Well, friends, I have bad news. Terrible news, in fact, especially for those of us who love barbecue pork ribs.
Hands down, the world's very best barbecued ribs -- so fat! so succulent! so perfectly sauced! -- are hidden waaaaay down here in Dunedin ("doo-NEE-din"), New Zealand, at Speight's Ale House.
I'm distraught, because from this point forward, every time I indulge in barbecue ribs, I'm going to be sighing and saying, "These are good, but they're not like those ribs at Speight's Ale House." And, worse, once I'm back in Atlanta, every time I get a hankering for Speight's Ale House ribs, there's this little matter of a 22-hour flight to New Zealand I'll have to deal with.
But -- and it kills me to say this -- they're worth it.
After taking the Speight's Brewery Tour ($20 a head if you've taken the Cadbury Chocolate Factory Tour, and you don't really have to ask if I've taken the Cadbury Chocolate Factory tour, do you?), we found ourselves on the streets at lunch time with nothing more than questionable Chinese take-away in sight. So I whipped out my Trip Advisor app, which pinpointed me on the map and quickly identified the highest-rate restaurant within walking distance: Speight's Ale House.
Now, having just come off the tour, I almost nixed this suggestion. The tour was fine -- not too long, not too technical, with a very liberal tasting policy. I felt a little guilty, you know, not getting out and seeing a bit more of what Dunedin has to offer. But the space was big and bright and inviting, with soaring white walls and a gorgeous wooden bar in the center ... and so we decided to trust Trip Advisor and settle in.
We started with a half-loaf of Speight's homemade bread, featuring grains used in the brewery. The load arrived piping hot and slathered with New Zealand butter and minced garlic. Do I have to tell you that it was soft as a pillow? That it was as succulent as a loaf of bread can be? That I ate half of the half-loaf in seconds, and would have eaten the other half of the half loaf if my better half hadn't warded me off with a sharp thwack of a wound-up linen napkin?
When the bread's that good, I normally begin to worry that the best of the meal's behind me. But then, out marched our server with a platter of enormous ribs. These were hefty ribs: thick with meat, with just enough bone exposed to make a convenient handle. Each had been dredged in Speight's signature sauce, which combines tomatoes, sugar, dark ale, onion, and spices in whatever proportions are needed to create the kind of sauce the Buddha might make if he ran a barbecue pit.
And the meat -- so tender! Cooked so perfectly -- just to the point that the pork is *willing* to let go of the bone, but then resists just enough to make you do that thing where you lunge at the rib, teeth bared, smacking and slurping and rocking back and forth in your chair while grunting loudly with contentment. (What? You don't do that? Well, there's a reason: you haven't had these ribs.)
I know, I know. I tend toward a bit of exaggeration when telling food stories. But that said: yes. Yes, it's just the ugly truth. Speight's Ale House (in! Dunedin! NEW ZEALAND!) has the best ribs on the planet. Nothing in U.S. -- nope, not even in Memphis -- compares.
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