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"Live" from the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party '04


Fat Guy
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One substantial style that was missing -- and without which I thought the BABBP was incomplete as a survey of American BBQ -- was mutton, which I believe is an Owensboro specialty. I'd love to see some of that next year.

--

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I'm no conservative, much less a white supremacist, but all the discussion on the panel of the Carolina mustard-based style made me want to try some.

There's probably no chance we'll see some next year, though, right?

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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mutton

I think this is one of the Blue Smoke weekly specials (Saturday?) if one wanted to give it a dry run, although I've never had it there.

:smile:

Jamie

See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

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NC barbecue is often an acquired taste, simply because it doesn't overpower you with sauce or smoke.  The pork is what it's all about. 

Thanks for this, Varmint--this northerner wishes she'd had that knowledge ahead of time! But when I'm in NC next month, I'll be far more likely to understand what I'm eating and why it's made the way it is.

And PS, if Shaw is just out of kindergarten, I think I'm still in the womb when it comes to Q knowledge. :laugh:

"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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My big North Carolina barbecue revelation came from focusing on the best rather than on the average. The first couple of times I went to North Carolina, I had no guidance, so I had many specimens of the cat-food-and-ketchup school of North Carolina barbecue, which is well represented at the larger chains and in the prepackaged frozen supermarket product that so many North Carolinians seem to love. Later, thanks to the guidance of the Varmint, I started tasting a substantial number of peak examples of the shoulder-only Eastern/Lexington style (where the tomato component is all but unnoticeable and really only announces itself in that style of slaw) and a few of the whole-hog Western. Still, I strongly prefer to order against the prevailing fine-chopped style because it tends to ruin the texture. So at places where rough-chopped (the best) or sliced (good enough because you can sort of pull it yourself) can be ordered, that's the way to go.

When you go to Memphis, you basically never get bad barbecue. The worst barbecue starts at very good and the best is as good as ribs and pulled pork get. In North Carolina, unless you have guidance, you usually get bad barbecue. But really, it's the best examples we should be concerned with, and my current feeling is that the best North Carolina barbecue (especially the whole hog, though I like the shoulder too) is my favorite. Ironically, the two times I've had Mitchell's barbecue in New York it has been better than the time I had it in Wilson. I don't know what's up with that.

Ah, regarding the temperature issue: this doesn't seem to be something the North Carolina places give a crap about. I've had lukewarm barbecue on-site at a dozen North Carolina barbecue places.

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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FG - I'm wondering - what are you thoughts on the impact of serving the whole hog on top of the cole slaw? Is that also what they would do "on-site" in NC? I felt that the coleslaw juices intermingled a bit too much with the meat and overpowered it. I would've liked it either directly on the bread, or a seperate side container of slaw - like how the beans were served.

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Yes, in my experience the most common presentation of barbecue in North Carolina is as a sandwich on a white-bread roll with the meat and coleslaw stacked one atop the other. This weekend what we got was more like what you'd get on a barbecue "tray" in North Carolina: meat and slaw alongside one another, somewhat commingling but essentially separate, with the starch served on the side (in this case, they were using Martin's potato rolls, but you would not see those in the South -- I thought they were a terrific twist, though). I like it fine that way. I like to be able to taste the meat and slaw separately, and also to be able to have bites where the slaw is a condiment.

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've got to admit, I was very surprised while looking through Jason Perlow's excellent BABB photos to see myself (In "Paul Kirk of KC Baron slicing up some brisket flat," I'm in the blue shirt carefully studying the brisket slicing with tickets ready in hand.) Seeing photographic evidence that I was in attendance, I guess I should write up a brief report:

With a BBQ expeditionary force of only 2 and arriving around 3PM, in the thick of the crowd, we weren't able to use the divide and conquer approach to its full effect, but still did manage to sample 4 types of food from 3 different vendors: sausage and brisket from the Salt Lick, pork shoulder from Big Bob Gibson, and brisket from KC Baron. While the other vendors still had long lines after 4 PM, we were able to walk right up to KC Baron with no wait. I preferred the Salt Lick brisket to KC Baron's because it was much leaner (and I really liked the Salt Lick sauce which was not overly sweet.)

All in all, this was an excellent, if overcrowded, event. It was managed pretty well by the time I arrived, with staff marking the end of each line with a sign. There was good music in the park and most everyone was friendly: The Salt Lick's pit master came by the line and apologized for the long delay. I'm looking forward to next year's event...

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I've got to admit, I was very surprised while looking through Jason Perlow's excellent BABB photos to see myself (In "Paul Kirk of KC Baron slicing up some brisket flat," I'm in the blue shirt carefully studying the brisket slicing with tickets ready in hand.)

Right. Nice shirt. :raz:

We could almost edit that shot and add a comic-strip like thought balloon for you. Something like "Damn. I left the oven on." or maybe "Paul! If I jump up and down will you toss me some of that meat!"

Welcome to eGullet, by the way. Your secret decoder ring is in the mail.

Edited by jhlurie (log)

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Well, better late than never, I wanted to check in with our experiences from the event.

A friend of ours, the wife and I arrived around 1 PM on Saturday - fortunately, we live on 22nd street, so we came up through the 23rd street entrance and got on the short line for tickets. $70 in cuepons later (which I thought would be enough, I couldn't have been more wrong), we wandered over to the barbecue free-for-all and got busy.

We thought we were on the line for Mitchell's, but apparently has ended up on the KC Barbecue line. This was for the best, as it turned out to be our best surprise of the day (we knew how good Mitchell's would be when we finally got to it...) At this point, I split off from my spouse and found the end of the Mitchell's line to start waiting.

Good tip for those in large crowds without benefit of many cell phones - If you have a hat, you can wave it around over your head so people can find you! This worked out very well for us...

When they finally got back with the KC brisket, it was amazing - so amazing, in fact, we didn't even realize it was beef until we had almost finished eating it (I swear, it tasted like pork). There was definitely some variability to the cuts, some with much more fat than others, but this is the best brisket I've ever eaten.

At this point, we had gotten to the front of the Mitchell's line, and my wife, always observant, asks if we can get some extra pork cracklins, which Ed and crew happily oblige. The meat was out of this world, but I have to say, the cracklins really did it for us. If you're a fan of pork rinds and skin of any kind, I don't see how it gets much better than this. Supremely crunchy, heavily salted - they were perfection.

At this point, I got on the line for Mike Mills and crew, while my wife went off to buy more cuepons and get some drinks ($40 later, we were good for the day). A lot of excellent line-bonding went on, and to be fair, the lines did move fairly well. It took about 40 minutes to cover most of the length of 26th street to get over to the Memphis ribs, and aside from needing to point out to line jumpers every five minutes that we were not the back of the line, it wasn't a bad experience at all. About 2/3 of the way along, we also had one of those great NY experiences. My friend noticed a mutual friend of ours waiting on the Salt Lick line, just about ready to get their cue. Well, 5 minutes later, we had Salt Lick food, and they were waiting on line for some ribs. The sausage was delicious, and the cole slaw was very well done, vinegary and not too creamy at all, but the brisket wasn't good. Too rubbery, and no real flavor. It was the only thing that didn't get eaten.

We finally made it to 17th Street around 3 o'clock, got 5 plates of ribs and sat down to eat. They were incredible, just the kind I remember from trips to Nashville and Memphis - easily the best in the city. Very sorry to hear they weren't as good on Sunday, because they were by far the best thing going on Saturday. We picked up a vanilla frozen custard to end our day.

Late Sunday afternoon, we came back around 5 PM to use up our remaining cuepons and try some of Bob Gibson's cue to round out the slate. Sadly, we were told the snoot folks had run out around 2, so we didn't get to try any. :-(

The lines were being directed far, far better, and the organizers had done a great job of setting up cuepon sales on each line by the pits, so people could get enough to use up their cuepons. Very well run at this point, I would imagine next year will be vastly better in terms of organization and planning. Bob's pork shoulder was good, if a bit cold by this point, but we got some ribs from Blue Smoke, which were delicious, and some more brisket from the KC folks. My wife also asked them to throw in some of the cut ends, burnt and fatty and delicious, which they did, free of charge. All in all, a great finish to the weekend.

If I had to rate 'em:

17th Street Ribs

Mitchell's Cracklins

KC Brisket

Mitchell's Pork

Salt Lick Sausages

Blue Smoke Ribs

Bob Gibson's Pork

Salt Lick Brisket

Can't wait to be back next year!

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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On another note, Jason's pics are making me hungry again, dammit.

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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On another note, Jason's pics are making me hungry again, dammit.

Oh, I know, I'm basically jumping up and down with impatience because slkinsey and I aren't going to NC until the end of July and I want More. Pulled. Pork. Right. NOW.

K

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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My wife and I went and left within 10-15 minutes. It was a mess. We were both looking (longing!) forward to this event, being supporters of VH1 SAVE THE MUSIC FOUNDATION ourselves. We could "taste" the BBQ as we trekked from the NY Waterway to 26th only to be greeted to hundreds of people standing on enormous lines waiting for "tastes" (at $6 a pop) of ribs and such. The long lines, the small orders of food just didn't equate to a "value" to us, even though I'd have written a check to the cause had I been given one.

I understand this is the 2nd annual event. I sure hope things change in the future! Let me also note one thing that really bothered me. Most of us eat with our eyes first. The areas preparing the food were so deep with people that there was no opportunity to see what it was you might be standing on line for! That was most troubling. Lines weaved back and forth (a la bank window lines) and there must have been at least four weaving rows between the preparation/service area and the open sidewalk on the opposite side of 26th Street. People with hand-written signs stood at the end of that restaurant's long line indicating where to get on line if you so desired. What a terribly wasted day. :-(

Gosh, I have such a craving for BBQ even 24-hours later! AAAGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

Nutley Resident

-------------------------

Proud to be American

Proud to be a Nutley Township Resident

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I waited longer at the Salt Lick in Texas than on the Salt Lick line in New York, or on any line at the Big Apple Barbecue for that matter!

Heh! You got a point! Believe it or not, most locals here don't go to The Salt Lick that much, but we are so lucky to have so many great places that, frankly, are a lot better that SL. Maybe they will invite Smitty's or Kreutz's, or even Mueller's next year!

Frank in Austin

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Cell phones and hats can be useful, but what you really need are walkie-talkies. Ellen and I utilized our Motorola Talkabouts to great effect -- these are what we use for comminicating at events like this all over the country. They offer enough frequency options that, even in the middle of Manhattan, it's a simple matter to find a clear channel that nobody else is using.

The trouble with cell phones is that, when you get into crowded situations, it's often difficult to get an open circuit, and the person you're calling usually can't hear the phone. The Talkabouts are much, much louder -- you can hear their signal beeps even at an outdoor concert -- and you never need to worry about the crappy American cellular infrastructure.

A pair goes for about 50 bucks at Costco or from Amazon.

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 waited longer at the Salt Lick in Texas than on the Salt Lick line in New York, or on any line at the Big Apple Barbecue for that matter!

Heh! You got a point! Believe it or not, most locals here don't go to The Salt Lick that much, but we are so lucky to have so many great places that, frankly, are a lot better that SL. Maybe they will invite Smitty's or Kreutz's, or even Mueller's next year!

There seemed to be about 2,000 locals there the day I went! But I certainly agree there is better barbecue to be had in that region, especially in Lockhart. At last year's BABBP, Kreuz's was the representative from Texas. This year, there was a barbecue competition and festival in Lockhart that prevented any of the big names from there from coming up to New York. I was glad we got to see the Salt Lick come through the BABBP cycle, though -- it's one of the best known places and it was nice to be able to welcome them here. I'd vote for someone from Lockhart next year, though, if the schedule allows.

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 am so pissed i missed this weekend.. that was great coverage Fat Guy. Amazing pictures. I have a new screen saver now. Stupid vegas bachelor party. Where are the left overs at!

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Regarding mustard-based sauce: our own =Mark makes a really great one. He brought some to Bobolink Farm last year; too bad he won't be able to make it this year. :sad: Check eGRA to see if he ever posted a recipe. :biggrin:

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This may be the funniest thread I've ever read on here. Maybe you could have Mr. Trillin encapsulate it in his next book. Urbane NY folks going off the deep end for what is considered "everyday fare" in the parts of the US where it originates from. Of course, all of you realize you could catch a $99.00 flight to any of these locales and ,(at least in KC), get Wonder bread & fresh cut fries with your meal,+boulevard beer to boot! My ? to all of you who attended is: where did the raw meat these guys and gals smoked come from? Comparing fat content between places is interesting, but did they get the supplies in NYC? Did they bring them from KC or Memphis, Austin or St. Louis? I know for a fact that the relationship between a Q'er and his butcher is a VERY special thing. Throw in some Tri-tip Santa Maria Q for variation next year and you've got the whole country covered. No fresh cut fries? It ain't Q without the sides.

hope you had fun,

Billy

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Of course, all of you realize you could catch a $99.00 flight to any of these locales and ,(at least in KC), get Wonder bread & fresh cut fries with your meal,+boulevard beer to boot!

It's not quite the same as rolling out of bed and eating.

My ? to all of you  who attended is: where did the raw meat these guys and gals  smoked  come from? Comparing fat content between places is interesting, but did they get the supplies in NYC? Did they bring them from KC or Memphis, Austin or St. Louis? I know for a fact that the relationship between  a Q'er and his butcher is a VERY special thing.

The meat came from different places. Some was carted in by the vendors. Some was bought locally, but by someone who knows what they are doing (people who work for Danny Meyer).

The fat debate is interesting, of course. Some like it, some don't. I don't suppose this particuar debate is any different in NY than, lets say, if you put a person from Missouri and a person in Texas in the same room and ask them to debate it.

No fresh cut fries? It ain't Q without the sides.

The sides, sadly, were very neglected at this affair. Not a single piece of cornbread as far as I saw. No greens. Not even potatoes. Some beans, some slaw... that's it--probably because they either travel well or are easy to make here.

This may be the funniest thread I've ever read on here. Maybe you could have Mr. Trillin encapsulate it in his next book. Urbane NY folks going off the deep end for what is considered "everyday fare" in the parts of the US where it originates  from.

The problem with that attitude is that it risks feeding the concept that New Yorkers shouldn't even bother with BBQ. It's potentially insulting to both regions--that it's either "too common" for NY (an insult against the midwest and south), or that NYers should feel ashamed for having the balls to admit that they care about it (an insult against NY).

And frankly, we're a very small percentage of urban(e) New York.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Does anyone know just how many briskets, pigs, ribs, etc they went through over the two days?

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I know that at Mitchell's they cooked 20 whole hogs -- 10 each day -- approximately 150 pounds each. According to Ed Mitchell the yield on a 150 pound hog is about 75 pounds of usable meat. They also cooked a couple of extra shoulders alongside each hog as an insurance policy, and as soon as they saw the crowds the first day they made the decision to mix in that meat, in order to augment the yield so as to be able to serve more people. In the end, over the two-day period, they served something close to 10,000 portions of approximately 3-4 ounces of meat each.

As mentioned before, Mitchell's hogs came from a local supplier, I believe out of Hunt's Point in the Bronx, though in all likelihood the hogs themselves came from either the Midwest or the South. Ken Callaghan, the chef at Blue Smoke, placed the order with his butcher on Ed Mitchell's behalf based on Mitchell's specifications. I believe the budget for this event was essentially unlimited -- it wouldn't surprise me if the pigs Ken Callaghan bought for Ed Mitchell were more expensive and of better quality than what is typically used for barbecue in the South. New York is the best place in North America to buy meat if money is no object -- indeed it is one of the best places in the world. Blue Smoke in general uses very high quality meats -- they used to use 100% Niman Ranch but have since shifted to a variety of boutique suppliers.

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 FG, Ellen and the team deserve a gigantuous round of applause for covering this event in such a comprehensive manner. I know I speak for all who happened on the blog from the start. From Neds midnight bikeride to the morning-after comments, it was very exciting to follow in real-time from afar. Thank you Steven, et-al, for teaching me what real barbeque is all about - hey, I know what deckle is! - and Ellen, Jason, et-al, for the incredible pictures. News about crowds and hassles cemented the feeling of "being there".

Thanks for all your hard work and effort to make egullet.com a truly unique experience.

JohnnyD

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

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