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Jason Perlow

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party 2005

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I re-tasted the Southside products today -- for a total of four tastings this weekend -- and I became more impressed with them each time. Meanwhile, I've always thought Salt Lick served pretty tasty barbecue, but I've never been blown away by their stuff (neither here nor on location in Texas). When I interrogated people about why they liked Salt Lick's brisket better than Southside's, it came down to moistness and tenderness every time. To me, neither of those attributes is as important as flavor, and that's what the Southside brisket had a lot of, especially concentrated around its edges. In addition, I don't think softness is the be-all-end-all of brisket. I actually prefer a brisket with structure to one that practically disintegrates when you eat it. With respect to the sausage, folks seemed inclined to like Salt Lick's sausage because it had more of a smoky flavor. This just isn't as important to me as the flavors of the spice and meat. As one of the pit guys at Southside explained to me, they don't make smoked sausage -- they make barbecue sausage. Yes, it picks up some smoke, but it's more like smoke-grilled than smoked. Texas barbecue, in general, is cooked at higher temperatures than the barbecue in the Carolinas, Memphis, etc. As for the beans, the soupiness seems to parallel that of Brunswick stew -- it's not a texture that naturally appeals to me as a northerner, because my palate and preferences are attuned to thicker, richer sauces and soups. But once I put that bias aside I liked them very much.


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 re-tasted the Southside products today -- for a total of four tastings this weekend -- and I became more impressed with them each time.

As one of the pit guys at Southside explained to me, they don't make smoked sausage -- they make barbecue sausage. Yes, it picks up some smoke, but it's more like smoke-grilled than smoked.

Actually, a great many Texas 'cue joints buy their sausage from Elgin. And then they cook them however they prefer. So often you'll hear, "I like the sausage from....this place or that...." but when you ask, they're serving up Elgin sausage.


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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And if you headed 60 miles North to Newburgh, you could have tried the fresh smoked brisket, pork butt and spareribs at the Barnstormer with absolutely no lines. I couldn't make it there this year because we were too busy Saturday night and there was too much prep to do. Last year, Mike Mills recognized me and got to spend a couple of hours hanging with him next to his pit. I will definately try and make it there next year.


Barnstormer BBQ

Rt. 9W

Fort Montgomery NY

845 446 0912

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Southside (Elgin)...and the beans, although they tasted smoky and good, were quite watery.

I'm kinda curious about this. It's always interesting, when reading a review, to know what said reviewer's experience is.

So I'm wondering what you expected.

Are you familiar with southwestern/Mexican/Texas-style pinto/BBQ/cowboy/chile beans?

Because they are NOT gooey lumps of sweetness, like southern-style, or Boston baked beans (not that there's anything wrong with that; I like those, too).

They are always what you might call "watery" if you're not familiar with them. You NEVER serve them just scooped onto a plate. They're always served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon so you can slurp up that "smoky and good" flavorful broth.

They're more like what you might describe as 'bean soup,' I suppose, if you're not familiar with them. ARE you familiar with them. Is that what you were expecting?

Just so happens I've eaten at Southside Market many times, and I think their beans are quite good. They sure do serve a lot of them.

I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona (lived there for 22 years), and my older brother spent several years living in various parts of New Mexico and Texas, where we would frequently travel to visit him. So I'm quite familiar with that style of beans, from the very bad ones served on desert "moonlight hayrides" (:blink:) to the excellent ones served in some restaurants. I simply found Southside's to be more watery than those I've had before, and of a texture to which I wasn't partial.

FWIW, the beans from 17th Street (yes, I KNOW that's a different style) were about as far from "gooey lumps of sweetness" as one can get. As I mentioned, they were spicy, flavorful without being sweet, and the integrity of the beans was intact.

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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Brisket and sausage: I found that everybody I spoke to liked both the sausage and brisket from Salt Lick better than the sausage and brisket from Elgin. I felt exactly the opposite. So I don't know what's going on there. I must be losing it.

Dude, are you sure you're not remembering this the wrong way around? I distinctly remember sharing some Elgin brisket and sausage with you and the Psaltises, and my memory is that we found the Elgin brisket unpalatably dry.

What I really liked about Salt Lick's brisket is that it was juicy, most likely because they used not only the first cut but also the second cut (aka deckel) of the brisket. Ellen and I got some good video with one of the Salt Lick pitmasters demonstrating the difference between slices from the first and second cuts of the brisket. IMO, the deckel is absolute necessary in a brisket sandwich or plate for the juicy moisture it provides.


--

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OH and I got to meet Jeffrey Steingarten. :cool:  Celebrity whore that I am, I'm THRILLED that he's just as delightful as his books.  Just wish I'd remembered to bring one of our eight thousand copies of them to be autographed.

K

P.S.  I would never, never, ever try to do this without the Bubba Fast Pass.  The lines were INSANE, especially in the heat/humidity.  I got sunburned enough as it was!

I saw him munching on some ribs. I really wanted to say hello, and tell him how much I enjoy his writing. However, I didn't want to be that guy to tear a man away from a mouthful of delicious BBQ, so I just let him be.

Such a great author!


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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and my memory is that we found the Elgin brisket unpalatably dry.

Yep. Thats what Rachel and I remember as well. There must be a huge variance in the way Salt Lick and Elgin cooks brisket, because they were using brisket from the same supplier at the event, Smithfield. So the fat content, moisture, etc of the briskets were identical from the start. That being said I thought Salt Lick's brisket was superior to Elgin's in just about every way. Its certainly possible since both Salt Lick and Elgin were not using their native meat suppliers this may have introduced some positive or negative variables into the mix on either side. I think also the types of rigs they used at the event also makes a difference -- Elgin used one of those big cylindrical trailered barrel rigs with static shelves, whereas Salt Lick used a tall square unit with mechanized rotating shelves like Dinosaur does.

The Elgin sausage, as Fat Guy says earlier, more resembles a "barbecued" sausage than a smoked one, which Salt Lick's is. Nevertheless I enjoyed both sausages although my stylistic preference is towards the more smoky one.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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the sausage at Salt Lick blew away Southside's, the casing was crisp and the flavor exploded in my mouth while Southside's was fine but nothing special.

Ah, that's what I loved about Salt Lick's sausage as well. That crisped casing and juiciness. Yum.

What I really liked about Salt Lick's brisket is that it was juicy, most likely because they used not only the first cut but also the second cut (aka deckel) of the brisket.  Ellen and I got some good video with one of the Salt Lick pitmasters demonstrating the difference between slices from the first and second cuts of the brisket.  IMO, the deckel is absolute necessary in a brisket sandwich or plate for the juicy moisture it provides.

I noted that we got two slices of first cut and one of deckel on our Salt Lick plate. That seems an excellent proportion.

gallery_2_0_19301.jpg

There must be a huge variance in the way Salt Lick and Elgin cooks brisket, because they were using brisket from the same supplier at the event, Smithfield. So the fat content, moisture, etc of the briskets were identical from the start.

Are you sure that all the pitt masters were using the Smithfield products? I was under the impression that most of them drove up their local piggies. What about the beef?

An Arnold Palmer (hint: if it's too sweet, stir it up with your straw, that just means the lemonade hasn't been thoroughly mixed with the UNSWEETENED iced tea) from the Shake Shack cooled me off and rounded out my day of devouring nicely.

Yes, my first sip was mostly lemonade, then I did stir it and shake the ice around. It was still too sweet. Oh well, there are worse things in life to worry about, I suppose if I'd been eating the salty & smoky barbecue with the AP, it would have tasted better. Instead it was our last drink in the park before going home on Saturday.

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Thanks for all the great comments and photos. I am definitely going to try and get up there for this event next year, with a Bubba Pass for sure. Plus, to read all the 'this sausage is better than that sausage..' comments are pretty funny, since that stuff goes on all the time down here (as I'm sure it does in NC, KC, etc). "Is it served with sides, or without? Is it served on butcher paper? So & so's sauce is way to vinegary."

As you guys know, barbeque is very personal, and taken seriously, and it's great to see that NYC 'gets it'!

Did anyone catch the screening of 'BBQ:A Texas Love Story'?


Frank in Austin

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gallery_2_0_37984.jpg

Dinosaur Butt

You just can't tell from this picture how delectible that butt was. We were there early on Sunday and I watched one of the guys wrapping individual cooked butts in plastic wrap. They were jiggly like Jello. The Dinosaur pulled butt was my favorite pulled meat of the day. I just don't care for whole hog as much, especially when chopped too finely. Salt Lick had my favorite sausage of the day, as well as my favorite brisket and cole slaw. I liked everybody's ribs. Mike Mill's baby backs were crisp and tender at the same time, with a very generous rub and a scant drizzle of sauce at the end. Mmm. Their beans were the best too. Whole Hog Cafe and Blue Smoke's ribs both had a lot more sauce on their spare ribs, but they were great too. I just can't play favorite when it comes to ribs, come one come all!

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There must be a huge variance in the way Salt Lick and Elgin cooks brisket, because they were using brisket from the same supplier at the event, Smithfield. So the fat content, moisture, etc of the briskets were identical from the start.

As far as I could tell, the major difference was that Salt lick was cooking and serving the whole brisket, including the deckel, and Elgin seemed to be only serving (and perhaps only cooking) the first cut.


--

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I had pre-bought a Bubba Pass and was there at noon Saturday to get my snoot, having missed out last year. With the computers down, they were indeed giving out free barbecue to all the pass holders for most of that afternoon--we had one of everything and two of most things and didn't have a dime deducted from the card.

Now I am of course very appreciative of getting all this food, and especially appreciative that I could come back Sunday and do it all over again to use up the stored value on the card. But believe me, no one was keeping track of all this free barbecue given out on Saturday.

Does anyone know how (or indeed, if) the vendors were equitably compensated for all this free barbecue? I would hope that either AMEX or the event company or Danny Meyer or someone would be ponying up something fair.

I do not want barbecue guilt on my conscience!

:unsure:

Jamie


Edited by picaman (log)

See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

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Jamie, I don't know that the vendors were compensated by portion. I think they may have just been paid a fee to come up, and had their materials costs covered. I think the money taken in at the registers went first to cover those costs, and then to charity. So I don't know that any vendors lost any money; if anything the charities did. However, I know that a whole lot of people left on Sunday with a whole lot of unused money on their cards. I think my mother abandoned $93. So a lot of it probably evened out.


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 guess it's too late to point this out now, but you could use the cards at the merchandise tent. We bought some bottles of sauce and a hat with our leftover money. I didn't check to see if you could buy the books with them too.

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Barbeque does seem to be so subjective. I don't know if I'm able to be more objective or just ignorant of the subject with no personal childhood experience. Unfortunately, I hardly had a chance to sample enough of the fare to offer much in the way of opinion. One thing that's been reinforced is my distaste for just about all sauce. I found a few drops of Big Bob Gibson's Award Winning sauce was more than enough to flavor a sandwich for me and too little was better than too much. It's interesting to learn that everyone was using the same meat source because that just adds credibility to his cooking, since I found his meat the tastiest of all I tried. I was sure part of that had to be his meat source. Two caveats. I didn't get to try them all. I'm no authority on barbeque. Hell, I never even ate pig as a child. I didn't get a chance to try other ribs, but Mike Mills had wonderful ribs. I found his beans very much on the sweet side, but there was a wonderful balance of other flavors and I particularly liked the combination of beans, especially those big fat white beans. That said, as far as sides go, all other things being equal, I would more often opt for a pit serving coleslaw over one serving beans. Perhaps my preference is for the kinds of bean cooking I've had in Puerto Rico over barbeque beans and Boston Beans.

The best single piece of information offered at the seminars was Peter Kaminsky's comment on Iberian pigs at the Regional Foods seminar. He noted the superiority of the fat, in terms of health issues, of that which comes from a pig raised entirely on acorns. Hams from these pigs are still not allowed to be imported into the US and may be reason alone to visit Spain. You're not likely to see me trim the fat on a slice of good Bellota quality ham. (Bellota is the Spanish word for acorns and the term used for pork from a pig raised on a diet of acorns. It's pretty much the top quality on the market and can command a much heftier price in Spain than Italian prociutto does in the US. Expect it to be very expensive when they ever get permission to import it here.)


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I guess it's too late to point this out now, but you could use the cards at the merchandise tent. We bought some bottles of sauce and a hat with our leftover money. I didn't check to see if you could buy the books with them too.

Yeah, but by the middle of the day there wasn't any good merchandise left. All the good shirts and such were gone. It was possible for a determined person to spend the money, but it was easier and produced better karma to leave it over for the BABBP's charity beneficiaries.


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 saw booths comping security guards and street cops pretty casually. I don't think any vendors were tracking food the way tightly run restaurants do. The “free” plates offered when the Bubba card system crashed on Saturday probably hurt no vendors.

The service sure was painfully slow, but also Southern-style friendly. Those long lines would’ve been better served by the humorless, hurried service we expect at Manhattan delis or fast-food restaurants. But would visiting out-of-state workers and local “volunteers” be willing to double their workload that way, making it painful for themselves?

Jason, I don’t know Mr. Cutlets but would have been honored to meet him after he snuck into my photo. I love his book. As for me, I’ve been a lurker but will be mending my ways. I discovered eGullet last year when I was looking for coverage of the 2004 BBQ party.

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As far as I could tell, the major difference was that Salt lick was cooking and serving the whole brisket, including the deckel, and Elgin seemed to be only serving (and perhaps only cooking) the first cut.

Both were serving deckel, and you could specifically ask for it if you were willing to be patient and have the folks in the generic white staff shirts ask the real staff doing the carving for you. That said and having tried the deckel at both, I still liked Salt Lick's brisket better. Elgin's was much moister than what they were mostly serving and still managed to keep the slightly firmer texture that Fat Guy liked. Salk Lick's though was much more seasoned especially towards the end bits which were practically caramel.

Not sure who I was talking to but there was a blond woman wearing a denim Elgin shirt who didn't know what I was talking about when I asked for deckel. Her husband was right behind her though doing the carving and looked up to say "That's the side you like Honey." :laugh:

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So I don't know that any vendors lost any money; if anything the charities did. However, I know that a whole lot of people left on Sunday with a whole lot of unused money on their cards. I think my mother abandoned $93. So a lot of it probably evened out.

Thanks for the info--now I feel marginally better but at the expense of others' good sense. I had BBQ fever bad! I'm going to have to write a check to charity.

:smile:

Jamie


See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

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(Just click that Upgrade button at the top left of your screen, Jamie. You'll feel so much better about yourself.)


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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We left around 3:30 on Sunday, and I felt I did my karmic duty by giving our spent Bubba card to someone at the end of Salt Lick's line. I determined who to give it to by shouting "Who knows what a Bubba pass is?" I gave it to the couple who first raised their hand. I told them there was no cash left on it, but that one of them should go try to put some more money on it while the other stayed on line (since I didn't know if the refill station was still open). I hope they were able to put some dough on it and bypass the line. They were only selling 50 passes on Sunday, so most anyone who wanted to buy one couldn't. But you were able to add cash to a card you already had if you wanted to.

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Shall we discuss the dessert options? I sampled the strawberry-rhubarb crumble and a chocolate cupcake on Sunday. As well as the previously discussed strawberry shortcake concrete from Shake Shack, on Saturday. The cupcake was nice and chocolatey, but the frosting was quite melty from the heat. The bar cookie was good, but I wanted more fruit and less crumble. I think the hot dog vendors at the corners of the park were doing more business in ice cream. And there was a Mr. Softee truck parked on the southeast corner of Madison and 26th, that had a line about 30 people long when we left at 3:30.

Next year, I hope they import a shave ice vendor. I good snow-ball or snow cone would have really it the spot!

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I wonder where all those pit workers came from. It doesn't seem likely that most of the servers were brought up and housed overnight. Pit crews and family were obviously imported. Some of the service seemed assembly line disinterested. At some tents however, it was particularly friendly down home service. All in all, there was a general level of good time and fellowship. I saw a lot of food pressed on those with the responsibility of keeping order and from what I saw, they had nothing better to do with their time than eat BBQ. Attendees were all very well behaved. Whether it was an effect of the food, the nature of the type of person attracted to such an event, or a product of good organization, I can't say, but it was a pleasure to be there. I wonder about the economics of participation in such an event and compensation to the participants. I look at the long line at Ed Mitchell's and then I look at the pits he brought up and the spectacular gigantic rig parked on East 25th or 26th Street and have to wonder if he could recoup the cost at $7 a head. In addition to the free 'cue to pass holders on Saturday and the feeding of security personnel, I noticed worker's accepting credits from other tents, especially late on Sunday when some pits were sold out. It just doesn't seem as if profit was a major motive. I figure they all came up for some good old NYC hospitality more than anything else.

In all that heat and humidity, neither chocolate cupcakes nor crumble were appealing to me. My vote went for two scoops of frozen custard at Shake Shack.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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:biggrin: Any chance you think that all the money was pooled and divided through. Given that the meat was from one source, and that the spices were mainly from one source, would it be fair to say that it was all for one... ??

I wonder where all those pit workers came from. It doesn't seem likely that most of the servers were brought up and housed overnight. Pit crews and family were obviously imported. Some of the service seemed assembly line disinterested. At some tents however, it was particularly friendly down home service. All in all, there was a general level of good time and fellowship. I saw a lot of food pressed on those with the responsibility of keeping order and from what I saw, they had nothing better to do with their time than eat BBQ. Attendees were all very well behaved. Whether it was an effect of the food, the nature of the type of person attracted to such an event, or a product of good organization, I can't say, but it was a pleasure to be there. I wonder about the economics of participation in such an event and compensation to the participants. I look at the long line at Ed Mitchell's and then I look at the pits he brought up and the spectacular gigantic rig parked on East 25th or 26th Street and have to wonder if he could recoup the cost at $7 a head. In addition to the free 'cue to pass holders on Saturday and the feeding of security personnel, I noticed worker's accepting credits from other tents, especially late on Sunday when some pits were sold out. It just doesn't seem as if profit was a major motive. I figure they all came up for some good old NYC hospitality more than anything else.

In all that heat and humidity, neither chocolate cupcakes nor crumble were appealing to me. My vote went for two scoops of frozen custard at Shake Shack.

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