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bbq block party 2006


perfect brisket


smokios goodness

my favorite day of the year is bbq block party weekend. which is, of course two days. i can’t decide if the first day or the second day is my favorite day, so i’ll just call it a draw.

the first picture above is the brisket from southside market in elgin, texas. oh. my. goodness. the picture doesn’t do it justice. there’s the clearly defined smoke ring, the succulent juicy meat, and the generous layer of fat at the bottom. you can’t even begin to imagine how good this was. and it came with a sausage link that puts any sausage you’ve ever had to shame. and very good coleslaw, and potato bread to mop it up. there were two sauces, one hot and vinagery and one mild and more tomatoey, but you really didn’t need them.

and, to whom it may concern, you know who you are, mr. show-off cut the line with my media pass foodie expert, elgin is pronounced with a hard “g”, not like the watch company.

definitely going back here today for more.

my other favorite stop (and my first stop, first in line yesterday) was smoki o’s bbq from kansas city. every year she has pig snoot. that’s right, snoot. the nose. and it is so good. this year they had rib tips and told her not to bring snoot, but she brought a little bit anyway and i got some. it was even better than before–it’s like pork rinds only this time fresher and better. and the rib tips were great too–some crunchy and some tender and all marvelous. and good baked beans too.

we sampled rub bbq, which has an outpost in new york now. it was brisket–ice cold with the worst cole slaw (basically just shredded cabbage) you have ever had. and their new york bbq restaurant is the most expensive bbq place you will ever see. the brisket might have been decent when hot, but no way would it rise to the level of the elgin southside market bbq. if i ever had any thoughts of paying upwards of $100 for a bbq dinner at this place, which i really didn’t anyway, there’s no way i’d do it now.

we had 17th street bar and grill baby back ribs–it’s memphis bbq. best ribs i’ve had in a long time. chewy and tender and flavorful and crusty and fatty all at once. and they win, once again, for best baked beans. it’s a mixture of several different types of bean in a perfectly balanced tangy sauce. not too sweet. i’d go to memphis just for the beans. and the perfect ribs are just a bonus.

we had pulled pork shoulder from big bob gibson in decatur, alabama. i love coming to this stand every year, because he brings his genial neighbor who pours the sauce on your sandwich at the end, and he’s a very typical southern gentleman who i really like a lot. we always have a little conversation and he’s a great guy. i’d like to buy him a beer sometime. the sauces were mild and hot, and i liked both. good coleslaw too, but a little too vinagery for kirk.

as good as the pulled pork shoulder sandwich is here, my favorite is still the whole hog from mitchell’s bbq in wilson, north carolina. no you don’t get the entire hog, just a portion of it. but your sandwich is filled with meat from everywhere in the hog, so you get a wonderful mixture of different types and textures of meat on your bun, which is so so yummy. and their “sauce” is basically vinegar with spices, which to me is the best sauce in the place. it perfectly complements the meat and makes for the best bbq sandwich you’ve ever had. and i have a sneaking suspicion that ed mitchell is a cool guy, because he cooks his whole hog and when it’s gone for the day, it’s gone and there’s no more bbq. he’s not bringing out the backup tupperware full of meat from home. so you have to get there early if you want it. good for him. don’t compromise your bbq integrity for these demanding new yorkers.

and his coleslaw was the best. just enough yellow mustard, but not too much.

we skipped blue smoke and dinosaur. it’s great bbq, but they are from new york and i can get it anytime, so why wait on the lines, even if they are much shorter than the others. today we’re going back to get salt lick brisket and sausage, which isn’t usually as good as southside market for me but is still much, much better than you’ll get at, say, virgil’s or dallas bbq in the city. and we’ll get ubon’s pulled pork shoulder, which if i remember correctly is very good as well.

we bought the bubba fast pass again, which is basically a stored value card that lets you skip the main lines and get in what are supposed to be shorter “vip” lines. last year they sold far fewer of them i think, because i don’t remember any lines at all, or at least very short ones. this year the avereage wait in the vip lines was about 45 minutes, which i’m betting is still much quicker than the main lines. and half the time the registers don’t work, so they just give you bbq. with all the “free” bbq, for two servings of most of the bbq listed above, we paid a total of about $35, which is i think what rub bbq charges for their iced tea.

i could almost forget i was in new york, except for the whiny man and his limousine liberal girlfriend/wife behind us for 45 minutes in the mitchell’s line. god were they annoying. and the woman who stormed to the front of the line and screamed at the 17th street bbq people because her “fast pass” wasn’t fast enough. the 17th street bbq people are the most laid-back people you can imagine, and their shirts all say “peace, love and barbecue”. this woman clearly didn’t get the concept. but otherwise, everyone was very laid back. we’d get food from one place and eat it in line for the next place, and everyone asked you about your food and where you got it and how did you like it and such. it was a lot of fun.

and we ran into our friend suzanne who was, of course, waiting to ask about pig snoot at the start of the whole thing, just like we were. we’re very predictable people that way. great sharing snoot with you again, suzanne!

we’re gonna end up having tons of stored value left on our card, and we’ll probably get more merchandise to burn off the value just like we did last year. which is fine…i like having a stack of t-shirts around and the various bbq joints have pretty cool ones.

all the money goes to the parks conservancy or something, so it’s good for the karma as well.

or at least as good for the karma as eating pounds of meat can be.