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Fat Guy

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party 2007

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Hit four places on day one. I echo all the sentiments about the strides the event has made. All the fast pass lines were reasonable and the layout was smartly done.

Started out with a plate of Mitchell's that we ate while online for the Salt Lick. Each year I grow to love Mitchell's even more. The chopped pork is just sublime. And I got a huge bonus. After grabbing my plate I circled back to the guy pulling the meat and asked for a little rib meat. He proceeded to tear me off four enormous ribs from the carcass, skin and all. With those things sitting on top of my carton I felt a little Flintstone-esq making my way up the block to the Salt Lick line. The Mitchell's slaw was imo very good. I also love that Mitchell's is the best eye candy. From the sight of the whole hogs on the pits to the guys pulling and chopping the meat right in front of the line, they get you in the mood.

The Salt Lick was in fine form. The twenty minute wait from 12:00 went by quickly with that Mitchell's 'cue. I wanted to ask for deckle but I got the feeling the register people would look at me like I was crazy. Based on other reports, it seems like I should have asked. But they were putting out an entire tray of cartons from which you could take your choice so I just grabbed the two with the fattiest looking brisket and most generous portion of sausage. The brisket was indeed super juicy and had good smoke. The sausage was, as alway, killer. The sauce is a perfect match for those two meats. I really like the touch of mustard seed, but their slaw needed more time to marinade.

Our third stop was 17th street. I am routinely disappointed by this place. I guess I keep going back because the event lacks an exciting alternative for ribs, be it baby back or (preferably) spare. I just don't understand the appeal here. The meat is mush and the rub turns into a gloppy mess. However, the beans rock.

Finally, we hit Southside Market where I split a plate of exclusively sausage. As compared to Salk Lick, I like the peppery bite of the Elgin link, but I prefer the slightly larger diameter of Salt Lick's sausage. The big difference for me is the sauce. Not only do I think a mustard based sauce is in general a better compliment for these sausages, but as tomato based sauces go, I just don't care for Southside's. Their sauce is almost relish like; not my thing. The pickles, onion, and cheese didn't do anything for me.

Bob Gibson's is first up today. Followed by a return to Mitchell's and then perhaps Ubons.


Edited by zEli173 (log)

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Does anyone know if buba fast passes are still available for purhcase today?

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Here's a short video we made yesterday, of Ed Mitchell pitching his new Pitmaster pig cookers.

By the way, to answer Dave's question above, the reason that one cooker is tricked out with receptacles for propane tanks is so they can use it for crisping the skins. After the hog is cooked at low temperature, they can use the propane to crank it up to a much higher temperature quickly.


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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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).

Interesting as last year it was more substantial food (Coleslaw, BBQ Potato Chips, Pulled Pork, Ribs, Black Pepper Sausage) and five wines.

FG, how do you eat so much BBQ?! I struggled getting 4 plates + some desserts down yesterday. Do you only have a few bites and move on? Try to skip any bread products and sides?


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

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Finally, we hit Southside Market where I split a plate of exclusively sausage.  As compared to Salk Lick, I like the peppery bite of the Elgin link, but I prefer the slightly larger diameter of Salt Lick's sausage.  The big difference for me is the sauce.  Not only do I think a mustard based sauce is in general a better compliment for these sausages, but as tomato based sauces go, I just don't care for Southside's.  Their sauce is almost relish like; not my thing.  The pickles, onion, and cheese didn't do anything for me.

I'm sorta surprised by this. When I think "Texas hot links," I don't even think about sauce. It seems to me that the sausages are so flavorful and, in particular, already so juicy that if you're not careful, the juice runs down your chin. Adding more sauce not only is unnecessary, it would be a distraction. I always thought that the sauces offered were for the hunks of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, goat, etc., what-have-you.

But not the sausage.

Am I alone in this?

Do most of y'all add sauce to your Texas hot links?

:huh:

Edited to add:

Been thinking more about this, and continue to be puzzled. I've been to Southside Market many, many times and, as I recall it, they have a big vat of their sauce sitting there along with other condiments. The sauce is a thin, peppery, tomato-vinegar-based hot (spicy) barbecue sauce, not at all "relish-like." They do also offer, IIRC, a pico de gallo-type salsa/relish that many folks (like me) ladle onto their pinto beans.

Now, it's been two or three years since I've been there, and I go to a LOT of BBQ places, including the other famous one in Elgin, Meyer's Smokehouse (which is practically next door), so it's quite possible I'm mixed up on this.

But are you SURE that the "relish-like" stuff was supposed to be a barbecue sauce? And not, say, a garnish for sandwiches or the beans?


Edited by Jaymes (log)

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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FG, how do you eat so much BBQ?! I struggled getting 4 plates + some desserts down yesterday. Do you only have a few bites and move on? Try to skip any bread products and sides?

I can't eat like I used to. There was a time when I could have eaten 15 complete plates of barbecue in a day -- indeed, I did things of that nature on several occasions. These days age, acid reflux and general decline would make that impossible. Still, I remain a big guy with large appetites. I can eat 7-8 plates over the course of the day no problem if I jettison the inessential stuff like bread -- especially since the bread served at the Big Apple Barbecue isn't indicative of the bread you'd get if you went to the restaurants in question (it's better, but that's another story).


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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Today I tried:

- Blue Smoke, New York, NY - Three people yesterday told me, "You've got to try the Blue Smoke chicken." The first time, I thought it was a joke. But there was enough testimony that I made it my first stop today. (Actually, Blue Smoke wasn't quite ready at first, so I swung by Hill Country for another of those beef ribs, which I shared with our son, PJ.) The chicken was excellent -- the first good barbecued chicken I've ever had. Ken Callaghan told me takes Murray's chickens, brines them, smokes them and finishes them on the grill with a sauce brushed on at the end. Amazingly moist, delicious chicken. Also, off on the side, they had prepared a very few lamb ribs, which were amazing. I was impressed with what Blue Smoke did: the organizers felt the event was so large and public that there would be a significant number of non-red-meat eaters around, so Ken Callaghan agreed to do chicken -- and excelled at it. In general, I felt the places in the New York ghetto on 26th Street held their own at this event.

- Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, New York, NY - If you didn't taste Dinosaur's pulled pork shoulder, you missed one of the best items at the event. I found it fully as satisfying as Big Bob Gibson's. While Big Bob's meat has a slightly more interesting flavor, Dinosaur's exterior spicing is probably the best I've had. I made sure to get lots of exterior pieces. Also, in chatting with John, the owner, I was reminded that Dinosaur sells, at its restaurant in Harlem, the sausage from Southside Market in Elgin, Texas.

- Rack and Soul, New York, NY - Good baby back ribs, but not good enough to hold my interest given the other offerings. Another one I tasted and handed off.

- 17th Street Bar & Grill, Murphysboro, IL - I love Mike Mills's ribs, and his baked beans are the only condiment at the event that I really can't resist. Five different kinds of beans sweetened with honey and brown sugar and bits of meat and such.

- The Salt Lick BBQ, Driftwood, TX - Doesn't compare favorably to Southside in my opinion. I took a couple of bites and gave my portion away, then went back to Southside for more sausage, which I ate even though I feared I was going to explode.

I also had a Tabla soft-shell crab sandwich, which was not only a welcome change from all the mammalian flesh but also one of the best soft-shell crabs I've ever had, with a spicy cornmeal-like crust.

At the end of the day, after my seminar had allowed a little time for digestion, I had one last Mitchell's whole hog sample, and one last piece of sausage from Southside. Then on my way out Amy Mills offered me some ribs, so how could I say no? My three favorite tastes of the weekend, firmly implanted in memory for next year.

I regret I missed Ubon's (they ran out), the place from Boston (I somehow failed to account for it on my checklist), and the Brunswick stew (got distracted).


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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Today's Big Apple BBQ tally for me:

Mitchell's -- Whole hog! Delicious! Always amazing, this time they poured in their vinegar sauce in! Yum!

Blackjack (one bite) -- their pulled pork was alright. Pulled pork is better than no pulled pork...but there were other pitmasters I was saving myself for.

Ubon's -- Pulled pork, pulled into pieces thicker than I wanted, it was not as delicate as, say Big Bob's, very smoky but not quite as flavorful as Big Bob's. Or maybe I just like Big Bob's sauce better. I got lots of end pieces though so no complaints here.

Salt Lick -- Brisket and sausage. I got some pieces of the dreckle, yummy and fatty and tender, and quite good with their sauce but I think I like Southside's better. They did have thick, juicy sausage though.

Fried pie -- Piping hot and coated with powdered sugar. Today they were selling 2 for $4! Unfair! But it was as good as yesterday.

Rack & Soul -- Baby back ribs that were sauced well but not as tender as it could have been. I like 17th Street's better. Rack and Soul's was not as "falling off the bone" was it could have been.

Mitchell's again -- Yes. My third time -- it's the only way to end.

Blue Smoke blueberry pie -- Delicious, full of berries, and a nice sugary coating on top. I liked it better than the pecan.

Strawberry lemonade from Eleven Madison Park -- so good, so expensive, I fall for it every time. Why can't I pay for it with my Bubba Pass? Grrr.

I was able to squeeze more in by ditching bread, and only eating two or three bites of sides (baked beans are more filling than I'd realized) but it was still a struggle.

Edited to add: I also didn't get to Jake's Boss BBQ from Boston, MA. There were people next to me eating it and they said it was merely "okay."


Edited by kathryn (log)

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

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I keep saying how much I love the Southside product, but I keep forgetting to mention that the guys from Southside are awfully nice. To me, that's an added bonus. I mean, I've eaten delicious food prepared by awful people, but it's sweeter when they're not jerks. I've been seeing the Bracewells at this event for three years now, and have mostly had conversations with Bryan, who is the company's CEO and is in his early 30s. This year I also met his wife, and next year they may bring their twin boys (who will by then be almost three years old). Lovely people. Anyway, at the end of the day, I stopped by for my last taste of sausage and to say goodbye to Bryan Bracewell, and as we were chatting his father, Billy Bracewell, came over. A couple of minutes later, Bryan's grandfather (Billy's father), Ernest Bracewell, joined in the conversation. At some point I realized I was talking to three generations of Bracewells, and I actually had the wherewithal to pull out my camera:

gallery_1_295_58616.jpg


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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If you didn't try the beans from Bakers you very seriously missed out. They were very, very smokey with no bitterness at all- and so smooth. I could have eaten many more of these.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I'm not! Well, I sort of am. I only wish I had a bigger stomach. But I had enough space for: Mitchell's, Southside Market, 17th Street Bar & Grill, Big Bob Gibson's, Mitchell's (again), Blackjack, Ubon's "Champion's Choice," Salt Lick, Rack & Soul, Mitchell's (yet again), fried apple pie, pecan pie, and blueberry pie, limeade, and lots of strawberry lemonade.

I uploaded photographs from day 2 onto Flickr here (same place):

http://flickr.com/photos/kathryn/sets/72157600331211533/

I apologize for the Mitchell's obsession. The whole hog is 1. amazing and 2. photogenic. And the folks working there are super-nice.


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

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The Mike Mills beans were a big hit with our son, PJ:

You're son is quite the dancer, too! Saw him today, but didn't realize he was yours till now.


"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig'' -- Mark E. Smith

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To add a little bit more color:

The ribs from Boston were very, very good. If I were in the right mood, I might even prefer them to Mike Mills' from time to time. They almost had a teriyaki flavor to them.

The stew was kind of odd - really didn't know what to expect. I liked it, my wife and sister didn't care for it at all.

I really missed Smoki O's - no one had any snoot this year, and it was missed.

We also felt that they had finally cracked the code on lines and everything else, both days the event ran beautifully.


I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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I uploaded photographs from day 2 onto Flickr here (same place):

http://flickr.com/photos/kathryn/sets/72157600331211533/

Kathryn, thank you for taking the time to post your wonderful photos for us to see. I was there last year, but couldn't make it this year. I swear I could smell the smoke coming through the computer.

Yes, the Mitchell's whole hog shots are terrific, but I particularly loved the sandwiches from Salt Lick and Southside, with slices of brisket, a hank o' hot link, a couple of pickles, and some big rings of cool, crispy raw onions. Made me wish I were there. Or at least back in Texas.

Thanks again.

:cool:


Edited by Jaymes (log)

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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We got there at about 3:00 yesterday. NO LINES!! No fast pass, we just got our cue immediately (45 minute lines last year)! Southside Market's sausage was the highlight for us (does Dino rally use the same sausage, I usually don't like it nearly as much there?). Parking was a little tougher, as they took away all the spots surrounding the park this year, but we found a spot on 22nd & 5th. All told, a great time!

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If you didn't try the beans from Bakers you very seriously missed out. They were very, very smokey with no bitterness at all- and so smooth. I could have eaten many more of these.

At the risk of being libelous or just flat-out incorrect, I could have sworn that these beans tasted like Liquid Smoke. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. I hope I am. For me there was that distinct aftertaste.

I really missed Smoki O's - no one had any snoot this year, and it was missed.

Another vote for that. It wasn't the same without the snoot.

The stew was kind of odd - really didn't know what to expect. I liked it, my wife and sister didn't care for it at all.

I liked the Brunswick stew, though it always tastes better with squirrel :raz:

I've been to all of the block parties, and this was by far the most pleasurable. I actually got to eat everything I wanted to without returning on Sunday, which was great for my day-planning but hell on my digestion. Props to Southside brisket and sausage, Big Bob Gibson cole slaw, Mitchell's whole hog, and 17th St. beans.

Shoulda had that Blue Smoke chicken, I guess.

:smile:

Jamie


See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

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I'm sorta surprised by this.  When I think "Texas hot links," I don't even think about sauce.  It seems to me that the sausages are so flavorful and, in particular, already so juicy that if you're not careful, the juice runs down your chin.  Adding more sauce not only is unnecessary, it would be a distraction.  I always thought that the sauces offered were for the hunks of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, goat, etc., what-have-you.

But not the sausage.

Am I alone in this?

Do most of y'all add sauce to your Texas hot links?

:huh:

Edited to add: 

Been thinking more about this, and continue to be puzzled.  I've been to Southside Market many, many times and, as I recall it, they have a big vat of their sauce sitting there along with other condiments.  The sauce is a thin, peppery, tomato-vinegar-based hot (spicy) barbecue sauce, not at all "relish-like."  They do also offer, IIRC, a pico de gallo-type salsa/relish that many folks (like me) ladle onto their pinto beans.

Now, it's been two or three years since I've been there, and I go to a LOT of BBQ places, including the other famous one in Elgin, Meyer's Smokehouse (which is practically next door), so it's quite possible I'm mixed up on this.

But are you SURE that the "relish-like" stuff was supposed to be a barbecue sauce?  And not, say, a garnish for sandwiches or the beans?

IMO (which I'm obviously not alone in), most bbq benefits from the contrast of a small amount of spicy, sweet and/or tangy sauce. For me, hot links are no different from other meats. It's not a question of what's necessary but what's optimal.

-----

I was definitely referring to the Southside sauce. It's by no means relish, but it has a relish like quality that I don't care for.

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If you didn't try the beans from Bakers you very seriously missed out. They were very, very smokey with no bitterness at all- and so smooth. I could have eaten many more of these.

At the risk of being libelous or just flat-out incorrect, I could have sworn that these beans tasted like Liquid Smoke. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. I hope I am. For me there was that distinct aftertaste.

me non!!!!

but I'm not that versed on the liquid smoke flavor...

bah... they were so goooood. They were really somkey :sad:

...I hope not.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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This might have been covered elsewhere, but I'm wondering how the economics of this event work. Do the vendors make a profit? Are they paid a flat fee for their appearance or do they get revenue based on sales? In the latter case, is it cumulative sales or only sales made by the individual vendor? How is the cost of supplies handled?


Edited by zEli173 (log)

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From what I understand: all of the Pitmasters and their crews are volunteering to attend this event. Vendors make money off of merchandise (sauces, rubs, t-shirts). All food profits go to the Madison Park Conservancy. The vendors get a travel allowance but often it doesn't cover the full cost of transporting heavy equipment from their hometowns (which can be hundreds of miles away).


Edited by kathryn (log)

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

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Here are some wrap-up numbers we received from the Big Apple Barbecue organizers. The 2007 event broke all the old records:

* 110,000 people attended the event

* 64,545 lbs of barbecue were consumed

* $75,000 was raised for the Madison Square Park Conservancy

* 13 pitmasters prepared barbecue

The following were consumed:

* 7,420 lbs beef ribs

* 8,000 lbs pork ribs

* 15,325 cans of soda

* 2,900 lbs baby back ribs

* 3,900 lbs whole hog

* 10,250 bottles FIJI water

* 14,800 lbs beef brisket

* 7,875 lbs chicken

* 19,652 cans of Snapple

* 9,400 lbs pork butt

* 27,500 hamburger buns

* 4,000 slices of pie

* 6,000 lbs pork shoulder

* 44,000 slices of bread

* 4,000 cookie bars

* 4,250 lbs sausage

* 6,015 lbs baked beans

* 3,685 lbs cole slaw

* 12,981 cups of beer


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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Another wrap-up number: according to Eater.com, this year's event raised $75K for the Madison Square Park Conservancy. That's a nice chunk of bacon!


"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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