New Yorkers have to put up with a lot: a lot of people, a lot of funny smells, a lot of gum on the sidewalk, and not enough fresh air. New Yorkers are resilient people – they can take a lot on. That’s why when the Big Apple BBQ came to town in 95F weather, New Yorkers were not deterred. They came out in droves to stand in line for hours. No awnings, no shade, no pool to jump into… and at the end of the line? Hot meat, from the best BBQ joints from all over the country – brisket, ribs, short ribs, sausages, slaw, and all the rest.
Turns out that my composition is nowhere near as strong as a New Yorkers. I lasted through one line for just one vendor (and that with downing two bottles of cold water, constant fanning, and copious complaining). That vendor, Salt Lick from TX, must have been the best one of them all because everyone and their mother was standing there with us. My friend Neha assured me that they serve the best beef brisket she has ever had in her life. In fact, she eats beef just once a year – when the Big Apple BBQ comes around and the Salt Lick tent offers up with it’s Texas-style brisket. A forty minute wait was worth it after that intro.
Or so I thought. I blame it on the heat, on my inherent crankiness, or perhaps on my white T-shirt, which quickly became a see-through white T shirt from all the smokey sweat that it was absorbing (how’s that for appetizing?), but this brisket was just alright. Not mind-blowing, not life-changing, but good. You could see the pink smoke ring on the outside of the meat, indicating the amount of time it spent in the smoker.
You could see the crust of spice rub and char on the very outside. I could have used a bit more of both. The meat itself was flavorful and meaty, but a little on the tough side. While I myself and everything around me was melting, the meat did not. That was ok though. The cole slaw slayed me. It was dressed very simply, with vinegary dressing full of celery seeds. It was a light, crunchy, acidic counterpoint to the heavy and warm meat.
Next time I’m in NY for the BBQ fest (and I will be back, there is no doubt), I am going for the ribs. They looked amazing – blackened and charred and ginormous. I will also be wearing as little as possible, will have a beer in each hand, and someone to fan me while I wait for the food. A girl can dream, can’t she?
P.S. Crap. I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted. This new job of mine... turns out I have no more time now than I did when I was in grad school. What's up with that? You mean the real world isn't any easier than the academic one? Who would've thunk it. I promise to do better. From now on.