BBQ nirvana

For the past year and a half, since I met my honey, we’ve been getting deeper and deeper into the art and science of grilling. We both had gas grills and used them year-round (this being the west coast), but had little experience with charcoal grilling. We invested a whopping $19.95 last year and bought a small kettle charcoal bbq from Superstore. Reminiscent of sputnik, this little guy helped us experiment throughout the summer and fall and convinced us that grilling with charcoal is the way to go. Along the way we also experimented with smoking, thanks to the “loan” of  a Little Chief Smoker from my hun’s brother (Will, you’re never seeing this smoker again… 😉 ). Salmon, salt, almonds, cheese, pork, turkey, bacon explosion, vegetables, we were game to try it, playing with various wood chips and rubs along the way.

The winter was a particular trying one this year. Gas grilling is more convenient when it’s cold and rainy, but we were looking forward to going back to charcoal. The size of our sputnick didn’t allow much in terms of direct vs indirect heat — an inverted aluminum pie plate on top of the charcoal was the best we could really do. So, when the weather finally turned, hun splurged on a true Weber charcoal grill. Let the games begin!

We hosted my mother and hun’s family for a bbq, cedar planked some halibut cheeks (our discovery of the year, recommended by our fishmonger at Granville Island. Cheaper than the steak, with wonderful moist texture), had fun with huge beef ribs, and the usual chicken and pork loins. Always on the lookout for good recipes and tips, I had RRS’d‘s blog a while back. Three weeks ago the following post fell into my inbox:

Foodists brings you Barbecue Bootcamp

Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuck is running a special version of his acclaimed BBQ Workshop for Foodists. Whether you are already well seasoned on the grill or afraid of fire, this is an amazing opportunity and great value. We are rather excited to be sharing this with you. Here are all the details:

Barbecue Bootcamp

Join international barbecue champion Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk for this outdoor cooking extravaganza featuring the essentials of grilling and southern-style barbecue. The three-hour cooking and eating demonstration will include an overview of tools and equipment, rubs, sauces and marinades, techniques for quick and easy grilling and slow-smoking, plus tall tales and legends from the world of competitive barbecue. You’ll learn from and enjoy cooking demonstrations and samplings of great dishes from Ronnie’s bestselling new book, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, including:

  • Grilled Asparagus with Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Aioli
  • Grilled Quesadillas
  • Seared Calamari with Tomato Basil Salsa
  • Rack of Lamb with Balsamic Reduction
  • Classic North Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tidewater Coleslaw and Baked Beans
  • Grilled Beef Tenderloin Steak with Gorgonzola Butter
  • Real Barbecued Pork Ribs
  • Cedar-planked Salmon with Whiskey-maple Glaze
  • Planked Grapefruit with Grand Marnier and Honey

Not only is this incredible value on its own, we will be including wine tastings, pairing each of the dishes with wines courtesy of Ravenswood California Zinfandel.

Barbeque Bootcamp promises to be a celebration of gourmet backyard cooking. If you want to seriously upgrade your grilling and barbecue skills, don’t miss this.

My jaw dropped as I started salivating, reading the menu. In two clicks I had forwarded the email/post to hun with a simple note of: “!?”. To my joy he responded with: “!! Eating demonstrations!! I’m in! I’ll order tickets if you wanna go.” Ah, yeah!… Thanks hun!! 🙂

And so there we were, on a hot Saturday morning in Burnaby, in a gorgeous private garden (thanks again to the hosts of this bbq demo), with 36 other bbq fans for a 4-1/2 hours tour of bbq tips, dishes, and stories on the competition circuit. It was a perfect day. Ronnie was a great guide. If you have a chance to see him in action, don’t hesitate to go. He’s well worth the price of admission. We left that afternoon with full stomachs, an autographed copy of Ronnie’s latest book and a smile on our face. Thank you to, Johnstone Barbecues & Parts and Ravenswood for sponsoring this event. Pictures available on this slideshow.