festivals and events
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the sweet scoop
the sweet scoop
Thursday night, the 5th annual New York City Wine and Food Festival kicked off with two of the weekend’s most anticipated events. And though I would’ve loved to witness food royalty roast Anthony Bourdain, the Italian in me couldn’t bear the thought of missing one of my favorites—Meatball Madness hosted by the lovely Giada De Laurentiis. “This is the best Meatball Madness ever,” Giada exclaimed about the ‘always sold out’ event, which is in its fourth consecutive year.
The large-scale tasting showcased dozens of the city’s best chefs, who rolled out their version of the perfect bite. Hundreds of meatball maniacs packed into SoHo’s 82 Mercer to sample 36 different types of saucy spheres—in styles ranging from traditional Italian polpette with tomato gravy to pretzel-stuffed Austrian balls and Spanish oxtail albondigas.
Judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian and Anne Burrell, along with Pat LaFrieda and Mark Pastore of sponsor La Frieda Meats, crowned Gabe Thompson of the soon-to-open L’Apicio the night’s big winner for his Amatriciana version. The carnivorous crowd also casted their votes and Donatella Arpaia snagged the coveted People’s Choice Award for her mother’s classic recipe of melt-in-your-mouth tomato braised veal meatballs.
Aperol Spritz cocktails, a selection of vino and sparkling San Pellegrino refreshed partygoers, while a display of cake pops from pastry hotshot Johnny Iuzzini provided some sweet relief. Meatball Madness started off the NYCWFF in delicious fashion and everyone seemed to have a ball—while devouring dozens!
More than 40 chefs, hundreds of hungry carnivores, thousands of pounds of meat. Last Saturday’s Meatopia on Randall’s Island was an ambitious culinary spectacular where whisky and beer flowed freely and meat reigned supreme. Event founder Josh Ozersky seriously upped the ante from last year’s meat-filled fest and successfully executed one of the most organized and enjoyable food events of the year—in spite of some wet weather.
Some of the highlights and best bites from Meatopia 2012:
The talented lineup of chefs and pit masters showcased at this year’s “City of Meat” (including Marc Forgione, Alex Guarnaschelli, Franklin Becker, April Bloomfield, Naomi Pomeroy and many others) focused on utilizing whole animals, and dished up a dizzying array of meats prepared in every way, shape and form. A few of the most mouthwatering dishes included Pat LaFrieda‘s whole marinated Creekstone steer, Justin Smillie‘s succulent spit-roasted short ribs, Portuguese paella with soft egg and jalapeños from Anthony Goncalves, tender grilled rib steak with bone marrow butter and pickled grilled onions from Marc Forgione, and the undeniable crowd favorite, Aaron Franklin’s BBQ beef brisket—which blew away any preconceived notions of what brisket should taste like.
While the event was in full swing, dark grey clouds rolled in and the sky opened up on the carnivorous crowd. Luckily, the Amstel Light and Diageo tents provided shelter from the rain, along with music, entertainment and unlimited tasty beverages. While weathering the storm in the George Dickel Tennessee Whisky tent, I had a blast watching Discovery Channel’s Jimmy DiResta handcraft an entire wooden bar from scratch and downed delicious whisky cocktails like the “Possum Eatin’ Peach Pits”—my favorite drink of the night, and the perfect complement to the savory all-meat menu.
Congrats to another successful Meatopia! Looking forward to even more meaty madness in 2013. And to tempt your taste buds in the meantime, dive into the peachy punch cocktail recipe below:
Possum Eatin’ Peach Pits Recipe
1 ounce George Dickel Tennessee Whisky
1/4 ounce Stirrings Peach Liqueur
1/2 ounce Olorosso Sherry
1 teaspoon Amaro CioCiaro
1/2 ounce black tea
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Slices peaches and strawberries for garnish
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker; Shake well. Pour contents into a rocks glass. Garnish with sliced peaches and strawberries. Cheers!
“Tacos, Yo!” exclaimed host Bobby Flay as he manned the mic at his Saturday night soiree, Patron Tequila’s The Art of the Taco. Presented by Creekstone Farms, the event featured nearly 30 of the country’s hottest chefs who put their own unique spin on the South of the Border staple—with styles ranging from traditional, Mexican-inspired to elevated with French flair.
This time at 82 Mercer, Patron and Corona flowed as taco-lovers bounced from station to station sampling tortillas stuffed with creative combos of steak, lamb, shrimp, tuna, beef tongue, duck, pastrami, lobster, bone marrow, oysters and foie gras.
Tender braised pork carnitas from Mercadito, a Cretan spiced lamb pocket from Kefi’s Michael Psilakis, and Scarpetta chef Scott Conant’s spice crusted lamb neck tacos all made me swoon, while versions with oysters from Riverpark and foie gras from Recette palatably expanded my taco horizons.
Dozens of celebrated chefs and TV personalities (including Aaron Sanchez, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Forgione, Claire Robinson, Marcela Valladolid, Debi Mazar, Jeff Mauro, Sunny Anderson and Geoffrey Zakarian) were seen doling out their taco creations, mingling with the crowd and even belting out Bon Jovi. Awesome.
After taking in tons of savory tacos, sweet relief was welcomed by ice cream chilaquiles drizzled with Mexican chocolate chili sauce and Gramercy Tavern’s salted chocolate hazelnut tacos. And after many of Bobby’s margaritas were had by all (hello, Sunday hangover!), the event turned into a late night dance party and guests and chefs alike let loose and had a grand ol’ time.
After maxing out my appetite at Meatball Madness, my stomach was pushed to capacity again at Friday’s Blue Moon Burger Bash, presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats. One of NYCWFF’s most popular events, this sold out meat extravaganza drew more than 20 A-list chefs and food personalities, who served up their “best between a bun” in the ultimate burger throwdown.
Comedian Whoopi Goldberg took over for Rachael Ray to host this year’s massive grillfest at Dumbo’s landmark Tobacco Warehouse. As aromas of sizzling meat and grease wafted through the air, carnivorous guests noshed on burgers and side dishes, sipped Blue Moon brews and Sutter Home wines, and voted for their favorite patty. Beloved burger joints Shake Shack and Bill’s Bar and Burger drew the longest lines, while last year’s People’s Choice winner Bobby Flay attracted the biggest fan mob.
Some of the night’s mouthwatering bites included Beauty and Essex’s Lamb and Brisket Burger (with spicy garlic aioli, vine ripe tomato, goat-feta & pickled red onion), DBGB’s Piggy Burger (beef with BBQ pulled pork, jalapeño mayo, mustard-vinegar slaw & a cheddar bun), and Dram Shop’s Cheeseburger (two beef squares, double cheese & the works). Between burger sampling, attendees indulged in milkshakes and pie with Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman and belted out 80’s, 90’s and Top 40 hits along with a rockin’ cover band.
Judges David Burke, Anne Burrell, Adam Richman and Andrew Zimmern picked the cheddar cheese, Nueske bacon and brioche “Wisconsin” from Franklin Becker (Abe & Arthur’s) for the win, People’s Choice went to Josh Capon (Burger & Barrel) for his juicy bison round, and Chris Santos (Beauty & Essex) snagged the Heinz Best Dressed Burger Award. Many congrats to all!
Ultimately, this year’s Bash was a blast, even though a sudden mid-event downpour kept me from trying several of the burgers. No big deal—many more delicacies were on my evening’s agenda, and I left Brooklyn to make my way to the all-desserts soiree, SWEET.
Thursday night, meatballs reigned supreme at the fourth annual NYC Wine & Food Festival kickoff event, Meatball Madness. Food Network’s Italian beauty Giada De Laurentiis played host to dozens of the city’s best chefs who rolled out their version of the perfect bite.
Nearly 1,000 meatball maniacs flooded into SoHo’s 82 Mercer to sample saucy spheres and sliders made from blends of beef, pork, veal, rabbit, goat, seitan and lobster. Styles ranged from traditional Italian polpette with tomato gravy (Donatella Arpaia’s braised veal version was delizioso) to exotic Thai-inspired goat meatballs with boiled peanuts, tatsoi and panang curry from Kin Shop’s Harold Dieterle. Giada got sweet and smoky with mozzarella, fig and honey, Maialino’s Nick Anderer dished out rabbit smothered in creamy pecorino ‘whiz’ over rapini, and Osteria Morini chef Michael White’s melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto and mortadella version was another standout.
Judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Dana Cowin and Lee Anne Wong crowned The Little Owl’s Joey Campanaro the night’s big winner for his grandma’s gravy meatball slider with pickled fennel. The crowd also casted their votes and The Meatball Shop’s Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow snagged the coveted People’s Choice Award for their steak ‘n’ bacon cheddar balls with mushroom gravy on a buttermilk biscuit.
Classic Campari cocktails, a selection of vino and sparkling San Pellegrino refreshed partygoers, while A Voce provided sweet relief with scrumptious chocolate cannoli over roasted cherries. Meatball Madness certainly started off the Festival in style and everyone seemed to have a ball—while devouring dozens!