Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why Route 22 Rocks

Sharon reporting from her mom’s house in Putnam County tonight. Too tired and full to drive back to Westchester.

On the way home from a photo excursion in Amenia today, the strangest thing happened: Even though we were doing a solid 55 mph on Route 22 (or, ahem... whatever the speed limit was), the most wonderful smoky smell wafted into our car. We looked out the window, and there on the side of the street was Big W’s Roadside Bar-B-Q.
The place looked legit. Next to the corner store, we saw a man emerging from an actual smokehouse carrying a large skewer of golden, smoked chickens.
Inside the corner store was smiling and amiable Warren Norstein, the mad scientist behind Big W’s, responsible for heaping portions of pulled chicken, beef brisket, pulled pork, and our poison of preference: spareribs rubbed with dry spices and brown sugar, and slow smoked for hours upon hours in the smokehouse next door.

It was only about 4:00 p.m. and we weren’t that hungry, so we ordered a large (half-slab) portion for $15 to go. It came with two sides: we chose the homemade mac-n-cheese and the woman behind the counter talked us into the smokey beans.

I watched Warren carefully wrap an insane mound of ribs into some heavy-duty aluminum foil.
“That’s a lot of ribs,” I said astutely.

He smiled. After he had loaded it up, he placed two more ribs in a small box. “Here’s two for the road.”

I love that guy. I just met him. But I know love when I see it.

The two ribs for the road didn’t make it to the road. I devoured mine right outside of the store and once we were in the car, I told my mom to step on it so we could get home and eat the rest. Yes. These ribs are fine. Moist and succulent, intricately seasoned and smoky—you could taste the time that went into them.

Before we could get busy eating, there was one more stop to make on Route 22, Kessman Farms, home of Dutchess County Fair Blue-Ribbon prize-winning sweet corn. I didn’t take any pictures of this place because I was napping in the car. But corn was purchased. As were peaches, which we haven’t tried, but look very sweet and juicy.

Later that evening, we reheated the ribs (right in the aluminum foil so they wouldn't dry out) and cooked the corn on the grill.

Here’s my fixed plate:
Delicious. Every last bite. The corn had such a pop to it, and was as sweet as white Jersey corn. The smokey beans, which wouldn’t necessarily have been our first choice if they weren’t recommended, were rich and hearty, with generous slivers of spare ribs mixed in with the beans. The mac-n-cheese tasted very milk-heavy, not at all processed, a little on the plain side if anything, but very satisfying. But those ribs. We couldn’t get enough. Except I suppose we could get enough, because when we were through with our dinners, it looked as if we hadn’t even made a dent in the mountain that remained.

Big W offers sauces: both hot sauce (too hot for me) and a sweet sauce to accompany the ribs. The sweet sauce was good. It almost tasted like there was some alcohol in there, but I think it was the caramelized onions coming through. I don’t think the ribs really needed the sauce, though. They were mighty fine on their own.

Big W’s Roadside Bar-B-Q
1475 Route 22
Wingdale, N.Y.
(845) 832-6200

Kessman Farms
83 Route 22
Pawling, NY
(845) 878-7492


  1. Dear Mr. State Trooper, I assure you I was not driving 55 mph on that stretch of Rt 22. Until we got a whiff of that smoke house, I believe Sharon was napping. When we got to Kessman's, she's was on to her second nap. Fresh fruits and vegetables didn't wake her.

  2. Geez, mom. You make me look so lazy. I wasn't napping until AFTER I ate that little sample of ribs. My second nap was back at the house when I fell asleep in the lawn chair while you were cleaning up.

  3. LOL-Now ladies...

    Come on, isn't food supposed to bring families together :)

  4. OMG i've been wanting to try this place forever!!! it looks amazing! This is my first time checking out your blog and its great! Please keep writing about local places!

  5. Reminds me of my local BBQ joint:

    We're lucky to have places like this.

  6. Love this place, when I buy the smoked chicken it lasts me all week!

  7. At work yesterday afternoon, I got an unexpected treat - someone that knows I love Big W's brought in an order of ribs........way better than the yogurt or apple that are still in the fridge at work. They were sooooooooo delicious. Thanks Jeff!