Sunday, July 11, 2010


I would wager to guess that right now, Josh Ozersky is a very, very happy man. With his blushing new bride Danit at his side (and a substantially trimmer side that it is), a recent nod in the New York Times, the apparent repute of and to top it off, today's overwhelming success of his annual meatstravaganza, MEATOPIA: BBQ NYC. Not to be confused with The Big Apple Barbecue of last month, nor his prior Meatopias out at Water Taxi Beach, this year's meat orgy was a ticketed affair, with contributing chefs from (mostly) near, but also far, and definitely wide. The weather cooperated swimmingly, the sun shining down its approval with only a few sparse sprinkles that actually felt refreshing amid the summery heat.
Much like the Big Apple BBQ, however, the lines were long- insurmountably long in some cases. I first teamed up with some notable industry people in their rented quadricycle (what do you call a four-wheeled, Flintstone's-esque pedicab
dealymabob?), and spent a little too much time (and pre-food energy) circumventing Governor's Island before focusing on the main event. So by the time any eating took place, some of the outposts were already sucked dry. Luckily, some meat-head bigwigs were easily bumped to the front of the lines, and I got to ride their coattails to snag some prime early vittles before everyone ran out. Daniel Holzman from the relatively new Meatball Shoppe was wood-grilling a mean chicken ball, two to a dish on top of some crunchy cress with cannellini beans. Scrumptiously juicy little nuggets with a lot of good chicken flavor and some additional pepperiness. Next door, Franklin Becker from Abe & Arthur had country style pork ribs (and I thought the meatballs were juicy...) spiked with a chimichurri-esque green tomatillo salsa. Those were a little greasy for my taste, not much a fan of the fatty pork belly genre, but my carnivorous amigos were loving it. And the tomatillos cut a lot of the drip. I also grabbed the absolute LAST dish of that before they too sold out.
Philippe Massoud offered up mini lamb shawarma's: spit roasted chunks of very tender, very mild lamb on a soft, white corn tortilla with a spicy little
mayo-type sauce and julienne cucumber. I remember Meatopias of yore, where his dishes stole the show. A carrot and hummous salad that so superseded the mere sum of those simple ingredients, and now this lamb. And I don't even LIKE lamb. I can, in good conscience, whole-heartedly recommend his restaurant , Ilili, without ever formally having eaten there (why IS that??!?). Everything I've had from his hand strikes genius.
As more and more of the stands ran out of their offerings, the lines for the remaining ones got longer and longer. By about three o'clock, a nearly 200
yard long line stretched out from the tent of Chipotle. CHIPOTLE, as in the ex-McDonald's funded franchise. Which inarguably serves up a tasty burrito in times of need, but in the proximity to the likes of Michael White and Seamus Mullen, it seemed a little surreal. Speaking of surreal, however, some girl, somehow, got her hands on an
entire pig's head, which she benevolently gifted to her boyfriend. He, then,
proceeded to walk about the fairgrounds, pig head mounted on platter, as hungry line-shirkers yanked off chunks. I think I personally gave the poor thing a prefrontal lobotomy. It would've all been very Lord of the Flies, had there been any flies involved. Luckily, there were not.
As the event neared it's finish line, and the only line remaining was that astronomically long one for the aforementioned tex-mex joint, it was time to pack 'em in. I suppose for myself it paled in comparison to Meatopias of yore, hob-nobbing with the hierarchy of New York Foodiedom: exclusivity always has its benefits. But you gotta applaud Ozersky on the sheer success of the affair. The turnout was phenomenal, the food was exceptional, and for his debut event, it really went surprisingly smoothly. It wasn't the sandy escape of Water Taxi Beach, with a sparkling Manhattan skyline as the sun set, and no waiting, no tickets to buy, nor chain restaurant interlopers. But in terms of all things ovine, bovine and porcine, if you got there early enough, it was yours for the grubbing. It lost much of what it was when it was just Josh's Birthday Party, but then again, now it's become a whole 'nother animal.

1 comment:

  1. Deb- it was a great event, well executed on the most part, and with excellent food. I was one of the judges and had the right to skip the lines, as I had to try every single food and rate them. It was an enormous job, and I could barely move as I walked around like a zombie in a vertical meat coma. (I was very glad that Chipotle wasn't included in the food competition.)