The Vacation Gals had fun sampling different types of beer at the Boulevard Brewery (I especially liked Lunar, a moderately dark brew). Our next stop in Kansas City was the American Royal Complex. The American Royal is a not-for-profit, community-based organization that gives scholarships to kids, along with education and competitive learning experiences. American Royal hosts bull riding and horse shows, as well as a world-renowned barbecue competition every fall. And lucky us, the winner of many BBQ contest throughout the USA was there for a demonstration and samples! Can’t visit Kansas City without at least a little barbeque, after all — or in some of our cases, a lot of barbeque.
Rod Gray, half of the husband-and-wife team Pellet Envy, showed the group how he prepares ribs and brisket. This involves a pretty big, pretty lethal-looking sharp knife Rod called a scimitar. Now, I’m a meat eater, always have been; nevertheless, all that handling of raw meat made me appreciate how much I prefer my beef, well, cooked.
Rod and his wife, Sheri, cooked up the BBQ while the rest of the group and I took a look at the American Royal Museum. It was fun — lots of child-friendly and interactive displays about American agriculture, farming and rodeos, just as Jim McNair (the President of the American Royal) promised. This past year had more than 8,000 school-age kids take part in the American Royal School Tours, and I imagine those must have been pretty fun field trips. But what’s that great smell? It grew increasingly difficult to concentrate on the exhibits and displays, as the scents of grilling ribs and brisket filled the rooms.
Pellet Envy has won 31 championships, and has been a top nationally ranked barbeque team for six consecutive years. With credentials like that, along with the sweet smell of basted ribs wafting under your nose, you know you’re going to taste some fine BBQ. And believe me, it didn’t disappoint. The smoky tomato based sauce was just perfect, and the meat fell off the bones. I didn’t use a fork with the brisket, by the way. Why waste that sauce? Licking off my fingers, I smiled happily along with my friends. We knew how lucky we were: We’d just eaten some of the world’s best BBQ, right here in Kansas City, Missouri.