Photo: Michael D. Ayers
In considering a flagship event for what's now the second year of New York City's "July Good Beer Month," -- designing something called "Meatopia" isn't a bad choice to highlight your budding program. Such is the case organizers Jimmy Carbone of New York's Jimmy's No. 43, Time food writer, Josh Ozersky and master pit master Robbie Richter of Brooklyn's Fatty 'Cue who organized and hosted the inaugural Meatopia on Governor's Island (on the southern tip of Manhattan) this past Sunday, July 11. Thousands of meat and beer fans ferried over to the historic island, where they sampled over 30 chef's dishes and indeed drank good beers -- local brewery Six Points Craft Ales even brewed up a special smoked pale ale called "Signal," in addition to having their signature beers "Sweet Action" and "Righteous Rye" on tap.
Although Meatopia was billed as a BBQ festival -- one that in years to come could rival June's Big Apple BBQ Festival -- there were plenty chefs on hand experimenting with items outside the pulled-meat-in-sauce standards. For example, the folks from Bobo were serving up a grilled bacon sandwich topped with pickled green tomatoes, Napa cabbage, and fat baby mayo.
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Top Chef Master Jonathan Waxman was on hand with his Barbuto team, serving up dishes of grilled chicken with pickled green papaya, and stopping every few minutes to snap photos with adoring fans. And Ilili's got the charcoals going for the afternoon, opting for a roasted lamb shawarma that smelled delicious coming off the smoking grill.
Not to say that traditional BBQ fans couldn't get their fix -- IQUE BBQ was in town from Massachusetts, shredding pork right into customer's bowls, with only a tiny bed of sauce. As one IQUE fan noted about the small sauce portions, "you don't want to drown the meat in the sauce." But as far as the top pig is concerned, Smokin' Joe's True-Blue Texas BBQ had full pigs being pulled on the table.
Consistent lines were found throughout the afternoon at Brooklyn's Mile End Deli table, where their Montreal smoked meat sandwiches were seemingly a consistent hit; Abe & Arthur's country style pork ribs with tomatillo sauce also had lines that were easily 75, if not a 100 deep by the early afternoon. Chef's were asked to make 1,000 portions and most were sold out in the 3pm hour.
Carbone tells Slashfood that preliminary data from Governor's Island suggest that 5,000 people entered the land of Meatopia -- making it a success for the secluded New York spot. "A lot what we were doing was experimental and trying it out for Governor's Island," Carbone says. "But it was successful for them and we'll definitely be doing it again next year. One of our goals was really to make [Governor's Island] feel successful."
A not so underlying goal of July Good Beer Month and Meatopia, is to increase tourism to the city in the years to come. Along with rounding up participants outside of the five boroughs, meats were featured from Virginia, Upstate New York and portions of the proceeds were donated to Slow Food NYC and Just Food, the latter being an organization that connects farms to the city.
That said, Meatopia also looks to fuse these community aspects with the local breweries. "I thought for New York, we wanted to do something not for just a week but also with a specific focus," Carbone says of July Good Beer Month's expansions. "We're really trying to be an end all, be all beer month."
July Good Beer Month's focuses on highlighting establishments in New York City that have 80% or more craft beers on tap, where customers are guaranteed to get a good pint. With the success of Meatopia, they might have to consider an off shoot, something to the likes of July Good Meat Month.
Other events that are being thrown in conjunction with July Good Beer Month include Brooklyn Brewery's Edible Pursuit and Kelso Brewery hosting the 5th Annual Great Hot Dog Cookoff on July 31.