Union Square Greenmarket Reopens Today at Madison Square, Other Locations Follow Suit

Same market, different location.

Under brilliant sunny skies, but near-frigid temps, the Union Square Greenmarket reopened today for the first time since Hurricane Sandy. Not at its usual 14th Street location — which is being used as a Con Ed parking lot — but just off Madison Square at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street. Seventeen other markets came back as well in the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Perhaps most amazingly, the St. George Greenmarket in Staten Island, near the ferry terminal and not far from some massive hurricane destruction, reopened as well.

Pressed up against the Flatiron Building, Stokes Farm.

For the relief of those devastated by the storm, a “Buy-a-Bag” program was up and running, offering market patrons the chance to purchase a bag of produce to be distributed through city programs to those in need. (Meanwhile, a massive food distribution program was underway from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the corner of Avenue D and East 10th Street, mainly for those stranded for nearly a week in the high-rise city housing projects east of Avenue D, with no electricity, elevator service, heat, gas, or running water.)

The Greenmarket's regular location is a parking lot.
The Greenmarket’s regular location is a parking lot.

I had a conversation with Michael Hurwitz, director of the city’s Greenmarket program, who was presiding at the market tent in the triangle north of 23rd Street. “We’ve got 32 or so farmers here, instead of the usual 75 to 80. We don’t have much protein today [referring to providers of meat and dairy], because of the short notice.” Apparently, the decision to go ahead with the market at the temporary location was a last-minute one, partly motivated by the return of electricity to the neighborhood yesterday.

He went on: “The Montauk fish people are not here, either. Though Long Island was hard hit by the storm, their boats apparently sustained little damage, but the fish processing facility in Long Island City is still not operational.”

Other farmers I talked to reported minimal damage, though Norwich Meadows Farm in Norwich, New York, sustained destruction of its greenhouses. Stokes Farm in Tappan, New Jersey, said storm destruction was limited to lots of downed trees.

Multihued baby potatoes from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm

For a list of the greenmarkets open this weekend, see below.

Other Fork in the Road Hurricane Sandy coverage

Saturday Greenmarkets (11/3/12)

Union Square Greenmarket — Open in new location — 23rd Street and Broadway by Madison Square Park
82nd Street Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection
57th Street Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection
Abingdon Square Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap or textiles collection
Inwood Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap or textiles collection
Tribeca Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection and no textiles collection
Tucker Square Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection and no textiles collection

Bay Ridge Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection
Fort Greene Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection or textiles collection
Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection and no textiles collection
Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap or textiles collection
Sunset Park Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection
Greenpoint Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap or textile collection

Atlas Park Greenmarket — Open regular hours
Sunnyside Greenmarket — Open regular hours
Socrates Sculpture Park Greenmarket — Closed — No food scrap collection

Staten Island
St. George Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection
Staten Island Mall Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection

Sunday Greenmarkets (11/4/12)

92nd Street Greenmarket — Closed for NYC Marathon
79th Street Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap or textiles collections
Columbia University Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection
Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket — Closed
Tompkins Square Park Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap or textiles collections

Bensonhurst Greenmarket — Open regular hours
Carroll Gardens Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection
Cortelyou Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection
Windsor-Terrace Greenmarket — Open regular hours — No food scrap collection

Forest Hills Greenmarket — Open regular hours
Douglaston Greenmarket — Open regular hours
Jackson Heights Greenmarket — Open regular hours


How To Make A Brisket Sandwich at Hill Country, Dish #92

Welcome to 100 Dishes to Eat Now, the tasty countdown leading up to our “Best of 2012” issue. Tune in each day (weekends too!) for a new dish from the Fork in the Road team.

See More 100 Dishes to Eat Now:
Benoit’s Cheeseburger with Fries, Dish #93

Ezme With Homemade Pitas at Hazar, Dish #94
Chivito completo at Tabare, #95

Texans eat their brisket by making it into little sandwiches with sliced white bread. This is the “highest and best use” (as real estate developers might say) of white bread, and nothing can substitute for it — not a baguette, kaiser roll, or artisanal loaf of any sort.

So, why won’t they just sell you the sandwich at Hill Country, our city’s greatest temple of brisket love. Well, for one thing, the thing would fall apart in short order due to the fragility of the bread. Besides, you want to make the sandwich just so, and what Texan would ever trust someone else to do that for her?

Also — Hill Country sells two sorts of brisket, the fatty and the lean, and you really need to buy a mixture of the two meats at the per-pound counter to have just the right mix of fat and meat in your sandwich.

So, get a quarter pound of each, then go over to the salad counter to acquire pickle chips, jalapenos, and a slice of sweet Vidalia onion.

Then proceed to assemble the sandwich as in the photo at the top of the page.

Hill Country
30 West 26th Street

Here’s everything you need to make a great brisket sandwich.

Hill Country Barbecue is near Madison Square.


The 5 Best Things at This Year’s Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

Pork pulled from the whole hog from Ed Mitchell’s, Wilson and Raleigh, NC. Put the slaw on the sandwich!

We have many things to thank the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party for, now in its 10th year. A decade ago, it got the ball rolling for barbecue in NYC, and is partly responsible for our fair city becoming one of the true barbecue capitals of the country. And the festival has introduced us to many farflung establishments that we might not have otherwise visited. Even though the relation of the barbecue produced at, say, a country crossroads shack somewhere in the Carolinas will always be of uncertain relation to that produced in the middle of Madison Square from a gleaming truck using volunteer labor and the work of unfamiliar butchers.

Nevertheless, a good time was had by all this year, even if the Fast Pass lines sometimes ran longer than the plebian ones, and you ended up waiting 30 minutes for what turned out to be some inferior ‘cue. Another heartbreaking feature was the emphasis on sauce at many places, and the consequent indifferent smokiness of the meat. And there’s too much pulled pork! And not enough brisket, sausage, lamb, and chicken. And no barbecues from places like Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas City, or Ownesboro, KY. That said, here are the things I liked most this year.

Chopping the meat in a cloud of smoke at Ed Mitchell’s

5. Pulled Pork at Ed Mitchell’s, Raleigh, NC – This is the irreducible product of the antique whole-pig approach originated in North Carolina: glove-soft pig flesh with a delicate flavor and only mildly smoky. The slaw on the side is its co-equal as partner in the pulled pork sandwich. This is barbecue of unswerving honesty.

Ed is set up to travel.

Pappy’s ribs from St. Louis

4. Baby Back Ribs at Pappy’s Smokehouse, St. Louis, MO – Pappy uses a weird-ass spice rub, leaving the ribs midway between the dry and wet styles. You can pick a phantasmagoria of flavors out of it, and ditto with the dark, notably unsweet sauce, which is not loathsome. Whatever the arcane ideas embodied here – not doctrinaire St. Louis, decidedly – there’s no denying these ribs are bone-licking good.

The Pappy’s Smokehouse Booth was on West 26th on the north end of Madison Square.

This year there were more strollers than ever before — proving barbecue fanatics have learned how to reproduce.

Big Bob’s pulled shoulder is my-t-fine, but for god’s sake skip the sauce.

3. Pulled Pork Shoulder at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que, Decatur, AL – This was the most popular of the 17 establishments presented this year at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. The shredded meat is quite smoky, especially for this style of barbecue. The little wads of “Mr. Brown” are a boon, too. But this ‘cue comes with a giant caveat. Leave off the sauce! Or rather sauces, which are all over the map, flavorwise and completely overwhelm the pig. And just look at the ingredients on the label. You really want your meat swimming in soda-pop?

Click on image to enlarge, then read the ingredients in Big Bob’s sauce. Do you really want to put that on your barbecue?

The sauce comes in many flavors.

2. Pulled Pork at Scott’s Bar-B-Que, Hemingway, SC – Despite being first-time attendee, Rodney Scott pulled it off, producing a way-smoky pulled product from the whole pig, and presenting the deep-fried skin swatches on the side. Double trouble! More than any other, his barbecue reflects the terroir of the northeastern South Carolina seaside farming region he comes from. What a treat to have him in NYC!

Pitmaster Rodney Scott makes a new fan

Scott apparently brought this crazy homemade smoker from SC.

1. Beef Brisket at Hill Country, NYC – “This place has the home court advantage,” noted a friend as we munched one of the moistest, smokiest briskets ever, delivered in a generous portion and sided with hipster pickles. No sauce needed. The ‘cue was dragged from pits only a few blocks away, having been smoked in real hardwood, while most of the ‘cue at the festival is spawned using inferior charcoal brickets.

Odd to be eating brisket from a booth, when the actual barbecue is just three blocks away.

View up Madison Avenue from 23rd Street, 2pm on the second day


Most Horrifying Sight So Far at Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

A barbecue-sauce fountain

Second Most Horrifying Sight:

Ribs that come so thickly clotted with barbecue sauce you can’t tell if the meat actually tastes smoky or not

Best Thing So Far About the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party:

Rodney Scott’s pulled pork, with cracklin’s

Look for a full report in Fork in the Road tomorrow

See our piece on Rodney Scott here


What To Eat at Big Apple Barbecue Block Party: Scott’s Bar-B-Que From Hemingway, SC

Rodney Scott’s pulled pork, at Scott’s Pit Cook Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, SC

When I was in South Carolina last October, I did what I always do when finding myself in a barbecue state – drive crazily from place to place sampling every kind of ‘cue I could get my hands on. My companion was the The Palmetto State Glove Box Guide to Bar-B-Que (1997), an out-of-print paen to a once-great barbecue state.

Go inside for the best South Carolina ‘cue — or simply go to the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party this weekend in Madison Square.

I say once-great, because most of the dozen or so places I tried to visit on a day-long drive through rural areas were long-closed. It seems that the barbecue joints had been replaced by fried-chicken concessions, which are apparently much cheaper to operate as far as raw materials go. And the barbecues that were still open were mainly just big buffets with the smoked meat occupying no more than one percent of the surface area. And the meat didn’t taste very smoky, either, since most pits had been converted from wood to gas or electricity.

Back in Charleston I found myself in the company of the famous Lee Brothers, and I asked them what the best barbecue in the state was. I also contacted my friend Robb Walsh, a Texas barbecue expert who also carefully watches barbecue all over the country. The answer was the same: Scott’s Pit Cook B.B.Q. in Hemingway, SC.

The place was a couple hours north of Charleston, but I jumped in my car right away and sailed up there, through swamps and beach communities, past thick groves of cypress and ash. Hemingway isn’t near the shore, but in a farming area inland about 20 miles. The town (population 500) is economically challenged, though there is some pig- and horse-farming in the area, and a little light industry.

Pitmaster Rodney Scott (right) with a barbecue enthusiast who’d driven three hours from Raleigh, NC to sample Scott’s ‘cue.

Next: more pictures from Hemingway, SC

The ordering window at Scott’s

Scott’s is in a ramshackle country store just a few blocks west of the downtown crossroads. There’s an ordering window, a collection of groceries on shelves, and a seating area with three or four tables. A hand-lettered sign over the window advertises what is available that day, including whole pigs for take-away catering. A crew of very polite and gracious rural ladies prepares and packages your order.

Presiding over all is Rodney Scott, a youngish guy who believes that wood and long-smoking is the key to great barbecue. In despite of the decay of the state’s barbecue scene, he perseveres as if it were the last century. He is one of barbecue’s great heroes, and he will have a booth at this weekend’s Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. His life’s work is not to be missed.

In Hemingway, I had the pulled pork, picked from the whole hog and moistened with a vinegary sauce with some barbecue tidbits floating around in it. Extra sauce comes on the side. In this respect, his ‘cue harkens to the old-fashioned style of North Carolina barbecue.

The vinegary sauce

Next: More on Scott’s Bar-B-Que

For high rollers: the $6 ribeye sandwich

My pulled-pork sandwich was probably the best thing I ate in the entire state on that trip, though I did have some spectacular fried chicken, too. I also ordered a steak sandwich, served on two pieces of white bread. It was good, too, but I bet Scott’s not bringing that to Madison Square this weekend.

Stop by and try Rodney Scott’s ‘cue.

Yams for sale on the front porch of Scott’s

What you’re supposed to wash the barbecue down with

View of Hemingway, SC