Yes, Hilton Head Island is known for seafood and we have wonderful restaurants serving up gorgeous local seafood from French-Asian fusion to classic delicacies like Lowcountry boil. We also have superlative seafood markets, many offering up their catch fresh off their own shrimp trawlers and oyster day boats. But the Island also boasts another specialty that is coming into it’s own within foodie circles far and wide… barbeque*. We even have several competitions, i.e. barbeque battles, held annually and one of them, the 16th Kiwanis Rib Burn-Off and BarbecueFest, is turning up the heat on May 19th.
If you say the word “barbeque” to most any Southerner (except a Texan), they will automatically assume pork slow roasted (barbequed) over hot coals made from hardwood like hickory, cherry, apple, or even pecan. Of course, there are other types of barbeque (beef, chicken, goat to name a few) but in my book when you plainly say, “barbeque” you mean pork. In South Carolina you can also have discussions (i.e. arguments) about what kind of sauce is the best on barbeque (there are 4 kinds indigenous to SC depending on your location within the state). I believe sauce selection is a totally personal decision so let’s move on, shall we?
This Rib Burn-Off (but not really burnt, here’s hoping!) is a terrific opportunity to taste-test all my favorite local ‘que in one afternoon. While I am not going to be appearing on “BBQ Pitmasters” any time soon, I spent my formative years assisting in the prep and cooking of many whole hogs (with my Dad) so I know a thing or two about good barbeque pork. I also know people take it very seriously, there is much hard work involved, and great barbeque is akin to creating great art – you’re always perfecting it.
Orchid Paulmeier, proprietor of One Hot Mama’s on Hilton Head and contestant on last year’s Food Network Star, tells me, “The Rib Burn-Off is one of the best events of the year. We always strive to have killer ‘Q’ and a fun booth to hang out at all afternoon.” I know Orchid and her staff put lots of love into their barbeque too and it shines through in the quality of their food and Orchid’s friendly smile and effervescent personality.
The 2010 best rib winner (professional) The Smokehouse is looking to make another superlative showing this year as well. Owner Jerry Leonard is confident his team – and his ribs – will shine into the winner’s circle, “We use our special dry rub and slow smoke our ribs over hickory wood for an authentic barbeque flavor.” Jerry can’t wait for the Rib Burn-Off to roll around and adds, “This will be our 14th year participating. It’s a nice way to give back to the community, see our loyal customers and make some new ones too. The Kiwanis do a great job with this event.”
This ‘que competition is not just for professionals either, although all the local ‘que-tastic restaurants like Bluffton’s Choo Choo BBQ Express (2011 Best Ribs by Judges) and Montana’s Restaurant & Grizzly Bar (2011 Best Ribs by popular vote) as well as Hilton Head’s One Hot Mamas and The Smokehouse, will be competing. Amateur cooking crews with monikers like Motley Que and Hog Heaven as well as the popular Hilton Head Firefighters team will be firing up their best for a shot at 2012 bragging rights. And best of all, the net proceeds go to local children’s charities including The Children’s Center, Boy Scouts, The Sandbox, CAPA, the Boys and Girls Club and many others.
So barbeque lovers unite for terrific ‘que is indeed on the menu in Hilton Head Island, to be found Saturday, May 19th from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn.
* I have always spelled barbeque with a “q” instead of a “c”. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary both barbecue AND barbeque are acceptable spellings. Since barbeque was originally created along the SC/NC coasts, the SC Barbeque Association uses the “q” spelling, and with the letter “q” being too underutilized in my opinion, I’m sticking with the “q”…thank you!