The pig police, they live inside of my head.BBQlossal is a special event. Anne Rhenstrom, the perpetual and REAL Iowa Pork Queen, and her group do a remarkable job. Honestly, Qlossal doesn't get discussed in bbq circles nearly as much as it should. This is one of the premiere events in the country. It's a pork only contest, where until made optional this year, whole hog was a mandatory category if you wanted to win the overall. Also a change this year, the World Pork Expo was over and moving out as we arrived on Friday. Finally, missing last year, I was introduced to a new location on the grounds this weekend. I liked it. Oh, and you never know who might show up in Iowa. This year some good ole boys from Georgia made the trip.In addition to the nearly normal Saturday contest, this event hosts a hugely successful iron cheffish events, named the Big Green Egg Scramble. Five randomly chosen cooks are given a list of food items they will be provided, but find out which cut of pork they will cook about two hours before the start. In addition, they can bring anything that will fit into a box they're provided. This year's winner was Todd of Pork Pullin' Plowboys assisted by Steph of TheSlabs.com. They made some killer personal pizzas, including a totally over the top dessert pizza. I think I saw the eyes of one of the judges roll back in her head after she sampled it.Almost upon arrival, I was greeted by Don of Boondoggle BBQ bearing the gift of Templeton Rye whiskey. He had no idea that finding a bottle of TR was on my short list of things to do that Friday afternoon. Only a few steps with my gift and Rod of Buster Dog BBQ bequested me with a Casa Magna Robusto cigar, explaining thta it was the highest rated cigar of 2008. I'm not very excitable, but I have to tell you that I was stepping high on my way back to my cook site with these new treasures. What a way to start a contest. A heart felt thank you to both of these guys.
The pig police, they come to me in my bed.
Weather was a factor at Qlossal, which is often the case. Rain began to fall about 5:00 AM. It lasted about five hours. As soon as the clouds moved out, the winds began to torment the cooks, with gusts of up to 30 mph. That's no step for a stepper, but when you're cooking under an instant canopy, both of these can be troublesome. I knew it could and would rain, so had loaded our older canopy. It holds water in the corners. So, for the better part of five hours, I poked the four corners of that damn tent every ten minutes, draining the collecting water. I knew better than to take that tent, but anal Rod didn't want to get the new canopy wet.
Nearly forty pig police found their way to contestant sites about 10:30 AM on Saturday morning. Pig Police oversee the whole hog turn-in process, inspecting teams as they harvest meat from their pigs to put into the turn-in container. Once teams are ready, the PP seal the box with a special sticker and escort the entry to turn-in. The worst winds came just as turn-in for the other three pork categories began. I made it through ribs, but about the time pork shoulder/butt was due, the wind began to punish my old tent. Luckily for me, four young strapping Iowa men came along to save the day. I think they overhead me whimpering in my spot as the winds pushed on the tent sidewalls, threatening to knock over my two tables. These fine, upstanding men took pity on me, securing my tent and tables while I finished the last two categories. Then, bribed only by my ribs and loin leftovers, they helped me tear down and pack up. I swear the entire process only took ten minutes and Pellet Envy was once again the envy of all the other teams left with hours of work to ready themselves for the long trip home. I want to again personally thank (from left to right) Russell, Clayton, Reg and Rodney for their help. I might still be in Iowa if it weren't for some of Iowa's best young talent.
Also, once again thank you to Steph and Kyle for hosting the potluck dinner on Friday. If you haven't had a Stephy Style tamale, you haven't lived. Oh, and Moe Cason of Ponderosa BBQ made Philly cheese steaks that totally rocked my world. I had no idea that boy was so talented. I looked at him in a totally different light after one bite of his fabulous creation.We finished 4th in ribs, 18th in pork, 18th in pork loin and 11th overall out of 59 teams. Not exactly what I came for, but I'll take it considering the great talent that cooked this event. Congrats to Ryan Newstrom and the crew of Big T'z Q Cru on a huge win. That was way cool, especially with his mom on the team. Also, congrats to Pork Pullin' Plowboys, Ribs 4U and A Boy and His BBQ for great overall finishes. This weekend we're off to Wichita to compete in the South Central Kansas Masters BBQ Championship. This will be our first time cooking in Wichita and we're looking forward to the trip. See you all soon on the bbq trail!