festivals and events
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the sweet scoop
the sweet scoop
On Tuesday, the Village Voice’s sixth annual Choice Eats tasting event took over the 69th Armory on Lexington Avenue. The highly anticipated affair featured Voice food critic Robert Sietsema’s culinary favorites from more than 50 handpicked restaurants spanning the five boroughs, along with beverage pairings from craft beer, wine and spirits producers.
As if all this wasn’t enough, VIP guests were invited inside a full hour before general admission for a live culinary demo from City Grit’s Sarah McSimmons and offerings from a dozen local restos including Pig and Khao, Qi Thai Grill and Exchange Alley. VIPs also indulged in the exclusive “Choice Sweets” dessert lounge featuring confections from Butter Lane, Grandaisy Bakery, Ovenly, and more.
A few of the night’s many standouts included Anella’s velvety handmade burrata with tomato jam and basil salt, fresh seasoned shrimp rolls from both Luke’s Lobster and Red Hook Lobster Pound, tangy buffalo chicken balls from The Meatball Shop, Porchetta’s savory crackling-topped pork crostini, John Brown Smokehouse’s succulent pastrami sliders with sweet ‘n’ tangy slaw, moist red velvet squares from Carlo’s Bakery, and perfectly indulgent fudge brownies from Robicelli’s. A selection of suds from Blue Point Brewing Company, Lagunitas and Stella Artois, along with creative cocktails mixed with Sidney Frank spirits and Prairie Organic Vodka, helped wash it all down.
Whether you prefer savory, sweet, spicy, ethnic, Americana, inventive, classic, vegetarian or carnivorous, Choice Eats aims to please any palate. And with a surprisingly reasonable ticket price point, the bang-for-your-buck appeal is just another reason to attend the eating extravaganza next year.
What’s better than bar hopping around NYC, enjoying dozens of drinks specials with your Santa hat-clad friends, and supporting a great cause while you’re at it? On Saturday, December 8th, the annual 12 Bars of Christmas Bar Crawl is back—and this year should be better than ever.
Close friends of mine started this holiday-themed crawl back in 2006, and it has quickly become one of the most anticipated local events of the season. After receiving a red Santa hat and commemorative mug at the first bar, participants will journey through a spirited series of bars in the West Village (you can sign up for either the West Pole or East Pole route), partaking in exclusive beer and cocktail specials at each locale. And to cap off the festivities, both groups will meet at the same 12th bar so everyone can celebrate—and fill up on holiday cheer—together.
Besides having a jolly good time, you can feel great knowing that event proceeds will be donated to the Food Bank of NYC to help feed hungry New Yorkers. Last year alone, they raised approximately $14,000!
Want in on the fun? Get into the holiday spirit and register today at 12barsnyc.com. Donations of $25 in advance or $30 at the door are kindly required from each participant. Happy crawling, my friends!
Happy one year anniversary to Alobar! Since opening in November 2011, this cutting-edge dining destination in Long Island City has taken “pub grub” to new heights, and has become renowned for serving rustic nose-to-tail American fare paired with carefully selected craft beers, whiskeys and handcrafted cocktails. Alobar even earned a coveted place on Michelin Guide’s 2013 Bib Gourmand List.
To celebrate its first anniversary on November 15th, Alobar is hosting a week of especially delicious events:
Whiskey Tuesday with Four Roses Bourbon | Tuesday, November 13th: To kickoff the celebrations, Beverage Director Chess Lankford presents a complimentary tasting of Four Roses Bourbon, along with a brand rep to share insights on each variety of the Kentucky spirit.
Alobar Charcuterie Night | Wednesday, November 14th: Paying homage to its favorite meat curing styles, Alobar is offering one large platter of eleven of the tastiest house-made delicacies ($50; serves 2-3), with varieties including: Pig Ear Terrine, Duck Breast Prosciutto & Foie Gras-Apple Terrine.
Anniversary Beer Dinner | Thursday, November 15th: Commemorate Alobar’s one-year with an indulgent 5-course menu (including Smoked Trout, Grilled Quail & Rosemary Sausage, Roasted Rack of Lamb & Braised Shoulder, and more) paired with beers from San Diego’s Stone Brewing Company ($50 for dinner & pairings, view the full menu here).
Weekend Pig Roasts | Friday & Saturday, November 16th-17th: Kick up your heels and get ready to pig out at Alobar’s weekend-long pig-filled feast served family-style ($30 per person for mains & sides).
Reserve your spot today! AlobarNYC.com | 718.752.6000 | 46-42 Vernon Boulevard, LIC NY
And to savor the flavor of Alobar at home, mix up their addictive Maple Bacon Popcorn recipe:
Maple Bacon Popcorn | Recipe from Alobar (serves 6)
Preheat an oven to 350°. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bacon strips and cook until crisp, turning occasionally. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings.
Crumble bacon. Toss bacon, drippings, maple syrup, black pepper, and salt with popcorn. Spread popcorn mixture in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes, rotating trays halfway through, stirring occasionally. Serve hot. Enjoy!
Images courtesy of Alobar Restaurant
Chef Dave Martin knows how to play ball. As demonstrated when the Top Chef alum debuted his meatball-centric menu to an eager crowd during this weekend’s preview of The Meatball Factory, which officially opens on Tuesday, October 25th.
Commanding the corner of East 14th Street and 2nd Avenue, this warm, rustic bistro boasts a cozy interior with dark wooden tables, exposed brick walls, floor to ceiling windows and a sizable bar area. The menu of upscale comfort food centers around an extensive selection of house-ground gourmet meatballs, including flavorful rounds of braised pork, short ribs, chorizo, duck, lamb, turkey and veggie. Proteins pair up with eight savory sauces, such as green curry peanut, black truffle cream, spiced up vodka and fire roasted marinara, and fully customizable combos allow diners to curb any meaty craving—you can have your balls on a challah roll, over housemade pasta or crispy, thin-crust pizza, or poutine-style atop fresh cut Idaho fries coated in melted cheese.
So, what makes The Meatball Factory stand out? “Simple, high quality, fun food that’s affordable,” Martin shared. Nothing on the menu is over $15 and no bottle of wine is priced over $40. Yet, the quality and flavors are top notch. Take the Turducken meatball, made from a house blend of La Frieda turkey, Bell & Evans chicken, Hudson Valley Farms duck confit, sage & allspice. Martin prides himself on prime sourcing and uses his own line of handcrafted rubs, sauces and seasonings to tastefully elevate each dish.
While meatballs are the star here, you’ll also find dairy-free and gluten-free options, seasonal salads, vegetable sides, and a tempting array of sweet treats and ice cream sundaes to round out the menu. The ‘Thai This’ pizza—a mouthwatering medley of ground Turducken, luscious green curry peanut sauce, Thai chiles and Grana Padano sprinkled over delicate cracker dough—is a must-try. For the ultimate indulgence, order up Dave’s World Famous Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese—a decadent breadcrumb-topped infusion of slow cooked cream, shallots, brandy, sherry, truffles, fontina, thyme and oregano. And make sure not to overlook the shaker of red chili spiced agave on your table. When splashed onto entrées, it adds complexity, depth and quickly becomes addicting. To wash it all down, belly up to the bar for reasonably priced vino, along with 18 taps and 20 bottles of craft beer.
With an evident passion for his craft, chef Martin masterfully pairs new flavors with comfort food staples, creating dishes that you’ll want to savor again and again. And since The Meatball Factory rolls out endless choices and combinations aplenty, be sure to come hungry and prepare to have a ball.
The Meatball Factory, 231 Second Avenue at 14th Street, 212.260.8015
Saturday served up a taste of the South, so I pulled on my cowgirl boots and headed to one of my favorite food events of the year—the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival. My third BBB (last year, I attended NYC’s inaugural fest and also Cary, NC’s Southern soiree) was bigger and better than ever, with thousands of hungry patrons packed into the sprawling space at la.venue for a down-home good time. Admission to the two session pig-out included unlimited tastes of 60+ beers, 40+ bourbons and authentic barbecue, with entertainment from live bluegrass bands and seminars featuring the country’s top Master Distillers and Pit Masters.
My friends and I paraded through the West side venue and sampled a slew of BBQ dishes: pulled pork sliders, fall-from-the-bone ribs, smoked & flavored bacon, brisket, pork belly and pigs feet, complete with all the necessary fixins—collards, chili, beans, grits and more.
From the brews to the browns, the booze was flowin’. Suds from names like Blue Moon, Blue Point, Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams and Magic Hat were on tap to help wash down all the ‘cue, while bourbon lovers sipped Kentucky’s finest whiskey from the big boys (Wild Turkey, Evan Williams, Maker’s Mark) and dozens of small batch samplers.
Beer. Bacon. Chocolate. Three beloved little vices. Now, imagine them all packaged together in an adorable little box, in the form of Beer and Bacon-flavored Chocolates. What!? Sounds too be good to be true, but just trust me on this one.
So, we all know that women love chocolate. It’s in our DNA, we just can’t help it. When a chocolate craving comes on, I am completely powerless to its force and will go to the most extreme lengths until satiated—it’s no joke.
Tapping into the relatively unexplored testosterone-driven side of the chocolate spectrum, the masterminds at SOCOLA Chocolatier developed Guinness® Beer and Notorious H.O.G. artisan truffles. The unique combination of two universally loved flavors (beer & bacon—yum.) with rich milk and dark chocolate will have men and women alike swooning like kids in a candy store.
These handmade, locally sourced chocolates sounded too good for words when I came across them at Foodoro.com—I love this website for its extensive selection of unique gourmet foods, ingredients and gift ideas for every type of food enthusiast.
The truffles arrived freshly packaged in an adorable turquoise and brown bowed box with a description card—including the ingredients and methodology behind each flavor—tucked neatly inside. The Guinness truffle blends the rich Irish stout with smooth velvety dark chocolate ganache. The Notorious H.O.G. truffle is made from Niman Ranch® applewood smoked bacon in milk chocolate, topped with a dash of black Hawaiian sea salt. Both uniquely decadent varieties are delicious and a definite conversation piece.
If life is like a box of chocolates, then my life just got a lot more interesting.