09/14/16 1:25pm
Ejen's Korean noodles are just one of many dishes that will be served at the Mid-Autumn Asian Feastival.

Savor Ejen’s Korean noodles at the Mid-Autumn Asian Feastival.

Queens has long been home to New York City’s real Chinatown. In addition to tons of top-notch regional Chinese food the borough boasts some of the best Asian food in New York City. That’s why C+M is proud to partner with LIC Flea & Food for the first-ever Mid-Autumn Asian Feastival being held all this weekend from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Join us to experience the flavors of Korea, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand at this very special festival. There’s only one place this weekend to enjoy Indian dosa, Taiwanese fried chicken, Korean noodles, Indonesian satay, and Japanese ramen and that’s the Feastival! (more…)

09/23/15 9:56am

Wendy's BBQ saucemaster laughs at your desire to know his secret.

Yesterday afternoon I was doing some virtual trail running in the gym when the above commercial for Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich came on. Even with the sound down I got the joke. When asked to divulge the recipe for his “secret sauce” the presumably Southern pitmaster and his assistant refuse to give up the goods laughing off the request.

The subsequent glamour shots of “our hickory smoked pulled pork” and a BBQ poutine of sorts looked so good that I couldn’t get them out of my head. I envisioned Wendy’s very own sauce bespattered, real deal pitmaster whipping up this pulled pork, a veritable Ed Mitchell of fast food. As a certified Kansas City Barbeque Society judge who’s been around BBQ pits and smokers of various and sundry sizes and configurations, including a stainless steel number whose firebox resembles a miniature bank vault, I know  this is nonsense. But Wendy’s and its ad agency are selling a fantasy, one that I clearly bought into as evidenced by my choice of a late night dinner. (more…)

08/05/15 10:17am
phosandwich

The star of Lucy’s pho banh mi is 16-hour smoked brisket.

I’m as big a fan of banh mi as they come so this latest dispatch from Brooklyn correspondent Kristen Baughman makes me hungry. And I’m a big BBQ brisket fan too. So now I’m doubly hungry!

Let’s face it, moving sucks! 200 bucks in fees and numerous, sharp hunger pains later, I was all moved in to my new Bushwick apartment off the Myrtle-Wycoff stop. Luckily, I discovered a pho banh mi sandwich to appease my aching belly and wallet.

One of my favorite things about Bushwick is walking around the neighborhood, eating at the plethora of taquerias and exploring the 99 cent stores. But this particular day after moving boxes, I just wasn’t in the mood for a carnitas taco, I wanted something filling and delicious. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with tacos!) (more…)

04/29/15 11:07am
johnbrownsandwich

The Mack Daddy of barbecue sandwiches!

I’m such a fan of low and slow American barbecue, particularly the deckle or luscious top cut of the brisket, that years ago I acquired a BBQ moniker: Joey Deckle. One of my favorite preparations is Kansas City style burnt ends, crusty sweet and spicy nuggets of twice smoked brisket. My go-to spot for this luscious meat candy is John Brown Smokehouse in Long Island City. (more…)

01/07/15 10:27am
CHUPACABRA

The biggest, baddest BBQ torta in Queens.

Leave it to John Brown Smokehouse, the only Queens BBQ joint that serves kimchi to come up with a low and slow take on the Mexican torta. Like most tortas, the chupacabra ($12) is a monster. Queso fresco, tostones, pickled jalapeños, and pulled pork are piled high upon a brioche and lashed with ghost pepper barbecue sauce. (more…)

12/15/14 10:12am
SWINEWAFFLE1

Nothing quite says Carolina ‘cue like spinach pie.

Much like Tyson Ho, pitmaster and proprietor of Arrogant Swine, New York City’s only Eastern North Carolina BBQ joint I am a fan of the spanakopita, or spinach pie. Or at least I am a fan of the idea of it—shattering layers of phyllo filled with a flavorful mixture of spinach and cheese—which is never attained. The ones I have are usually soggy or stale. Not so for Ho’s spinach pie ($6), which is crunchy and crispy thanks to being cooked in a waffle iron. (more…)

06/27/14 9:43am

Summertime and cookouts are here people. Even though I grew up calling afternoons of grilling—sausage and peppers, burgers, Dad’s secret Sicilian chicken—barbecue, I now reserve that word for meat that’s cooked low and slow over hardwood embers. Heck, in Eastern North Carolina barbecue’s even more specific. It only applies to whole hog cookery, a method I’ve come to know and love thanks to my pal Tyson Ho. (more…)

05/29/14 12:25pm
Tyson makes the first cut as an eager crowd looks on.
Tyson Ho is bringing whole hog barbecue to Bushwick this summer.

A little over year ago New York City’s very own Chinese-American Yankee whole hog cooker, Tyson Ho, and I journeyed to the heart of North Carolina barbecue. With the Big Apple BBQ Block Party just two weeks away and Ho’s Arrogant Swine restaurant beginning to take shape in Bushwick, I thought it would be a good time for us to sit down and chat.

What’s this I hear about you trying to get a Thai pitmaster? You’re not going to turn Northeastern Carolina ’cue into Southeast Asian ’cue are you?
I figured I’d put an ad out there in the Thai community. Southeast Asians have been cooking North Carolina barbecue for generations. In fact the single largest diaspora community of Degars, natives of the central Highlands of Vietnam, live in Greensboro N.C. The pits of Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro, which is historically the most significant and influential western Carolina barbecue spot in the region, are run by a pitmaster by the name of Pon, a Degar immigrant. Several decades of traditional North Carolina barbecue has been served [and cooked] by a Southeast Asian American.

I’m not sure I’ll find a Southeast Asian pitmaster but if I do, we would be continuing a long standing tradition.

HD8
I can hardly wait for Ho’s whole hog,

So where are you going to be getting your hogs from and how will they be smoked?
I am working with a farm in Seven Springs, N.C., a town with a whooping population of 85 persons. We’re still working out the logistics of getting them up here but I’m optimistic. They’re a special breed called Chester Whites which have extensive marbling and amazing flavor. I’m also in the process of building my own hog smokers. After years of dealing with the good and ugly (mainly ugly), I have a general idea of what makes for a great hog smoker.

I seem to recall reading on your blog about a wonderful pork product called outside brown. What’s that all about?
Outside brown is the smoky crusty part of the pork shoulder that is native to the Western Carolina region in what’s known as the Piedmont Triangle. It is served with tomato based red sauce and red slaw. At the Swine we’ll be butchering pork shoulder in a way that will maximize exposure to the smoke, thus making the entire cut “outside brown.” This also a way to showcase the nuances of real North Carolina BBQ and to educate the public that pulled pork is a crude oversimplification of our tradition.

What made you settle on Brooklyn instead of Queens? Have you forsaken your home borough?
I wouldn’t call it forsaking Queens as much as put my plans on temporary hiatus. While residential rental rates are significantly lower than Brooklyn, commercial leases are the opposite. In industrial North Brooklyn, my competition for space is small fry speculators like me. In Queens I’m fighting for spaces against Starbucks, Foot Locker etc. Spots in Ridgewood, Astoria, Sunnyside are a fraction of my current space and yet almost at twice the cost per month. So let’s see how things work out in Brooklyn and if I get a few more pennies in my pocket I can try Queens again.

What can folks expect from the menu at Arrogant Swine?
I have a few items I’m putting up there, but still deciding if they’ll stay. The core of everything is the whole hog. Any menu item can go or change.  This is largely why I haven’t really published a menu of sorts yet. In North Carolina, barbecue is whole hog, everything else is optional. We will serve up our smoked hog with slaw and cornpone. It will be dressed with the traditional vinegar pepper sauce. We can be playful in seasoning different things like chicken or turkey but never the hog.

What about your artisanal ham?
Given that North Carolina BBQ doesn’t have a very diverse menu set, I figured I’d dig deeper into the whole hog philosophy. To really make ourselves a church of pork, I decided that we were going to import in the Iberian tradition of serving long cured hams. These will be American hams curated from Virginia to Georgia, and like our BBQ, have been long vetted by the palate of history. There is no amount of chefy creativity that could make a better appetizer than these hams. We can take the greatest culinary minds of our generation. Pit them against the traditions of salt, smoke and time. The fight wouldn’t even be remotely fair, ham will win every time.

SWINEGRAF1
Graffiti will grace the wall of Arrogant Swine.

How will it be different from a Carolina whole hog barbecue joint, besides the graffiti?
We are the only Carolina BBQ joint housed inside a Munich-style beer hall. The issue with most joints in North Carolina is that they’re restaurants. I’m not interested in importing in Carolina cuisine, but rather the tradition of the Carolina pig picking. Pig pickings strengthen communities and ties us to our history. A beer hall is the perfect place to host a pig picking.

Actually tell me about the graffiti. What does street art legend Adam Cost have to do with barbecue anyway?
Our walls are curated by the Bushwick Collective, a syndicate of globally famous street artists doing murals in Bushwick. Street art has everything to do with barbecue. Barbecue, especially whole hog, is a gathering of the community. Here in Bushwick, the community is progressive and artistic. So rather than outfit ourselves with faux Southern kitsch and look like some overpriced Cracker Barrel, we are a Bushwick joint. As a proper Bushwick joint, we dress ourselves accordingly.

You seem to have developed an obsession with doughnuts over the past year. Are you moonlighting as a cop?
There might be something in the works. I might just be messing with folks on social media. Or I’m simply on a slow march towards obesity. Folks will simply have to stay tuned to see which.

Will you assisting your mentor Ed Mitchell at this year’s Big Apple BBQ Block Party?
I’m probably gonna stop in and greet some old friends. But building the Swine up has taken away any opportunities for extra-curricular activities.

What do you think of this year’s lineup?
From a whole hog point of view it’s amazing how many we have. Rodney Scott, Sam Jones, Pat Martin and of course Ed. Hopefully this upswing in hoggers means that folks finally see an appreciation of nose to tail eating. And in good timing too! My rent is due soon ….

05/26/14 11:57am

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer grilling, sunning and sweating season. Around this time every year my thoughts turn to the fiery, smoky arts. Apparently Kingsford’s been giving some thought to sizzling burgers and steaks as well. The charcoal briquette giant released a campaign that manages to skewer both gas grilling and hyperconnected social media inanity. The very act of grilling—call it a backyard barbecue if you must I know I did growing up—is inherently social. So here’s what I’d like to know: What’s on your grill this summer? I’m kicking off the season on my buddy’s roof later today with some kickass pork neck as well as hot dogs and burgers, of course. How about you? And where do you weigh on the gas vs. charcoal debate? Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.

04/02/14 10:15am
SW-FLETCHERS

A low and slow take on an Italian-American classic.

When I was growing up barbecue was synonymous with cookouts and birthdays. These days I draw the distinction between backyard grilling and low and slow American barbecue. A while back I made a pilgrimage to the whole hog heaven that is North Carolina. Heck, I even have a barbecue alter ego, Joey Deckle. But back in the 70s my birthday was the perfect excuse for the old man to throw a blowout BBQ. Hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken grilled with tomato and garlic were all on the menu, but my favorite was always his sausage and pepper sandwiches. So when I heard Matt Fisher was doing a low and slow take on this Italian-American classic at Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue I decided to take a trek out to Gowanus. (more…)