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BBQ Tour Stop #8: New York City

June 16, 2011

This was not only our first trip to the Big Apple Block Party in Manhattan, but our first time ever to NYC! The party goes Saturday and Sunday in Madison Square Park, which is right at 5th Avenue and 25th Street in Midtown. We spent Thursday night in New Jersey and stocked up at Sam’s Club for the anticipated huge crowds early Friday morning. As we came into the city, we went through the Lincoln Tunnel. Those of you who follow our recaps know of my disdain for tunnels and this was the first one I had to navigate under a river which did not ease my tension. I should have planned better because coming out of the tunnel requires a left or right turn. Of course I went left when I should have gone right and got to see 42nd Street which is right off of Times Square and is the Theatre district. We finally got close and called the organizer who told us to hold tight and he would be over to set us in our space shortly. Of course we were parked in the “No Idling” area which carried a $2,000 fine. To make matters even worse, once we pulled into our spot, the organizer asked where we got the 4 propane tanks that were strapped to the bed of the truck. “New Jersey” was my reply and I was informed that propane was supplied onsite and I could be in really big trouble for transporting propane tanks into the city. The weekend could only get better…

The weatherman called for chances of showers all weekend but especially on Saturday and the rain kept away for most of the day. Until we had our Grillmaster contest that is. Clint Cantwell, guest editor for Kingsford’s Grilling.com website and a Grillmaster in his own right took on the winningest man in barbeque, Myron Mixon - who was cooking brisket with his Jack’s Old South team. Myron’s wife Faye even brought us over a tasty pan of beans with peaches, which normally I would not mix - but it was fantastic!

Along with Jack’s Old South, there were numerous Pitmasters selling championship BBQ to the masses including our friends Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson’s, Mike and Amy Mills of 17th Street, Tommy and Lisa Houston of Checkered Pig. On Saturday, a couple of friends with Redwood Creek also stopped by. Sue, who came out and worked the Redwood Creek tent in Charlotte, brought her husband who got into the BBQ spirit by wearing a BBQ shirt. Seth, who worked with us in Columbus, brought his wife Erika and even took Christine and I out on the town after we shut down for the night. It was our first time in a NYC taxi and lucky me, I got to sit in the middle and watch our cabbie tear down the street and almost clip folks crossing the street. If he honked once, he honked a hundred times while we jetted to Little Italy and ate at the first Pizzeria in America, Lombardi’s, which was founded in 1905.

Sunday started a little slow with the crowds but ended strong as we ran out of food and product samples around 5:00 p.m. During the weekend, we distributed close to 4,000 Bloody Mary and Margarita Lite samples, almost 9,000 Weber seasoning packets, 1,800 Reser’s Potato Salad cups and 6,600 Tyson Chicken Wings and Cavanaugh Sausage samples. Christine and I did not do this on our own and were blessed with some great helpers for the weekend, KCBS members Don and James, Long Island, N.Y. locals, came out and were invaluable. Don was pushing products under the tent like a pro and I had James manning the grill all weekend long to keep the wings and sausages coming for the long lines of people!

A couple of things stood out from the weekend. Expecting a rough New York crowd, I was surprised by the politeness that we experienced. I had more “Thank You’s” from this crowd than I can recall in quite some time. The fellow who packed his own “wet naps” for clean-up cracked me up. I was quite surprised at all the dogs people were walking in the city. Saturday’s Hari Krishna parade down 5th Avenue was interesting as they don’t eat meat yet were surrounded by some of the best BBQ in the country!

We couldn’t come to New York without spending some time sightseeing, so Sunday night after closing down, we caught a Taxi on our own and headed to Uptown and Times Square to see all the lights and people. The Tony awards were being held and there were bleachers and chairs set up in the street to watch one of the many large outdoor screens. Since we had to be off the street by 7:00 a.m. on Monday, we headed out of town and caught a train back into the city to see Ground Zero, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Central Park. Maybe if we come back next year, we will get to see more of the city that never sleeps…

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