Sep 8, 2011

Random thoughts from the 8th Annual Old Capitol Blues & BBQ

My last blog entry touched upon a great German restaurant Gypsy and I dined at in Evansville, Ind.  During that trip, I was also on the lookout for a great barbecue joint (I always am), and we had even ventured across the Ohio River to Henderson, Ky. the next day looking for a place that was highly recommended on

Well, as they say in the movie "Stripes," the directions got all screwed up and one thing led to another and the next thing you know we were eating at a place unknown to me that ... well, let's say left a lot to be desired.  Gypsy's pulled pork smelled like the barnyard the pig came from.  the one positive was the appearance of chopped mutton on the menu -- a damn rare thing, so much in fact that I had never had barbecue mutton before and had to try it.  It was good, but it wasn't worth the entire trip.

How this has anything to do with the annual Blues & BBQ Fest held Au. 26 and 27 in Springfield, Ill. is that is just worked my appetite up that much more for the good stuff.  And this festival always delivers because of the many vendors competing for your taste buds.

In fact, I was too busy eating and enjoying the company of friends downtown that I hardly have any pictures to document the festival.  But, as luck would have it, I was able to document my encounter a mysterious and exotic Gypsy there, too.  What are the odds?  

Here are a few more observations made amidst the blues, barbecue and beverages:
  • Good call moving the main stage to the south side after last year's festival was plagued with electrical problems.  The acoustics suffered some, but if you stayed back far enough, Jimmy Vaughn sounded great!
  • I have to applaud Muggsy's Fine Dining for making authentically delicious Creole pan barbecue shrimp in the New Orleans tradition.  But four shrimp on a bed of rice for $5 (or five tickets) was quite a hit to the wallet.
  • Expanding the festival to two days was long overdue.  I'll plan accordingly next year ;-)

  • I hope this place (above) returns next year.  The wait in line seemed like an eternity but it was worth it for the sampler plate of baby back ribs, beef brisket and smoked sausage.  The sausage, shockingly, outdid the ribs and brisket.  And as an added plus, they offered a variety of homemade sauces to pour on your barbecue.  True barbecue is about how the meat is cooked; not about the sauce.  And a lot of lesser barbecue places hide their cooking in the sauce.  But Bone Suckin' Ribs definitely got it right.     
  • The festival gave me a great opportunity to sample a beer or two from Rolling Meadows Brewery, Springfield's local mircobrew.  Abe's Ale and Lincoln Lager (love the play on words) are both delicious.  
  • How can you pass up fried green tomatoes from Clay's Popeye's BBQ?  They're great with mustard.
  • Best bargains among the food vendors -- McCormick's baked beans, cole slaw and mini pulled pork sandwiches ... all for $1 each.  Please come back next year!
  • I love having access to several bars on the festival's two city blocks and the ability to take drink "to go."  Reminds me of walking in New Orleans all day/night with a "go cup" from bar to bar.  Plus, sometimes you want something other than beer with your barbecue ... like Jack Daniel's.

Fortunately, I ate, and drank, mostly in moderation.  Unlike this guy seated outside of the Alamo ... I shouldn't be judgemental, though.  I like naps as much as anybody.

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