Here now, by special arrangement and for a limited time only, Eater presents the work of writer, meat-lover, dreamer, Josh Ozersky.
Ribs at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. [Photo: rasdourian/Flickr]
The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in New York City is upon us again, a massive invasion of the country's top pitmasters, all crammed within three blocks. 150,000 people are expected to attend, with 17 barbecuers to feed them. Even with the increased number of cooks, though, the lines are likely to be as clogged as Artie Lange's arteries. Not to mention the fact that you have limited resources and a finite stomach capacity. So how do you plan to get your money's worth? Just follow these helpful hints.
1. The most important items, the ones you can't miss, are Chris Lilly's pulled pork, Ed Mitchell's whole hog, the Moonlite BBQ mutton from Owensboro, and Mike Mills' ribs if you haven't had them. If you have, you might want to try the ribs from Baker's or Checkered Pig. It never made sense to me to eat the barbecue from the New York restaurants, since you can get that anytime. That said, John Wheeler's ribs from Rack and Soul are seriously underrated.
2. Get there early. Barbecue is at its best when it's fresh, and it only gets worse as the day goes on. Moreover, the party gets more and more crowded. Plan on being there when it opens. Also, be prepared for infrastructure problems: There is no running water to speak of, so bring some kind of wet naps or hand cleanser. There are never enough garbage cans, so try not to tie your hands up with extra junk. And since lines tend to snake and shuffle, zealously guard your place.
3. Although there are various desserts available, there is only one thing suitable for finishing a BBQ Block Party meal: Shake Shack Custard! The "B Line" allows you to skip the hamburger queue, and go straight to the creamy goodness. Do not miss out on this.
4. When ordering, it's not rude to ask the servers to give you particular parts of the meat. When getting pulled pork, ask for some of the “bark,” or “Mr. Brown,” the crusty exterior of the pork butt (a good pork sandwich should always contain some.) For brisket, ask for deckle, the rich, tender cap muscle where all the flavor lives. If someone is about to hand you a gnarly-looking rib or sausage, don't be ashamed to ask for a different one.
Most importantly, bring your appetite, big bottles of cold Snapple, or cold beer from a local deli. Being a little lit up helps soften the stress of what is still bound to be a very crowded and hectic environment. Once you've eaten, of course, the barbecue will act as a sedative.