Summer presents many opportunities for al fresco gorging, like the annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, now in its 13th meat-obsessed year in Madison Square Park. The Danny Meyer-sanctioned event isn't until June 13th and 14th, but meatheads who want to go whole hog can purchase passes for the fest's VIP experience, which includes hand-delivered BBQ, free-flowing booze and special air conditioned toilets for the inevitable meat sweats. Or just take note in your day planners, since entrance to the whole shebang is technically free.

This year's lineup once again includes a who's who in the world of smoked meats both locally and across the country. Scott Roberts of The Salt Lick in Texas, Garry Roark from Ubon's Barbeque of Yazoo in Mississippi and Mike Emerson of Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis are all on the docket, joined by local pitmasters Charles Grund Jr. (Hill Country), Jean-Paul Bourgeois (Blue Smoke) and Billy Durney (Hometown Bar-B-Que) among others.

This event gets uncomfortably congested every year, so take our advice about how to tackle your trip. First, get there early to avoid lines and sellouts; second, aim for the ribs, which are always exceptional; and don't be distracted by the big names and lines, as good 'cue is to be found at all the stands. We'd say the BigPiggin’ VIP Pass isn't worth the $275 but proceeds benefit the Madison Square Park Conservancy and we don't want to deny them more funding. Just put your eating and drinking pants on to get maximum value for your philanthropy.