Yesterday, we had the pleasure of attending Meatopia 2012. It was held on Randall’s Island, which is a bit of a pain in the butt to get to, but serves as a really nice space for a food festival. (We took the bus to 102nd and took the foot bridge across, the walked up and got a wee bit lost, but figured it out. We then took the water taxi back.)
You never really know what you’re going to get when you go to a food festival, and it’s especially concerning when you spend that much money ($150 General Admission, but we got our tix from Thrillist for $130 which included admission an hour earlier). Luckily, Meatopia was exactly how food festivals should run. Enough food for everyone, presence by celebrity chefs who weren’t just there for PR but were actually cooking, reasonable lines, not over-crowded, and all-inclusive (all drinks and food on premises were included in the admission ticket).
We had a really great day there, even though there was a big storm and it poured for part of it. We hit almost every stand, and did our best to try just a bite of everything (we’d get one serving and split it between us).
Both Mike and I had the same #1 dish. And it won by a landslide. Chef Aaron Franklin served brisket from Franklin BBQ (based in Austin, TX). We saw a long line and wondered what could have a longer line than the celebrity chef stands we had already hit up (in the pouring rain no less). When I realized it was Franklin BBQ, I nearly skipped back to where Mike was saving our place. You see, we had just watched the first episode of the final season of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation, where Bourdain went to Austin during SXSW. Bourdain stopped by 2 BBQ joints, one of which was Franklin’s. I actually posted on Facebook (are you a fan of NYC Nom Nom on Facebook yet? What are you waiting for?) while watching the episode that I wanted to lick the TV because it looked so good. So when we happened to be at a festival serving Franklin’s just a few days later, we were very excited. But could it live up to the hype? Oh yes… yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. Best BBQ I think I have ever had. WOW. And as I balanced my brisket on top of my beer while holding onto my umbrella in the pouring rain, I asked for a fork. Chef Franklin said that the brisket was meant to be eaten with the hands to get better acquainted with the meat. Well done chef, well done. It fell apart and had all the right bite, melty fat, and crisp char. Gosh was it good.
Here are all the pictures we took, mostly starting with a red sign explaining the dish followed by the picture of the dish. Comments below the pictures reflect things that were especially memorable or clarity when I forgot to take a photo.