For three glorious days, barbecue companies from across the country gathered this past weekend at the Santa Monica Pier for the 3rd annual LA BBQ Festival: all-you-can-drink-and-eat on the beach. In case you missed it, turn the page for a look at some of the smoky spread.From ribs to brisket to bacon, not a single food item at the festival was a let-down. The only let-down was the three hour limit for staying to indulge. Word on the street though was that organizers didn't kick out anyone who decided to stay for the first and second sessions. More meat for the hungry. Chicago BBQ Company chef Tom Ferguson's pork ribs (pictured above) just placed 2nd in a Nevada rib competition, but it's hard to imagine what tastes better than these. Ferguson covers the ribs in a special spice rub and cooks them over hickory wood. The meat didn't put up a fight coming off the bone, and the spice rub made the dipping sauces (chipotle sauce and "sweet n sassy" sauce) an added bonus of flavor. "Go easy on 'em," warned Ferguson. "They tend to get you on the horny side." Local Long Beach favorite Bigmista's booth at the festival was a crowd-pleaser, passing out candy bacon, like, well, candy. Phil's BBQ, based in San Diego, served its famous El Toro: mesquite-grilled thin-sliced tri-tip, topped with a sweet homemade barbecue sauce and served on a fat sourdough roll. Glorious. Not to mention the homemade peppery coleslaw. All the way from the Lone Star State came Texas Thunder BBQ, with slices of brisket about 1/3 of an inch thick, huge enough to bog down a sweet roll underneath and absorb juices from the bell pepper-infused beans.
Bobby Ostini's Santa Maria-style barbecue was accompanied by the best pinto beans amongst many festival beans. These beans tasted like chili: pieces of bacon, ground beef and green peppers made them nom-worthy. As for the meat, Ostini cooked tri-tip over red oak wood and served it up on a sourdough baguette with garlic butter and fresh salsa.
As a sweet ender to the overwhelmingly amazing barbecue, Magnolia Bakery supplied banana pudding -- not too rich, but sweet enough to top off a day's worth of meat.
Turn the page for more photos from the event...