Ribfest Toronto: Juicy Ribs with Butter Beer
Ribfest Toronto June 27 to July 1, 2014
256 Centennial Park Road, Toronto, Canada
Ribfest Toronto is one of my favourite summer food festivals. Hosted by Rotary Etobicoke, the festival takes place in Toronto’s Centennial Park. We arrived at the festival around 1 pm, hungry and ready to feast on ribs. The festival definitely needs better signage because we drove around for a little bit before we finally found the area where tents were set up. It turns out Centennial Park is gigantic and Ribfest is only set up in a small area of the park.
As soon as we neared the Ribfest area, we could smell the smokey barbecue and see the waving flags from each booth. There were also carnival rides, games and vendor booths set up near the entrance of Ribfest but we went straight for the ribs. We were famished. There are a few strategies to go about tackling Ribfest: you can pick the booth with the longest lineup, walk around and survey each booth for yourself or pick the booth with the most trophies and award banners.
Personally, I like to do a mix of my own survey and navigating towards the booths with the longest lines. We found out that most of the booths get their meat from the same supplier so it all comes down to sauce. Many of the booths offered sauce samples. However, we decided to go strictly on smell. That is until we spotted the one booth that sold baby back ribs: Bibb’s from Naples, Florida. The lineup was pretty long at this booth plus I’ve never tried ribs from Florida.
Turns out the baby back ribs were extremely tender, most of the pieces we had were of the fall-off-the-bone variety. The sauce was sweeter than I’m used to but it was still tangy and tasty. I would definitely line up at Bibb’s again.
Since I’ve already tried Camp 31 at Ribfest Mississauga a couple of years ago, I decided to go for the next longest line at Ribfest Toronto: Uncle Sam’s. It just so happens that Uncle Sam hails from the same location where my favourite TV show, Breaking Bad took place: Albuqurque, New Mexico. Uncle Sam’s booth also featured a pretty impressive trophy line-up and has placed 1st in many barbecue competitions in both Canada and USA.
When we tried their ribs, we discovered what all the hype was about. The sauce slathered all over Uncle Sam’s ribs was more intensely flavoured than Bibb’s, there was a stronger vinegar flavour and more depth in the sweet and smokey tangy aftertaste. The sauce was so juicy and delicious, it was hard not to lick my fingers afterwards.
We also stumbled upon another cool stand at Ribfest serving up sweet fruity drinks in collectable Ribfest mugs. We’re suckers for collectables. The booth is called Pappy’s and the drinks are flavoured with berries and roots. The whole set up and the mugs made me think of butter beer and Harry Potter, there is even a sign on the booth advertising the drink as butter beer. The cool thing is after you purchase the collectable mug, you can pump your own drink from a giant keg. We sampled a few of the drinks before we settled on Loganberry which turned out to taste like a mix between Werther’s Originals candies and root beer.
There is still one more day left for Ribfest Toronto tomorrow on Canada Day holiday, July 1, 2014. Don’t miss out on the mouth-watering ribs!