“This smell of grilled meat, the burger, this is the United States: summer is coming and that’s all that I need,” Asher told me, a 28-year old New Yorker.
It was a relaxed atmosphere at The Great Brooklyn Grill Out during Memorial Day weekend, with everyone waiting for summer and wondering why spring never showed. The sun played hide-and-seek throughout the afternoon and the rain held off. All of these sentiments, surrounded by the echo of laughter from the children playing and a backdrop of drumming and guitars, mixed with the smell of barbecue on a Saturday afternoon.
One could wander at their leisure among the dozens of stands in the garden of the Food Sciences Academy outdoor pavilion at Long Island University in Brooklyn.
People lined up at each booth, most seeming to be in good moods at this first annual event, with a glass of beer, punch, or whiskey in hand (water bottles were also available). Some relished the chance to play the passing food critic, speaking to their line-mates about what they had tasted and what looked suitable for future consumption.
It didn’t seem that folks stumbled across this event by chance: no tourists here, but rather gourmands and food festival veterans.
Most had heard of or knew in some capacity the organizer of the festival: Jimmy Carbone, a NYC-based restaurateur and social entrepreneur who created Food Karma Projects, which creates unique events like this one.
Many found themselves wandering over to the jovial young man serving a whiskey cocktail garnished with a chili-ginger lime. It looks and tastes like iced tea but proceed with caution!
There were several nose-to-tail options, ranging from the enticing to the frightening. On one of the grills, you could find pork rind cracklings of a higher quality than the Southern gas-station variety cooking alongside bulbous pig testicles. At first glance looking like a tender piece of chicken, Chef Jerry assured me they weren’t for everyone’s taste buds. My line companion confirmed: “the testicles, I think it’s an experience I’m not ready for today.”
What better way to accompany a barbecue than with a good hot sauce? Some would say that this is an essential part of any barbecue. Jon Brattons presented his hot sauce alongside his wife and daughter. Jon says that we can use his hot sauce with eggs, French fries, meats, sandwiches and basically whatever you may prefer. They use the freshest and most local of New York ingredients. Their sauce is very flavorful and his words describe his passion for sauce, meat, and New York.
What makes their hot sauce so different? To make it, they use “happy peppers that grow on a rooftop farm in Brooklyn.”
This event is here to ensure that the public enjoys, tastes, and discovers good new products. However, according to Jon, “If someone wants to buy, I won’t refuse to publicize this sauce and make some money”.
Passion is a very important word in this festival. The lovely people manning the stands were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, even the ones dishing out water and chips.
There were also the famous hamburgers of George Motz, a known burger gourmand. The burger-lovers at this festival (and there were many) were familiar with this chef and willing to wait two hours to eat his burger. A wonderful discovery indeed: some things are worth the wait. Unfortunately, if you showed up towards the end, there was little left to saveur and many booths ran empty (except the beer and liquor stands: people, rejoice!).
For information on upcoming events, visit Food Karma Projects.