Friday, June 18, 2010

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

The second weekend in June Madison Sq. Park hosts the Big Apple BBQ Party.

It has become one of our favorite events, absolutely something we look forward to each year.

This year we opted for the Fast Past system which basically allows you to pre-pay for a certain amount of food. It worked out well for us, but it was definitely more food than you can eat in one day. If you get the fast pass you need to plan for an entire weekend of BBQ for two people.

The event grows each year; the food booths now extend past the park and up to 27th Ave on Madison.

We started and ended our BBQ sampling at Big Bob Gibson's pit. He was serving up a tender pulled pork sandwich with a side of slaw. The real secret to his BBQ was the flavorful 'Championship' sauce. It was smoky and sweet with a strong tomato base.

One of those pulled pork sandwiches is for me - but I'm pretty sure Michael could have eaten them both. Big Bob Gibson's pit ALWAYS has a long line and we learned this weekend the food was definitely worth the wait.

Another favorite BBQ pit was Jim 'N Nick's BBQ. They were serving up a spicy sausage with pimento cheese. I really don't know how to describe pimento cheese but I know it is a southern specialty. It appeared to be grated cheddar cheese, chopped pimento peppers, and mayonnaise mixed together. It worked really well with a bite of sausage.

This year we visited the Pappy Van Winkle area. It was a small roped off area with chairs, tables and fancy white tablecloths. They were serving drinks featuring Van Winkle bourbon. Crazy name aside, Van Winkle is a very nice bourbon - one of Michael's favorites. The company tightly controls the distribution of Van Winkle. Liquor stores only get a few bottles at various times during the year. Micheal is on a phone list at one of our local liquor stores; if they get a shipment they give him a call and he will pretty much try to get there as soon as he can to buy a bottle or two. It isn't ridiculously expensive but it is very exclusive.

We arrived at the Van Winkle area right as it opened and settled in to a table. While we were there the Crooners started to perform. Even though their name might suggest works by Sinatra they had a blue grass vibe; their music was fun and a perfect accompaniment to the BBQ and bourbon. Our timing was perfect, the area became more and more crowded and by the time we left it was standing room only. The drinks were delicious. I enjoyed just one as they were quite strong. It was a mix of peach and bourbon and maybe a little ginger - a little sweet and very refreshing.

The local BBQ restaurants in NYC were well represented at the BBQ Block Party. Blue Smoke had a full set-up with a food counter and a dessert counter. They also brought in bales of hay, tables, chairs, and carved watermelons. They had the nicest pit area. It seemed most people were skipping the New York based vendors because it was food you could get any time. The NYC based vendors definitely had the shortest lines. We were wondering if they will all show up again next year.

It was a great weekend and of course we are already planning for next year!