Brisket, ribs, sausages, whole hog, pork shoulder, cracklings, Mint Juleps, slaw, Bloody Marys, Alabama seafood – it was all there, enough to turn one relatively small park in NYC into the center of the American South for one whole weekend each year. This all came courtesy, once again, of the organizational genius of Danny Meyer, Kenny Callaghan and the team at Union Square Hospitality Group who have been putting together this amazing shindig every June since 2003.
Joining Callaghan and his Blue Smoke team at the first BABBQBP and appearing at every one thereafter have been event co-founders Mike Mills of 17th St. Bar and Grill in Murphysboro, Illinois and Memphis Championship Barbecue in las Vegas along with their world famous pork ribs;
Chris Lilly and the team from Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur, Alabama and their amazing chopped pork shoulder;
and Ed Mitchell of Raleigh, N.C with his immensely popular whole hog.
Scott Roberts and The Salt Lick from Driftwood, Texas started with the second event. Their beef brisket and pork sausages have been favorites ever since. Now, in addition to their food, The Salt Lick is growing grapes and making their own BBQ friendly wines. I was actually more than a bit surprised at how good these wines were and how well they paired with the Salt Lick’s deliciously spicy Q.
Garry Roark of Ubon’s “Champion’s Choice” from Yazoo, Mississippi has been bringing their fantastic pulled pork and terrific barbecue sauce to the Block party since 2005. I was fortunate enough this weekend in addition to the pulled pork to try a sample of their bloody mary’s featuring their own Bloody Mary mixer and Mississippi Vodka from Cathead. Great stuff!
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que arrived in 2006, but since I can get their righteous Q in Troy, not far from where I lived, I saved my precious calories for others.
Hill Country, another NYC outpost first arrived on the BABBQBP scene in 2007, the very next day after their opening night. In addition to brisket, I got to taste some truly delicious barbecued beef.
John Wheeler made his first appearance at the BABBQBP to rave reviews with NYC’s Rack and Soul. Unfortunately, that restaurant closed in 2012, but he resurfaced here with Memphis Barbecue Company from Horn Lake, Mississippi, so once again, attendees could sample his downright delicious baby back ribs. Like most of the pitmasters, Wheeler used custom rigs from Ole Hickory Pits. These were impressive set-ups and I got to see one up close and personal here.
The 2009 BABBQBP saw the arrival of Patrick Martin and Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint from Nashville, Tennessee. He and his rig were back with some super whole hog barbecue.
Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q from Birmingham, Alabama also debuted in 2009 with their tasty sausage and iconic Pimiento Cheese spread, both widely welcomed during this return engagement.
Skip Steele and Mike “Pappy” Emerson showed up in 2010 with Pappy’s Smokehouse from St. Louis, Mo. bringing with them with some incredible ribs, that were amongst the tastiest I’ve had.
Rodney Scott came up from Hemingway, S.C. in 2012, the first BABBQBP I’d missed in years due to my son’s college graduation. No matter, this year I caught him, his mop and his sensational whole hog with cracklin’s.
This year’s rookie at the BABBQBP was Sam Jones from The Skylight Inn in Ayden, N.C.. Danny Meyer personally suggested that I check out Sam and The Skylight Inn and as usual, he was right on the money. Jones’ whole hog Q had cracklings mixed in with the meat giving the best texture I’ve ever experienced in a pulled pork sandwich, especially when the slaw was added to it as well. The flavor didn’t suck either. This was awesome barbecue as was the entire event.
On Friday, it looked like all the meat would be very soggy from all the rain, but somehow, not only did the rains disappear, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful weekends for the Barbecue that I’ve experienced. The temperatures were comfortable and the sunshine warmed the soul. Add the music, the EMP Whiskey Bar and lots of old and new friends and it made for another outstanding weekend!