Friday, June 25, 2010

*UPDATED* Ottawa's Chicken-Ribfest 2010

*UPDATED* with Lucy's comments in lavender.

Ottawa's Chicken-Ribfest 2010 - 4
You can find these ribs at the 2010 International Chicken-Rib Cook-Off in Ottawa in the next two days. Sunday (June 27th) is the last day, by the way, so get dressed and go get some!

We went down to the smoke-filled Sparks Street earlier today and bought a few orders of ribs. We started lining up around 5:00 PM, so the flocks of tourists hadn’t yet arrived. The crowd was predominantly federal government employees picking up Friday night dinner. The longest line-up was about 15 minutes for Uncle Sam’s and the Silver Bullet.

Then we took a ride down the Ottawa River Parkway and stopped at the Deschenes Rapids (the last place you can park your car before the Parkway ends). We only went to four places for ribs: Silver Bullet, Billy Bones, Uncle Sam, and Camp 31.

Ottawa's Chicken-Ribfest 2010 - 1
A full rack of ribs with a side of coleslaw and beans from Silver Bullet.

Lucy's comment: Over the past few years, Silver Bullet is probably my favourite lunch. The ribs were very tender and lean, making it very easy to eat. The sauce was the sweetest in comparison with the others, which also meant that their beans were super dark (in colour) and sweet. The smoky flavour was wonderful, permeating the meat to the bone. The stall was generating huge plumes of smoke while I waited in line. Overall, it’s a solid rack of ribs, and the flavours won’t offend your palate unless you can’t stand a sweet sauce.

Ottawa's Chicken-Ribfest 2010 - 2
Ribs and pulled pork combo from Billy Bones. The pulled pork was really sweet. After two bites, I couldn't eat anymore.

Ottawa's Chicken-Ribfest 2010 - 3
Half a rack of ribs from Billy Bones.

I actually don’t remember much about this one. The meat was rather tough, so it involved more chewing action than the other ribs. The sauce was sweet and spicy but it balanced well with the other flavours. I thought the pulled pork had an excessive amount of sauce. I would have liked it more if they added half as much sauce and offered the other half on the side. If I had known how delicious the sauce was going to be, I would have definitely bought a few bottles of it for myself.

Ottawa's Chicken-Ribfest 2010 - 6
Full rack of ribs with coleslaw and beans from Uncle Sam. The first image in this post is also from Uncle Sam.

These ribs were fall off the bone tender, but they were also ridiculously fatty. The grease really put me off when I looked at my hands and saw the grease and not the sauce. The sauce was standard – nothing was offensive. The beans were rather bland, so I ate them with the beans from Silver Bullet. It actually rounded out all of the flavours quite nicely!

Ottawa's Chicken-Ribfest 2010 - 5
Half a rack of ribs with coleslaw and beans from the defending champions of the best ribs, Camp 31.

At first, I was skeptical of the ribs from Camp 31. Where would the flavour be hiding if there’s barely any sauce on it? It was amazing. The meat was lean, and the flavour was strong. There was a harmonious balance of sweet, savoury, tangy, and smoky flavours in each bite. We were quite disappointed that we only bought half a rack, but that meant we were fighting over the ribs, making it taste even sweeter with victory, MUAHAHAHA! This was also easy to eat, leaving us wanting more.

Lucy, Jimmy, Richard, Andrew, and I have collectively agreed that the best ribs came from two places...
The best "wet" ribs came from Billy Bones.
The best "dry" ribs came from Camp 31.

We couldn't name an overall winner because they were two different styles. Billy Bones' sauce was awesome! No wonder they've won the award of the best sauce, at this competition, these past two years. Camp 31 were very gutsy by not using any sauce, but hey, the meat was full of flavour. No wonder they are the three-time defending champs of the best ribs and BBQ sauce.

Update: Camp 31 has successfully won the best ribs and sauce again.

Ottawa's Chicken-Ribfest 2010 - 7
There's also one lemonade stand (Alabama's Freshly Squeezed Lemonade) on Sparks Street, which is alright. We packed some drinks in our cooler this time. Last year, there were two younger guys running this stand. I was surprised not to see them there anymore. They must not have sold enough last year.

If you aren't familiar with these sorts of competitions, all I can say is bring an empty stomach, cash, and patience.

Ottawa's Chicken-Ribfest 2010 - 8
The prices for all of the different competitors look similar to Silver Bullet's prices.

Last reminder, Ottawa's ribfest ends this Sunday! I'd suggest you go for lunch instead of dinner. Even though it looks like we'll be getting rain this weekend, it's worth lining up for. For some tips on how to prepare yourself for the event, check out my list here.



  1. Man these look good! I was there last year and it was amazing. I didn't see the dry rib stand though. There was a truck handing out free Dr. Pepper but regrettably, it was warm. I wish I could've gone this year. Great photos!

  2. Oh my that looks scrumptious! There's something so primal about gnawing on ribs. I think that's why I love eating them so much. It's a chance to eat with your hands and with utter abandon! :D

  3. @russ
    The best part of Ribfest is that the smell hits you first, then the plumes of smoke drifting off, and finally the sight of the vendors (and lineups!). The drier rib was satisfying, but the smoky flavour became tiresome after two ribs. Christine busted out her DSLR for these pictures, and the afternoon sunlight made the perfect spotlight.

    We went crazy over these ribs! It was just after work, and we were all starving. We probably went through a quarter of those ribs in about 20 minutes! Paper towel, wet naps, and hand sanitizer were all on hand for the messes. It makes me glad that we decided to eat in a park instead of bringing the food (and the subsequent mess) with us!


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