This year I was only able to attend one of the two days at the Block party in NYC, but I certainly got my fill of tasty barbeque! I had scoped out the menu online well before the event and always in search of something new, my first stop was at Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q
from Birmingham, Alabama.
I had never tried pimento cheese before (unless you count the Kraft version in the glass jar) and was eager to experience something new.
The smoker. I love the saying on there!
And the T-shirt slogan too!
Look at those beautiful sausages.
And the placard girl drawing in potential customers! I hadn't heard of "pork" hot links before, but it sounded good to me.
My sauced pork hot link with pimento cheese (and jalapenos) and saltine crackers.
And the close-up shot with the cross-section. This was really good. The sausage was spicy, had a nice snap to it and good pork flavor. The sauce was somewhat sweet and complemented it quite well. The pimento cheese was definitely homemade and incredibly good. Creamy, sharp and full of flavor. I could have eaten a bowl full of this with just some saltines and been completely content! The jalapenos certainly ratcheted up the heat factor. The people at Jim 'N Nick's told me what was in it, but I neglected to write it down. I know that there is cheddar cheese and pimentos, anyone know what else usually is in the mix?
Me and fellow Roadfooder Richard Mackiewicz
. We exchanged some emails before the event and I met he and his wife, Robin
by the picnic tables as I chowed on my sausage and pimento cheese. It was really great to meet them and talk about all kinds of food and New York City. They gave me some great tips on spots to check out in the city. I hope to meet up with them again soon and share some great Roadfood in the city! Thanks for meeting up with me!
The crowd this year. I know a lot is made about the insane amount of people at this event, but for me, it seemed far less crowded than in years past. I don'y know if it was a combination of the economy and the poor weather in recent weeks, but I found it to be rather enjoyable. the lines weren't nearly as long as last year, the temperature was more mild, the skies were overcast and there seemed to be more makeshift tables. People found ledges and railing to eat on and the chaos that seemed to be present in years past was absent on this day.
Barbeque traces its origins back over 100 years (at least) and barbeque as we know it today goes back almost to the turn of the 20th century. Here is a sign that barbeque is integrating with 21st century technology. I'm not sure I'd want to Twitter about barbeque (or anything else for that matter!).
My next stop was Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
from Nashville, Tennessee.
New on the Block Party this year, this place was serving up a whole hog sandwich with sweet pickles.
All of the vendors here use the same potato buns, which serve as a great vehicle for the sandwiches. Soft, yet sturdy enough to stand up to the smoked meats.
A close-up of the whole hog sandwich. This was a really excellent sandwich. Just a light smoke flavor to it, this was really moist and tender. The sauce has a tangy sweetness to it and the slaw was a crunchy vinegar based affair that complemented the meat quite nicely. I was hoping for some brown bark and to mu joy, nestled in the middle was a huge dark crusty piece that I saved for last!
Next up is Pappy's Smokehouse
from St. Louis, Missouri.
They were serving up St. Louis style ribs and beans.
I love this shot. The pans on the ends are the onions that have been cooked down to be added to the beans.
My ribs and beans.
A close-up of the beans. These were very good. Subtle and creamy. The onion flavor really popped and I could have eaten lots more of these beans.
The cross-section of my ribs. These were alright. They were meaty enough and had some smoke to them, but they didn't really move me for some reason. I strike up a good conversation with a man named Bernie after he asked why I was taking pictures of my food. Roadfooding seems to have that effect!
Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees has a some gyms in Manhattan and this is one of them. The window ledges outside of this one made for perfect spots for hungry eater to set up and chow down. The irony of this was not lost on me.
Fourth on the hit parade was Wilson's Barbeque
from Fairfield, Connecticut. I had heard about them here on Roadfood and on Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives, so I was eager to sample the goods.
Texas style brisket and pickles sounds good to me.
I was able to get a shot of them slicing up the brisket and this whole one. I love the look of the crust on that.
One of the pitmasters at Wilson's. He was nice enough to pose for me.
Wilson's smoker, BIG MAMA.
My brisket, pickles and sauce.
A close-up of my brisket. I really wanted to like this, but this had to be the worst brisket I have ever tried to eat. The sauce and pickles were alright, but there was so much fat all throughout this meat! Now, I know that brisket is a fatty piece of meat and that fat is an essential part of the cooking process, but I have always maintained that I don't think it should be a huge part of the end result. Maybe on the fringes of the meat, but this fat was spider-webbed throughout the meat making it very tough, chewy and almost impossible to cut through.
I managed 3 bites before I gave up and threw the rest away. I just think that good brisket should be almost fall apart and melt in your mouth. This was not. I partly blame myself for not looking closer at the brisket before taking the one I had. I did see some people later on with what looked liker some really great chopped brisket. When I asked where it was from, they told me Wilson's. Had I known, I might have asked for that variation instead. On the plus side, I did have another good conversation, this time with Howie Nielsen, owner of Sticky Lips Pit BBQ in Rochester, NY. I scoped out their menu online and I hope to make it to Rochester to check them out (along with the Rochester Dinosaur!)
My last BBQ stop of the day was for my favorite pulled pork sandwich at Big Bob Gibson's
from Decatur, Alabama.
They were serving up the pulled pork shoulder and coleslaw.
And they had their new book on sale.
Pitmaster Chris Lilly pulling and saucing the pork.
Another one of the staffers pulling the pork. Look at that amazing bark!!
Don't get in her way while she's chopping that pork!
Don McLemore and a friend of the family posing for the cameras. I had a shot of them both looking at me, but it didn't some out so well. The gentlemen on the right said he is a friend of the family and follows them around when he can, helping out. What a great tradition they have!
Their traditional and white sauces.
My pulled pork sandwich with mustard slaw.
And the same with sauce. This is definitely the yardstick by which I measure all other pulled pork sandwiches. The incredible balance of flavors and textures in here amazes me each time! Moist, tender, piggy, smoky, crusty, chewy, just perfect! This is the one place that I MUST stop every year.
After BBG's, I has reached my BBQ limit for the day! I spied this free Sno-Kone stand and got in line.
The sun had come out by this point and it started to get fairly warm. A close-up of the machine.
I had a Peach iced tea sno-kone and it was very refreshing. Not the same as a sno-kone with the sweet syrup, but satisfying nonetheless.
Lots of people found some relaxation by setting up chairs in the fountain.
Of course, I HAD to have a Concrete
from the Shake Shack
! I stood in the larger than usual line for about 20 minutes.
I managed to zoom in on this sweet doggie...
and get a shot of this Dachshund close by.
A close-up of the Shake Shack sign.
The custard calendar. The first chance I have, I am all over that Coffee and Donuts custard!
My Concrete Jungle custard. Vanilla custard with fresh bananas, peanut butter and hot fudge. I absolutely love the mouthfeel of this custard. Very rich, silky and it just fills up the mouth. There were lots of banana chunks in here along with gobs of peanut butter. I didn't really pick up the hot fudge flavor though. Word to the wise though, if your concrete comes in two cups as mine did, make sure you hold on to BOTh before trying to turn it upside down ala Ted Drewes. I almost dropped it on the ground! That would have been a very sad moment.
There was lots of great blues music playing throughout the day and this man, Bill Sims Jr. was really great!
One of my favorite moments of the day came when I was watching Ms. Sims play and this little kid down in front started dancing to the music. He was jamming and strumming his armpit like it was a guitar. He definitely entertained the crowd! That's all for this year's event. I can't wait for next year! Hope to see you there!
"Eating is an adventure, enjoy the ride!"- billyboy , 2009
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