Monday, September 19, 2011

Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 3.08.15 PM.png Beef, Beer, Fun


What you see above is a classic New York beefsteak. In this context, the term "beefsteak" doesn't refer to the meat itself -- it refers to an event, an all-you-can-eat mass feed centering on meat and beer (as in "Are you attending the beefsteak tonight?" or "Let's throw a beefsteak!").

Beefsteaks became popular in New York in the late 1800s and flourished for several decades after that. Much of what we know about early beefsteaks comes from an article called "All You Can Hold for Five Bucks," written by the great New Yorker essayist Joseph Mitchell in 1939 (you can download the full article here). Beefsteaks were already on the decline by that point, and they'd disappeared from New York altogether by 1970 or so. Meanwhile, however, a parallel beefsteak scene had sprung up in northern New Jersey. Interestingly, the North Jersey folks had no idea that their beefsteak rituals originated in New York, and New York foodies who were lamenting the loss of the beefsteak didn't realize that beefsteaks were still being held just across the river. I wrote about all of this a few years ago in a New York Times article.

That article inspired a pair of young entrepreneurs, Derek Silverman and Andrew Dermont, who set out to revive the old New York tradition. The result is the Brooklyn Beefsteak, a series of events that Derek and Andrew have held at the Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn, roughly every six months, complete with all the beef you can eat, all the beer you can drink, a live band, contests, and more. Truly a raucous caucus. (You can see photos from one of last year's beefsteaks here.)

The next installment of the Brooklyn Beefsteak is this Sunday, Sept. 25. There are two seatings -- 1-4pm and 5-8pm. Tickets are available here. If you're serious about meat, it's the place to be this weekend.

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