Tim and I spent a couple of hours over the weekend at “The Festival of Leaves” in downtown Front Royal, Virginia (that blog post will come later this week). It’s a nice small festival with plenty of opportunities to support local charities, buy from area crafters and vendors, as well as pick up information from local businesses.
I enjoyed most meeting the guys from Golden Blends Barbecue. Last summer we stopped at the Farmhouse in Woodstock and saw a locally made barbecue sauce. Peggy had a sauce tasting recently, and the winner was “Black Powder Blend” from Golden Blends, a spicier version of their more popular “Bootlegger’s Blend,” so we decided to give it a try.
Well, I put it on the shelf and kind of forgot about it. Tim was the griller, and he had a national brand of sauce that he loved, so the black powder was neglected.
In June I decided to teach myself to grill. I’m one of those people who constantly needs something to do. I love to learn. I go about it quite methodically — reading books, websites, talking to friends — so I made a list of what to do, printed it out, pulled a rack of J and L Green Farm babyback ribs out of the freezer, and I set to work smoking and then saucing the ribs. I won’t go into all of the detail on what I did because you can read that at Grilling with Rich, but I will say for a beginner I did a pretty good job.
But the gist of the story is that the Black Powder Blend is delicious!
The rub I used on the ribs had a fair bit of pepper, so the combination of it and the sauce gave our noses a tickle, but we both loved it. The flavor is peppery and spicy without making you cry, and the spices have a great flavor that still allows the porkiness of the ribs to shine.
We have subsequently gone back to the Farmhouse and picked up a bottle of “Bootlegger’s Blend,” which is even more to hubby’s liking. The sauce has all of the wonderful flavor I love in “Black Powder Blend,” but it doesn’t have quite as much heat, which hubby loves. I enjoy them both, but I’ll stick with “Black Powder” on my ribs. It’s not strange to have two different bottles of sauce in the fridge, right? So we keep both on hand and have picked up a few bottles as gifts for folks who try it at the house and want to take home a bit of the Shenandoah Valley.
So it was a pleasure yesterday to see the Golden Blends booth. We purchased a bottle of each of our favorites, which were wrapped in burlap bags — a cute touch! (Though when we got home, we realized we received two “Bootlegger’s Blend” instead of one of each. Hubby works in Front Royal, though, so I’m hoping he can can grab us a bottle of my favorite sometime.) They had other sauces out, too, and we should have sampled them, but we were chewing mint gum. I’ll know better next time!
The fun part though was meeting the people who sell this wonderful product and have perfected their recipes right here in the Shenandoah Valley. They sell at the fair so they can meet the people who buy their products, the difference from wholesale. I was happy to share how much we enjoyed it, and they appreciated hearing it.
What I didn’t share is that it’s not just the flavor I love. Their sauces are naturally sweetened with no preservatives. I can read the list and I understand what I’m eating. Have you read the ingredients list on national brands? Tim’s former favorite? The first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. I tasted it on my finger once, and it tasted very, very…fake to me. I don’t know how to describe it. The flavors in Golden Blends are fresh, bright, and multi!
If you can’t make your own sauce, let someone make it who does a great job. I recommend you try their sauce, especially if you live in Virginia. Supporting a local independent business owner is the only way to ensure the business keeps operating. Buy Local is more than just a slogan!
UPDATE: When Brandon found out about the mixup in sauces, he asked for my address and mailed me a bottle of my favorite. That’s GREAT customer service!!