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WhiteTrash BBQ -- Real Pit Barbecue from New York City. This is the story of a fire obsessed guy, living in Brooklyn, with a dream of producing award winning, competition busting, real Barbeque. Come live the dream as I compete around the country in the KCBS Championship Barbecue circuit.

Friday, March 30, 2007


It's Friday.

I'm cooking Pork Butt and Dino Ribs.

They'll be for sale tomorrow at Grillin On The Bay.

I hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

BBQ Contests: Grillin' On The Bay: The Teams

Organizing an event can take over your whole life. Right now, Grillin' On The Bay is doing just that. Tomorrow, I'm cooking 30lbs of pork butt and The Hampton Smoker has cooked chicken and brisket that all will be for sale at the contest. Grillin' On The Bay has grown from 10 teams to 24 teams from around the country. This is going to be a great time. If you're in the New York City tri-state area be sure to check it out.

The Teams:
  • Hot Hogs
  • Smokin’ Mikes
  • Purple Turtle
  • Hill Country
  • Notorious BBQ
  • Fat Texan BBQ
  • Richie’s Rib Shack
  • The Anchormen
  • IQue
  • Lost Nation
  • All American BBQ
  • Fugheddaboutit BBQ
  • Front Street Smoke House
  • Smoke in Da Eye
  • Q Haven
  • Burnt Side Down
  • Duke’s
  • Ribs Within
  • The Mutiny Smokers
  • Smokin’ Dave’s Tailgate Party
  • Smokin’ Bones
  • Ma’s Que Crew Beer
  • Belly Porkers
  • Better BBQ Bureau

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

BBQ Contests: Grillin' On The Bay

This Saturday, March 31st, another page will be written in the history of barbecue in New York City. The St. Mark Sports Association will be hosting the second Grillin' On The Bay.

The event is sponsored by R.U.B. restaurant and Pork Slap Ale. You'll be able to buy some barbecue cooked by Atom's Ribs and your's truly. There will be hot dogs and hamburgers, soda, candy and chips. If you're over 21, you'll be able to sample some of the amazing Pork Slap Ale.

Grilin' On The Bay is New York City's only barbecue contest. It runs from 6:00 AM to about 3:30 PM, but the best time to arrive is around 10:00 AM. Here's the event schedule

Event Schedule
6:00 AM Gates open and meat inspection begins
7:00 AM Cook’s breakfast of Brooklyn bagels, cream cheese, coffee, tea etc.
8:00 AM Cook’s Meeting in the school cafeteria.
8:00 AM All vehicles must be removed from the contest site
10:30 AM Judge’s check-in in the school cafeteria
11:00 AM Judge’s meeting in the school cafeteria
12:00 PM Chicken Breast turn-in
12:45 PM Fish turn-in
1:30 PM Pork turn-in
2:15 PM Chef’s Choice turn-in
3:15 PM Award Ceremony

I hope to see you there.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

BBQ Camp

I found this today in my RSS feeds. It's a very interesting story about Elizabeth Karmel and BBQ summer camps. I've known about these camps for years, and from what I hear, they are worth every penny.

But, buried deep in the story I found a very surprising tid-bit of information;Ms. Karmel is executive chef at Hill Country. Hill Country is NYC's new BBQ restaurant that will soon be opening on 26th street. Hill Country, your pitt-master is very good at keeping secrets.

High-brow meets low-brow on BBQ tour

When it comes to camping, Greensboro native Elizabeth Karmel has come a long way from her summers at Camp Seafarer in Pamlico County.

The latest project from the cooking instructor, cookbook author and creator of www.girlsatthegrill.com is a series of summer "camps" focused on barbecue in North Carolina (April 22-26), Memphis (Sept. 18-23) and Texas (Nov. 4-8). The trips cost $3,750 per person, excluding airfare. And there's not a pup tent in sight.

"With the luxury accommodations, it combines the highbrow and the lowbrow," said Karmel, author of "Taming the Flame." "That way you get the best of what the area has to offer."

To add to the atmosphere, the trips include such camp staples as making s'mores and giving out prizes to the campers.

"Everybody loves camp, right?" Karmel said.

The Camp BBQ tours are glorified field trips that grew out of Karmel's monthly Southern barbecue class at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City -- so popular that it has a year-long waiting list. Participation in each trip is limited to 20 campers.

First on the agenda, and in Karmel's heart, is the trip here to introduce campers to the glory of pulled pork. Based in the luxurious Fearrington House south of Chapel Hill, the campers will make forays east to Wilson, where pitmaster Ed Mitchell will serve up whole hog barbecue with a vinegar-based sauce, and west to Greensboro and Lexington for pulled pork with ketchup-based sauce at Stamey's and Lexington No. 1. In between, they'll dine at such local institutions as Allen & Sons, Crook's Corner, Mama Dip's and Magnolia Grill.

"People are always asking me, 'What's your favorite place?' so I thought it would be fun to take people down there to introduce them to my barbecue buddies," she said.

But over the years and the miles, Karmel said she has become an "equal opportunity barbecuer." Her second trip focuses on the ribs of Memphis, Tenn., and Murphysboro, Ill. As an added bonus, her campers will form a team with barbecue expert Mike Mills (co-author of "Peace, Love and Barbecue") to compete in the 20th annual Murphysboro Barbecue Contest.

The year's last stop is in central Texas and the Hill Country for beef, brisket and sausage. The area in and around Austin is known for barbecue that has been influenced by immigrants from Mexico and Germany, Karmel said, bringing together jalapeños and sausage.

"I love that sort of cultural mesh," she said.

Hill Country is also the name of the new Texas-style barbecue restaurant where Karmel is developing dishes as executive chef. The restaurant, on 26th Street in New York, will open in May.

Eventually, Karmel would like to add even more regions to Camp BBQ. "I would love to do Kansas City or California during the wine harvest."

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

BBQ Events: The Snowshoe 2007

Looking for something to do today?

Well, the competition barbecue season begins in earnest in the North East. Take a ride up to the Abington VFW Post 5737, 30 Central Street, Abington MA for The New England Barbecue Society's annual Snowshoe Contest.

This is a great event that attracts some of the best competitive barbecue teams in the country. Here's this year's lineup:

1. Dirty Dick and the Legless Wonders
2. B.S. BBQ
3. Q Ball
4. D&D BBQ
5. Smokin' Bones
6. Purple Turtle Catering Co.
7. Faux Pas BBQ
8. Q Haven
9. I Que
10. Tranformer BBQ
11. Uncle Jed's BBQ
12. Lakeside Smokers
13. Feeding Friendz
14. Boneyard Smokers
15. I Smell Smoke
16. Smokey Steve & the Hickory Boys
17. Big Boned BBQ

Do yourself a favor, go.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

BBQ Recipes: Chipotle-Citrus Shrimp

This comes to us from the fine folks at Weber. Enjoy

Chipotle-Citrus Shrimp with Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
1 large canned chipotle chile pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from canned chipotle chile peppers
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds medium shrimp (31-35 per pound), peeled and deveined, tails on

1 cup light sour cream
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In large, resealable plastic bag mix the marinade ingredients. Add the shrimp. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade, lay flat in a rimmed dish, and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Meanwhile make the sauce.

2. In a medium bowl whisk the sauce ingredients. Set aside at room temperature while the shrimp are marinating. If desired, pour the sauce into small bowls for individual servings.

3. Remove the shrimp from the bag and allow the excess liquid to drip back into the bag. Discard the marinade. Grill the shrimp over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until lightly charred on the outside and just turning opaque in the center, 2 to 3 minutes, turning once and swapping positions as needed for even cooking. Cut open one or two shrimp to check for doneness. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Book Review: The Stubb's Bar-B-Q Cookbook

Last night on my way home from work, I stopped in the Barnes and Noble bookstore on Broadway and West 81st Street in Manhattan. This bookstore always surprises me. Besides having all the latest books, it has one of the best selections of barbecue cookbooks in New York. They may only have one or two copies of a particular book, but I always find something new here. This Barnes and Noble seems to always have a barbeque cookbook I've never seen before.

Last night I picked up The Stubb's Bar-B-Q Cookbook. I was really surprised to find a new cookbook by Stubb, since he's been dead a few years already, but this is ghost written by Stubb's Legendary Kitchen (whomever that is) and Kate Heyhoe. I like to read cookbooks like novels and you'll often find me reading them on the subway. I tore into this one as I headed downtown.

This is a very attractive little book. The layout is great and the pictures and food styling outstanding. The Subb's Bar-B-Q Cookbook opens up with the story of Stubb and his legendary BBQ joints in Lubbock and then Austin Texas. I'm sure the man's story has been sanitized some, for here he is painted as a saint who liked to boogie down and was never too tired to feed the poor and hungry of Texas.

While I'm sure he was a good man, I would have preferred to read more about his cooking styles and methods. I would have loved to have read about his struggle in the restaurant business, which is repeatedly alluded to in the book, but never fleshed out.

So what about the recipes? This is a small cookbook with maybe 50 or so recipes. Most reflect the Texas/Southwest style that is popular in Austin and Lubbock. A select few are actually about barbecue, which was a major disappointment for me. Another disappointment is that many of the recipes call for the use of Stubb's rubs and sauces as major ingredients. It's as if the authors have been working with Sandra Lee and not Stubb himself.

The Subb's Bar-B-Q Cookbook is a quick read and the recipes are well thought out. But with all the pushing for Stubb's products in the ingredient lists, this book seems to be nothing but a finely bound sales pitch.

ISBN: 978-0-471-97996-8, Hardcover, 108 pages, February 2007

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Heritage Foods and Slow Food

I don't know if you're aware of Heritage Foods USA and The Slow Food movement. In a very small nutshell, both of these organizations are trying to preserve the food and cooking methods of our youth, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

Heritage food focuses primarily on the breeds of animals that our ancestors ate. While Slow Food focuses primarily on the cooking techniques and recipes of our past.

You remember those foods; meat, poultry and fish without all the antibiotics and genetic manipulation that we have now. Do you remeber when pork actually tasted like something? These guys do and they are worth your support.

Heritage Foods USA is High On The New Q and Small Family Farms

New York, NY, March 2007 – Heritage Foods USA and Slow Food Atlanta are high on the hog about their NEW Q, the First Annual BBQ to celebrate local chefs, heritage breeds, sustainable farms and to raise money for the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

This event will pit together local chefs who make the best BBQ in town on May 5th from 1-5pm at Studioplex, 659 Auburn Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30312. Limited tickets are available in advance for $25 per person. To RSVP visit www.Xorbia.com/tickets/thenewQ or call 800-364-0644.

Participating chefs include: Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene, Shaun Doty of Shaun’s, Delia Champion of Flying Biscuit, Todd Mussman and Ryan Tuner of Muss & Turner, Michael Tuohy of Woodfire Grill, Ron Eyester of Food 101, Gerry Klaskala of Aria, Carmen Capello of Global Culinary, Cathy Conway of Avalon Catering, Robert Gerstenecker of Park 75, David Sturgis of Farm 255, Hugh Acheson of Five & Ten, Joe Truex and Mihoko Obunai of Repast and David Larkworthy of 5 Seasons Brewing.

Participating farms include Tamworth Farm in Dublin, GA, Newman Farm in Myrtle, MO, Lazy Farm in Glasco, KS, Riverview Farm in Granger, GA, Sequatchie Cove Farm in Sequatchie, TN, White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, GA, and Caw Caw Creek in Columbia, SC. Each chef will work with a local farm to come up with a delicious new take on BBQ. Beer from SweetWater Brewing will also be served.

The Atlanta Community Food Bank is making a difference in the lives of underprivileged Georgians by distributing over 2 million pounds of food and other donated grocery items to the public monthly. The New Q fundraiser will help the Food Bank continue its fight against hunger.

The New Q is part of a series of new initiatives by Heritage Foods USA to bring awareness to the plight of small family farms raising sustainable proteins in the United States.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

BBQ Recipes: Vanilla Brine

I found this recipe over at Matt Bites. It sounds very intriguing....

Vanilla Brine for Pork

Vanilla? Yes. Vanilla. It imparts a subtle intriguing flavor on the pork. This recipe comes from The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly.

  • 9 cups hot water
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
  • 6 (1-1/4-inch to 1-1/2-inch thick) center-cut loin pork chops
  • thermometer
Stir the hot water, vanilla, sugar, and salt together until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
Add the black pepper. Cool to below 45 degrees F. in the refrigerator.

Trim any excess external fat from the meat. Submerge the pork in the brine in a large bowl or small crock. Make sure the meat stays under the surface during curing by using a heavy plate to weight it down. Refrigerate the pork in the cure. The chops should take 4 to 6 hours in the brine.

To test flavor of brined pork, cut a small piece off the meat, pat it dry and pan-fry it. If the meat is sufficiently flavorful, remove it from the brine, let it come to room temperature and grill. If not, leave it in the brine and test again later.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Barbecue Restaurants

I've had some feedback about my new listings for barbeque restaurants that I recommend and I'd thought I'd take a couple of minutes and explain how hey make the list...
  1. I have to have eaten there a couple of times. I try not to form a solid opinion about a place on one visit. Every restaurant can have a bad day.
  2. They have to be real barbecue restaurants. You're not going to find the boil, broil, dose with liquid smoke places on this list.
  3. The restaurant must have a website. I don't see any reason for posting a list of names without links. You'll find those places reviewed in the blog when I visit them.
  4. Obviously, if I recommend the restaurant, I like it. There's one restaurant on the list that has raised some eyebrows because to be honest, it's not the best bbq you can find. It's better than good, but it's not great and I don't think it's going to last much longer, but I'm pulling for them. No, I don't have a financial stake in the place and if you go back in the archives, you can probably figure out who it is. But I like it, so it's on the list. After all, it's my list.
  5. This list will change and will never be complete. Place's will come and go as my opinion and experiences with them change.
  6. They are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of preference. You'll have to read the blog to find out about which BBQ joint reigns supreme.
And here's a little treat; Sam's restaurant in Austin is one of my favorite places in that city. I have pictures from our visits somewhere, but they've never been digitalized, much like Sam's itself. AND they don't have a website! I just did a search of the blog, and I find that I've never reviewed the place either. I guess I need to get back to Austin.

So instead of a review here's a little clip from YouTube that lets you experience the place, but unfortunately not the food, yourself. Enjoy.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Barbecue - It's What America Eats

This came across my desk this morning. Very interesting. But I'd really like to know what's going on in the smoker category.

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) touted the highest year-to-year growth rate ever for the barbecue industry at the opening of HPBExpo 2007, North America's largest indoor-outdoor trade show, in Reno, Nev. The year-end grill shipments of more than 17 million grills marked a 15 percent increase from the previous year. With shipments at an all-time high and year-round grilling a growing trend, the industry is hotter than ever.

2006 Grill Shipment Breakdown

In 2006, the barbecue industry shipped 17,272,500 total grills -- the highest since 1985, with an overall total increase of 15 percent from 2005. Gas grills continue to be the most popular, followed by charcoal and than electric.

-- Total Gas Grills Shipments - 10,317,500; up 13 percent
-- Total Charcoal Grills Shipments - 6,845,000; up 19 percent
-- Total Electric Grills Shipments - 290,000; up 3 percent

Breakout Leaders:

-- Gas Grills: LP stand-up grills were the most popular (up 5 percent),
followed by LP table top grills, up 48.81 percent
-- Charcoal Grills: covered stand-up grills led this category rising
36 percent, followed by covered table top, up 13 percent
-- Electric Grills: smokers served up as the hot item, up 8.6 percent

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hot Spiced Cider Chicken

With winter breathing it's last gasp this week, here's a recipe for grilled chicken that uses all those winter flavors. I think I'm going to make this on Sunday.

Hot Spiced Cider Chicken

Submitted by:
Maryann Stanko
Lebanon, Or

Serves 4

2 Oregon fryer chickens, cut into halves
1 cup apple cider
1 cup apple sauce
1 oz. Red Hots (cinnamon-flavored candies)
1 tablespoon apple vinegar
1/2 cup walnuts, finely ground
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 course ground black pepper

Combine the cider, apple sauce, and Red Hots in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until Red Hots have melted. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Place chicken halves on grill and cook over medium heat. Start basting chicken during the last twenty minutes of cooking time. Remove chicken from grill when done (internal temperature of 180F).

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

New York is Barbeque Country II

When I first started this blog, I didn't know anyone in the world of barbecue.

When I first started this blog, acceptable barbecue in New York was restaurants where they'd "broil their ribs and pour in some liquid-smoke flavoring."

When I first started this blog, there were a few lone voices in the NYC barbecue world who were the purist and were creating true barbeque. There were Rob Ritcher with his Big Island BBQ team, the boys at the WaterFront Ale House, Matt Fisher and his Hampton Smoker, Bruce Kain out in New Jersey, Will Breakstone out on Long Island and a couple of rare others scattered about. I was one of them, but not out there competing. I was kindling the flames of in my own little way in Brooklyn.

Now I look around and find that NYC is becoming a new barbecue Mecca and that NYC BBQ restaurants are opening all the time.

Now I look around and find that NYC's barbecue restaurants are standing on their own merits. No longer do we need to compare them to their Southern forefathers.

Now I look around and find that NYC is hosting it's own BBQ contest every year, Grillin' On The Bay out in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn.

Now NYC hosts at least three huge annual barbeque celebrations, The Big Apple Block Party, Brooklyn Brewery's Pig Fest and Rob Richter's BBQ NYC every year.

Now I look around and find that Kingsford chose NYC to host a free pulled pork give away with BBQ legend Chris Lilly at the helm.

Now I look around and find that when Charbroil wants to introduce a new line of TEC grills, it chooses NYC's Bryant Park for the rollout.

NYC barbecue has come a long way baby.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New York is Barbecue Country

This just in from the New York Observer, another Barbecue Restaurant is opening in New York City.

Georgia Barbecue On The Lower East Side
FILE UNDER: Lower East Side, Retail

New Hampshire native Alan Natkiel, 31, will open Georgia's East Side Barbecue at 192 Orchard Street in mid-May. Mr. Natkiel signed the lease on the Lower East Side space a few days ago, according to Misrahi Realty.

Georgia's East Side Barbecue will serve "classic Southern food like barbecue, hamburgers and hot dogs," according to Mr. Natkiel. "I've spent a fair amount of time down South," he told The Real Estate. "People in New York are not aware of real barbecue. New York's idea of barbecue is the same as Wisconsin's idea of New York pizza."

Mr. Natkiel is no stranger to the restaurant business, having managed Lodge and The General Store in Williamsburg. As the sole proprietor of Georgia's, however, he's going to need to sell a lot of hush puppies to stay afloat in the high-rent nabe. The 600-square-foot Orchard space, which used to be Cafe Trotsky, has a monthly rent of $5,500.

- Mark Wellborn

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Grillin' On The Bay - The Teams

Grilin' On The Bay - 2007. Wow. This is going to be a great event. Look at this line up! There are some of the best barbecue teams and restaurants in the Northeast cooking in Brooklyn on March 31st. (Corner of East 18th Street and Avenue Z)

Barbecue in New York City is alive and kicking. Come on out and check it out, you'll be glad you did. And if you're interested in cooking, we still have one spot left. Grillin' On The Bay rocks!

Hot Hogs
Smokin’ Mikes
Purple Turtle Catering - The Returning Champions
Hill Country - Rob Richter's new barbecue team
Notorious BBQ
Fat Texan BBQ
Richie’s Rib Shack
The Anchormen
Lost Nation
Fugheddaboutit BBQ
Front Street Smoke House
Smoke in Da Eye
Q Haven
Burnt Side Down
The Mutiny Smokers
Smokin’ Dave’s Tailgate Party
Smokin’ Bones
Ma’s Que Crew
Beer Belly Porkers

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Weekend Dog Blogging

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. With the impending doom because of the switch to Daylight Savings Time a month early, this geeklad's been a little busy.

Today, I wanted to take a slight break from BBQ and indulge in a little bragging. Please allow me to introduce Trooper....

Trooper is our new dog. He's a 66 pound, 11 month old Shepherd mix that we rescued from The Town of Islip Animal Shelter. He's the third animal we've adopted from them and we couldn't be happier.

If you want to see more doggies, check out Weekend Dog Blogging over at my buddy Cate's Sweet Nick's Place.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Thanks to Daisy May's BBQ

This post is overdue.

I want to thank Adam Perry Lang and the folks over at Daisy May's BBQ for donating pulled pork, beans, coleslaw and cornbread for a fund raiser my daughter's school was having.

The school was holding its annual "International Day" which celebrates its students cultural diversity with foods of all nations. My wife and I were responsible for America and what is my more American than barbecue? I called Adam and he responded graciously and was much more generous than I had any reason to expect.

Adam's food, especially the pulled pork and beans, was the hit of the fund raiser. Gee - what a surprise.

Adam, my friend, thank you very much.

Photo courtesy of Daisy May's BBQ USA

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Move over Memphis. Good bye Kansas City.

It looks like America is getting a new region for Barbecue - New York City. It's about time. I'm tired of hearing from all the good ol' boys about how superior Southern barbeque is. New York is kicking ass and taking names!

From today's New York Times...

The Big Apple May Never Be Known as the Big Sparerib, but It’s Smokin’

AMOR was what she called me. Not honey, not sugar, not sir. Amor — as in Spanish for love — was what the counter woman tacked onto “thank you” when I paid my tab at the Ranger Texas Barbecue, which operates out of the back of a locals’ bar called Legends in Jackson Heights, Queens.

New York’s barbecue scene may be missing a lot of things — like dirt roads and screen doors and decades of deep-seated tradition — but love for barbecue in the city is strong. And in the past couple of years the product has caught up to the passion. Restaurants that hobbled out of the gate have hit their strides. The best pits in and around the city have gotten better.

That doesn’t mean you can walk into any haunt with a neon pig outside and expect smoked bliss from every corner of the menu. An awful lot of stuff around town still has no right calling itself barbecue, though the ratio has improved considerably. Some places dabble in too many styles. Out there where barbecue comes from, that doesn’t happen: the top places in Texas don’t dress up their pork shoulder in Carolina drag, and no one in Memphis is trying to outgun Texans at their own game.

To sort it all out, it seemed like a good idea to hit the road and see what’s where now. So I took advantage of a friend’s generous offer to drive — we packed six adults into his modest-size Mitsubishi for a 90-minute Saturday afternoon jaunt from Brooklyn to Big W’s in Wingdale, N.Y. Warren Norstein — the Big W — started dishing barbecue out of a truck parked on the side of Route 22 in Pawling, N.Y., in 2003. He moved the operation into a gently renovated convenience store up the road a few months ago.

One of the meats listed on Big W’s chalkboard is slow chickens. My friend puzzled aloud about this. “Slow chickens are easier to catch,” shot back Mr. Norstein, a burly Brooklyn-born bear of man with a borscht belt sense of humor. The chickens are smoked over apple and hickory wood for five or six hours, after being seasoned with a spicy rub that does wonders for their skin.

The one we got was gigantic, insanely moist and tremblingly tender, and it quickly proved to be the most compelling meat on the table, although it faced serious competition from a super-smoky slab of brisket so tender that I’m sure it would have shredded itself if I had stared at it long enough.

Fifty-four dollars bought us a “For the table” sampler that also included a full rack of pork ribs and a pound of pulled pork. It was a perverse amount of meat — enough to slay a tableful of hungry eaters and send everyone home with a to-go pack of smoky ’cue — and even with gas money figured in it was wildly cheaper than anything in the city.

There’s not a bird back in town that approaches Big W’s slow chicken, but if pulled pork is what you’re after, then make your way to Pies ’n’ Thighs, a closet of a kitchen in the back of a grungy bar in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. Settling in with the best pulled-pork sandwich in the city and a side of greens (also the best in the city, at least in the realm of barbecue joints) might first require you to kick broken beer bottles and cigarette butts out of the way to get a berth at the bar, as it did for me on a recent Saturday morning.

If you do you’ll find that smoky meat, which spends eight hours over hickory chunks in an offset smoker and is then pulled into ropy strands, sauced with a North Carolina-style vinegar sauce and served on a white bread bun that does its very best to dissolve and get out the way of the pork. A minced cabbage slaw and a couple of crinkle-cut slices of neon green pickles add texture.

Pies ’n’ Thighs devotees may notice that the aggressiveness of the vinegar sauce has been tempered since the restaurant opened last summer, an adjustment attributable to the departure of one of the partners, Stephen Tanner, who sold his share in the restaurant to Carolyn Bane. Ms. Bane left the Spotted Pig to join forces with Sarah Buck, who still oversees the restaurant’s top-notch selection of pies, cookies and more.

For my money Daisy May’s BBQ USA is the most consistent and distinctive of all New York barbecue spots. Adam Perry Lang, the pit master and a partner, has a talent for concocting alluring but unusual riffs on classic sauces and rubs for his “production” barbecue (as some folks who have spent too much time inhaling around the pit call the smoked meat that’s available all day, as opposed to the made-to-order or “competition” barbecue).

There’s nothing Carolina about Daisy May’s Carolina Pulled Pork, other than how it takes a South Carolina template — a little chili heat, some mustard — and affectionately stands it on its head, adding molasses to the mix and a portion of Sriracha hot sauce in addition to cayenne pepper. But just because it’s not traditional doesn’t mean it’s not cravable. It most definitely is.

There is a significant step up between the good-to-very-good production barbecue and the excellent barbecue made to order for the reservations-only 8 p.m. seating, called the Big Pig Gig. Mr. Perry Lang eases up on the sauce and spice and turns out a roster of gently seasoned and perfectly smoked meat. Half and whole pigs are the most impressive offerings, served with a Chimayo chili powder and honey-based sauce that nimbly adds sweet, sour and spicy notes to the sweet flesh without getting in the way of its porcine goodness (though if he crisped the skin, those pigs would be even better).

If the untraditional barbecue at Daisy May’s doesn’t resonate with you and super-smoky barbecue does, Righteous Urban Barbecue, in Chelsea, is your place. R.U.B. has gone from a neighborhood asset to a contender in less than two short years. Its burnt ends — twice-cooked nuggets of the fattiest part of the brisket — offer the most deliciousness, ounce for ounce, of any meat the restaurant smokes.

A load of burnt ends goes into each batch of barbecued beans, pushing the beans out in front of the competition elsewhere. Each bite delivers an uppercut of deep, soulful smokiness that washes over you like a gauzy burst of smoke rushing out of a grill at a summer cookout.

If the combo of burnt ends with a side of burnt-end-spiked beans strikes you as overkill, the go-to dish at R.U.B. has to be the Baron’s Sampler, a $45.75 platter that includes eight smoked meats and two sides. (Beans and more beans would be my choice.) Though the menu says it feeds any number of people from “one to a gang,” in my experience it’s better when you’re not alone and it’s better earlier in the day, when a greater selection of meats is available. (When R.U.B. runs out of something, it doesn’t come back until the next day.)

I tried the sampler with only one friend to help me and, for the first time in my life, felt some kinship with those titans on the World’s Strongest Man competition. (Meals at R.U.B. come with a free side order of televised sports, particularly of the ESPN2 variety.) I imagined that there was a close parallel between my gluttonous flailing and ultimate failure to finish the platter and the strong man’s struggle to drag keg after keg out of the ocean, each trip more labored until, finally, he grimaced in surrender.

But barbecue tastes better the next day than the bitterness of defeat. Sampling the sampler — a tactic I’ve employed everywhere one was offered — didn’t always pay off, as when I visited Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, a popular place tucked under a stretch of the West Side Highway in Harlem. Dinosaur is definitely the barbecue place to take the kids to: a waitress was infinitely patient when I visited with a friend, his wife and their two rambunctious youngsters.

As for the eating, there’s no question that the pork spareribs at Dinosaur are significantly better than everything else (and certainly good enough to warrant a visit). Order them by the rack and skip the menu’s other distractions.

The most refined of New York’s barbecue emporiums is Blue Smoke, but don’t let the fresh-faced servers and comfortable dining room fool you. Serious barbecue is practiced here. I found my sticky fingers most eagerly reaching for the Texas-style salt-and-pepper beef ribs and the smoky sweet Kansas City spareribs. Blue Smoke’s beef ribs are a little bit beef jerky, a little bit corned beef. How much more elemental does it get than meat, salt, pepper and smoke?

Though the beef ribs will be the ones that lure me back to the restaurant, the Kansas City pork ribs, glazed with a slick of the restaurant’s Kansas City-style sauce, are no mere consolation prize. Both styles outshone the St. Louis variety that rounds out the rib sampler, rendering that platter a waste of time: order the other ribs by the rack, skimp on the lackluster sides, have a nice bottle of wine and be done with it.

If you want your rib fix in less dandified settings — and sometimes that’s just the case — the city isn’t short on places to get it. For pork ribs cut in the St. Louis style, dusted with spice rub and grill-crisped with a touch of sweet, dark sauce, there’s Mo Gridder’s BBQ in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, where the dining room doubles as the office for an auto body shop that looks like the place cars go to die. The pit is outdoors, tacked to the back end of a competition-ready barbecue trailer.

The owner, Fred Donnelly, an avid amateur pit master before he opened Mo Gridder’s, drew up plans for a modest 10-foot-long trailer, but somewhere along the way it stretched out another 25 feet, big enough to house a fully equipped kitchen and a massive smoker. Though a rig of that size is wild overkill for the light foot traffic it attracts in Hunts Point, Mr. Donnelly said it handled its maiden voyage — catering a party for “800 hungry Teamsters” — without a hitch.

For beef ribs, there’s Ranger Texas Barbecue in Jackson Heights. The Stars and Stripes and a P.O.W.-M.I.A. flag dominate the front of the room. On a recent weekend a group of regulars were talking back to the televisions and loudly making fun of a hockey player’s last name for, I think, having too many consonants. In the back, Angel Dominguez and a small cooking crew turn out the only real pit-cooked commercial barbecue in Queens.

I can’t help thinking that the place’s odd locale and low profile contribute to some of the shortcomings of the meat: there’s clearly not enough turnover. But the beef short rib — a fantastically fatty and flavorful cut that almost no place in the city has found a way to mishandle — was absolutely spot on.

The Smoke Joint, a modest restaurant in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, also does a very respectable short rib. Judging by the early going (it opened this past fall), with care and time it is bound to get better and better.

And if it does, and as the barbecue scene in New York continues to improve, will the other places that have opened in the past couple of years do the same? Barbecue being the slow-cook business it is, time will tell the answer to that question and more.

Will Fette Sau, a long-delayed barbecue spot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, be as compelling as the bar Spuyten Duyvil, its bottled-beer sibling across the street? Will Joe Mizrahi finally convert his Smokin’ Joe’s True-Blue Texas Barbecue catering service into a pit stop and give Staten Island its first real pit-cooked meat?

We know that Justin Timberlake, who is putting his name on a barbecue-theme restaurant that will open in Manhattan this year, managed to get up close to Scarlett Johansson in his last video, a feat that I can’t imagine many pit masters pulling off. But can he ’cue?

And the last one: What’s the best? Barbecue is all about blue ribbons, and it would feel like a cop-out not to slap one on something. Something like the improbably amazing whole rack of lamb that’s part of Daisy May’s Big Pig Gig.

Over a dinner of three of those meaty whole racks of lamb (that four of us came within two ribs of finishing), a friend related a story of visiting Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Tex., one of the high holy shrines of Texas barbecue. He tried to describe the vibe in the room while he was eating: a low, throbbing, violent, ready-to-rumble hum that he felt and felt part of. (As he’s a long-haired Southern boy with a peacenik streak, he didn’t indulge it.)

I had never made that connection: when a barbecue place proclaims that its product is good enough to make you “slap yo’ pappy” or some other hokum, it’s alluding to a visceral reaction that only truly great barbecue can elicit. I have never had ruckus-worthy barbecue at any of the places that brandished that kind of sentiment.

After we’d finished the lamb, we headed back to my friend’s room at the Mercer hotel to digest in front of a Kenneth Anger DVD. Once we were in the elevator, he confessed that he had been struck by an urge to tackle someone, anyone, when we were walking through the lobby.

Sure, it could have just been the weekend crowd at the Mercer. But I knew better, because I felt the urge, too. It was the lamb, rubbed with a simple chili-inflected and mustard-based paste, cooked to a perfect tenderness, gently flavored with smoke.

Seeing things for the first time, I knew I had found the real deal: great barbecue in New York. And though in my mind that lamb has run away with the crown for the single best barbecue in the greater metropolitan area, it sits atop a heap of great ’cue the likes of which New York has never known before.

The Pits

These were the best barbecue places in a sampling in and near New York City:

BIG W’S ROADSIDE BAR-B-Q 1475 Route 22, Wingdale, N.Y.; (845) 832-6200.

BLUE SMOKE 116 East 27th Street; (212) 447-7733.

DAISY MAY’S BBQ USA 623 11th Avenue (46th Street); (212) 977-1500.

DINOSAUR BAR-B-QUE 646 West 131st Street; (212) 694-1777.

MO GRIDDER’S BBQ 565 Hunts Point Avenue (Randall Avenue), Hunts Point, Bronx; (718) 991-3046.

PIES ’N’ THIGHS 351 Kent Avenue (South Fifth Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn; (347) 282-6005.

RANGER TEXAS BARBECUE at Legends, 71-04 35th Avenue, Jackson Heights, Queens; (718) 803-8244.

R.U.B. 208 West 23rd Street; (212) 524-4300.

SMOKE JOINT 87 South Elliott Place (Fulton Street), Fort Greene, Brooklyn; (718) 797-1011.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

12 degrees

It's 12 degrees here in Brooklyn as I write this. It's cold. It's windy. I have to go to work. No Q for me today. I kinda feel a lot like this....

Monday, March 05, 2007

Restaurant Review: RUB

It's great to see that New York's barbecue restaurants are finally getting the respect they deserve. Finally, the reviewers are reviewing New York's barbeque restaurants without comparison to their southern counterparts.

This is some great news. New York Magazine has just named RUB Barbecue, NYC's best. Andrew and Scottie at RUB are two of the nicest guys you'll ever want to meet. (In the interest of full disclosure, I consider them both personal friends of mine.) I wish them much success.

Here's their review:
208 W. 23rd St.; 212-524-4300
Barbecue is its own world, moving to unalterable rhythms and primordial fumes. That makes it hard to produce in New York City, where everyone wants to be fed five minutes ago, and the words “it’s not ready yet” might as well be in Ugaritic. Only one barbecue in New York really hews to those artisanal rhythms, and it shows. Unlike most of the city’s other big barbecues, which make their food in batches and store it for later reheating, RUB’s small size allows it to pay attention to each rack of ribs and each brisket end individually—and, in most cases, to send it from the hot pit directly to your waiting maw. And unlike the city’s newer, smaller places, it cooks with real barbecue equipment, not cut-rate Easy-Bake versions. The ribs, both spare and baby back, are competition-quality; the beef may be even better. Burnt ends, twice-smoked cubes of intensely succulent, tender beef brisket, are available every day, and unutterably rich short ribs on Mondays and Tuesdays. Don’t miss out on the house-smoked bacon, either, made from Berkshire pork bellies and cured with a recipe blessed by Tennessee pork guru Allan Benton. Only in the chicken category is rub second best; Dinosaur’s birds are tastier and crispier, both whole or as wings.
While I agree that RUB is one of the best, my experiences with Dinosaur cause me pause. Every time I've been there, I've been un-impressed. Has Dinosaur gotten its game together since my last visit? Seems like your intrepid blogger has some research to do.

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