The Big Apple Barbeque Block Party was in New York City on Saturday and Sunday June 12-13, 2010. The event, in its 8th year, brings some of the all-stars of BBQ to NYC for one weekend every year. There is no competition and no bragging rights on the line, but folks on the East Coast who may never get a chance to visit all the BBQ joints they see on television get to sample the delights from all over the country. This was my first time and I have to say I have never enjoyed eating more before 12PM than I did that day.
FIRST TIP: Get the Fast Pass, which they sell online before the event. It costs $125 dollars, but before you cringe and make that funny face at the price, this is what you get:
(2) passes for you and a guest to the shorter express lines. Everyone else is stuck on the MUCH longer lines for the public.
$100 worth of food or merchandise. When you go to get a sample from a restaurant, there are little $ symbols that represent dollar amounts. You pay by punching a hole in the corresponding dollar amount, like on my pass below
So you don’t even need to pull out your purse or wallet all day if you don’t want to. You can also buy shirts, hats commerating the event, or even barbeque sauces and dry rubs from the restaurants there.
If you are coming with someone it is so worth it. Even for one person it is worth if you know you are going to sample most of the eats. Two people can easily eat a few entrees, a couple of desserts, a few drinks and buy a shirt and a dry rub for your own culinary attempts and use all $100. The Fast Pass lines are MUCH shorter, especially when you get there early. I had eaten so much by 1PM I had to rest for an hour… and then I jumped right back into the fray!
Even later in the afternoon when the Fast Pass lines are longer, they are still shorter than the lines for the general public.
SECOND TIP: For The Big Apple BBQ Block Party – visit on Saturday and visit the out of town vendors first. If they run out of food, they are done. They might not have enough to replenish for Sunday. The restaurants in New York can run back and get supplies and keep going. If the restaurant is coming from Dallas or Memphis, they may be done and not available for Sunday.
I got there about 30 minutes before the 11am start time anticipating a big crowd because of the good weather. And I was not disappointed.
My first stop was the pit-smoked brisket from NYC’s own Hill Country restaurant.
Tender, juicy and succulent, and easily my favorite dish of the day. The meat was so tender you didn’t need a knife to cut it. The fat along with the perfectly cooked meat was my first meal of the day and I am so happy it was.
Next up was Ed Mitchell from ‘The Pit’ in North Carolina with the Whole Hog sandwich. He’s been on the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food and in other media so he’s pretty well known. This is where they chopped up the WHOLE pig, snout to tail and serve it as sandwich. Maybe I needed a little sauce because mine was a little dry.
Next something other than beef or pork – MUTTON. SHOCK! Yep, from Kentucky came Pitmaster Ken Bosley from the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn serving a barbeque mutton sandwich. I was so startled that someone was serving sheep I had to try it. It tasted fine, but my mouth wasn’t used to anything but beef or pork. I have to be prepared for that next time.
At this point I had enough of the sandwiches, so I went for the ribs. Skip Steele from Pappy’s Smokehouse from St. Louis obliged with his take on St. Louis style ribs. I thought these were a little overdone, and not enough meat on the bone.
Now I took a break because I had been eating for about 2 hours straight. Fortunately the sky threatened rain, but held off for the entire day. After sitting and people watching, back to the tough job of trying to eat everything in sight!
Baker’s Ribs out of Dallas, Texas came through with another next batch St. Louis style ribs for me to sample. These were definitely meatier, but their sauce tasted slightly like ketchup. That’s how they do it in Big D?
Next a change from the ribs to homemade sausage with pimento cheese from Pitmaster Drew Robinson. Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q in Birmingham, Alabama represented with this. I wasn’t expecting to like it, but the peppery taste of sausage with the cheese and crackers made a great combo.
The last thing I REMEMBER eating for the day (at this point I’m in a meat-induced haze) was Pitmaster Mike Mills who does it up for 17th Street Bar & Grill in Illinois and Memphis Championship Barbecue in Vegas. The baby back ribs were meaty and tender with just the right amount of seasoning.
So I had a great time and did not eat for the rest of the day. That is how full I was. I was concerned that the Fast Pass would be a waste of money, but even for me going by myself I was in carnivore heaven. Get to the front of the line and taste all you want without pulling out your wallet.