This past weekend I attended the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, my first time ever. This event has been around a few years and somehow I have never been able to get down to participate until now. We went in early Saturday morning to find a parking spot and to view some of the pitmasters setting up. Luckily we found a parking spot about a block from the event. My leg was really bothering me so I really did not get a chance to get around and shoot the shit with the pitmasters.
I did find a purpose for myself being there. Along Madison Avenue a handful of picnic tables were set up so that folks would have a place to sit and eat instead of standing on a sidewalk, although sitting in the park on bench would be nice as well. I commandeered an entire table for ourselves for the day. It really worked out great as the group that I was with were able to strategically go out and hit the lines for food and come back to the table and eat throughout the afternoon. Occasionally we had some requests from some real nice folks to sit and join us to eat when we had the room. Who says NY'ers aren't friendly? Thanks to the "team" I was able to sit and wait as they went out for food, then have it delivered to me so I could eat without having to stand on a single line the entire day. (and they thought I was bored ha!) Now about the food:
We had pulled pork sandwiches from just about every vendor that was offering it. For the most part I did not care for any of it. Maybe my expectations were a bit to high. I did take in to account that the pitmasters were cooking for large crowds and most likely could not produce the quality they could at their own joints. That being said none of them were as great as I would expect, none of them were that good either except for one. That was Ed Mitchells, it is made up from entire chopped hog and then just mixed with some vinegar. I like the simplicity and the texture of all the parts of the hog chopped then mixed together. The vinegar was not overpowering. Most of the pork sandwich offerings came with a side of beans and coleslaw. I didn't care for for any of the beans and coleslaw with the exception of the coleslaw from Ubons BBQ. I didn't take any notes but it basically tasted great and was way above the others.
The lines at the event are interesting to watch. Why would you go to a local restaurant vendor when you can get food from a pitmaster that you will only get to try once a year? Just because some of the pitmasters are legendary and hail from some the country's BBQ mecca states does not mean you are going to get great food or food as good as you might get if you visited them in there home towns. Mike Mills (17th street bar and grill) had the worst ribs that I had of the day. They were baby backs that were over-sauced in some sort of yellow/orange nasty looking slather.I do not care much for babybacks to begin with because of the somewhat "hammy" taste and these were amongst the hammiest I have ever tasted. The ribs from Bakers were dry, had a nice taste to them. The ribs from Pappys were OK but nothing special.The best ribs of the day were from NYC's Blue Smoke. The had a nice smoke on them and very nice tasting sauce but were a bit tough.
Salt Lick from Texas had one of the longest lines I had seen of any of the other vendors. They were offering a platter with sliced brisket and sausage. They sold out of the brisket early and were only selling sausage towards the latter half of the day. I had the opportunity to sample some sausage from one of our table guests. Everybody I spoke to about the brisket did not really care for it. The brisket I did have was from Ed Wilsons , Fairfield CT. It was really good. I did not sample Hill Country's brisket as that is available anytime I am in NYC.
Overall it seems like a great event that is very well organized. I wish they had chicken vendor and would like to see some chili as well. Afterward we made our way to RUB for a great meal that I will give my take on Wed.