Week 36: A Quick Word About 9/11 and Perhaps the Best New York BBQ

I am not a New Yorker, not in the truest sense of the word. I will not feign any sort of profound connection to 9/11; it happened when I was a thirteen-year-old boy in Massachusetts, sitting in Mr. Gaudet’s science class. I had never even been to New York City before.

But living here now, it’s impossible to avoid the stories and the locales: working with first responders who endured the tragedy; passing through Union Square daily, which stood as the original makeshift memorial of thoughts, poems, and prayers; and the immaculate Freedom Tower, standing in the wake of where two edifices collapsed that fateful day thirteen years ago.

And, all this week, the hauntingly beautiful pillars of light, blasting into the heavens, as a solemn reminder of the solidarity and soul of this impossible city.

We are all blessed and honored to be here.

Sandwich 36: Fette Sau

My generation, often known as “Generation Y” or the “Millennials,” loves hyperbole. Everything is the “greatest,” “epic,” “seriously, the best ______ ever.”

Is it? Is it, really?

I read a lot of “best of” lists – especially when doing research for this blog. “The 14 Best Sandwiches in Manhattan,” “New York’s Top 17 Tortas,” and most of the time I go and shrug my shoulders with a nonchalant “meh.” I’m not a snob (snobs wear pants), but when someone uses a word like “greatest,” “epic,” or “best,” I expect something better than “oh yeah, the sauce was kinda cool.”

That being said, I had perhaps the best barbecue of my life, and surely the almighty king of pulled pork sandwiches, last week, at Fette Sau.

The name is, granted, makes it sounds swanky and inaccessible. Until you know it’s German for “Fat Pig.”

Chances are, you won’t see the interior for a while. There are no reservations at Fette Sau and the line usually stretches well outside, along the row of picnic tables adorned in Christmas lights leading out to the street. However, waiting in line allows patrons to sample their infamous beer by the gallon while their taste buds simmer.

The interior is warm and inviting, with stone bricks composing the walls, adorned with a row of various bladed objects for dicing up animals.

But you don’t come for the ambiance (while it is lovely), you come to order mind-melting smoked meat by the pound. Their meat is cultivated in a mixture of cherry, oak, birch, maple, and beach and they only source it from small-time, organic farmers they have real relationships with. With a menu featuring pork belly, beef brisket, smoked chicken, ribs, and pulled pork, the entire spectrum of the Memphis-inspired barbeque is there (they only use dry rub, sauce is provided afterwards), and all you can taste is the overwhelming succulentness of these gorgeous postmortem beasts.

The pork shoulder pulled pork is transcendent, one that shatters your expectations of what food is. Every smoky bite is super-saturated in deliciousness, balancing the perfect amount of fattiness fused with meatiness. The buns are your typical small white bread, store-bought rolls, because why try to cover the perfection with fancy bread? As for the charred beef brisket, you’ll find yourself shoving it down your throat long after you’re full (especially the extra-charred pieces).

With some crispy dill pickles, vinegar broccoli, and a solid gallon of beer, Fette Sau is a night out in itself, and a worthy one of some drunken-picnic-style-hole-in-the-wall-but-actually-gourmet-barbecue-experience.