Meatopia, organized by Josh Ozersky & Co., at Randall’s Island this year was a pretty awesome barbecue event. Comparing to last year’s Meatopia at Brooklyn Piers, this was a lot better organized, there’s actually lots of space to walk around, and of course there’s the glorious smoked, grilled, and/or roasted meats from prominent chefs from the New York City area and beyond.
The partial explanation of the ample space at Randall’s Island was because of Mother Nature being a tempestuous woman. Earlier in the morning, it was dark and cloudy and it rained. Stopped briefly with some sun, clouds, strong breezes, and humid. I left my house on bated breath that it won’t rain but I still wore my Hunter rain boots and brought an umbrella to prepare myself. Lo and behold in about 1.5 hours after I arrived, the ominous storm clouds rolled in and a few chefs I’ve chatted with were wondering how can they take shelter from the rain. This sort of felt like Memphis in May (an internationally well-known barbecue competition) meets the Glastonbury Festival (a huge music festival in the United Kingdom that tends to be really muddy – but thankfully, no mud wrestling here).
At any rate, most of the chefs held their ground and stayed in the rain and still served food. The most notably longest line, even during the worst of the downpour was for Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue (Austin, Texas) brisket. I held my ground during the downpour and waited in the rain for 15 minutes. And the wait was worth it. The brisket (he served lean and fatty) was cooked perfectly that it just falls apart when you pick it up and it’s delicately smoky. It’s one of the best smoked brisket I’ve had.
Pat LaFrieda and his crew was there to smoke a 1,000-pound steer (beef). It was awe-inducing to see that huge beast to be flanked out on a smoker. To see Pat himself cut large 5-pound chunks every so often is pretty darn awesome. The smoked beef, as expected, was phenomenal. Supple, tender and delicious with the sweet barbecue sauce served on the side.
Chef April Bloomfield and her sous chef was working near the smokers to pull her smoked whole hog, offering a really delicious Kansas City style whole hog. Even the bun that encased her pulled hog was delicious (and I tend not to eat bread in barbecues). The grilled corn was thickly slathered in parsley butter, making this a really decadent corn on the cob.
Mile End‘s offering of smoked veal with pickled tomatoes was both beautiful and tasty. The veal was super tender and juicy and the pickled tomatoes just gave a right amount of acid and sweetness.
Chef Sean Brock and the “Fatback Collective” comprising of Chefs Donald Link, Pat Martin, Rick Pihakis, Drew Robinson, and Rodney Scott created a trio of pork dishes like the Barbecued Fatback Farms whole hog, Cochon butcher boudin sausage, and pork fatback. All were great and flavorful.
There were some roasted birds served as well like Chef Harold Moore of Commerce delicately sweet roasted squab with creamed corn and Chef Zakary Pelaccio for Amstel Light beer’s spine-tingling-amazing rotisserie cooked duck with Lady Jayne preserved citrus and herb syrup. My friend and I ate our own duck portion and at the same time we exclaimed, “Oh sh*t!” The meaty duck breast with the sweet, tangy, with a touch of spice dipping sauce made that duck insanely good.
There were a lot more dishes that I have not mentioned but this is my highlights of my experience at Meatopia 2012. Everything was very tasty and I wish I could have stayed out longer, if it weren’t for the inclement weather. At least there’s next year and I can imagine it would be as good or better than this year’s.
To view more of my photos of this food event, please scroll through the slideshow below (or click through my Flickr set):
Official website: http://meatopia.org
Location: Randall’s Island