“Pulled pork for a dollar!” yells a 10 year old weaving through the crowds. His younger brother, wearing a matching bright green t-shirt that reads ‘Wolf Pack,’ trails behind carrying samples of the juicy flesh. You can literally smell the bacon and smoke in the air. All of this is at the base of Whistler mountain in Creekside where teams come together each year – families, coworkers, friends, and children with pigs and smokers in tow – for the Bulleit Bourbon Canadian National BBQ Championships.
The Cork & Pork is just one of the events at the BBQ where I am a judge. In this event, it is the food and wine pairing that matters; the pulled pork must compliment Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2012. Our collective gathers in the cafeteria at Dusty’s Backside. We are a hodge podge of sommeliers, GM’s, mixologists and chefs from Whistler’s top dining establishments. Mayben Amos, a head judge from the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association, stands up to explain the determining criteria of what makes the best pulled pork so darn good.
Yet the majority of points in this competition, 51% of the total, are for how well the meat pairs with Ravenswood Zinfandel. The ‘most delicious’ pulled pork champion is decided by other judges in meat-only categories such as the Pork Butt competition.
“In previous years, the winner of the Cork & Pork and the winner of the Pork Butt competition have usually been the same!” Mayben tells us. Suggesting that although we are a group of lushes struggling with the sunlight after late Saturday night service, we may offer some expertise after all.
At 11:30 sharp, the meat arrives in boxes labelled with numbers to distinguish them. We all happily eat our piggish delight whilst sipping on berry-licious Zinfandel in silence.
Whose pulled pork paired the best?
#7, I think. Since the boxes are only numbered, we never know.
Stay tuned for Part II – Advice for winning the Cork & Pork