As is our wont, Gothamist summers in the city, because there's nothing like lots of people in the city making things hotter. Add in a Big Apple Barbecue Block Party and things get really hot. The Second Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party took over 26th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, but also Madison Square Park, as the weather encouraged TONS of barbecue lovers, as well as their salivating babies and dogs, to visit and try some 'cue. Easily twice or three times bigger than last year's crowd, perhaps because it wasn't raining, perhaps because there were two more (for a total of seven) barbecue purveyors, perhaps because more people realize how much they want to try some rich, smoked goodness on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, this year's event was jampacked with whole hog (from Mitchell's, photo above), ribs, slaw, and sauce to make even the pickiest barbecue eater smile.
We don't know the exact numbers yet, but Gothamist overheard Paul Kirk, of K.C. Baron say that he went through 1600 pounds of meat on Saturday and 1500 today. Whoa. [Tien has some great photos of Paul Kirk here.] His ribs (above) were quite delicious, but we couldn't try just one kind of 'cue, could we?
This year we made it a point of trying the chopped pork sandwich from Mitchell's Ribs, Chicken & BBQ, which is pork, in a vinegar sauce, and slaw, a with pork skin atop to suck/chew on. It's definitely a more acquired taste, with the tangy vinegar sharpening the soft pork. However, Alaina of NYCEats says it's the only barbecue "worth waiting for in those ridiculously long lines" for - and those lines were ridiculously long - 1 hour waits for many of the places (photo below).
The pork sausage and beef brisket from The Salt Lick were amazing. The beef brisket tender, pork sausage juicy, covered in the Salt Lick's mustardy sauce (photo below). Gothamist note: If you're at the Austin airport, there's a Salt Lick establishment where you can get one of their amazing chopped beef sandwiches. Do it and you'll be sleeping happily on your plane home.
One of our favorites from last year, the pulled pork shoulder from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, came back (below). Pulled pork is so delectable.
The Kansas City style ribs from Blue Smoke were a crowd-pleaser. It was also fun to see racks and racks of ribs being cooked from behind the stands (below).
The NYPD made sure everyone was behaving themselves in the presence of so much meat. It was a hot day, and Gothamist caught a group of police officers in a pow-wow (and, no, they were not eating).
This year, the BABBQ Block Party covered Madison Square Park, with dessert and drink stands, as well as a jazz performance space and an area for panel discussions. It's very exciting what's happened to the park since it's been restored. We caught some of the talk about "America's Barbeculture" (and the regionality issues associated with it); we loved the intro ("Barbecue brings people together, but also tears them apart") as much as Jason Kottke enjoyed hearing the phrase "barbecue diaspora."
The Shake Shack in the middle of Madison Square Park was not really open (well, maybe they were, but the custard machine was broken), but they were selling custard-scented bubbles in custard shaped cones. Gothamist will have to go back for custard later.
And the jazz definitely livened things up, but Gothamist saw very few dancers. Maybe it was because everyone was eating.
All in all, a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. We hope to eat as much and add more pork to our bellies next year at the Third Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.
Check out rion's photos of the event (our mouths water), and here are some more from us...but before that, Alaina pointed out eGullet's Fat Guy Steven Shaw's thread about the event, complete with pictures...Steve also got a shout-out from the Blue Smoke manager before the Barbeculture talk...'cue on, dudes...:
Pork skin from Mitchell's...mmm...pork skin.
And Jake does love his sausage.