Bar B Curious

A warm summer night, friends, fireworks and barbecue: What is there not to love about the Fourth of July? It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling to the beach, the lake or staying at home; almost everyone does a little outdoor cooking for the holiday. It is definitely a time to celebrate and gather with friends old and new. Lately I have been smoking every weekend as I plan to enter the competition circuit on a limited basis this year, and I am trying to get my seasoning and timing down.

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I awoke early one Saturday morning, ate a banana and had a glass of orange juice, and headed out the door in search of top notch competition barbecue. This quest had me going to Huntsville for the Shotgun Fred’s BBQ Showdown. It is the closest Kansas City BBQ Society event of the year, and I was happy it was only a two-hour drive from home. I arrived at 10 a.m. for the judges’ meeting and just in time to judge the first side dish – beans.

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The Texas Monthly BBQ Festival is to meat aficionados what Jazz Fest is to music lovers. It was a cool Sunday morning in Austin and smoke was in the air — as was the anticipation of eating some of the best barbecue on the planet. Those lucky enough to get VIP passes were let in an hour early to sample from their choice of the 24 joints that were serving up small portions of their award winning que.

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Brad Klein

Wow! It’s been a great couple of weeks in my barbecue journey. It started in February with judging the KCBS Shotgun Fred’s BBQ Cook Off in Huntsville. Sixty-one teams participated, and wouldn’t you know it, the ice storm in Dallas had us short judges. This means we had to “suffer” through additional meats in each category, plus we judged “chef’s choice” and dessert. I had the pleasure of eating the single best piece of chicken I have ever tasted.

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Ladies and gentlemen, I have a problem. I love barbecue. I love it so much I travel around the state of Texas, most of the time with my kids in tow, to the legendary and not yet legendary barbecue joints around this great state. Planning vacations around dining at places that mainly serve lunch has its challenges, especially when you try and hit multiple locations in one day, but it is more than worth it. If that is not enough, on weekends I’m not traveling, I’m either cooking or judging barbecue.

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