Meatopia is a daylong food festival on Randall’s Island Park in New York City–the “Woodstock of edible meats,” as founder Josh Ozersky called it. More than 30 chefs from all over the country participated, serving up plate after plate of delicious, fire-cooked meat. Here’s a look at just about everything we ate–from the small (venison poppers) to the gigantic (1,000-pound steer). **** WARNING: Do not look through this gallery on an empty stomach. After a ride uptown on the subway and a short walk to the East River, I boarded a Water Taxi to Randall’s Island Park–the home of Meatopia.
I figured I’d have to wait all 20 minutes of the boat ride from Manhattan to Meatopia before I’d get my first course–but no. The crew served cocktails and delicious meat pies on the boat. Now, that’s my kinda cruise.
Behold: The Meatopia pasture.
The various cooks at Meatopia were organized by cuisine and divided into themed neighborhoods with awesome names, such as Carcass Hill, Beaktown, Meatopia Heights, and Offalwood. The neighborhood I was most excited to visit was the Meatopia County Game Preserve. And the dish I was most excited to try was being cooked by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs.
And that dish was marinated whitetail poppers–venison tenderloin, cream cheese, and a jalapeño pepper slice all wrapped in bacon and cooked on the grill. “We call this Spicy Creamy Deer Pig,” said Robert O’Neill, a member of the SEAL team. “I grew up hunting, and I know how to prepare game. This is sort of a family recipe. We always had cream cheese in the house and we could always find a jalapeño–and we could usually shoot a deer when we needed to. And then bacon is bacon. I’d put bacon in my cornflakes.”
More Spicy Creamy Deer Pig on the grill.
SEAL team member Robert O’Neill chats with hungry Meatopians. He said they planned on serving 2,000 poppers.
Next on the menu was a duo of squab: rillette of dark meat and roasted breast ancienne. That sounds really fancy, I know, but trust me: This was incredible.
Smoked duck neck gumbo over wild rice. Duck is a personal favorite of mine, so this serving did not last long.
Just in case you forgot that Meatopia was a celebration of all things meat, a couple of the chefs not-so-delicately reminded you by decorating their aisles with animal bones. A nice touch, if you ask me.
Beef shank bourguignon.
Smoked birds cook over coals in Beaktown. Can’t you just hear the sizzle?
Grilled rib steak with bone marrow butter. If you love bone marrow (like I do), you would’ve loved this.
Beef brisket from Aaron Franklin in Austin, Texas. This dish would win Best in Show at Meatopia. (And in case you’re wondering what the prize for Best in Show at Meatopia is–it’s a huge Samurai Sword!)
Let’s take a food break. After all, you gotta pace yourself at a feast such as this. Whole Foods sponsored the Best Butcher Contest. Throughout the day, the three finalists from the nation-wide competition demonstrated their knife skills on stage. Here, they had had to debone a turkey, chicken, and duck–and then put it all together as a Turducken. Oh, and they only had 20 minutes to do it. It was a wild and awesome display of craftsmanship. And the winner? Armand “The Arm” Ferrante.
Chef April Bloomfield cooked a whole hog over at her kitchen in Carcass Hill.
And she served pig on sliders with a side of grilled corn. This might’ve been my favorite bite of the day.
Now, let’s visit Offalwood. Here’s a dish from chef Jonathan Sawyer that he called Brains and Bread. You’re looking at scrambled lamb brains and eggs with crispy sweetbreads, and lamb liver bottarga. Delicious.
Here’s a beef trio: beef belly, beef tongue, and beef heart.
Who’s hungry for a scrapple slider?
I’ve saved the biggest for last: a 1,000-pound whole-roasted steer from Pat LaFrieda. As you can imagine, there was a huge crowd of people who were just staring at this monster. I know I did.
Pat LaFrieda’s crew sliced the steer and served it with a honey-barbecue sauce that was simply out of this world. I’m not allowed to print the words I uttered when I first tasted this. Let’s just say it was really, really good.
Hours and hours later–not to mention close to 20 different plates of food–it was time to leave Meatopia for the real world–a place where people also consume fruits and vegetables. As I was walking toward the exit, a woman walked by and groaned, “Food coma.” That about sums up Meatopia.
Meatopia is a daylong food festival on Randall’s Island Park in New York City–the “Woodstock of edible meats,” as founder Josh Ozersky called it. More than 30 chefs from all over the country participated, serving up plate after plate of delicious, fire-cooked meat. Here’s a look at just about everything we ate–from the small (venison poppers) to the gigantic (1,000-pound steer). ****
WARNING: Do not look through this gallery on an empty stomach.