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Duck Taco at Meatopia 2010

Duck Taco at Meatopia 2010

by Joanna Shaw Flamm

Meatopia 2010 sounded like a carnivore’s dream: a summer day spent on Governors Island, frolicking from tent to tent for tastes of the city’s best barbecue, duck tacos, and smoked meat sandwiches, all in support of Slow Food USA. Sure, I paid for tasting tickets ahead of time and there were an awful lot of people there, but the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the meat was tasty. As I sat in the designated beer area with my Sixpoint Sweet Action, I wondered if I really had died and gone to Meatopia.

But as the day wore on, my dream of a perfect carnivorous world fell to pieces. Word quickly spread that many of the tents were (gasp!) running out of meat. Our tasting ticket currency was quickly being devalued, and lines for the remaining tents stretched across Colonels Row. As angry mobs were turned away from stand after decimated stand, the cries of rage grew louder, and I knew we had reached…Meat-distopia. I managed to escape the worst of it, having scored a spot in the Mile End line and using all my remaining tickets to procure four smoked meat sandwiches, but as a torrential rain poured down on the overcrowded ferries back to Manhattan, it was clear that the fall of Meatopia would not soon be forgotten.

Line at Colonels Row

Waiting for Meat in 2010. Meatopia's organizers promise nothing but bliss at the 2011 edition on July 23 at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Yet, despite last year’s horrors, Meatopia will rise again! Don’t worry, say organizers; this year’s Meatopia will be substantially different. On July 23rd, the city’s best smokers and grillers will descend upon Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5 from 5:30pm-9:30pm. Meatopia promises “twice the amount of chefs as last year for fewer people,” a promise they’re keeping by raising the entry fee to $85 (unless you want VIP access; that will run you $195). From their FAQ: “Last year’s Meatopia had 5000 people eating food made by 26 chefs, who were told to make 700 portions each (and many of whom made less). This year’s event features 3500 people eating food made by 45+ chefs, each of whom is making 1000+ portions.” They’ve also hired culinary event producers CREaM, which should help things run smoothly. Finally, as charming as Governors Island is, at the end of the day it’s an island, and putting a bunch of people who are crazy about meat together on an island with limited transportation is just asking for a replay of “Lord of the Flies.” Brooklyn Bridge Park is much more accessible by public transit, which should prevent attendees from transitioning into “kill or be killed” mode.

As much as we snark, Meatopia 2011 sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun, and much more controlled. Participating Brooklyn chefs including the folks from Mile End, Seersucker, Bubby’s, and Waterfront Ale House will be joined by an all-star cast of meat masters from Manhattan and beyond, so you know the food will be good.  Part of the proceeds go to Slow Food USA, and if you haven’t been down to Brooklyn Bridge Park yet, it’s really a looker. So, if you’ve got the cash and you’re a brave, committed carnivore, buy your tickets…and get there early.

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