Thursday, June 11, 2009

B&B’s Guide to Getting Your ‘Cue on at This Weekend’s Big Apple BBQ

Badge of Honor
You might have heard that there are some pitmasters in town serving up authentic barbecue in Madison Square Park for the The Seventh Annual Snapple Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. The deadline for purchasing a FastPass for this year was May 31st, so if you don’t have your ticket to cruise through the long lines you’re going to need a game plan…

Some Big Apple BBQ Advice

1)Get there early: This year the Festival will have extended hours from 11:00am until 7:00pm instead of noon until 6:00pm. Two extra hours to eat barbecue are never a bad thing, but you need to keep in mind that over 100,000 people attended last year. If you don’t have Fast Pass getting to the park prior to the opening time is important to ensure that you won’t be waiting in 1-2 hour lines in the heat of the day. This weekend is supposedly going to have some nice weather, so you can bet that people will show up.

2)Pre-game: Read up on the pit masters and what they are dishing up so you know which ones are must tries for you. Not to knock the NY 'cue joints but if there are amazing pitmasters coming in from out of town for the sole purpose of making great barbecue then my priorities are going to be hitting the best of the best of the out of towners. Based on our experience last year we’ll definitely be hitting the following tents early on:

Ed Mitchell’s The Pit from Raleigh, NC for Whole Hog & Coleslaw

Ed Mitchell, pitmaster extraordinaire at work
The whole hog was my favorite dish last year. Melt in your mouth piggy. The sauce was vinegar based, very tangy with a nice spicy kick at the end. Be sure to ask for some crispy bits of skin and ribs. Certifiably delicious.

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q for Pulled Pork Shoulder & Crisp Spicy Southern Mustard Coleslaw

Pulled Pork Sandwich from Big Bob's in Decatur, GA
The Pulled Pork Sandwich from Big Bob's was Blondie's hands down favorite last year. If you like your pulled pork smokey this is for you. And Blondie proclaims their Championship Red Sauce is "everything barbecue sauce should be."

17th Street Bar & Grill from Murphysboro, IL for Baby Back Ribs & Beans

Baby Back Ribs from 17th Street
The first order of Baby Backs that we got were perfect fall of the bone delicious. They were smokey and chock full of flavor. Awesome! Our second order wasn't nearly as good, but the tasty memory of that original order lingers and I want to give them another shot.

Places on my to try list: Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint from Nashville, TN for Western Tennessee-Style Whole Hog with Sweet Pickles, Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q from Birmingham, AL for Homemade Smoked Sausage with Pimento Cheese & Saltines, and Pappy’s Smokehouse from St. Louis, MO for St. Louis-Style Ribs & Beans.

Jenn Giblin from Blue Smoke will be serving up dessert again. I really, really hope that she makes the Peanut Butter and Jelly cupcakes from last year. The frosting tasted like super creamy pb with a little extra sugar, and the cake was light and moist. And the jelly in their and you have one seriously delicious dessert.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes from Blue Smoke

3)Go with friends: You can not take on 100,000 people an 15 pitmasters alone. It's just not advisable. More friends = more booths covered. Once you've set your meeting time and figured out which booths to hit, make your game plan in terms of who is getting in line for what and be sure to get your event map as soon as you get to the park. If you have enough people in your group you might want to park one friend with a picnic blanket in a prime spot so you have room to feast and veg out once the barbecue has been procured.

4)Mark your calendars to buy a Fast Pass next year: $100 may seem like a lot but if you are sharing it among friends you can easily eat that much in 'cue, drinks, sides, and desserts. Any leftover money can be spent on merch like barbecue sauce, spice rubs, hats and t-shirts. Anything that a backyard or rooftop pitmaster might need.

The Seventh Annual Snapple Big Apple Barbecue Block Party at Madison Square Park
Madison Square Park (between 23rd and 26th Streets, and 5th Ave. and Madison Ave.)
Madison Avenue between 23rd and 26th Street.

6 to 23rd Street
N/R to 23rd Street

SW Corner of 28th Street & Park Ave. S.
24th Street between Park Ave. S. & Lexington Ave.
30th Street between 5th Ave. & Madison Ave.

If desperately want to get a Fast Pass you might try Craigslist closer to the weekend to see if there's anyone who needs to sell theirs quickly. Right now it looks like their are more ads offering to buy Fast Passes than sell them.

For more photos from last year check out our flickr.


louesposito said...

I've only heard that the lines are easily 3 hours long without the fast pass and not much shorter with it. This is keeping me from going. Can other people verify their average wait times without a fast pass?

Brownie said...

@louesposito: I've never been able to make it to the opening day, but across the board I've heard that Sunday is smoother in terms of service because it's volunteer staffed and by Sunday they have the drill down. If you go with friends right when they first open I think you should be fine. Last year with our fast pass the only trouble we ran into was when we went for the hush puppies but those were made to order so even the fast pass line took forever. Good luck if you decide to go. There are plenty of threads about wait times etc at Chowhound (aka Chow).