Bonkers. That is my word of the month. People are bonkers. Things that happen are bonkers. This weekend, I was bonkers for BBQ. The Big Apple BBQ, has been on my calendar for months. This event, where some of the nation’s best BBQ pitmasters congregate in Madison Square Park in NYC and smoke up a storm, is one of my all-time favorite NYC events. Why do I like this event so much? It could be that it happens in early June when the weather’s switching over to Summer. It could be that the streets around Madison Square Park are closed off and instead of cars, smokers fill the streets and the smell of meat fills up the air. It could be that in a few short hours, I can walk a few feet and go from NYC, North Carolina, Texas and beyond. It could be that I can eat a lot, be messy and totally not be self-conscious, because everyone else in the near vicinity is doing the same thing. It’s probably the latter.
This year was no different. On day one, I got together with a couple of friends and we took the group approach. We all lined up in different lines and together we tried a couple of the places. Day two, I went alone and conquered. I checked the map ahead of time and mapped out a strategy. It worked. I hit up all the places I wanted to go to, and I was in and out of the lines within 15 minutes. I also finished eating all of that within 30 minutes. But hey, it’s a one-time-a-year thing, so I don’t feel too bad.
I think BBQ is a very unpredictable cuisine, which could explain why the winners of the BBQ championships seem to change every year. This year, the people who knocked my socks off last year, were a little eh, and some things that I wasn’t expecting much from, were ridiculously good. It’s a lesson that I’ve learned this year, that I should try as much as I can, and give places a chance every year. The other biggest lesson is to go early. The difference in the length of the lines is crazy. Also, give places with little or no line a chance. As with everything, the main people are hyped up and the lines will be long, but ALL of the pitmasters that are at the Big Apple BBQ are great, even the NYC ones. Take advantage of the short lines and get some ‘cue!
What I ate:
Ed Mitchell, Whole Hog and Turkey sandwich
17th Street Bar and Grill, Baby Back Ribs
The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que, Beef Brisket and Sausage
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint Whole Hog sandwich
Baker’s Ribs, St. Louis Style Ribs
Scott’s Bar-B-Que, Whole Hog
Rack and Soul, Baby Back Ribs
Original Fried Pie Company, Blackberry Pie