Friends and family aside, when I think of summers back home, endless days at the beach, pool parties, crabbing, sweet tea and BBQ come to mind. Though we’re proud NJ/NYC transplants, we’ll never deny our southern roots. Va. might not be deep south, but up here, it’s still far south! If it’s any indication, probably because of his subtle southern twang, Jeff’s director jabs him almost daily for knowing the lyrics to random country songs, being from the “sticks,” but most especially, about being a redneck.
It’s quite comical, but really, there’s no place like home– especially when it comes to good food. Don’t get me wrong, NYC has afforded us the opportunity to experience diversity and different foods, but honestly, nothing really compares to “down-home” eats.
On Friday, when I saw the white tents going up along Madison Ave., I knew it was that time of year again! It was time for the annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party! Ahhh. Summertime in the city.

Every year, at the beginning of June, various BBQ masters convene at Madison Square Park and a huge block party is held. Now, I’ve had BBQ at various establishments in and around NYC, but really, nothing compares to true southern BBQ. Every year, for the past 5 years, we said we’d go, but for whatever reason, our crazy calendar always gets in the way. Knowing that BBQ is one of those delicious treats that makes Jeff giggle, we ventured into the City on Sunday– yep, despite the crowds of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
When we made it into the City yesterday, as we walked down 23rd street, we could smell hickory and the slight smell of BBQ. That smell screamed “home” for us. Beyond the few NYC restaurants featured, there were truckloads of BBQ masters– from as far away as Texas and Vegas. The whole park was decked out with tents– some promoting Snapple, others promoting the new Coke flavor and of course, the ubiquitous Beer Garden. The BBQ trailers were too large to fit in the park, so they were lined up along the perimeter of the park. The event was large enough to garner a map; so with map in hand, we found our way to the first BBQ tent.

Welcomethe crowd at Madison Square Park

Mitchell’s from North Cackalacka was our first stop. There’s much to be said about NC BBQ: that sweet, savory, hickory smell is unmistakable! This particular establishment had about 8 smokers set up. As soon as we lined up, Jeff was already drooling. We enjoyed the old fashioned NC BBQ—mmm that tangy, pork sandwich hit the spot. Jeff ate his sandwich the “real” way, as he describes. With the coleslaw on top of the meat, his sandwich probably lasted 3, maybe 4 bites. Deliciousness.

Jeff at Mitchell'ssmoker

That's some good 'eatinBBQ

Jeff

We walked around the park and browsed at the other BBQ vendors. The block party had everything from St. Louis Style Ribs to Pulled Pork to Beef Brisket to Fried Pies. It was a summertime feast, right here in NYC. After about an hour, Jeff had more room in his tummy, so he tried some Beef Brisket and Sausage from Elgin, Texas. I had a few bites of his beef and sausage, and I have to say, it was quite possibly the best sausage I’ve ever tasted– nice and spicy, yet meaty and tender. We stopped by the merchandise stand and bought a bottle of the hot sauce because it was THAT good.

former motto

Best damn sausage, ever

We continued to walk through the park, people watch, had dessert (custard cone for me and a few Brooklyn Lagers for him) and even listened to some live Bluegrass. It was a weekend well spent!

where else would he be?

Pregnant girl and her ice cream

Metropolitan life tower

For some, the beginning of summer marks the opening of pools, vacations and lots of sunblock. But for us over the past several years, the beginning of summer means more parking, random excursions and city festivals!

The only difference now, in addition to the fun street fairs and parties, the anticipation of doing it all with Baby B. next year and for years to come, makes it so much more special.

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