March 22, 2024
Ten years ago, the now-classic Los Angeles barbecue Ugly Drum hosted a series of "pop ups" to help promote Eric Black and his extraordinary garage-to-table smoked meats. Today, fans of the wildly popular restaurants - there 13 in four states - find it hard to believe Black had to cajole established restaurateurs to let him host a night where he and partner Joe Marcos could showcase their succulent pastrami, ribs, brisket and hot links.
I was in line last night at the Ugly Drum flagship in Watts telling this lady about an Eric Black pop-up I went to at Mendocino Farms, Gilmore Station one evening back in 2014. The woman said "Wow, It musta been like seeing Miles Davis jam at a bar when he was a teenager in East St. Louis." I said "Not quite."
Still, it was delicious and I remember it like it was only a few days ago. I sat across from mega chef Chris Feldmeier who had yet to open any of his "Fried Meier's Bird" joints, which are now in 45 states. Feldmeier took two bites of a smoked hot link a decade ago and declared it "perfect".
Seated to my right that night was current New Yorker film critic Robert Abele who called the links "Outstanding". On the ride home, my date that night, former restaurant owner now celebrity game show host Nancy Silverton, called the links "terrific". Me, I'm thinking these links have been called "perfect", "outstanding" and "terrific" in one night. That's a good night for any dish, let alone a link.
After I recalled this to the lady last night, she asked me if Ugly Drum had any other pops up during in 2014.
"Yeah," I told her. "They had a series of lunches at Mendocino Farms around town in late March and April that year highlighting their superb pecan wood smoked pastrami sandwich with creamy apple slaw, baby swiss and Carolina moppin' mustard sauce on deli rye.."
"Wow, you remember those events? That was 10 years ago."
"Yes. Barbecue that good, I can't forget. I kinda miss those days. I wish I could go back in time and go to an Ugly Drum pop up."
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