event bringing together some of the best rib chefs around that are fighting for your vote for the best rib of the night. 

We went last year and it was amazing, you paid £50 for a ticket and had ten portions of ribs (usually just one or two per portion) and you voted for the best sauce and best rib. You also got beer and a cocktail to enjoy with your food. The only problem really was that it was quite difficult to finish ten portions, especially with all of the booze. I think I got to seven, I say seven because I got drunk and lost my scorecard so can't honestly say. But anyway, the whole Ribstock community had been on high alert waiting for tickets as they came out a bit late this year as it was all changing so we were all checking Twitter every day for any new updates, we were determined to not lose out as there's only so many tickets available.

So after being given days notice, we were all sitting on Twitter waiting for the link to appear, 10 seconds in and I got waitlisted, so I put in a few email addresses as I need two tickets. The tickets this year were £75, and a sharing ticket for two people. Seven portions of ribs, unlimited Frontier Lager and a Tincup Whiskey Old Fashioned. It's also part of a new weekend food festival called Pork Life where you also got another lager, shot of the whiskey and a limited edition Bacon Holy Fuck Hot Sauce from The Rib Man. The festival also had heaps of other street food on offer so those who missed out on tickets could also come along. 

I couldn't resist and got this Ribstock necklace made to show my love and I knocked up this harlequin race day theme top for the event, made from chef material so practically wipe clean...perfect.

So after about 20 minutes I got a notification I had a ticket waiting, 20 minutes after that I got another one. Knowing there were only 150 of these available I pretty much felt like an Olympian, it's what I imagine regular people feel like when they're waiting for Beyonce tickets to go on sale. Me? I'm all about the barbeque. 

So the four of us turned up at Dalston Yard, hungry and ready to feast.  It was me, two of my brothers and my sister-in-law. We originally decided to take turns on choosing which ribs to eat but it turned out that you could pretty much share each portion so you did get seven portions each! Bargain.  Dalston Yard was packed with various stalls for ribs, dirty but amazing burgers, more ribs, cocktails, brownies and hot dogs. If you left hungry you failed. 

We found an area surround by rib sellers filled with tables and benches and decided to start straight away. The ribs on offer were:

BREDDOS TACOS - Beef Short Rib
40 day aged Highland beef short rib, black mole, habanero pickled onions
HOTBOX - Scotch Bonnet Rib
St. Louis cut pork rib, scotch bonnet reduction, pickles
'Q cut' pork rib, Q BBQ sauce
THE RIB MAN - Holy Fuck Rib
'London cut' pork rib, Holy Fuck rub, Holy Fuck slaw
ROTI CHAI - Himalayan Baby Back Ribs
Baby back pork ribs, Himalayan chilli rub
SMOKESTAK - Rib and Tips
St. Louis cut pork rib, rib tips, BBQ glaze, green chilli slaw
TEXAS JOE'S - Triple Porky Rib
St. Louis cut pork rib, bacon bits, pork crackling, wild or mild sauce

So we started with Smokestak, it was the first one we saw on our way in and to be honest, it just looked amazing. And it was! If you think of the typical huge and juicy BBQ rib, this bad boy was it. Smothered in BBQ glaze with some crazy hot chilli slaw....they said it wasn't hot - but it was. This St.Louise cut pork rib was already going to be a front runner. I could easily have eaten a whole rack, they had a great set up too...check the pig...and I hope they find themselves a permanent residence somewhere they were brilliant. 

Then it was time for Texas Joe's, when you think of ribs in America this ticks the box. It was actually huge, came topped with bacon bits and pork crackling which was a nice touch. We went for mild after the chilli slaw and it was really sweet and tangy and without sounding weird..had good fat. One rib each was more than enough. This was definitely a contender for the winner with Smokestak. Those are my favourite types of ribs, huge saucey American style is a winner for me every day. They also gave away some of their own Jerky (which you can also buy in Tesco) which was nice, everyone loves a freebie eh? 

After all that mild we decided to go for The Rib Man, a staple if you're hitting Brick Lane and we loved his pulled rib tortillas last year so was very excited to sample his menu. He's always a joy to see cook, always mucking about and chatting with customers it's part of the experience. But I have to say, I was a little disappointed. This time we got server some big ribs rubbed in his own Holy Fuck rub, and you get a choice of how much and how hot of a sauce you get on the side. His Holy Fuck sauce really does make you want to shout it as loud as you can so I didn't go for much. The ribs were almost cold and I couldn't taste any of the rub, and the sauce was so hot you then couldn't taste much after anyway. I was really looking forward to some pulled rib but he did server up a generous portion and I know his rib game is always strong so I just didn't love this version on a personal level and would still visit him again for more delights, it just didn't beat the other ribs on this occasion. 

Still not feeling full we decided to hit Q Grill next as there was a lull in the queue so decided to get in quick. Again we got a really decent portion, about five ribs, they weren't as thick as some of the others but I really liked them.  Loads of BBQ sauce and a big dollop of sauce I'd be happy to be served this in a restaurant or bought the sauce to take home. If the ribs had a bit more meat on them they would have been perfect but I really couldn't complain and all the chefs working there were really nice and friendly. 

It was time for a cocktail break and we decided to order one of the huge pineapple tequila cocktails to share between me and my sister-in-law, this got us pretty merry actually and even led to another old fashioned. I'm not a beer drinker so my brother got all my beer which worked out pretty good. Whisky and cocktails are more my thing anyway. 

During our rib break my brother got hotdog from Bubble dog, loaded with mac'n'cheese, it was amazingly disgustingly beautiful and rich, you couldn't eat two without having a heart attack but it definitely beats the mystery meat dog you get at the fair. 


Then we all got on the foosball table, a simple but great idea. Booze, food and foosball, these organisers got it bang on. I loved all the piggy touches everywhere, the wall of pig portraits, the inflatable pigs and especially the piggy lights. 

Then of course it was back on the meat, this time it was HotBox. This was a bit more difficult to share but I really enjoyed it, the chef talked you through the process of how they were cooked and the queue was always big so you knew it was going to be good. These had a scotch bonnet reduction, I  loved it! I've got a better taste for spicy things in the last couple of years and I really could have eaten a ton of these, my brother also got their pulled pork bun which to be fair, looked amazing and I just wish I had room for one myself. 

Pulled pork bun

It was good to go back to Roti Chai, they were brilliant last year and this year their baby back ribs and Himalayan rub was another winner for me. Again a good serving of about six I think, smothered in sauce and definitely brought something different to the table. They also served their cinnamon whisky again, which they just won't sell by the bottle. I could drink a litre of it...which is probably why I only made it to seven last year as they have us a tray of shots at one point.  

My brother....yep...

Finally it was time for Breddos Tacos. They were serving up a beef rib, I thought it was a little odd, no taco...no pork...at Pork Life... The rib itself I have to say was gorgeous, I'd never had a beef rib before and it was so tender and the sauce was rich and beautiful. So I loved it, just thought it was a strange choice. 

So who did we vote for? Smokestak! And they won, so pleased! It was such a good event I already can't wait until next year I would highly recommend it to anyone to get yourself down there and down to Street Feast when they start it up again. 

I actually think I'm still full...

The one real disappointment is that we didn't get to Bad Brownie in time, they had a delicious menu and we got there after they sold out so went home with no brownie, should have been keener. Will have to track them down another time!
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