Monday, June 30, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
A Question of Conscience.
Ever make a decision and then question your decision? Last night I made one of those decisions.
Around 11pm, I was taking the dog out for a walk and parked in front of my house I found a blue car. Nothing unusual there; I live in Brooklyn and parking is at a premium here. People park where they can find it, sometimes many blocks from their home.
I remembered that the car had been there for a couple of days. Again, not that unusual in my neighborhood. But then I remembered that I saw a guy sleeping in that same car further down the block about a week ago.
Then I saw him. He was back; either passed out or asleep in his car. Actually his upper half was in the car and his feet were outside through the open driver's door. Why the interior light wasn't on, I have no clue. On the ground around the car was a bunch of garbage. I needed to look a little more closely at him, yup homeless.
I started to walk away, but then I made my decision to call the cops. I didn't want a homeless guy living in his car in front of my house. I have a wife and children to protect, not to mention property. Could I leave huge hunks of meat in my backyard smoking overnight with a hungry homeless man nearby? No.
I wanted him gone.
I called 911 and explained the situation. The police operator asked me if he was doing anything illegal. She asked why I was suspicious of the man. She then asked what I wanted the police to do.
I asked that they send someone to check him out. I called my wife and told her about the man and the call to the police. I told her to keep the kids away from the windows and doors when the cops arrive as I didn't want the homeless guy to know I called the police. I then took my dog for his walk.
As I walked the streets of Brooklyn, I was hit with a pang of guilt. Did I do the right thing? What's keeping me from having to live in my car, apart from the fact that I don't own one at the moment? There but for the grace of God, ya know?
I didn't see him doing anything illegal (Is it legal to sleep in your car on the public streets? I don't know, but I know I've done it on occasion.) I pondered this over the entire time Trooper, my dog and I walked. I finally concluded that I did the right thing. If he was a bad guy, the police would take him in. If he needed help, the police could direct him.
Just as we were returning home, a van load of auxiliary police arrived at my house. (For those of you who don't live in NYC, the NY Auxiliary Police are a group of unpaid volunteers who aren't real police but just look that way. Usually they're reserved for crowd control and that sort of thing.) One of the auxiliary cops woke the man up and asked him if he was OK. I couldn't hear the response, but it must have been what the cop wanted to hear because he got back in the van. Another cop told the man that he had to sleep fully in his car, not hanging half out. She and about 4 other cops then got back in van and left.
I checked on him a few times during the night. A couple of hours later, he was still asleep in his car, but now he was nude. Lovely sight, let me tell you, but perfectly understandable it was hot as hell out. As I closed the curtains, I was hit with one of those WWJD moments. I felt really sorry for him. I told myself that in the morning, I'd get him something to eat and some bottled water. Would I be brave (smart? dumb?) enough to invite him into the house to take care of the three S's? What would Jesus do?
In the morning he was gone.
So let me ask you - did I do the right thing?
Friday, June 27, 2008
BBQ Under Attack
From the Brooklyn Paper....
for The Brooklyn Paper
Illegal barbecuing in Prospect Park has gotten so out of control this summer that officials are deploying park rangers to crack down on a wave of grillers that even included one man pulling in a huge apparatus fit for a suburban backyard.
Complaints from non-BBQing park users has led the Prospect Park Alliance to send in the rangers to remind people that grilling is only legal in nine designated barbequing areas.
“Our staff is definitely trying to be vigilant,” said Alliance spokesman Eugene Patron, who acknowledged that more people have been cooking in the park this year. “We have rule cards that the rangers give out to people that explain fire dangers and tell them how to properly dispose of their hot coals.”
It’s no surprise that the Alliance is concerned about the smoky haze that has been covering vast portions of the park on summer weekends. Even casual users of the park have noticed that grill-toting families are setting up camp wherever there’s a nice patch of grass.
“The other evening I took a run and the haze of smoke around the park was incredible, you would have had to see it to believe it,” Park Sloper James Burt told The Brooklyn Paper. “[The other day], I even witnessed someone wheeling in a huge Sears Kenmore gas grill. That definitely seems excessive.”
Another resident, Jen Bettencourt, was at the park over Memorial Day weekend, and saw most of the grillers blatantly ignore the park’s restrictions.
“It was so crowded that people basically parked their stuff wherever they could find a spot,” Bettencourt said. “There were adults, children and pets trying to navigate around smoking barbeques. The whole thing is just one big accident waiting to happen.”
Patron noted that visitors to the park who continue to disregard posted grilling regulations will be kicked out, but he stressed that as a last resort for handling the situation.
“We obviously don’t want to have to ask anyone to leave, because everyone should be able to enjoy the space however they choose,” Patron said. “We just ask that everyone be respectful of other people and of park rules, and that they let the rangers know if there are any problems.”
Designated barbecue areas are adjacent to entrances at Third Street, Grand Army Plaza, Ninth Street, 10th Avenue, Parkside Avenue, Vanderbilt Street and Parkside Avenue at Parade Place.
©2008 The Brooklyn Paper
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Purple Turtles Everywhere!
Lookie here! My buddies the Purple Turtles got some well deserved press. If you're anywhere near their home base of Norwalk CT and need barbecue, be sure to give these folks a call. They're one of the best caterers in Connecticut!
Greg Hunter and Nancee Gell
Cranking the heat on the competition
When it came time this month to go the extra yard in sweltering 100-degree heat in Yardley, Pa., Nancee Gell and Greg Hunter wilted at the prospect of firing up a second grill for the crowd pleaser – a caramelized, crispy crust for their barbecued chicken hot off the primary burners.
That spared the spouses an extra few moments of blistering work, but Gell suspects it cost their Purple Turtle competition team any shot at being named best in show at the BBQ on the Farm contest that weekend. No matter: These days they have more than enough trophies to fill their trailer – not to mention grills and smokers at their Norwalk home.
The summer barbecue competition season is in full swing in the Northeast, and on weekends Gell and Hunter lift their tongs to duel teams from throughout the region and nation, both weekend warriors and professional chefs.
By day, Gell is an integrated systems specialist at Security Specialists, a Stamford-based security installer, while Hunter is a paralegal for a commercial collection agency in White Plains, N.Y. The couple stumbled onto the competitive scene nearly a decade ago, after checking out a New Hampshire competition out of curiosity.
“This guy was cooking by himself, and someone suggested to us since we were wandering around we might as well give him a hand,” Gell recalled. “And we did.”
“That guy” was Gary Howard, whose Liquid Smoke and Smoke Ring teams have won awards at the World Barbecue Championship Cooking Contest held annually in – where else? – Memphis, Tenn. (If you guessed Kansas City, you were close – the recognized sanctioning authority for most competitions is the Kansas City Barbeque Society. )
Howard would mentor not just Gell, but also Ed Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Holy Smoke BBQ in Fairfield and secretary of the National Barbecue Association Inc.
Purple Turtle is one of at least two outfits in Fairfield County that regularly enter such competitions, along with the Yankee BBQ Boys, which lists a New Fairfield home base. Both teams belong to the New England Barbecue Society, a Plymouth, Mass.-based organization that sponsors a barbecue “mentor” program to allow beginners to learn from smoke-seasoned veterans like Howard or Wilson.
Wilson is fresh off cooking 1.5 tons – yes, tons – of barbecue at the annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party this month in New York City. He said Gell’s and Hunter’s trial-by-fire story is not unusual in competitive rings.
“We’re all kind of in this pot together,” Wilson said. “You can tag along and get your feet wet.”
The New England competition season gets an early start at the annual Freeze Your Butt Off BBQ Competition, held at the start of March in Maynard, Mass., followed by the annual Snowshoe Challenge in Abington, Mass. at the end of the month.
Not until June do things really get cooking, however. Grillin’ on the Bay was held three weeks ago in Brooklyn, N.Y.; this past weekend, Merrimack, N.H., was host to Rock ’N RibFest and the New Hampshire state barbecue championships. Independence Day weekend, grillers will converge in Lake Placid, N.Y., for the I Love Barbeque Festival; later that month they will head to the Albany, N.Y., area for the Troy (N.Y.) Pig Out, and to New Paltz, N.Y., in August for the Hudson Valley RibFest.
At that point, a New England champion will have already been crowned at the Harpoon New England Championship, scheduled for July 25-27 in Windsor, Vt. Purple Turtle more than held its own at the 2007 Harpoon championship, placing in the top five.
High gas prices have had a perhaps unexpected impact on competitions – rather than encourage people to stay home, it has encouraged organizers to winnow down the number of competitions, which has more contestants showing up at the remaining contests.
Fuel prices are not helping things – Gell and Hunter already spend thousands of dollars annually competing – but on the bright side the competitions often award cash prizes. In taking home gold at Lake Placid’s I Love Barbeque Festival last year, Purple Turtle also took home a $1,000 grand prize as well as nearly that much more for making the medal stand in various subcategories.
The national championship in Memphis awarded $90,000 in prizes.
Gell says if there is a secret sauce to winning, it is producing high-level results week after week – and perhaps getting to know the tastes of individual judges, at least at regional contests.
“Our biggest thing is consistency – when you get the chefs who compete and the restaurant owners, they tend to be much more consistent,” she said. “Even though most of us are chili heads, you keep it on the mild side. If you cook it too hot you are going to lose.”
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
BBQ Events: UnFancy Food Show and BBQ
Now this is more like it. No aisles of balsamic reductions. No aisles of salsas. Just real good food.
The UnFancy Food Show returns to Brooklyn this weekend and this year it includes an UnFancy BBQ. Can't get any better then that.
Here's what you can expect at the East River Bar in Williamsburg...
Bronx Bee Honey- Local, seasonal, blow your mind honeys
Cut Brooklyn- Handcrafted, sharp, cool knives right here in Bklyn
Diner Journal- The thoughtful eater’s magazine
Gabriel’s Handmade- Transforming the Northeast’s best pork into pate
Hot Bread Kitchen- Tortillas from actual corn- nothing else, nuff said
Jasper Hill Farm- Some of the finest cheeses in the country, period. (and a cool, humongous project that you want to hear about)
Luminous Kitchens- Fantastic organic, handmade and local snacks
Mast Brothers Chocolate- Insanely good chocolate made by ridiculously nice people, in Williamsburg
McClure’s Pickles- Oh snap! Perfect pickles from the McClure family
NuNu Chocolates- Serious salted caramel chocolates- organic, Brooklyn, yummy
Salvatore Brooklyn- A dreamy version of ricotta made with local whole cow’s milk
Shameless Carnivore author Scott Gold- Signing copies of his meat manifesto
Sixpoint Craft Ales- Brewskies from Brooklyn- for realsies
Tamarack Hollow Farm- Mind altering meats- pork many ways plus real chickens
TastebudsNYC- Focused and fun social group sparking all kinds of conversations about food
Taza Chocolates- Organic stone ground chocolates- texture and taste revelations
Wheelhouse Pickles- Seasonal, fleeting, experimental and delicious pickles
Zippy Bee Kay Sera Honey- Golden NY honey from a flamboyant beekeeper
More information available on their website.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I Really Had to Let It Go
I'm just sitting here watching shadows on the wall and wondering who I can piss off next.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Wait A Minute...
I thought I was barbecue in New York City. I started the contests.* I brought Paul Kirk to NYC to teach.* What's going on here? How did this get started? Can I go?
In cooperation with
the Staten Island Historical Society at Historic Richmond Town
BBQ Pitmaster University
Come spend the day at Staten Island’s Historic Richmond Town, learn the art and the secrets for cooking authentic wood-smoked Barbecue from expert Pitmasters; and, as a bonus, you will enjoy a great meal of True-Blue Texas Barbecue with all the fixin’s! Smokin’ Joe Mizrahi proprietor of the 20 year old, critically acclaimed, Staten Island based Smokin’ Joe’s True-Blue Texas Barbecue, Inc. will be joined by Stephen Harkavy long time BBQ buddy and Pitmaster on the grounds of the bucolic Staten Island Richmondtown Restoration to teach the secrets of a “BBQ Pitmaster”.
Both Joe and Steve are accomplished Pitmasters and Memphis in May (MIM) Certified Barbecue Judges; having judged at both the MIM World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and the prestigious Jack Daniels Invitational Barbecue Cooking Contest. In addition, Steve is a Kansas City Barbecue Society Certified Judge and Pitmaster for the award winning “Fuhgeddaboutit” BBQ Cooking Team.
Come early to explore the Restoration’s buildings and grounds then settle in for your training, loaded with practical demonstrations and some hands-on experience. All of which will culminate with a full BBQ Dinner, served family-style by period dressed interpreters. Dinner will include Slow Smoked Beef Brisket, BBQ Pulled Pork Shoulder, Spare Ribs, Slaw, Pit Baked Beans, Cornbread and a specially prepared Dessert baked on the open hearth in a reflector oven made at the historic village.
Get more information from their website here.
*Please know that I am joking. Take these comments in the spirit in which they were intended. I am not barbecue in NY. I didn't accomplish anything on my own. I've had help. Believe me. The contests and class would not have been possible without the help of Matt Fisher, Robbie Richter, Andrew of Rub BBQ and many many others.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
BBQ Events: I Smell Smoke Cooking Class
The folks over at the I Smell Smoke BBQ (many many award winning) team are holding a competition barbecue cooking class out in Warminster PA. If you're thinking about competing this is a great way to learn what you'll need to win. Check it out.
Competition Cooking Class Warminster Pennsylvania
The weekend of June 28th I Smell Smoke and the folks at BBQ Guru are teaming up to bring you the ultimate competition barbecue cooking class. This class will be an overnight hands on class just like a competition. Everything from meat selection to final presentation will be covered.
The folks from BBQ Guru will be providing specific instructions and techniques on their cookers and controllers. The class is being held at The BBQ Guru World Headquarters in Warminster Pennsylvania.
Sign up now space is limited. Click Here for more information.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Grillin' On The Bay: The Results
Here's the full results of Grillin' On The Bay. I'm off to work, but will post more information later. Thank you to everyone who cooked, judged, repped and sponsored the event. A big thank you to RUB BBQ for being our major sponsor, without whom this event would never have taken place.
1. Transformers BBQ
2. Smoke in Da Eye
3. Better BBQ Bureau
4. Real Deal BBQ
5. Beer Belly Porkers
6. Purple Turtle Catering
1. Smoke in Da Eye
2. Better BBQ Bureau
3. Beer Belly Porkers
4. Real Deal BBQ
5. Transformers BBQ
6. Purple Turtle Catering
1. Transformers BBQ
2. Real Deal BBQ
3. Smoke in Da Eye
4. Better BBQ Bureau
5. Beer Belly Porkers
6. Purple Turtle Catering
1. Better BBQ Bureau
2. Smoke in Da Eye
3. Transformers BBQ
4. Beer Belly Porkers
5. Purple Turtle Catering
6. Real Deal BBQ
1. Smoke in Da Eye............629.7138
2. Better BBQ Bureau........629.1428
3. Transformer BBQ...........615.4276
4. Real Deal BBQ................ 600.0000
5. Beer Belly Porkers..........593.1420
6. Purple Turtle Catering...531.4278