Blog: Meatopia 2011
Some have called it the Woodstock of meat… A produce department on steroids. The finest collection of barbecue chefs converged upon Pier 5 of Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday evening for an event, aptly called Meatopia 2011. Sponsored by Amstel Light and presented by Whole Foods, Meatopia 2011 celebrated over 45 chefs preparing meats from nose to tail, in a variety of ways that beforehand didn’t seem possible. And the event was so exceptionally run that even with hundreds of patrons in attendance, the food and beer lines were minimal, but the satisfaction could be felt inherently upon admission.
The rundown of meat purveyors at this year’s event, which reportedly doubled in size, was like a who’s who of Manhattan’s culinary elite. Notables like Michael White (Marea, Osteria Morini, Alta, Convivio) and Michael Psilakis (Kefi, FishTag) spliced informational seminars between rounds of the “Best Butcher Competition,” which took place on the event’s main stage throughout the evening. Meanwhile, other notable city chefs like former Pulino’s honcho Nate Appleman cooked up a new dish called “chorizo tostados” at the Chipotle Mexican Grill stand, while Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors grilled up an 850 pound steed, which was sliced up into some of the more delicious kobe beef sliders served on Saturday.
Sitting right on the water with a wonderful view of lower Manhattan, some of New York City’s most popular spots also participated in the tasting event, as hundreds of hungry eaters weaved between their chosen surroundings. Popular and competing ‘cue joints like “Rub BBQ,” serving a delicious plate of ‘Burnt Ends’ Pastrami Brisket, was stationed right next to Chelsea outfit, “Hill Country” with a fantastically prepared BBQ Mangalitsa Pork Belly.’
With so much meat on hand to be judged, other distractions included ample stands filled with FIJI water, Capogiro Gelato stands which may have had the lengthiest lines of the entire event, and full service beer gardens (biergartens) serving Amstel Lights, assuming your meat ticket granted you access inside to the faux grassy space. But the ample beer servings, the tasty sweet desserts from “Whole Foods,” and tables handing out “Honeydrop Tea” served as a welcomed diversion once our bellies had been packed full of red meat.
Although the four hour event began at 5:30pm, the satiation sat in once the sun went down, towards 9pm. In between, the highlights of the event were simply innumerable and mentioning some of them would surely leave other notables in the lurch. But alas, such is our duty as investigative journalists to identify the true best of the best and as such, here we go…
Tasting Chef April Bloomfield’s “Mulefoot Whole Hog” representing “The Breslin Bar & Grill”’s menu proved to be an eye opener for us, although we’d been inside the very doors of the posh ‘Ace Hotel’ lobby restaurant just a week prior. Other tremendous highlights included the aforementioned Michael White and partner Bill Dorreier’s “Hampshire porchetta,” representing another LocalBozo favorite, “Osteria Morini,” “The Hurricane Club’s,” Craig Koketsu cooking up a huge portion of delicious ‘duck with green papaya,’ and, another of our favorites- Chef Daniel Holzman of “The Meatball Shop,” whipping up a crowd pleasing ‘sloppy joe’ made of insanely savory spicy lamb meat.
More experimental favorites included the aforementioned chef, Michael Psilakis’ (Kefi) ‘Greek lamb offal Mixed Grill’ or a smattering of heart, sweetbread (pancreas), brain, and kidney, on a pita which, after being bullied, we tasted and was absolutely worth trying, “The Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar’s” ‘Scrapple-stuffed Pig’s Head,’ another incredibly inventive and excellently prepped pork dish, “Bar Basque’s ‘Hampshire Hog Seven Ways’ (incredible), and our favorite and most unique of the entire evening, “Public”’s Brad Farmerie’s ‘black pudding waffles.’ The dish was a congregation of blood pudding, roasted pears, and a foie gras butter that at first glance sounds downright offputting, but tasted like a dessert just as we were getting started. The inventively prepared waffle matched perfectly with the initially strange blood pudding for the LocalBozo.com approved best combination of Meatopia 2011.
While we were initially hesitant to taste all the dishes that Meatopia had to offer, we trusted our fate to the culinary skills of the 45 chefs in attendance, and each one distinctly proved their worth at each booth. The expertly run event was spacious enough to minimize food and beer lines and keep enough people content to write glowingly about their wonderful experiences inside. After devouring as much meat as was provided on Saturday evening, there’s a chance that some people may have been turned off. But on the other hand, there’s the majority of people- people like us- that literally can’t wait until next year’s event.
- Jane Van Arsdale