Peter Meehan, via the paper of record, files a far-reaching survey on the state of barbecue in NY today. Like seminal stories on pizza and burgers before it, it is the kind of epic report that will have people craving and feasting on barbecue exclusively for months to come. The article takes him as far north as the great Big W's Roadside Bar-B-Q in Wingdale, NY; to the far reaches of the Bronx for Mo Gridder's BBQ; to fancypants 'cue capital of NY, Danny Meyer's Blue Smoke; to Ranger Texas Barbecue in Jackson Heights; and beyond.
We'll trust you to devour the whole story on your own time. Here, let's get right to the denoument. Despite the efforts of many many newer 'cue dens, the best barbeque in the city is — still — at Daisy May's. More specifically, it is pit master Adam Perry Lang's Big Pig Gig:
What’s the best? Barbecue is all about blue ribbons, and it would feel like a cop-out not to slap one on something. Something like the improbably amazing whole rack of lamb that’s part of Daisy May’s Big Pig Gig.
Over a dinner of three of those meaty whole racks of lamb (that four of us came within two ribs of finishing), a friend related a story of visiting Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Tex., one of the high holy shrines of Texas barbecue. He tried to describe the vibe in the room while he was eating: a low, throbbing, violent, ready-to-rumble hum that he felt and felt part of. (As he’s a long-haired Southern boy with a peacenik streak, he didn’t indulge it.)
I had never made that connection: when a barbecue place proclaims that its product is good enough to make you “slap yo’ pappy” or some other hokum, it’s alluding to a visceral reaction that only truly great barbecue can elicit.
I have never had ruckus-worthy barbecue at any of the places that brandished that kind of sentiment.Just when it seemed the 'cue crazy might wane, it comes roaring back. Sushi anyone? No, we didn't think so.
After we’d finished the lamb, we headed back to my friend’s room at the Mercer hotel to digest in front of a Kenneth Anger DVD. Once we were in the elevator, he confessed that he had been struck by an urge to tackle someone, anyone, when we were walking through the lobby.
Sure, it could have just been the weekend crowd at the Mercer. But I knew better, because I felt the urge, too. It was the lamb, rubbed with a simple chili-inflected and mustard-based paste, cooked to a perfect tenderness, gently flavored with smoke.
Seeing things for the first time, I knew I had found the real deal: great barbecue in New York. And though in my mind that lamb has run away with the crown for the single best barbecue in the greater metropolitan area, it sits atop a heap of great ’cue the likes of which New York has never known before.
· Meehan goes knee deep in the 'Cue scene [NYT]
Photo credit: WhatISee