I'm going to be spending Saturday and Sunday at the Big Apple Block Party, and I presume that I'll be seeing many of you as well. If you are a BABBP veteran you probably have devised your own strategies for how to make your way through the dazzling array of barbecue options available there (we recommend going with a big group, so each person only has to wait on one line—then converge, and share.)
But this year the BABBP will have a total of 14 pitmasters, along with a couple of booths for side dishes. So how do you decide what to hit first? Let me try to help the serious eaters with my list of must-visit spots, which all fall under one overarching principle: eat at the booths of the highest quality imports.
What do I mean by that?
Imports are the barbecue joints and pitmasters not from New York. Don't get me wrong—I like Blue Smoke and Hill Country and Dinosaur Barbecue just fine. But I can eat at those places the other 51 weekends of the year, and you know I will. There are a number of pitmasters coming up for the block party that are serving certain things that New York pitmasters don't do very well on a consistent, everyday basis, and their booths are where serious eaters should start their barbecue adventure this weekend.
Here are my recommended imports:
Big Bob Gibson's Championship Pork Shoulder
Pork shoulder this good, this tender, this smoky, this moist, should be illegal. One bite of a sandwich here will let you know in no uncertain terms what is missing on the New York barbecue scene.
Southside Market Beef Sausage
Sausage this juicy is a cardiologist's nightmare and a serious eater's delight.
It fills my heart with sadness to report that Southside Market is not going to be at the block party this year. Maybe Southside's owners the Bracewell family just decided they were not up to the long drive up from Texas in the semi this year. If you want your smoked sausage and brisket fix this year at the block party, head over to the Salt Lick booth. Its brisket and sausage are both mighty fine.
Ed Mitchell's Whole Hog Sandwich
Make sure you ask the folks serving at this booth to put all kinds of cuts of pork and lots of crispy bits on your sandwich. You'll end up with a sandwich that has crunch and creaminess in every bite.
17th Street Bar & Grill
As a a rule baby backs are not my favorite cut of pork to smoke. But Mike Mills' dry-rubbed beauties have just the right amount of chew and spice.
Let the queues for the 'cue begin. Enjoy.