Monday, June 15, 2009

The 7th Annual Big Apple BBQ

This is my first Big Apple BBQ. Although I've known about it since its inception, I have never gone. I don't have an excuse really. But after today, I realized that was a mistake. I love barbecue and this was the best thing in NYC. Everything I've ever dreamed of was here. I've discovered things that I used to hate, but now I find them delicious because they were done right. I've been to several barbecue places in NYC. The list includes Blue Smoke, Daisy May's, RUB, Dinosaur, Fette Sau, Hill Country, Smoke Joint, and Virgil's. I've even been to fake barbecue places like Dallas and Famous Dave's. But as much as some of these people brag about the authenticity, it's nothing compared to some of these competition winners and pitmasters. They drag their rigs all the way up north. It's a big deal to me. Before the event, I scoured the internet about advice and a plan of action. There was plenty to find out there. I ended up buying a fast pass ($100) for 3 of us. And we went early (10:30AM) to stake out an area. We found a park bench and added some folding chairs. We had a great setup. But there was room for improvement. More on that later. Now the food. The plan of attack was to hit all the non-NYC places first. If we had leftover money and time, we'd go back for more. We started on one end of the food 'L' and just walked down to each stand. Promptly at 10:55AM we went to stand in line. No line on fastpass side. But things were already snaking around on the regular side. Score! First Round Ed Mitchell - The Pit: Whole Hog & Coleslaw Wilson's Barbecue: Texas Style Beef Brisket & Coleslaw Pappy's: St. Louis Style Ribs & Beans Ubon's "Champion Choice": Pulled Pork Shoulder & Coleslaw Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q: Pulled Pork Shoulder and Beans Clockwise from top left: Big Bob's, The Pit, Ubon's, Pappy's, Wilson's Second Round The Salt Like BBQ: Beef Brisket, Sausage & Coleslaw Blackjack BBQ: Pulled Pork Shoulder & Coleslaw Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q: Homemade Smoked Sausage with Pimento Cheese and Saltines Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint: Western Tennesee-Style Whole Hog with Sweet Pickles 17th Street Bar & Grill: Baby Back Ribs & Beans Clockwise from top left: Jim 'N Nick's, Blackjack, The Salt Lick, Martin's, 17th Street Third Round Baker's Ribs: St. Louis Style Ribs & Jalapeno Coleslaw Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: Pulled Pork Shoulder & Beans Rack & Soul: Baby Back Ribs & Beans From left to right: Rack & Soul, Baker's, Dinosaur Fourth Round Blue Smoke: Kansas City Ribs & Pickles Hill Country: Beef Brisket & Cool as a Cucumber Salad From top to bottom: Hill Country, Bluesmoke Dessert Shake Shack Custard: Mint Chocolate Chip Blue Smoke Dessert: Watermelon & Chocolate Brownie I really enjoyed everything. But here are my top 3 favorites: 1. Pappy's Ribs: meaty and a great sauce. Rack & Soul was close but ultimately I'll pick regular ribs over baby backs. 2. Martin's Whole Hog Sandwich: moist and topped with great cole slaw. The combination just worked really great together. 3. Jim 'N Nick's Sausage: spicy and juicy. The cheese cooled things off. Make a mini sandwich with the saltines and you have yourself a winner! The watermelon was really refreshing with all the meat going around. And the brownie was really chocolaty. But it was also slightly dry. Good none the less. Also, the custard was think and creamy. The mint was cooling. The chocolate chips weren't chips at all. Instead they were chocolate crunchies. Yum! Through this event, I've discovered that baked beans and coleslaw (done right by the South) are delicious! Before this, I hated both with a passion. I've always had mealy, unappetizing beans. And the coleslaw has always been drowned in mayonnaise. At this event, the beans were sweet. They tasted great. The coleslaw seemed more like a salad with a vinegar base. Good as well. All barbecue food was $8 per plate, dessert was $4 per plate, and drinks were $2 each. Though at the Snapple stands, they were free. Beer, obviously, was more. But you needed to stand in line for a bracelet, and then in line for the beer. Also, you were confined into the center area of the park near the fountain and stage. Bummer. There were a few things that I noticed and will change for the future. The folding chairs were a great idea. Most of the lawn area was fenced off. Next time, we'll bring a folding table as well. And a big jug of drinks. Someone else near us had this exact sweet setup. We watched and learned. Also, one fastpass was more than enough for 3 of us. Mostly because we didn't use it on beer. Next year, we'll use one for our whole group of 5. A very important tidbit for next year. If you run out of money on your fastpass, you can still be in the fastpass area and pay in cash! Getting there early (11AM) is really key to an enjoyable time. Not only will you have a place to sit, but you'll also skip most of the lines. When we went back for Round 4 of food (3PM), the lines were very long even in the fastpass area. We stood around for 1 hour for 2 plates of food. The regular side was even more ridiculous. It might be smart to get everything at once in the beginning and slowly work your way through the food. No need to get back up again. Lastly, if you get a fastpass, you have access to the fastpass porter potties. They are used less often. And they seemed slightly cleaner than normal. I was very happy with the turnout of this event. This just might turn into an annual ritual for me. Big Apple BBQ (646) 747-0584 bigapplebbq.org 17th Street Bar & Grill 32 N. 17th Street Murphysboro, IL 62966 (618) 684-3722 17thstreetbarbecue.com Baker's Ribs 3318 Lakeview Pky Rowlett, TX 75088 (972) 475-6560 bakersribs.com Big Bob Gibson's 1715 6th Avenue, SE Decatur, AL 35601 (256) 350-6969 bigbobgibson.com Blackjack Barbecue blackjackbarbecue.com Bluesmoke 116 E 27th St # A New York, NY 10016 (212) 447-7733 bluesmoke.com Dinosaur Bar-B-Que 646 W 131st St New York, NY 10027 (212) 694-1777 dinosaurbarbque.com Ed Mitchell - The Pit 328 W Davie St Raleigh, NC 27601 (919) 829-1212 thepit-raleigh.com Hill Country 30 W 26th St # 1 New York, NY 10010 (212) 255-4544 hillcountryny.com Jim 'N Nicks (various locations) jimnnicks.com Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint 7215 Nolensville Rd Nolensville, TN 37135 (615) 776-1856 martinsbbqjoint.com Pappy's Smokehouse 3106 Olive St St Louis, MO 63103 (314) 535-4340 pappyssmokehouse.com Rack & Soul 258 West 109th St New York, NY 10025 (212) 222-4800 rackandsoul.com The Salt Lick 18001 FM 1826 Driftwood, Texas 78619 (512) 858-4959 saltlickbbq.com Ubon's 801 North Jerry Clower Blvd Yazoo City, MS 39194 (662) 716-7100 ubons.net Wilson's 1851 Post Rd Fairfield, CT 06824 (203) 319-7427 wilsons-bbq.com

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