If any of you were in Manhattan this weekend and managed to wander by Madison Square Park, you wouldn’t have been able to resist the tempting, smoky aromas of brisket, pulled pork and ribs wafting from all the different barbecue stands. What was going on you ask? Well this weekend was the 11th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block party and boy was it delicious! If you don’t know what this block party is, let me enlighten you. It began over a decade ago to introduce New Yorkers to the real deal that is barbecue. There are multiple barbecue stalls sprawled across Madison avenue from 23rd street to 27th, surrounding Madison Square Park with a beer garden right in the center. This year it featured 17 of the country’s all-star pitmasters and me being a huge barbecue fan (more specifically pulled pork lover) I grabbed Pat and we made our way to the party.
First up was, of course, the pulled pork. Now there were three places where you can satisfy your craving for a pulled pork sandwich: Blackjack Barbecue, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and Ubon’s Barbecue of Yazoo. I settled for Ubon’s and the it was absolutely delicious. They served the sandwich without any fixens, in other words, barbecue sauce. So that one could choose how much to put on at a time. Ubon’s special sauce, was a bit too sweet for me though, so I ended up filching some barbecue sauce from Hill Country’s stand where Pat grabbed some beef brisket (more on that later). The pulled pork shoulder sandwich was cooked to perfection. The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender with a slight smoky hint that instead of overpowering the meat created depth. While it was delicious on it’s own, I did welcome the barbecue sauce which they give you the choice of adding on your own. But other than the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of their barbecue sauce, I still enjoyed it and honestly, I was more interested in getting my hot little hands on the sandwich itself.
Next, we got the beef brisket. There were a few places to get brisket, but we chose Hill Country. I, unfortunately forgot to take a photo of the brisket, but it was pretty darn good. It came accompanied with a cucumber salad, which was totally refreshing in the heat and the brisket slices smothered in barbecue sauce, with a hint of honeyed sweetness, was delicious. The meat was tender and had a perfectly seared crust that added a slight contrast to the soft meat underneath. However, being a fan of lean meats, I thought the brisket was a tad too fatty for my taste.
Pat then got the whole hog from Skylight Inn, but I was too full to try it. He did assure me that it was good, so I suppose it was. A hodge podge of different meats from the entire hog, it’s sure to please anyone. In the sense of texture, it resembled pulled pork, but obviously it was quite different.
Since I had a hankering for something sweet to wash it all down, Pat and I decided to split a fried fruit pie from Original Fried Pie Company (quite the original name I know). This stand probably had the longest line that I was in that day, but it was totally worth it. When I got there, I was given a choice of blackberry or cherry (my friend said that they had apple, peach, and cherry the day before, but I assume they ran out?). I settled on the blackberry pie. The pie was piping hot when I got it and delicious to boot. While it was obvious that they weren’t frying it right on the spot, the crust was still crunchy and yielded a sweet, gooey filling. Though I would have loved to eat it with ice cream, there was none and well, it was still delicious on it’s own! I found the filling to be a bit too sweet, but that wasn’t a problem at all. Despite being fried, the crust didn’t feel oily or heavy and it was such nice contrast to the smooth jam-like filling within. I’m definitely craving another one, but unfortunately there are no stores located in NYC. I guess that means I have a new baking project coming up.
After that Pat and I, along with Pat’s friend (who ate the salt and pepper ribs from Blue smoke, I tried them last year and they were amazing!) headed to the beer section for some beers and hard cider for me. It was delicious and afterwards we headed off to get away from the throngs of people. I definitely can’t wait for next year’s barbecue block party!
Hugs and puppies!