Sunnyside local Nick Merkelson attended the recent Edible Queens event, Summerbeat: Eat Meat, Drink Beer, and brings his thoughts on the experience. -Meg
I’m a devout disciple of meat and beer; I appreciate each on its own, but together they are sacred and ineffable. Last week’s Summerbeat, hosted by the recently relaunched Edible Queens in historic Sunnyside Gardens Park, was something of a devotional experience for us beery-meaty faithful.
As a local Sunnysider living outside the “zones” of the community-owned park, the Eat Meat, Drink Beer-themed event offered a first glimpse of its famed picnic groves. Perhaps, on any other occasion, the Members Only sign at the gate is meant to keep out the drunk, potbellied riffraff. But as dusk settled over the two hundred-odd crowd, and I started hearing “Dude” and “Bro” interchanged with “Bon appetit,” I realized how perfectly Queens it all was.
I chatted with Tyson Ho of Arrogant Swine, who specializes in Eastern North Carolina-style smoked whole hog. Flanked by the giant smoker he “dragged up here” from North Carolina, Tyson embraces a familiar in-your-face, unabashed pride in his craft. His pork, vinegary and peppery and served bunless, was juicy enough to need a second paper dish. I wondered how long the pig had been smoking (“up to 16 hours”) and who he wanted to serve that evening (“I’d love to hear the president of PETA say she likes my pork”).
Astoria’s Ovelia dished up succulent Greek lamb, spit-roasted right there in the park. I must have come too late—I enjoyed just a few lemon and herbed bites, and before I knew it, the Ovelia patriarchs were busy packing up. Next door, Chef Alex Schindler from LIC Market had four Crescent Farms ducks turning on his spit. Moist and tender, these ducks roast for over two and a half hours, meaning Alex had been up since the wee hours for the occasion!
By far the most efficient platers and servers were the happy crew from Canton Gourmet, who provided my favorite dish of the evening: Peking duck dripped with a hoisin sauce on a puffy bao. FYI, the steamed pork dumplings with ginger from sister restaurant Nan Xiang Dumpling House are certainly worth the trip to downtown Flushing.
Local craft beers were well represented at Summerbeat, with three Queens-based breweries serving up some noteworthy brews. Nano-scale microbrewers Bridge and Tunnel Brewery made sure the 21+ crowd was well hydrated with a malty Tiger Eyes Hazelnut Brown Ale. Big Alice Brewing in Long Island City showed up with a delicious, rich smoked double double, a very dark porter with a nice white foamy head. (Sorry, you’ll have to wait until the next batch—these guys have sold out their large bottles at the CSB.) Rockaway Brewing Company stole my heart with a smooth and sweet 6.4% English-style Ale. You can find Rockaway brews carried at select locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn, including Jimmy’s 43, Alewife, and Bierkraft, and purchase growlers out of their tiny brewery in LIC.
I washed down the whole experience with a dark, chocolaty NYC Diesel blend iced coffee from Native Coffee Roasters.
Thanks, Edible Queens, for bringing together great local vendors for an unforgettable evening!