At nearly all our local festivals and fairs, I just walk on by the “barbecue” stands because few of them are actually selling meats cooked low and slow. But last Wednesday night at the Santa Rosa Downtown Market I took a closer look at Dad & Son’s Gourmet BBQ stand because it had a display of Alicia’s cakes and pies in front. I’d been regretting not getting a piece of sweet potato pie earlier at BFC in Oakland.
But what made me stop dead in my tracks was spotting “WHITE SAUCE” on Dad and Son’s BBQ menu. Until I’d tasted a version of Gibson’s Alabama white barbecue sauce ( http://www.bigbobgibsonbbq.com/ ) last summer, I have to confess that I’d never heard of the stuff. And, I’d certainly never seen it out here before. Breathlessly, I asked the young woman where Dad & Son’s family was from. She said that the family was from Sonoma County. She further explained that her husband (the “Son”) was a student of barbecue and had researched styles from all over the country. This is evident in the range of meats and sauce styles on offer. Besides the white sauce, there’s what’s called regular BBQ sauce, a sweet version, and a spicy mustard-based yellow sauce. She said the sweet sauce was one of the most popular, which jives with what I’ve been told about Northern California tastes in barbecue.
But enough about the sauces, good barbecue is all about the meat. While not listed on the menu, I asked if I could get a three-way combo with ribs, brisket and pulled pork. Dad nodded and charged me $10. This came with fries and my choice of two sauces, and I had them hold the bread (good-looking Franciscan rolls). I was pleased to see that Dad and Son were confident enough in the quality of their meats to serve them bare, as shown here, serving the sauce on the side.
The meaty and well-trimmed St. Louis-style spareribs were some of the best-looking ones I’ve seen outside of competitions. Deliciously seasoned, the brush of sauce glaze baked into the meat formed a tasty crust highlighting the natural sweet flavor of the pork and no other adornment was needed. I really liked the layers of smoke notes mingled with the seasonings and deep meatiness. Not quite falling off the bone, the ribs were a little too soft for my taste, likely from holding before serving. But all in all, this was very satisfying.
The pulled pork still had its integrity, not cooked to mush like too many examples in the commercial realm. Quite peppery and with more subtle smoking than the rib, the inherent flavor of the meat came forward. I was sorry that I’d not chosen the yellow mustard sauce to try with this. Yet, the apple cider vinegary snap of the white sauce turned out to be a good companion for the pulled pork.
The brisket had good flavor, but was a little too soft and had started to dry out. They told me that it spends about six hours in the smoker. I noticed that the brisket was sliced and held in a warming tray. I might ask for some to be sliced to order if I try it again, as this meat dries out the fastest after it’s cut. The beefy flavors paired best with the tangy, medium-bodied, non-sugary regular BBQ sauce.
Fries were decent, and I liked dipping them into the white sauce. The white sauce reminded me of the packets of mayonnaise-y sauce that come with frites in France. I liked this white sauce more than the bottled Gibson’s. Dad and Son’s white sauce has a fresher taste without the metallic preservative element in the packaged version.
I asked “Son” whether he had any other regular appearances besides the Wednesday night market. He said that they’re available for catering on the weekends, but this was as much as they could handle since they all have full-time jobs elsewhere. The Santa Rosa market runs through September 1, if chowhounds want a chance to check out Dad & Son’s Gourmet BBQ. I hope someone will report on the white sauce with the smoked chicken.
Chowhound threads about "Alabama white sauce"
Santa Rosa Downtown Market, 5/26 to 9/1/2010
Chow’s White Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Santa Rosa Downtown Market
637 1st St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Dad & Son's Gourmet BBQ
Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa, CA