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Wednesday, July 29, 2009 

Harpoon Day 3

On Saturday night, Mame treated us to a great dinner including steak, sea food and fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. We socialized with our neighbors and generally enjoyed ourselves. One advantage to having the Summer Sizzler Grilling Competition on Sunday is that there is no need to be up all night cooking. I woke up early on the third day of Harpoon having gotten a reasonable amount of sleep. In addition to the competition, Sunday is the day that we choose to vend barbecue, so we do have a bit more to do.

After another stellar breakfast a-la-Mame, we prepared for vending and determined how we were going to divide up the labor during turn-in for the competition. Unlike the barbecue competition, where my control freak genes keep me from letting others take charge of any of the meats, we all take a category. The categories on Sunday were lamb, fish, beef and chef’s choice.

My lamb was first up at 1:00. The dish I did was something I’ve started calling “Dad’s Karmic Kababs.” The recipe is based on a lamb dish handed down to me from my father that I’ve modified for a grilling competition. It’s an unusual dish with strong Indian flavors and a yogurt marinade. Having let the meat marinade overnight, I skewered it and popped it on the grill at about 12:15. In hindsight, it probably went on a little early, but in the end I thought it came out pretty well.

Dad's Karmic Kabobs.

The second category was beef. Old Bull bought a really nice tenderloin and rubbed it with a crust that I think has a lot of potential to be a high winner. It went out looking good and the scraps tasted fantastic. As with Mame, I hope the Old Bull keeps trying this one. In my experience with cooking the barbecue meats, doing the same thing over and over, keeping notes and making minor changes seems to be the best way to perfect what you’re doing.

Old Bull's Beef Tenderloin.

Mame was up at 2:00 with the fish category. Personally, I find fish a hard nut to crack because I just don’t have the access to it one would if they were on the coast, and I don’t tend to think about buying it in the stores where I live. Mame’s choice was to plank grill the salmon with a mild sauce. In the end, the sauce didn’t cut through like she felt it had in the past, which wound up hurting her score. Personally, I hope she keeps trying to do the plank grilled fish thing, because I think eventually she’ll lock it in and have some good success.

Our fish entry.

As always, Farmer Girl took on the Chef’s Choice category. This is a wide open category, meaning the cook can do whatever they want and they can garnish with whatever they want! Needless to say, Chef’s Choice really brings out the creativity of the cook. Those of you who follow us know that Farmer Girl won first place two years ago with an apple spice cake in this competition. She followed up next year with another cake that unfortunately was disqualified for not cutting it into six pieces as we had been told to do. The year between competitions she thinking about how the same cake could be improved and her plan was outstanding. Unfortunately, we didn’t successfully manage our work prior to turn-ins and because she was crunched for time, she had to skip one of the steps she had planned.

The Chef's Choice submission.

We vended our barbecue, baked goods and smoked eggs until 4:00 when the final awards ceremony came around. As it turns out, I took the first ribbon of the day with a 10th place award for Dad’s Karmic Kabobs! This would turn out to be our only bling for the grilling competition although three out of the four submissions placed well (11th in beef, 12th in Chef’s Choice) out of 35 teams. The cool thing for Sunday was that all of our friends took home awards in grilling. Pauline and Dave from Vermont Barbecue took 7th in lamb, Sandy and Dave of Boneyard got 5th in the same category. The folks from Feeding Friendz had a killer grilling day with 4th place ribbons in Beef and Chef’s Choice. Jenn said she tried their Chef’s Choice and it was excellent! Even better is that for the day they took 6th place overall! Way to go teams!

The end of the day was marked with big smiles and exhausted bodies. We loaded all of our stuff in, waving goodbye to all the teams as they left. The one contest we did this season turned out to be the best one we’ve ever had. It makes the sting of last season’s mediocrity much less strong and it takes made sacrificing other events to save money a positive decision. We did well, we saw some of our greatest friends, we cooked some good food and, as always we had the best time. Thanks to my family/team for all of their efforts, all of the pitching in and for being such great people. Thanks to our friends in barbecue Feeding Freindz, Boneyard Smokers and Vermont Barbecue for making a great event that much better – having good friends around you is priceless! And lastly, thanks to the fantastic staff at Harpoon who put an amazing amount of time and effort into making this contest a spectacular event for the teams and the fans.