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Fat Guy

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party 2007

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It's certainly possible that they made last-minute adjustments. My diagram is what they sent out in advance.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Still not sure I can get there this year, but I'm very glad to hear that they aren't cramming everyone on to that one short block again! For those praying for rain, I'm afraid you're going to be out of luck--except maybe tonight.


"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I'll be going as a first timer. Any 'hints' on which stands to go to first--i.e. "in demand?" Help me guys!

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I'll be going as a first timer. Any 'hints' on which stands to go to first--i.e. "in demand?" Help me guys!

Anything that's not located in NYC will have long lines. There's a lot of new vendors this year, though, so it's hard to tell how people will react.

But Salt Lick is always absurdly long -- I think it might consistently be the longest, for both days. I think their brisket is merely "good" but I've been out to their real location so I usually skip it.

My "to do" list basically mirrors Ed Levine's:

http://www.seriouseats.com/required_eating...o.html#comments

There's also some Google Video material popping up:

http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=big+...10&so=1&start=0


Edited by kathryn (log)

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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Ed Mitchell is in the house.

gallery_1_295_35224.jpg

(Pictured above with Ken Callaghan, chef of Blue Smoke)

I chatted with Ed Mitchell for awhile today. He's most certainly not retired. He's been spending his time designing new pig cookers, breeding organic hogs, and engaging in litigation in order to get his restaurant reopened.

The new pig cookers, which are being debuted at the Big Apple Barbecue, are designed by Ed Mitchell in cooperation with Floyd Knowles of Wilmington Grill based out of Wilmington, North Carolina. Floyd Knowles is here with Ed Mitchell for the weekend. This is one of the grills, named "Sassy Pig."

gallery_1_295_53633.jpg

Ken Callaghan is the first customer for one of these new grills. You can see it in action this weekend -- it's the red one on the north end of the row, with a Blue Smoke logo where the Sassy Pig name is on the one pictured above. Ken will be taking possession of it after Ed Mitchell breaks it in this weekend. (The plan is that, when Wilmington Grill puts these pig cookers into production, they'll go for about $3,500, but I have it on good authority that if you show up on Sunday with $2,500 and a truck you can take your pick.)

The plan this year is to cook 25 whole hogs -- the biggest ones they could get from the festival's supplier -- and several cases of pork shoulders. So there will be a higher percentage of shoulder meat in the final sandwich mix than you'd get from a straight whole hog. Here's the Mitchell's crew getting a pig and some shoulders started in the cooker. You can see that the next generation of the Mitchell family (one of Ed's nephews) is represented as well.

gallery_1_295_87075.jpg

Here's another pig ready to go. Some of the cookers are red, others are black, but they're all the same new design. The main features are, first, that there are shelves arranged inside to hold a combination of coals and wood (the coals for heat, the wood for smoke, is the idea) and, second, that there are various valves to allow for "banking" heat so that the pigs can cook pretty much unattended overnight.

gallery_1_295_26777.jpg

Here's our son PJ after playing in the fountain in the playground in nearby Madison Square Park.

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Regarding the question of which pits to hit, I would suggest letting your own tastes be your guide. I've given up on trying to force people to like Mitchell's whole hog. Some people think it's the only thing at the whole Big Apple Barbecue worth eating, and others think it's utterly unremarkable. I think it's the one thing you won't be able to experience even a pale imitation of in New York, so for me it's a must. I'll probably eat three of Mitchell's sandwiches before I even think about going elsewhere. Ask for extra skin.

If you have a preference for ribs, sausage, brisket, shoulder . . . I think it makes the most sense to indulge that preference. You also may find that the lines at the most popular places are so long that the cost benefit analysis favors going to the places with shorter lines.

I also learned today that Tabla will be selling soft-shell crab sandwiches for $12. The big advantage there is that Tabla's stand (corner of 25th and Madison, right outside the restaurant) tends not to have much of a line. So if you're down primarily for the music and enjoyment of the park, that's a nice option.

As an additional means of getting psyched for tomorrow, I recommend the eGTV Big Apple Barbecue video from two seasons ago.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I believe there are also some 20,000 BTU gas burners in there. I don't think Ed Mitchell's crew is using the gas option, but it's available. I'll double check tomorrow.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The most detailed weather forecast I could find says there may be some scattered showers this morning but that things will be clearing up around noon. Great timing!


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Three years ago I discovered eGullet when I was Googling this event. I was thrilled to read the detective work and photos and criticism and tips, and I discovered the rest of eGullet from there.

Two years ago I split a Bubba card with a friend and we had a fantastic time. We ate well, compared meats, listened to surprisingly good jazz, and drank our beers in the corral. No need for phone coordination.

This year I couldn't find someone to share a card, so I'll be spending today in Chinatown with a vegan friend. I know too many vegetarians. If it rains I'll swing by this evening.

I walked through the park last night at eleven. Only four smokers were fired and just two already contained pig, though they smelled great. Ed Mitchell looked too grumpy to approach. Glad to see him smiling this morning. Near him were trays of burning charcoal.


Edited by jkarpf (log)

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I chatted with Ed Mitchell for awhile today. He's most certainly not retired. He's been spending his time designing new pig cookers, breeding organic hogs, and engaging in litigation in order to get his restaurant reopened.

Great news! Thanks. :rolleyes:


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Just got home from day one. Weather was nice -- a little muggy but not too hot, not too sunny. I had a Bubba Fast Pass and the longest line I had to wait in was for 17th Street (baby back ribs). This line was 20 minutes tops. The punch card system worked wonderfully. Even when there were about 50-75 people in the regular line, the Bubba line had about 5 people. I spent most of my time on Madison Ave. with the non-NYC BBQ joints.

Eaten between noon and 5pm:

Mitchell's Whole Hog sandwich and coleslaw -- absolutely delicious and full of little bits of cracklin. The guy chopping up the hog was offering up pieces of crackling to those in line. My favorite of the brunch. My god. The man is a genius.

Southside Market brisket and spicy sausage -- fatty, flavorful brisket. Lovely. I'm not a big brisket fan and I really like this. Served with pickles, onions, cheese, white bread, sauce, and crackers and jalapeno pepper optional. And a nice, slightly spicy sausage. I folded it up with the slice of cheese, some onions, sauce in the white bread for a pseudo hot dog.

17th Street Baby Back Ribs and baked beans -- 4 ribs, all falling off the bone. A little messy as they were well-sauced. Fatty, juicy, perfect. The baked beans were sweet and tasty. Worth the wait in line but I remember them being slightly (just slightly) better last year when I got a piping hot serving.

Big Bob Gibson's pulled pork shoulder and coleslaw -- I love their Championship Red sauce. It's sweet and not too tangy. Yum. I'll have to come back and try it with the Habanero. They had all their sauces out for people to try.

Fried pie -- fried apple pie dumpling coated with powdered sugar. Served piping hot. No line whatsoever. Tasty.

Pecan pie from Blue Smoke -- good. My boyfriend seemed to like it more than me.

Limeade from Tabla -- Eh, too fizzy, not limey enough or strongly flavored at all.. $3.

Strawberry lemonade from Eleven Madison Park -- delicious, tasty, bright red. Strong strawberry flavor. Large portion. Still, $6 is too expensive.


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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It took 5 years, but they finally got everything right. Splitting up the NYC and non NYC BBQ joints on different streets was great. The punch card system was the perfect way to go. The longest line we waited in was no more than 15 minutes tops.

We started with Bob Gibson's topped with championship red. Watching Chris Lilly chop away is always great fun and his team produces a great product. I also enjoyed their slaw. For our 2nd round, we hit up Southside. Their sausage was cooked to perfection and had a nice, but not overpowering flavor. I wanted my brisket from the deckle and they were happy to oblige. It was smoky, juicy, and tender.

After a short breather and a drink, we headed to Mitchell's. There was no fast pass line here and I even got a few minutes to talk with Ed. He was all smiles and more than willing to discuss his whole hog preparation. His BBQ is probably the most unique thing being served at the fest. I hit his stand up almost every year and am never disappointed. I didn't find his coleslaw to be anything too exciting.

My threesome decided to take a break so we headed to the merchandise tent to purchases some rubs and sauces. I grabbed Ubons, Gibsons, 17th street and Bakers along with an Elgin dry rub.

It was then back to business. We wanted some ribs and probably should have waited on the 17th street line. Instead, we opted for Jake's. The ribs were pretty good, but certainly not outstanding. I vow to hit 17th street next time.

I wanted to try a fried pie, so I headed to the NYC side to check it out. The fried pie was a small deep fried apple pastry. I ate one right out of the fryer and it was very tasty.

There were virtually no lines at any of the NYC vendors. I am excited for the opening of Hill Country, so I spoke to their pitmasters for a while. Big Lou was kind enough to give me a beef rib while we chatted. It was very good and he packed me up a couple of big bones to take home. I meant to ask for a side of black eyed peas, but I forgot. I am really hoping this place becomes a great NYC BBQ joint. They sounded very passionate about what they were doing. If the beef rib is any indication, they are off to a good start.

At this point I was stuffed, so we wandered the festival to walk some of it off. Upon inspection of our fast pass card, we had $16 left. We decided to grab some Salt Lick for the road. When I asked for deckle, I was told to go directly to the man cutting the brisket. He cut me a HUGE portion along w/ a full link of sausage. I drizzled on some BBQ sauce which I think compliments their meats perfectly. I am very excited to eat this later.

All in all, a GREAT day. After years of doing some things right and some things not so right, the organizers finally got EVERYTHING right!! This was far and away the best organized block party yet. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make today such a success.

I look forward to many more Big Apple BBQ Block Parties!

-Al

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Wonderfully successful! I will return tomorrow but the highlight was going to Ed Mitchell's, having that amazing 'cue, and meeting FG! Having seen his avatar/picture, I recognized him....but how does one say "Are you Fat Guy" in case you are wrong? Mercifully, I remembered his true name, and he responded. Nice meeting you in person Steven!

I loved it all, but I must say, the food at Ed Mitchell's was hands down the winner. We started there, made all the stops along the way, and then circled back for one more sandwich before leaving!

In fact, here's a picture of Ed Mitchell, giving a primer to FG, with the wood and the new smoker: bbq.jpg


Edited by DutchMuse (log)

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I've uploaded my photographs from today onto Flickr:

http://flickr.com/photos/kathryn/sets/7215...1211533/detail/

Mitchell's, Southside, 17th Street, Salt Lick, Rack & Soul, Hill Country, Big Bob Gibson, Jake's Boss, Proclamation Stew Crew, Blue Smoke desserts, Stehling Brothers Fried Pies

Hoping to get to Baker's, Blackjack, Ubon's tomorrow, maybe Dinosaur. And Mitchell's again.


Edited by kathryn (log)

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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I've uploaded my photographs from today onto Flickr:

http://flickr.com/photos/kathryn/sets/7215...1211533/detail/

Mitchell's, Southside, 17th Street, Salt Lick, Rack & Soul, Country Hill, Big Bob Gibson, Jake's Boss, Proclamation Stew Crew, Blue Smoke desserts, Stehling Brothers Fried Pies

Hoping to get to Baker's, Blackjack, Ubon's tomorrow, maybe Dinosaur. And Mitchell's again.

Those are some great photos!

Had such a wonderful time today at the BABBQBP. The weather was perfect, the event far better organized than in years past. Manageable lines coupled with better layout of the tents made the day a complete pleasure.

In fact, the longest line of the day that I saw may have been at the beer garden.

I was out with schmooty and don't have much to add to his stellar description of the day.

I was a little bummed by the parking ticket I got, while I was in a legal spot. I guess there's not much I can do about that. I was parked at a "bus stop" that was about 80 yards away.

Since I can't go back tomorrow, I already can't wait until next year!


Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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I think I had a FG sighting too but yes...how do you ask? I'm usually not shy but today....of all days...

Ed Mitchell is king.

It was also nice to see Chris Lily even though I didn't have room for his 'cue.

The line situation wasn't bad. They sold out of big dawg passes though.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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Sounds delicious. Wish I could be there, but I'm home with the kiddoes tomorrow.

Eat some bbq for me.

And share some more tales of your food exploits please.

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In fact, here's a picture of Ed Mitchell, giving a primer to FG, with the wood and the new smoker: bbq.jpg

I'll try to post that video soon, DutchMuse.

As several others have observed, the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party this year has thus far been a minor New York miracle. The event organizers at last cracked the code, though I shouldn't really say "at last" because, were the event a restaurant, yesterday would have been its ninth day in business. So that's pretty fast -- I should have said already.

The two things that made the biggest difference (and I have confirmed that the numbers of people were not lower than last year) were, first, going from 10 to 15 pits and, second, switching to the efficient, elegant, low-tech punch-card method of payment for the Fast Pass. There were also a million other little improvements, not least of which was that the experienced pitmasters really ramped up their efficiency. I heard from two pitmasters almost the exact same words: "We served as many people from 12-4 today as we did from 12-6 last year." And it showed: by 4:30, there were very short lines even at the most popular places, and as far as I know 14 of the 15 pits had food to offer all the way until 6. On the intangibles front, the event felt calm and collected. There was no feeling of palpable stress as there was last year, when I feared the size and scope had become a Frankenstein never to be controlled again.

Also from the department of New York miracles: the Big Apple Barbecue has become a major event in the barbecue community. New York has gone from laughing stock to cultural icon, thanks to this event. Not only has the event encouraged openings of barbecue restaurants in New York City that are operating at a more serious level than in days past, but also the pitmasters who attend the event -- some of the top names in the business -- spend all year looking forward to it. They love being on the New York stage, and several told me it's now considered one of the key events on the circuit.

Hope to see some of you today. I'll be wearing the same fish-patterned pants as above, so do feel free to say hey.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I don't know if I'm going to make it to all 15 this year, but I'm trying. Certainly I'll try to hit all the visiting pits, and I hope to catch the New York ones for comparison -- but there are limits. Some quick notes:

- Southside Market & BBQ, Elgin, TX - Superb brisket and even better sausage. The sausage is the real attraction, because nobody makes anything in the category that can touch it. As mentioned, for brisket, ask for some cut from the deckel. You'll be accommodated and, probably, you'll get a nicer portion.

- Baker’s Ribs, Garland, TX (NEW) - Despite the name, they're serving brisket. I felt it didn't stack up favorably next to Southside. Southside had a beautiful pink smoke ring and, while tender, still maintained its meaty structure, Baker's was more mushy and brown.

- Blackjack BBQ, Charleston, SC (NEW) - Pulled pork shoulder. Big Bob Gibson and Mitchell's both have better product in this category.

- Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur, AL - Definitive pork shoulder, and Big Bob is a great showman.

- Hill Country, New York, NY - A terrific beef rib. I was very impressed, especially since the restaurant only opened the previous night.

- Mitchell’s BBQ, Wilson, NC - Still my favorite. The whole hog takes it to another level.

Also noteworthy: Tabla is selling Indian-spiced brisket sandwiches from its "terrace" area on the corner of 25th Street. It's smoked, spiced, braised -- it's quite excellent.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I think I had a FG sighting too but yes...how do you ask? I'm usually not shy but today....of all days...

Ed Mitchell is king.

It was also nice to see Chris Lily even though I didn't have room for his 'cue.

The line situation wasn't bad. They sold out of big dawg passes though.

big dawg passes?


Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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I was able to catch two of yesterday's seminars, and was very pleased with the setup and the presentations. The seminar tent is located right in the middle of the action, on the corner of 24th and Madison, but is well shielded from noise. The cooking demo area is great -- maybe I'll cook something during the panel discussion I'm moderating this afternoon.

Anyway, the first one I sat in on was the 2:30pm "Planet Barbecue" presentation with Steven Raichlen. I confess, I have been guilty of underestimating Raichlen. I was amazed at how dynamic, charismatic and exceptionally well informed he was about everything the slightest bit related to cooking with fire. It was a great time. He made, in about an hour and with very little pre-cooked trickery: Buccaneer Shrimp, Oaxacan Grilled Corn, Thai Sweet Chili Ribs, and Grilled Pineapple with Cardamom Whipped Cream and some big-ass long-bone rib steaks. These are all recipes from his forthcoming book. He took questions all throughout and was great at answering, cooking, coordinating -- an amazing individual, he is.

Then, at 6pm, "Barbecued Baloney, Bourbon & Beer," with Danny Meyer, Julian Van Winkle (of the Van Winkle Bourbon distillery) and Steve Hindy (of Brooklyn Brewery). This seminar/tasting was in the same format as the one Danny Meyer did the past couple of years on "Wine for Swine." There were five food items (barbecued baloney, barbecue sauce, barbecue potato chips, peanuts and coleslaw) and five beverages (three beers and two Bourbons). Members of the audience were given samples of all and asked to taste the 25 possible combinations and make quick, impressionistic notes (smiley face, sad face or indifferent face). I was able to catch a glimpse of Lolis Eric Elie and John T. Edge's rating sheets (they were in the audience near where I was sitting) and, between that and what Danny Meyer and the panelists came up with, I was a radical contrarian outlier. Either that or my palate sucks.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Thnaks again for the coverage! I threaten to go this every year, and every year it sneaks up on me, but I think I am going for sure next June. Just the thought of having BBQ from all over the country in one place is pretty cool, but it sure looks crowded. We do take our BBQ for granted here in Texas sometimes. I

Here's a slide show, from Jason Perlow's blog of yesterday's activities:

http://offthebroiler.wordpress.com/


Frank in Austin

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