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Should I admit that I made my first visit to Smorgasburg this past Saturday? (I mean, I'm the Serious Eats overlord, so an outdoor Saturday-only food bazaar in Brooklyn hipster neighborhood Williamsburg featuring lots of hyper-local artisanal food should hit my serious food sweet spot.) Ahh, why not. What did I find? Some insanely serious food that we haven't written about. Until now, that is. So take a look at what we found and ate in the accompanying slideshow. And make a point of going tomorrow and tell us if you think we're right. Some of the highlights:
Mighty Quinn's Barbecue: The line here at 11 AM told all: trained chef Hugh Mangum learned his 'cue craft from his Texan dad. And man has he learned it well. Like a proper Texan, he doesn't slice the meat for your sandwich until you order it. He uses the whole brisket instead of the first cut, so every sandwich has just enough fat to keep it moist. Just as much of a revelation is his pork shoulder, which reminded me of Chris Lilly's pork shoulder of Big Bob Gibson fame, and that is the highest praise I can give.
In fact, I have to say right now that Hugh is making my favorite barbecue in New York. A quote from pitmaster Hugh from the Smorgasburg website: "I'm trying to source the best quality ingredients and not fuss with them too much. Cooking the old school way, with wood and time. It's pretty transparent, there just aren't a lot of people out there that will tend a fire for 20 hours day after day. Essentially I am a masochist with salt and sauce." Hugh says they are close to signing a lease, so stay tuned.
I'm a huge fan of George Weld of Egg fame. The man elevated breakfast in New York with his cooking chops, passion, imagination. Now he's come up with an outdoor concept I can totally get behind: a hash browns bar. His crew starts with a perfect pile of hash browns, crisp and golden brown on the outside and tender and creamy within. Without toppings they're phenomenal. With toppings they enter the celestial realm. Braised bacon? Awesome. Grafton Cheddar? Delicious. Caramelized Onions? Perfection. True to Weld's breakfast roots, they'll even add his namesake egg, softly scrambled or over easy.
Pop Tarts: Elevated pop tarts are often better in theory than in fact, but Meghan Ritchie's (of Magpies) pop tarts with jam from Anarchy in a Jar are truly terrific. Her butter crust is tender, flaky, and delicate, and the Anarchy in a Jar jam fillings elevate these pop tarts to near mythic status.
Much more in the slideshow: Meat Hook Hot Dogs, Alison Kave's perfect strawberry rhubarb pie, a promising pie newcomer named Rachel who made a fine mini-cherry pie, Buttermilk Channel's fried chicken, maple bacon sticks (as good as they sound), baby back ribs, and a whole lot more. Check them all out here.