The BBQ tour, a trip to 'the South' right? Well, yes, but not before a few days NYC to get over jet lag whilst visiting some friends (plus their new addition). The 4 days in New York would also serve as a way for me to start to increase my calorific intake, as at least here there are more lighter plates, the like of which I may not see for the coming weeks in any great quantity. To escape the oppressive heat of Brooklyn, we decided to do what most Brits do when there is a glimmer of sunshine and head to the nearest tacky seaside town. In Brooklyn, this is Coney Island. They say in real estate, location is everything, because if Coney Island was anywhere but on the edge of New York City, it would not be half as busy or half as enjoyable. In fact, if it was on the Lincolnshire coast, it would be Skegness. But alas, it is in New York, so it is effortlessly retro and enjoyed by all walks of people looking to escape city heat. Whilst there, it would have been rude to not sample one Nathan's famous hot dogs. No, I hadn't heard of them either, but if a brand calls themselves 'Nathan's Famous Hotdogs', then that makes them famous by default. Dem's the rules. Capiche?! I ate one of these little satanic things, no doubt with my entire day's allowance of fat and sugar. The reason they are "famous" is because they are the hotdogs used in the World Championship of hotdog eating. The World Champs, plough through around 50 or so of these in one sitting. Now I respect a heay appetite as much as thee next guy, but 'sport eating' of a product this low in quality, is just wrong. In fact, every single food product one could purchase at Coney Island was pretty wrong, but I'm not going to get into a British rant about healthy eating as it may well come back to bite me in my ass over the coming weeks.
'What about the BBQ Will?' I hear you plea. Well, I should say at this point that I did visit New York last year as part of my early BBQ research and was blown away with the relatively large selection of great BBQ venues. I visited Mables Smokehouse, Dinosaur BBQ, Hometown BBQ (the best in my opinion) and Smokeline BBQ. Fette Sau was closed the day I was there, sadly. At some point I will add my verdict on all of these, which I have taken note of in my trusty log book. This time round, I only had time for visiting an outlet of Mighty Quinn's at the Berg'n venue on Bergen and Franklin Ave, Brooklyn. Had an epic Brisket sandwich which would have easily passed 'the pull test' (see below) and was served with some great pickles (shallots, chillies, cucumbers) all of which were subtly different, crunchy and refreshing. You need a bit of that when your sandwich is overflowing with 1/2lb of beef. Great lunch and great beers; it never ceases to amaze me that however much I love beer and BBQ, there is still so much to learn as I was bombarded with information by the staff at this venue.
Ever had sour beer? Me neither until this trip, but get ready London, it's coming in the next wave of the craft beer movement.
[The pull test: they say that the true test of a BBQ chef/restaurant is their ability to do a good brisket. Beef brisket is one of the most 'worked' muscles in a cow as it is the muscle that stabilises the front legs of a cow. Cows don't have collar bones like us primates, so the load-bearing must be done through this muscle. It therefore is pretty tough, has a lot of connective tissue, and can easily dry out if cooked to badly. Cooked too much and it can become mushy and flake apart too easily. The 'pull test' is a rule of thumb that says a slice measuring an 1/8 of an inch in thickness should be able to hang under it's own weight, but be easily pulled apart.]