BBQ on the Brain: 10th Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

It’s not too late to cancel your plans this weekend so you can attend the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Madison Square Park. Not only does this festival give you the opportunity to try some of the best roasted, braised, and fired meat in around, but it features pit masters from all across the country. If that wasn’t enough, they also have live music, film, and free cooking demos. Here’s what we are looking forward too.

Meat: Expect to wait in line, but don’t be dismayed it’s worth it. Serving up the meat Saturday and Sunday include favorites like: Las Vegas’ Mike Mills with baby back ribs, Chris Lilly from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q with pulled-pork shoulder, Rodney Scott from Scott’s Bar-B-Q with a whole hog, Drew Robinson from Jim ‘N Nick’s with smoked sausage, and 14 other barbecue experts.

Music: On Saturday, get your country-folk on with Jon Langford, soul music from Chicago with JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, and end the day with swamp pop from Southern Culture on the Skids. Sunday brings you soul by the Revelations featuring Tres Williams, and rock music by Roadside Graves and Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys.

Free demonstrations: There are a lot of events going on, but the demos to really watch out for start with southern chefs Tyler Brown from Capitol Grille and Sean Brock from Husk and McCrady’s showing how to cook over embers. Also up, they have Chris Hastings, chef and owner of the Hot & Hot Fish Club in Alabama, making BBQ grilled shrimp and chef Norman King whipping up brown sugar pork chops.

Film screenings: Both days will feature free screenings of Joe York’s two new shorts Helen’s Bar-B-Q, and homage to pit master Helen Turner, and Madison Square Pork, a mini-documentary of the festival. If you can’t wait, or want something extra special, Blue Smoke is hosting the Potlikker Film Festival that not only shows both films, but also York’s short on the Van Winkle bourbon company called, Asleep in the Wood—all complete with Smell-A-Vision.Good thing food is on hand as they will also be passing around southern nibbles by Blue Smoke’s Kenny Callaghan, Seersucker‘s Robert Newton, and Herbsaint’s Ryan Prewitt and pouring whiskey from Julian Van Winkle’s private stash.

 

Tour de Brooklyn: A Borough Grub Crawl

Last weekend Bon Appetit magazine teamed up with Belvedere Vodka and Chase Sapphire to take a tour of the ever-expanding Brooklyn Food scene. Focusing on three key neighborhoods, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg, and Red Hook, the tours worked to really highlight some of the areas’ best food options, while making it walker-friendly.

I was lucky enough to join Friday’s Cobble Hill grub crawl and started out at Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli’s Italian inspired restaurant Frankies 457 Spuntino. The joint was packed inside, but luckily we ducked out into the garden to sip a berry-ripe lambrusco and nibble on seasonal crostini. The way the tour worked was that they had four groups of people intermittently going to one of the four spots where we stayed for about 45 minutes. Frankies proved a good place to start, but our next stop felt a little awkward.

Dessert before dinner, anyone? Not that I am actually complaining. Given our tour took us to Kim Ima’s brick-and-mortar location of Treats Truck and to a pile of luscious peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies, it was a win-win situation. We followed that up with Clover Club and had a lovely punch by cocktail goddess Julie Reiner, who was actually there explaining her drink, giving us a recipe, and then pouring up their house drink comprised of raspberries and Dorothy Parker gin. We ended the night at Seersucker and sampled chef Robert Newton’s sinful fried chicken, fluffy biscuits, pimento cheese, and the Thirsty Owl Riesling that they have on tap. All together, the tour did highlight some of the hottest spots in the neighborhood right now.

On Saturday they covered Williamsburg and smartly chose Rye for cocktails, Maison Premiere for oysters, and Brooklyn Winery for a tour and wine tasting. The other two places I was less impressed with and would have skipped, one of which was Allswell because, frankly, it’s not anything special. Same for the jaunt to the Meatball Shop; while it’s delicious, there’s nothing Brooklyn about it given its two other locations in Manhattan. Sunday’s food crawl took place in Red Hook and did the neighborhood well by hitting up Stumptown Coffee Roasters, trying St. John Frizell’s southern-style Fort Defiance, eating Korean breakfast at The Good Fork, filling up on smoked meat at Mile End, and dancing at the historical bar Sunny’s.

Overall, the folks behind the tour did well to give a broad sampling of the neighborhoods that you can easily walk around in. The only other location I would have included is Prospect Heights where you can easily indulge in seasonal nibbles from The Vanderbilt, cocktails at Weather Up, ramen at Chuko, and oysters at Cornelius—but I guess that’s a good excuse to do that one on my own.