Monday, June 6, 2011

More Opportunities for Foodie Travel

Posted By on Mon, Jun 6, 2011 at 8:06 AM

Now that the kiddies are out of school, minds turn to summer vacations. And more and more people are using food to help guide their travel plans. Whether you hit the highway with your dog-eared copy of the Sterns' Road Food or take advantage of a cheap Southwest fare to New Orleans to eat your way around the Big Easy, there are lots of excellent opportunities to dine on the go. Just this week alone, there are two epic events on the calendar for hungry travelers.

The first one I'll share with you is the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, which will take place in New York City's Madison Park this weekend, Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12. More than 150,000 people are expected to frolic in the steamy heat while they enjoy smoky goodness provided by 15 of America's great pitmasters. Representing our fair city for the third year in a row is local treasure Pat Martin of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nolensville. Fresh off his third place finish in the Memphis in May National BBQ Championship as a member of the Fatback Collective all-star team, Pat will be serving his signature West Tennessee Whole Hog to the hungry Yankees.

Be happy youre not hitting the road towing THIS sumbitch.
  • Be happy you're not hitting the road towing THIS sumbitch.
With his monstrous trailer, which can smoke six 200-pound hogs at one time, Pat and his team of local volunteers will produce a prodigious amount of meat over the course of the two days of the block party.

As amazing as this achievement is, the real story is untold: how Pat and a band of Nashville chefs manage to get themselves and a 40-foot trailer up the Eastern Seaboard and through the streets of Manhattan in Pat's Global Warmer of a pickup truck fueled only by diesel and bourbon.

(If you happen to be in the Big Apple next weekend and encounter Pat and his merry band of porksters celebrating a hard day's work in a Manhattan watering hole, you're in for a treat. But no pictures, please.)

For an idea of the work and play that goes on behind the scenes at Pat's pit during this event, check out a video taken in 2009 by Carey Bringle, The Peg-Leg Porker himself. [Warning: there are scenes of pretty graphic hog/ax interaction during the prep process and there might or might not be a big-ass NYC rat making a cameo appearance.]

Martin’s reputation as a pitmaster has soared since his first trip to the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in 2009.

His restaurant has been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, hosted by Guy Fieri, Bon Appetit has recognized Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint as one of America’s “Top 10 New Barbecue Restaurants,” and Garden & Gun named the Joint’s signature “Redneck Taco” one of the “100 Southern Foods You Absolutely Positively Must Try Before You Die.” Martin was also one of two national pitmasters invited to the renowned Charleston Food & Wine Festival in South Carolina. Patrick joined other top Southern pitmasters to serve his whole hog at the closing event aptly titled “BBQ, Blues + Brew.”

He is definitely a local boy who makes Nashvile proud. (I'm conveniently ignoring the fact that he's actually from ... shhh ... Memphis.)

For more details on the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, check out the event's official website.

If you'd rather fly south, then consider a trip to the tip of the country for the Key West Bacchanalia, an event that describes itself as "an orgy of good food and strong drink." From June 9-12, revelers will enjoy wine and spirits tastings, celebrity cooking demonstrations and competitions and even a unique "Dive and Dine" program where participants will take a scuba or snorkeling trip followed by a gourmet meal. Just remember, no swimming until at least a half hour after you've eaten.

Celebrities participating in the Bacchanalia range from Norman Van Aken, fresh off his Savor Nashville visit to master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim. Don't be scared of the weather either, since Key West is the epitome of temperate. In recorded history, the temperature has never gone below 41 degrees and the average high in June is well below 90. The festival's playful attitude should encourage eating and drinking long into the wee hours, so it will definitely be a good time.

So broaden your horizons and hit the road, Jack.

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