If you love BBQ and you love New York City, than this event is a must attend the next time it comes to town. We were persuaded to come out to see many of our suppliers, namely Mike Mills the inventor of Magic Dust and his wonderful daughter Amy Mills Tunnicliffe of OnCue Consulting. The crew at Hill Country BBQ, both of which www.bbqproshop.com sellsl their sauces and rubs. It was also a chance to see the best of the best and meet some of the masters, like Ed Mitchell, the North Carolina legend and true master of the whole hog and pork in general. Unfortunately we couldn’t try them all, but we did get to try many of them, so we will step you through our experience and share the flavors and sights along the way.
The Pit – Ed Mitchell: Pitmaster – Raleigh, NC
Ed is arguably one of the best of the best. When we first arrived on Friday to walk the grounds and start to record the weekend, we met Ed who gave a huge smile and a warm hug to Elizabeth Karmel, our BBQ Mentor. Ed had his whole hog pits lined up in a row and had the corner spot for the block party. He has the Eastern North Carolina style which usually means, a delicious coleslaw and a vinegar based sauce, and his used Apple Cider Vinegar and matched perfectly with the pork. I had no less than three of his pulled pork sandwiches, in one day, and each one was better than the other. At the end of the day on Saturday, Ed in true southern hospitality gave a box of baby back ribs and a rib clinic to MP and husband Carl, and Carl being the excellent attorney that he is, took copious notes. Ed’s joy is contagious and his love of BBQ is inspiring, he has recently started raising his own pigs to get them perfect, every time.
Pappy’s Smokehouse – Skip Steele: Pitmaster – St. Louis MO
We have done an extensive blog post on my visit to Pappy’s where brisket was the main priority, but in NYC, Skip brought the St. Louis Style Spare Rib to the party and they did not disappoint. Not only did Skip serve up his spare ribs, tender, caramelized and juicy, they had a consistency of a fine braised piece of meat, but they were pure BBQ. His line stretched down the block and by the end of the day Saturday, when most others had run out of food, Pappy’s was going strong and still continued to serve up some delicious ribs. We were very impressed with the ribs and Pappy’s first year at the Block Party was an excellent showing. According to this article in the River Front Times, these ribs were a special edition, and if you were a huge fan of Super Smokers, you will love Pappy’s! Nice work gentlemen.
Ken Callaghan – Blue Smoke – New York, NY – Kansas City Ribs & Pickled Okra
Although we did not hit Blue Smoke at the block party, we took them by storm the day before, it was our first meal and we chose the Rhapsody in ’Cue which consists of Kansas City Spareribs, Pulled Pork, Smoked Chicken and Sausage. This gave us a taste of Blue Smoke and how good that have it going on in NYC. A big thank you to Mark Maynard Parisi for giving us the hospitality and sharing their deviled eggs with us. Don’t miss the North Carolina Salt Peanuts either, the peanuts are authentically prepared by The First Methodist Church Men’s Club in Mount Olive N.C. and they are served warm at the restaurant. Hint: have them pour only half and you can take the other half of the bottle home and enjoy them on the plane ride home!
Jimmy Hagood BlackJack BBQ – Charleston, SC – Pulled Pork Shoulder & Coleslaw
We were told by many that we had to give BlackJack BBQ a try and we were not disappointed in the least. We took our cousins, who’s son will soon be married in Charleston, South Carolina next June (I know who should cater the rehearsal dinner!) and apparently tasting this BBQ is a treat reserved for catered events or BBQ festivals, we are happy to say we tasted it. This was one of the few pulled pork sandwiches that we tried, and their coleslaw and especially their Vinegar Sauce made the meal! It had a nice bite to it and the slaw was just perfect.
Patrick Martin Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint Nashville, TN Western Tennessee-Style Whole Hog
These guys were the talk of the Block Party, they had a rig that made my mouth water, the could smoke six whole hogs at once and they had the coals going all the time, keeping those babies warm. This sandwich was again another interesting taste as it was a different style of whole hog and had more of a red sauce then that of a vinegar based one. The slaw was just perfect and the red sauce had a great bite to it. The pork was tender and melted in the soft bun, just like it should.
This was a treat and a half in these guys were working really hard all day, but they had so much fun, which is why I love these events, people just have such a passion for what they do. Cool T-Shirts too!
Mike Mills 17th Street Bar & Grill Murphysboro, IL Baby Back Ribs
Now before I start, I need to preface this with the fact that Mr. Mills book, Peace, Love and Barbecue is literally my BBQ bible. It was given to me by my wife when she first met the Mills through Elizabeth Karmel, and prior to Elizabeth writing Taming the Flame. The first baby backs I ever smoked were done using his "system" and he is pretty much the pioneer in apple wood smoking. I owe all of my family fame for baby backs to Mike Mills and having a chance to shake his hand, and spend some time with his daughter Amy Mills Tunnicliffe was a dream come true.
Now for the ribs, I have been wanting to go to Murphysboro since reading about it in his book. But getting to taste them changed everything. I would go almost as far as to say that this was the perfect baby back rib. This coming from someone who was raised on Carson’s in Chicago. Perfect may in fact be an understatement, they had th
e perfect carmel crust and
the smoke flavor was just as it should be, understated yet all over your mouth. It was politely sauced in his world famous Original 17th Street Barbecue Sauce and rub in the Magic Dust. We ate at least a half rack and then tried some of the smoked sausage he had in his hospitality tent. The St. Louis Style Red Sauce that they only serve at the restaurant, it isn’t bottled for sale, was just excellent as well. Having it in a fountain, well that is just Amy working her BBQ magic!
Final word on Mike and Amy is that they love the sport more than anyone I have ever met. The fact that the two have made a career and no less a family business out of it and still love it is what makes them so special. I watched as a Mike Mills fan got her book signed for her boyfriend and the look on her face was priceless. Mike took the time to write her a personal note in the book and it killed me that I didn’t bring mine along for his signature, see y’all in Murphysboro as soon as I can get there. Mike says, "Life is too short to just eat half a slab." and I hope to get a full slab in me sooner rather than later.
That is our report from NYC, we couldn’t try all the places as there just wasn’t enough time nor do I have the patience for the long lines, but next year I have a strategy, and we will be back!