by Linda Viertel
A delectable smokey scent now wafts along Tarrytown’s Main Street, thanks to the opening of PikNik, the newest restaurant/take-out venture from Hassan and Alberta Jarane, whose thriving Mint Premium Foods is just up the block. Real southern barbecue has arrived in our river towns! Whether your favorite is vinegary-based sauce on ribs and pulled pork from the Carolinas, Texas brisket, or Delta baby back or St. Louis style ribs slathered with rich tomato-based sauce in the Memphis style, a long, slow smoke-cooking treatment gives your choice that true southern BBQ taste.
Malcom Sanz, Jarane’s pitmaster, a classically trained French chef (!) with an Argentinian background, grew up smoking meats in his backyard. So, he is no stranger to a 5 1/2 hour smoke for the St. Louis style ribs, three hours for baby backs or 14 hours for the pork shoulder. He prefers two hickory logs and one oak log and a “low and slow” smoke at 210 degrees, in his mammoth Southern Pride Smoker, to give his meats and poultry just the right amount of sweet smoke taste. His Cajun rubs, all made in-house, combine a balanced variety of spices (tellicherry peppers, cayenne, sugar, kosher salt, garlic powder, paprika), adding the perfect sweet/hot complement to his true smokey flavor.
All sides are home-made, and include sliced cucumber pickle or carrots in a fennel infused vinegar, and peppers cured in a vinegar-sugar base spiced with cloves and chipotles. Plus, mayonnaise-y coleslaw, baked beans, mac and cheese, Brussels sprouts and bacon – all are beautifully displayed in a commanding glass case for the customer’s visual delight.
French fries and sweet potato wedges arrive table-side hot and crispy, and, for that true southern flavor, try the collard greens redolent of the smokey flavor only ham hocks can deliver. Sanz gives his Argentinian ancestry a special nod, with his Chori Pan, a smoked chorizo sausage and crusty bread sandwich. Whole suckling pig is available upon advance request, and daily specials might include smoked turkey wings or a panzanella salad in summer when tomatoes are ripest.
PikNik sources produce as locally as possible: Murray’s chicken from Westchester, hormone and antibiotic-free pork from Pennsylvania, vegetables from local farms in season, but 21-day aged beef from Omaha – where else? Bread arrives fresh daily from Pane Doro in Yonkers.
The Jaranes are justly admired for their decorative and design flare, always on display at Mint; and they have brought their sense of style to their newest down-home venue. An eclectic combination of mid-century stools and chairs, a vintage Coca Cola refrigerator, an old-school scale, reclaimed light fixtures from piers and tugboats, brick walls and overhead street lights from France combine in unexpected ways. Vintage posters and Texas tiles add class, while the home-made tomato, mustard and vinegar sauces in small glass cream jars on the counter and ready for consumption, welcome customers to “dig in.” A substantial variety of retail sauces are on display for purchase, as well, adding interior color and charm.
Beer is offered by the glass or bottle and offerings will change seasonally. Red and white tempranillos are the house wines, also offered by glass or bottle. And PikNik will be creating its own private label, ready for imbibing this summer.
No southern barbecue is complete without desserts, usually featuring bananas, pecans or bourbon. And PikNik is no exception. Choose from the banana pudding ice cream, pecan pie, or bourbon bread pudding plus cobblers in season, that is if you have any room left to indulge! Barbecue is an art of culinary creation; eating barbecue – sides, and dessert included, is one of the most, convivial and enjoyable food experiences on the planet. Thanks to PikNik, we can have the true taste of barbecue right here in the Hudson Valley.