But the truth is that for one weekend in June, Manhattan is the center of the barbecue universe. The 10th annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party will draw over 100,000 visitors to Madison Square Park to enjoy the wares of 18 of the country's best pitmasters, including four from New York City. Admission is free for the event, which runs June 9 and 10, and plates of 'cue from the vendors will run about $8. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait in line with thousands of Yankees to buy those plates, so eaters in the know invest the $125 to buy a FastPass.
The FastPass entitles you and a friend to cut to the front of the teeming masses and pick up your samples from all the vendors in a special express line. You'll also receive $100 toward food, beverage and merchandise, so it's really only $25 to pig out like a rock star.
Since it's the 10th edition of the block party, they're pulling out all the stops this year. The Southern Foodways Alliance will be shooting one of their excellent food documentaries profiling the pitmasters who have attended all 10. I've also heard a rumor that there might even be an air-conditioned trailer where attendees can screen some of Joe York's previous barbecue films. On a hot June day surrounded by all those people, that might be an excellent respite from the claustroporkaphobia.
For the fourth year in a row, Middle Tennessee will be ably represented by Martin's Bar-B-Q Joint. Pat Martin will carry up a team of some of your favorite Nashville chefs to help smoke six whole hogs at a time to teach those Northerners what a pig should really taste like. If you can figure out where the crew will be blowing off steam after a hard day's work, that's the place to party that weekend in the Big Apple. (Hint: Check out the best restaurants in the city and listen for rebel yells.) Annalise Burgos put together a nice short documentary of the event that features Pat midway through:
Other notable pitmasters who will be cooking include Mike Mills of 17th Street Bar & Grill, Chris Lily of Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q, Scott Roberts of The Salt Lick BBQ and Garry Roark of Ubon's Smokehouse in Yazoo, Miss. Ubon's is located on Jerry Clower Boulevard in Yazoo, so that should be recommendation enough. Maybe they'll smoke up some raccoon.