travel: smoke, with a chance of downpour…

Big Apple BBQ Block Party Fast Pass
Big Apple BBQ Block Party
Fast Pass, New York, New York

As an out-of-towner, you really shouldn’t sleep when you’re in New York City.  It’s a waste of time.  Think of what you might be missing, all the things you could do that you normally wouldn’t.

For example, consider having dinner at midnight, a scandalously late hour for a Midwesterner like me. Finish around two in the morning and have a drink somewhere.  Tab out, walk home, and wait to watch the sun rise over the east end.

Or, go to dinner unreasonably early, say at 6 p.m., with a nutty chap, a friend from London, who will order everything on the menu. Overeat your way towards midnight, pass that mark, and then head on to the next event.

Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria
New York, New York

Or, work the graveyard shift with friends, cooking and baking – prepping for a charity event the next day in a kitchen the size of a small car – windows open, fan full-bore. You’ve been there before, namely the entire day.

Put a tart in the oven just as most sane people are going to bed, puree and strain pea soup until three in the morning, wash dishes until four.  Thankfully, I remembered to make a playlist.

You take long walks in the wee hours of the morning, after you’ve finished the day’s work, to pedal off the stress, to see the city at its calmest.  You find shiny pink poodles encased in glass, trash collectors hauling away the day’s piles, and couples kissing on benches, wading through fountains.

My pink poodle imprisoned by corporate America.
Balloon Dog
54th & Park Avenue, New York

To keep yourself awake during the day, you pause at the green market, to marvel at the colors, on your way to another destination.

You head to Chinatown in the pouring rain, where you find a street vendor who’s willing to part with umbrellas for $4, $2 if you inquire in Chinese.

And you take cold showers, at least thrice a day. Your suitcase is essentially a mobile hamper by the time you check in at the ticket counter; 42 pounds of laundry to be washed and sorted when you get home.

In his monocle.
Gavin Kaysen

And you might consider treating yourself to one quiet evening with childhood friends in an intimate corner of the city, where the food confidently matches the wonderful company at hand.

These, and many others, were scenes from my latest trip to New York, a marathon of near-sleepless days strung together with friends from near and far.

I managed to squeeze in a few meals.  I’ve linked the restaurants below to their reviews.

Cafe Boulud
Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria

First, we send them to heaven...
Big Apple BBQ Block Party
Fast Pass, New York, New York

I also walked through the Big Apple BBQ Block Party on both Saturday and Sunday. There, I caught up with docsconz and had a delicious rib with him at 17th Street Bar and Grill.  The foodarazzi were out in full force, most of the big-name bloggers were spotted, texting and clicking with their sticky fingers as they grazed. I watched them through a drifting haze, all of us smoked by a dozens of chimneys pushing out shades of hickory and pork.

I also ducked into the “Watering Hole” under the eaves at Eleven Madison Park to have an Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon cocktail with my friend Aaron while listening to The Crooners, who were making their third appearance at the annual event.

More BBQ, More BBQ, More BBQ
Big Apple BBQ Block Party
New York, New York

The most rewarding part of my weekend, however, was knowing that the charity event I cooked for raised quite a handsome sum of money to benefit the Chez Panisse Foundation.  Among the best bites that evening were a lightly smoked wild coho salmon dip, a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw, and an amazing assortment of cheeses brought by Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheese Mongers presented with mounds of assorted breads from Sullivan Street Bakery.

I love New York.

~ by ulterior epicure on June 15, 2010.

4 Responses to “travel: smoke, with a chance of downpour…”

  1. This is what we live for!

  2. What’s that, Max?

  3. how did big apple bbq compare to the stuff you get in kc?

  4. @ college critic: That’s not really a question that can be answered. BQBBQBP draws barbecue smokers from all over the U.S. Each region has its own style. Carolina focuses more on pork; their sauces are thinner and more vinegar-based. Memphis is more obsessed with pork ribs and dry rubs. In Kansas City, beef is king (namely brisket), and the sauce thicker, more sweet (molasses or brown sugar-based). I was disappointed that BABBQBP did not have any vendors from Kansas City. I hope Mr. Meyer, a native of St. Louis, can convince at least one Kansas City barbecue team to visit New York next year. I’d be glad to help him do that if I could.

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