We got BBQ from 12 places. People brought 1 pound of brisket, 1 side of pork ribs, sauce and their choice of sides. At the end of the evening we voted by show of hands on our favorite in each category. People got to vote twice in each category if they needed to.
Contenders and Number of Votes (in order of Brisket, Sauce, Ribs) - Chef Edwards (1,1,0), Doug's (2,0,0), Big Nates (11,6,3), Johnsons BBQ (8,6,6), Everett & Jones on San Pablo (0,2,1), Memphis Minnie's (8,6,11), Brothers-in-Law (n/a, 0,0), Central Texas BBQ in Castroville (0,1,0), Bobby's Back Door (0,1,2), Pack Jack in Sebastapol (n/a, 0, 0), Everett & Jones in Jack London Square (4,5,4)), Leon's (0,0,2)
Top Three Winners
Brisket - Big Nate's, Johnson's BBQ, Memphis Minnie's
Sauce - Three way tie of Big Nate's, Johnson's, Memphis Minnie's
Ribs - Memphis Minnie's, Johnson's, E&J Jack London
Brothers-in-Law and Pack Jack got no votes.
Was the arrival state equal? - Joe picked up the Central Texas BBQ on Friday on his way up to the city, I picked up my BBQ on Sunday at 5pm, just before the tasting. All BBQ was served in its condition on arrival, no heating. I think this benefited some and hurt others.
Sauce v. No Sauce - Most BBQ arrived with the sauce on the side [As God, who is a Texan, intended. ;-)] But I noted that Big Nate's brisket which chopped and sauced won the most brisket votes. So even if the brisket does stand on its own, does it need sauce to be a favorite?
Another brisket issue - that came up was that second place Memphis Minnie's brisket was the first to go, so at least 5-7 people didn't get to taste it. I thought 1 pound was plenty but clearly should have brought more.
Brisket Slicing Variations - I noticed that there was a full range of slicing techniques for brisket. Doug's was sliced the thinnest. Big Nate's was sliced thicker but also cut cross-wise. Some were more cut straight down while some angle-cut. I preferred the angle-cut, which I thought helped combat the toughness of the meat.
Smoke Rings - Most of the briskets has some evidence (pink-to-red ring around the edges) of being smoked. There were several that had no smoke ring, nor even a hint of smoke flavor. I won't even begin to speculate about how these establishments prepare their meat but I bet it has little to do with barbecuing.
Pork Ribs - What can I say? Once again, "I'm from Texas. I'm all about the brisket." Michael was in charge of the rib tasting. He didn't label them. We both thought that most of the ribs were quite decent. Some were more tender, juicy & smokey than others were. We liked the Memphis Minnie's & Johnson's ribs the best.
Sauces - There were deep, dark molasses Louisiana style sauces. There were a couple of spicy Texas red sauces. There were some ketchup-laden sauces. There were some vinegary sauces. I only saw and had one mustard sauce. Judging sauces on their balance, heat, sweetness, thickness is probably the most highly individual of BBQ preferences so I'll let the voting above speak for itself. (Also, my notes are at home with my non-working computer, Doh!)
Sides - We did not vote on sides since they were all different kinds. I thought they were mostly boring. I did notice that the Everett & Jones Jack London Square had quite nice greens - they were not overcooked and had meat in them. The mini-sweet potato pies that Celery brought was also nice.
Out of the Box Award - goes to Ruth, who after she had done her initial tasting, created a special plate of her favorite brisket & non-matching sauce. Who woulda thunk? I'm sure she'll chime in and let us know where to go for brisket, and then for sauce.
All Right! That's all I can think of. I'm sure others will chime in with more rib info and other stuff I left out.