Read the report of our competition in Riva di Tures
There are events that fixes by themself on the calendar. Now you do not even notice it anymore, but if you frequently attend the competitive barbecue world it’s almost automatic that a red box with the word “WEST” magically appears on your schedule. You do not even remember the subscription phase, although it must have been very quick considering the fact that the 30 spots usually fly away in a few days. It simply comes January, the season starts again, it starts with WEST and you will be part of it, as usual. And yet there are a thousand reasons for reconsidering, especially after a few years of militancy: for those who still do not know it, WEST is the most extreme competition of the year, held in Riva di Tures, 1600 m.a.s.l. one of the coldest places where it is technically possible to barbecue. Really hard, believe me.
Despite this, WEST always has an incredible appeal. It is not only the charm of the extreme as many say, but the set of many other factors that combine to form the framework of a unique competition of its kind. Leaving aside the beautiful Val Pusteria and the proverbial capacity of South Tyrol, with its spectacular rustic cuisine accompanied by an unmissable beer and the warmth of wood and the Stube after a day spent in the snow, I am convinced that the attraction for those who participates has in large part a meaning of a technical nature. We resume our classic parallelism, the one with the F1 circuit: one of the most fascinating stages is the Grand Prix of Montecarlo but if you analyze the track in itself there should not be any reason. It is a city race of those of old times, very uncomfortable that passes close to houses and buildings where it is almost impossible to overtake. What the hell will it be so beautiful? The fact that the race takes place in a unique, beautiful environment where those who participate are put to the test not only at technical but also at a strategic level, a race with no margin of error, a challenge to the skill of the participants. The WEST has in some ways a similar connotation, in which to the thousand variables already present in a normal competition, they are added at least as many relative to the conditions. It is a challenge to your skills, knowing by the start that you can move cause in a while from glory to anonymity or vice versa for a question of nuances. In this sense, it is enough to consider yesterday’s ranking on the Pork category: the first 5 have a score included within the decimals following the number 177. In other words on 180 points available, the top 5 in the standings have a score of 177 and the difference was in tenths and in some cases in hundredths of a point. Add to this a truly remarkable MIG organization ability, which without being noticed do not make you miss anything in conditions where you would naturally miss everything.
From a sporting point of view we are in a dissociated phase, alternating great satisfaction with the same regret. We bring home a big double first place in the Pork and Brisket categories and a call (8i) in the Ribs. Unfortunately, as many of you already know, on the chicken we did harakiri, very badly handling a wait-and-see delivery strategy in the last minutes. We have implemented it many times with good results but unfortunately as already happened to us if you remember, in Holland in 2016, this time we were wrong and we pay the consequences: we arrived over the turn in time limit, so no turn in and no overall ranking. There is much displeasure and the strong feeling of being moxxn but unfortunately you can not turn back time and it is useless to cry over the spilled milk, we will try to do it again next time. At the West for the second year in a row there was also the SCA competition, mainly intended for cooking steaks over an auxiliary category, this year dedicated to Hot Dogs. We always approach this participation as a game, clearly pointing our presence at the KCBS event the following day. However, we bring home a good 6th place with our Chili Cheese Dog on a cooking that really amused us.
It is however the moment of our usual ranking of the five best memories that will remain of this fifth edition of WEST:
- At this edition compared to the previous ones have been added streetfood trucks. A nice idea certainly very appreciated by the public. Among the truckers present there were two groups of friends, among other things historical participants of WEST: the Burros that proposed a take away version of the outstanding Modena tortellini on broth that many times in these five years have warmed our nights in Riva di Tures and the MAD with their well-established (and very well organized) streetfood Rimini style barbecue. It makes a certain effect to see the beautiful packaging used by the Burros or the now well-equipped MAD emplacement and rethink the first participations together, with gazebos that flew up at the first gust of wind, a couple of WSM, a fire, a great desire to be together and really little else. This is the photograph of a cross-section that shows a sector in full evolution with a right and physiological generational change on the competitive side.
- One of the biggest unknowns that can be in the West as intuitive, is the weather condition. Over the years I have seen mainly three. The one all in all more comfortable is snow, even if a bit risky. If it snows there are not less than -2/-3 degrees, practically the tropics for those altitudes. Clear that it does not have to snow too much or else it destroys gazebos and any other temporary thing has been fitted. The worst is the windstorm. The cold is perceived as double and you can’t see one meter far. Terrible, really. Then there is the middle way, that is, the serene climate that has however as a heavy consequence the achievement of peaks of lower temperatures. Like last year, even in this edition we found ourselves in this last condition. And in fact, same as last year during the night it touched -23° C. Compared to the West IV, however, the sky was incredibly clearer and the result is what you can see in the scroll photos: literally breathtaking views that surrounded us all competition long, a truly incredible feeling.
- When we decided to participate in the SCA HotDog category, we thought of something suitable for the climate and the context. We wanted something that would represent a comfort food, invigorating and satisfying rather than fanciful. So we thought of a good quality Hot Dog with artisanal sausage but with the tasty and hot chili poured over it and some aged mountain cheese flakes to melt on the surface. In short, a Chili Cheese Dog, believing in this way to be original. By the tastings made of the preparations of many friends competing, we realized very quickly that we were amateurs: we tasted incredible things, from hot dogs with fresh guacamole and fresh warm crunched nachos to one with a roux barbecue sauce, small cubes of pineapple marinated in whiskey and jalapeno and crunchy caramelized onion. In the end, the winner presented a simple hot dog: bread, frankfurters and mustard. Stop. Sometimes the simplicity…
- In this competition our friend Fabrizio joined us. He’s passionate about cooking in a transversal sense with a very complete and varied technic skills base. Among the many passions, Fabrizio also has the home sausage making one and at this tour he decided to bring some of his creations to share with us and with all the guests who came to visit us in the gazebo in these two days. Among the many sausages, it is worth mentioning that with Roquefort, Chorizo and Mediterranean herbs stuffing, but the one that won hands down in the opinion of everyone was that with Aji Amarillo and Cheddar. Accompanied by semiartigianal mustard and pretzel is a state of the best “snacks” that I remember eating on the competition fields.
- Above we have mentioned some of the motivations that make the West such an interesting event. To these there is to add a decidedly more international atmosphere compared to other Italian competitions. The position, immediately close to the borders certainly facilitates the participation of Austrian, German and Swiss teams, even if it is very common to see also the Dutch, Belgians and Hungarians. Even this year a Swedish team was registered. Without detracting from the national teams, all made up of great friends that we always meet very gladly, the teams that in Europe routinely point to the ranking, or those who attended at least 5 or 6 events for some years, are always the same. We know each other some way, some even since 5 years and the West is undoubtedly the only opportunity to meet each other again in these proportions within the Italian borders. The reality is that if you like this type of environment, the WEST is objectively the southernmost among the great European classic competitions and if you want to feel few steps far from home those magical atmospheres experienced at the BBQ Society, the Black Forest or the Brew’n ‘ Q, it represents a unique opportunity. This edition in particular will be one of those that I will remember among the most “international” in absolute, in which among the “old” of the Italian barbecue besides us there were only friends Bros Hog and the same Burros.
The WEST season officially started, we are waiting for the next competition. When will it be? By now you know the leitmotif: we do not even know it, keep on follow us and you will be the first to know it.