26 June 2010

2010 Big Apple BBQ Block Party

I'm going to test a different style of posting for a while and see how you/I like it (although I know in reality no one reads this thing). If you feel you like the much more long-winded and detailed posts or these shorter straight to the point posts please leave a reply in the comments section. Previous entries were done in story mode. Now we're switching to arcade mode. Please insert coin(s).

So, my wife and I attended the 2010 Big Apple BBQ Block Party in New York City a few weekends ago. It was a really awesome experience and overall I was really pleased with it. We steered clear of the NY-based institutions because we can try their products anytime we're in the city. The lines were not nearly as bad as I'd expected (granted we had a speed pass) and we got to try some really great food. Here's the short of it:

My favorite main dishes:

- The BBQ Mutton from Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro, KY (my overall favorite item of the entire festival)
- The Whole-Hog Sandwich from The Pit in Raleigh, NC
- The Pulled Pork Sandwich from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL
- Honorable mention: The Western-Tennessee Style Whole-Hog Sandwich from Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville, TN

My favorite sides:

- Housemade Sweet Pickles from Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville, TN
- Pimento Cheese from Jim 'N Nick's in Birmingham, AL
- Baked Beans from 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, IL

The biggest disappointment:

- Hands down the Baby Back Ribs from 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, IL

Now for the pretty pretty pictures:

DAY 1:

Jim 'N Nick's was the closest stand I wanted to try when the clock hit 11am so that was the first BBQ of the day. The guy manning the fire told me they don't make their sausage in house so I don't know who to believe.

The sausage was good, but the casing was really tough to chew through. It had a touch of spice and the sauce lent a subtle sweetness to it.

It was definitely overshadowed by the awesome pimento cheese. Mmmmm jalapenos son muy bueno!

As I said before the baby backs from 17th Street were just depressing. They tasted like ribs you would find at a truck-stop.

These were touted as the best baby backs of the festival and they were barely a step above flavorless. Extremely weak in smoke, pork flavor, and sauce.

The beans, on the other hand, were great. I really appreciated that they used different varieties of beans, even lima beans, in their recipe.

The flavor was reminiscent of a sweet rendition of Campbell's Tomato Soup, which struck a comforting chord with me. My baked beans blow any of the beans I had at the BABBQBP out of the water. Hands down.

Next up was Big Bob Gibson's and the first line we encountered in the fast pass area. I asked for extra bark and oh my lord did I get the hookup, just look at this sandwich!

The coleslaw was fantastic and probably my favorite of the day. I use a Chris Lilly recipe for my pulled pork at home and surprisingly this tasted a lot like it. It was very moist and his bark was leagues beyond mine. Everyone raved about his white sauce, but it more reminded me of the Tiger sauce used on pit beef here in Maryland. We went with his basic red which I've never really been too impressed with, and I actually thought it took away from the pork, masking the subtle flavors. I felt bad for those poor souls who walked by with their sandwich swimming in sauce. Mrs. Micro was also a fan of the bark:

DAY 2:

First taste of day 2 was the legendary whole hog sandwich from The Pit. That's a picture of the pitmaster, Ed Mitchell, above.

While not my favorite of the day, this was definitely the most unexpectedly delicious. I thought I needed my ears checked when Mrs. Micro (Mrs. Sweet-tooth herself) proclaimed this as her favorite item of the festival.

Moist, chopped, tangy, spicy, tender as all get out, add a few squirts of his vinegar-based barbecue sauce this was every bit as good as the hype. Consider me converted. Vinegar4life.

Next up was Moonlite Bar-B-Q and the highly anticipated BBQ Mutton and Burgoo.

This was my favorite item of the festival because it was rich, hearty, and lamby without being overly gamey. It was ultra tender just like The Pit, but the mutton was elevated to another level by the lamb juices soaking into the bun creating this sweet soft mushy lamby flavor combination that was deliciously addictive. Throw some white onion and dill pickle chips on top and achieve perfection in a bite.

While waiting in line at Big Bob Gibson's we watched plate after plate of the thick cut brisket and peach baked beans from Jack's Old South go by and immediately put it on our must try list.

This was certainly the most tender brisket I'd ever had, and now that I think about it, probably the best. I'm not a huge fan of brisket but I really enjoyed this and loved the flavor imparted by the thin layer of caramelized fat around the edge.

While we didn't get a slice of peach in our beans we did walk away with two big hunks of thick cut bacon. The beans were overcooked and while the peach flavor was interesting, they were a little two sweet and one-dimensional.

We took this opportunity to take a break from BBQ and try this food stand serving corn on the cob, ice cream sandwiches, and tacos among other things. The line was utterly insane on Saturday, but luckily there were only about 15 people in line when we got there.

The corn was interesting but a tad too heavy for me. I appreciated the spice, but it was a tad too overloaded with toppings. I think it would've benefited greatly by being grilled as opposed to steamed.

I'm very glad we skipped the crazy line at Blue Hill (the only BBQ joint serving desserts) and went for the chocolate chip ice cream sandwich at this stand. It was one of the highlights of the weekend.

When I ordered it she said it was the first of the day, so I felt really sorry for all those people who missed out.

After spending some time walking around and digesting we decided to hit two more spots. I really wanted to leave having tried some great ribs so I took the advice of some fellow attendees and tried the St. Louis spares and beans at Pappy's Smokehouse.

Sadly, while they were far better than 17th Street, these ribs still weren't that great. The texture was great, but the sauce tasted like KC Masterpiece with a little honey mixed in and the pathetic serving of beans was without a doubt Bush's straight out of the can. Damnit, I knew I should've went with my first instinct which was Baker's. The ribs coming out of there looked killer. Oh well, there's always next year.

Luckily, we ended on a high note, our last stop being Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint.

As you can see they served their sandwich pre-assembled, sauce and all. Normally I would've protested this, but the combination of flavors really worked. Mrs. Micro was wary because she doesn't like mayo-based dishes (coleslaw, macaroni salad, etc.) and she loved this sandwich. Tender pork with a big 'ol hunk of bark, the accompanying Sweet Dixie Mild sauce was perfectly balanced: light, thin, and spicy. It was the best sauce I tasted at the festival.

The cabbage in the slaw was fresh and had a great crunch and the sweet pickles had a nice vinegary kick to them and I proclaimed them the best housemade pickles I've ever had. Atwater's should be taking notes!

Now, don't think that's all we did in NYC. We ate A LOT more stuff throughout our weekend in the big apple. I'll sum that up in my next post, so stay tuned for that. Until then, Mr. Micro--out.

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Shannon said...

The thick cut brisket at Big Bob Gibson stand had the best smokehouse favor and Memphis Dry Rub. Best St. Louis bbq style ribs was Baker's yum!

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