Allen Pierleoni

Counter Culture: The ribs are tender, the peach tart divine

Well-sauced baby backs are at Boucanes Smokehouse.
Well-sauced baby backs are at Boucanes Smokehouse.

We missed the sign inside Boucanes Smokehouse, saying if you don’t want too much sauce poured all over your barbecue, you’d better say so. Consequently, the tangy (and cold) house-made sauce thickly covered our ’cue, to the point that it soon became gloppy. Oh, no!

Why not skip that method and place squeeze bottles of sauce on the tables and let customers decide for themselves? And how about bottles of Tabasco, too?

“We used to serve the sauce on the side, but it got to the point where everybody wanted it on (the meats) and popularity took over,” said co-owner Brandon Ivey (with sister Nicole Burton) on the phone. That request was from a local customer base that balked at the notion of fried okra, which meant the classic Southern dish had to be removed from the menu.

Two lunch pals and I ordered the Grand Plateau, choosing baby backs ribs, tri-tip, brisket and a hot link as our four meats, and baked beans, fried corn, potato salad and collard greens as the four sides ($23). Just to be safe, we added a half-rack of ribs ($13), some mac ’n’ cheese and corn bread, and we threw in a good-looking mini peach tart ($3.50).

Ivey explained that the ribs are first rubbed with a spice mix, grilled “for about an hour” and then put into a smoker for “two to three hours, depending on the size of the ribs and how many we have.” The base is hickory, with some apple or cherry wood. The brisket and pork shoulder are smoked, and the tri-tip is marinated and grilled.

If you like rib meat in the literal “fall off the bone” style, Boucanes’ baby backs are waiting. They were dark, juicy and super-tender, with deep flavor. Problem was, we had to scrape off the sauce to get to the goods. We left the sauce on the disappointingly dry tri-tip and brisket to give them some moisture, but somehow that didn’t help much. The hot link was suitably fiery.

As for the sides, the fried corn was the most interesting. Bell peppers, carrots, onions and black pepper went for a ride in a food processor before joining the sweet, crisp corn kernels in a pan. The beans had fine taste, but the other sides were surprisingly plain. Except for the luscious-looking ham hock-spiked collard greens, which were oversalted. Ease up on the sodium chloride and the greens would be a star.

Boucanes’ baked-goods program is a winner, with various flavors of mini cakes, tarts and cookies rotating through the display case. We split the excellent peach tart and later regretted not buying a dozen to go.

Tahoe Food & Wine Fest

Plans are in motion for the sixth annual South Lake Tahoe Food and Wine Festival, Oct. 16-18 at Harrah’s and Harveys at Stateline, Nev., showcasing French-trained “Iron Chef” Mark Tarbell of Phoenix. He was nominated for “Best Chef in the Southwest” by the James Beard Foundation.

Look for food-and-wine pairings, sake and whiskey tastings, a wine seminar, special dinners, panel discussions and cooking demonstrations. The centerpiece will be the Grand Market Expo on Oct. 17 at Harveys Convention Center. The room will be filled with tasting stations staffed by chefs from the best restaurants in the hotel-casino chain, serving four-star dishes and Napa Valley wines.

For a la carte tickets and information:

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe


Where: 329 East Bidwell St., Folsom

Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays



How much: $$-$$$

Information: 916-817-1015,