The Hampton Smoker

What's up wtih what's going down? Does a tree falling on the ocean with no one around make a sound? Barbecue, BBQ, Bar-b-que. It's all in how you sell it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Smoke Squad Descends on Dino

This past weekend, Amy, Hiroshi and I headed out to try Dinosaur Bar-b-que which opened about two weeks ago up in Harlem. The group included famous author and meat consultant to the stars, Mr. Cutlets, Rob from Big Island Bar-b-que, former Beer Frame publisher and Money Magazine writer, Paul Lukas, and 10 more hungry 'cue hounds.

We ordered so much food that they had to bring it to our table with a handtruck. Well, not that much, but close. The total was something like 5 racks of ribs, 4 smoked chickens, 5 orders of brisket flats, 3 orders of brisket deckle (the fatty, 'point' of the brisket), 3 pulled pork plates, every side on the menu, 4 or 5 desserts, and, of course, beer. The food was absolutely legit barbecue. We ordered everything 'dry', meaning no sauce, and mostly, sauce wasn't needed. There was a pleasant smoke ring and substantial, but not overwhelming amount of spice and smoke flavor to most everything. It might not be Arthur Bryant's or even rival the labor-of-love food that comes fresh off of a backyard smoker, but it was damn good and far more tolerable than the boiled and braised excuses for 'cue that are slopped onto plates at many so-called barbecue joints. The salted potatoes were a nice, unusual side dish (an upstate new york favorite which is basically small, boiled potatoes doused in melted butter and topped with salt). The side of chili was also a surprise stand out.

We had score cards that were carefully prepared by Mr. Richter who then tabulated the results and emailed them the next day. The pulled pork was the big winner, followed by the ribs, then the brisket, and lastly the chicken. The chicken, for me, was a big disappointment-- it was juicy, well prepared with a somewhat neutral rub and NO smoke flavor. Oh, well. The ribs, I'll concede were overdone at that fall-off-the-bone point, but they were really tasty and moist. It's hard to keep them from falling off the bone when cooking such large amounts, we all agreed, but valuable points were still taken off for their texture.

Will we be back? You can count on it. This may be the best barbecue in NYC right now. Plus, it's around the corner from Fairway. You can't beat that.

The Smoke Squad at Dino

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Sassed by Uma

Ok....So, I see alot of celebs on the street and around New York-- up at my old job near lincoln center in the span of just a week or more I saw Danny Aiello, James Taylor, Vanessa Williams and former Clinton-Aide, Dick Morris. To name just a few. Now that I work near Union Square, there are models, musicians and movie stars galore.

I don't get star-struck, but I do have a knack for noticing them. Especially when they behave poorly (often), or when they are the subject of ridicule. For instance, I was told by a cashier as I paid for my morning java, that Uma Thurman who was on line in front of me was "much uglier" than she expected. Well, I'm afraid her behavior is pretty ugly, too. This morning, at my local coffee hole, Uma and some toothpick of a girlfriend were standing, gossipping and drinking their coffee where the line normally forms. After a few awkward seconds, I asked "are you on line?" Uma stepped to the side, scowled at me and with a grand wave of her hand said, "all yours". Sorry to have put you out, moron. I forgot that the whole world revolves around you. Maybe they could have halted all sales for the entire time you were in the place. She later continued her whining about "Andre-Face" her supposed on-again/off-again boyfriend as she slowly oozed her way down the sidewalk.

Joel Siegel likes the coffee from there and he normally has a sour-puss as well. Not the lobotimized, happy-go-lucky bland affect he has on tv. Plus, he's short. Maybe that's why he's so pissy. Jon Spencer and his wife, Christina, pop in on occasion and manage to behave like normal folk. They seem nice enough.

The Scandal Continues....and is still not so interesting....While I'm turning into Access Hollywood for the day, I've run into Robert Prosky a few times recently and found he likes Oprah Magazine, which is cool. Drew Barrymore is also really short, (I mean, SHORT) as is her boyfriend in the Strokes. And Ric Ocasek who is not short at all, is as spacy as you'd suspect him to be. Aida Turturro has no problem walking around in her sweatsuits.

I'm in a really bad mood today.

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

2nd Annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party

Memories from this summer. This was a big 'ol...uhm...block party (I think that pretty much says it) with bbq cookers from Texas (The Salt Lick), North Carolina (Mitchell's), Memphis + Vegas (Mike Mills), Alabama (Chris Lilly), NY (Blue Smoke), Kansas City (Baron of BBQ, Paul Kirk), St. Louis (Smokie O's) and probably more that I've forgotten. The memories of the Baron's brisket still linger. That brisket and the whole hog from Mitchell's were two of the big draws that day.

I'm looking forward to Paul Kirk's R.U.B. BBQ Restaurant opening on 23rd street in New York City this spring...dangerously close to where I work.

The Baron and his brisket

Mitchell's team with hog and skin

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Prime rib, I wish it was what's for dinner

My wife and I take a week off in February every year. The winter is when the Hamptons really quiet down and we feel like the town belongs to us alone. Our first night there is usually our big blow out feast with cocktails and fine dining. I smoked this prime rib for us last winter when we got there.

I rubbed it down with mustard and topped that with some salt, pepper, garlic and that's about it. I cooked this hot, around 325 or so for a while and took it off juicy and redd-ish on the inside. I mainly used oak for this bad boy, with a little apple and hickory towards the end. Yum.

Smoked Prime Rib

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Keeping the priorities Straight

My man Hiroshi taking care of business. Thanks for protecting the Smokin' Pro, my brother in 'cue. This next Yuengling is for you.

Hiroshi holds umbrellas

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All Hail The Greenmarket

NYC's farmers' markets are one of my favorite things about the city. The produce is so fresh that sometimes it was still in the ground the morning before you bought it. There's great varieties of heirloom tomatoes and peppers and delicious apples and flowers and on and on.....The seasons dictate what you'll find and sometimes, at least for the one at Union Square near where I work, you gotta get there pretty early to beat out the fancy pants restaurants that try to horde all the good stuff.

Union Square Greenmarket

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Monday, December 06, 2004

Yummy, yummy, yummy

Here're some baked goods from the hands of my wife, Amy. She's a far better cooker of foods than she realizes and has taught me so much. I may be the 'adventurous' cooker of the two of us, but when it comes to the foods that comfort, she wins hands down. Her roasted chicken is the best I've ever tried and I could eat it every day for the rest of my life-- she does it two styles: with roasted root vegetables, or with a sage, white wine and lemon gravy and rice. With the left-overs we usually make pot pies or combine the chicken with gravy and peas and serve over rice. Hot dawg! I think I have a request for dinner tonite!

She made these individual pumpkin pies and pumpkin spice muffins the weekend before thanksgiving. They were as good as they looked-- the muffins came via a made-up-spur-of-the-moment recipe ("uhm, add flower and baking soda?) and were even better the next day.

Amy's blue ribbon goodies

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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Burnt Ends: Gifts from the gods

Separated the point and the flat off a 13.5lb brisket when the flat had gotten to about 185degrees. Wrapped the flat and let it go to about 200 and then threw it into an insulated cooler to rest along with some bottles of boiling hot water and a few old sweatshirts. The point went back on to render out some more fat. After a while, I chunked up the point, dunked the chunks into some sauce and threw them back on to 'dry out'. Once that was done, I dunked them again and they were ready to go. Few moments of home 'cue have compared to these little niblets that were like eating pats of butter.

First Burnt Ends

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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Smoked Clucker

Cooked this bird over oak, hickory, pecan and apple on the Char-Griller Smokin' Pro on Nov 18, 2004. Misted with apple juice and canola oil. Tied with butchers twine.

smoked clucker

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