The Burning Beast Trilogy Ascends to Purgatory (Part Two)

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This roast lamb is clearly evil; that's why it ended up with such a gruesome fate in Hell.
In part one of this epic three-part saga about Burning Beast, I described my Dante-esque descent into this culinary Hell (i.e., a grassy field in Arlington, Wash.), where gluttony is the only sin. The first Ring of Hell was home to blasphemers, and also those who dress like total douchebags: Jason Wilson of Crush managed to commit both sins at once. This is part two, in which we eat stuff that's okay.

Once I'd finished the roast goat, we rejoined everyone else in the Pac-Man maze of lines snaking around between food tents. I was hungry for barbecue the way Pac-Man hungers for both Power Pellets and the ethnic purity of the Pac race. Pac-Man is a total racist. You can tell he's racist because he alternately fears and wants to kill ghosts. Which is why Pac- Man is in Hell: because he is a racist.

Waiting in line was futile at times, especially for the stuff that tasted fine, but wasn't super delicious. This must be Purgatory, then: a boring land of petty annoyances but nothing too unsettling. Monica Dimas served us slices of bison, which were rich in flavor but maybe a little gristly. But at least the accompanying white beans were very good: creamy, and topped with a sweet and smoky yellow pepper relish.

Zephyr Paquette sounds like the name of a major-league baseball player from the Dominican Republic, but she's not; she is in fact a chef, and she was cooking moose. The bacon-wrapped moose meat and blueberry sausage was too much of everything: too sweet and too smoky and too salty, and possibly too rich, if such a thing is possible. Farro salad with mint and blueberries, topped with a tangy moose confit, on the other hand, was an interesting mix of flavors, and was at least an ambitious idea.

Skillet seemed to be phoning it in. Proprietor Josh Henderson is the Steven Spielberg of street food, for both his crowd-pleasing innovation and also his beard. Like Spielberg he also has the occasional flop: the lamb on pita he served us inspired barely a "meh." The meat was stringy; the pita was chewy and toasty and was pretty good, but the sultana salsa topping the whole thing seemed cloying.

I don't think I got to eat what Angie Roberts was cooking, but her roast lamb, splayed out on a rebar grill, at least looked cool--skinless and muscled like a beastly abomination or something out of a Lovecraft story or maybe like a bad guy from one of the Resident Evil games.

This was a list of those dishes that were neither bad nor great. I get that the logistics of cooking for hundreds of people with very limited facilities is a daunting task, and I further admit that I sure as fuck couldn't do it, but the chefs here didn't seem to be trying very hard to make the food, which is okay because I didn't try very hard to write about it. So we're even.

Rating: 6 adequate afternoons in Purgatory out of 10

Check out a slideshow of images from Burning Beast.

Tomorrow, the Burning Beast Hell trilogy will conclude with Part 3. Check back or go to Hell, even though you'll be going to Hell anyway in light of the trilogy's overriding theme.

 
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