festivals and events
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the sweet scoop
the sweet scoop
Wednesday kicks off the 21st annual New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, and my excitement over heading down to the Big Easy for all the food, fun, and festivities is overwhelming.
It was an absolute honor to be invited to be one of the judges of the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off—a yearly cooking competition where celebrated local chefs create their most delicious signature dish showcasing fresh Louisiana seafood in all its glory. Helping select a winner will surely be a tough task, considering the caliber of chefs competing. So am I ready for the challenge? You bet! I may even pack my elastic waist pants.
Last year, chef Keith Frentz of Lola restaurant won over the judges and was crowned “King of Louisiana Seafood” for his “Friday Lunch Special,” a cornmeal-dusted wild Des Allemands catfish with Camellia red beans and local crawfish succotash, braised collards, and homemade tartar sauce (get the winning recipe here). And on Saturday, one of these talented ten will snag the coveted 2013 title. It’s thrilling to be able to play a role in this year’s Cook-Off excitement — wishing all participating chefs the very best of luck! Really looking forward to meeting you and trying each of your dishes.
Image courtesy of LouisianaTravel.com
Some of New York City’s top chefs have taken on the 100 Mile Menu Challenge to fight hunger. Their task? To create a delicious tasting menu using only ingredients sourced within 100 miles of Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.
On May 16th, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen—the largest emergency food program in New York City—will host From Farm to Tray, a sustainable food benefit to raise much needed funds before the busy summer season. This cocktail reception and celebration will feature the locally-sourced, “100 Mile” dishes from participating chefs Colt Taylor (One If By Land, Two If By Sea), Kevin Lasko (Park Avenue Spring), Kurt Kretschmar (Cocktail Caterers), Preston Madson & Ginger Pierce (Freemans, Peels & Isa) and Yvan Lemoine (Season 8 Food Network Star Finalist), with a VIP cocktail hour hosted by executive chef Norma Jean Darden of Spoonbread.
Like the hungry NYers who eat at the soup kitchen every day, From Farm to Tray guests will dine in the beautiful landmark Holy Apostles Church, a sanctuary that New York Times journalist Anna Quindlen dubbed “the most majestic dining room in New York City.”
Join me on May 16th at 7pm for this uniquely delicious fundraiser to benefit fellow New Yorkers in need. Tickets are available here. Hope to see you there!
It was another thrilling year for the New York City dining scene, and last night, Time Out New York held their annual industry awards honoring the best new restaurants, bars and chefs. “It’s been an incredibly exciting year for food and drink,” shares Mari Uyehara, TONY’s Food & Drink editor. “Sensational new restaurants opened on Madison Avenue and in the West Village, but also in Bushwick, Flushing and Red Hook. It also brought national superstars, celebrated cookbook authors and daring upstarts to town. Our roster of winners reflects the astonishing range of drinking and dining experiences in New York City right now.”
Taking over the spacious Stephen Weiss Studio, the 2013 Food & Drink Awards paid tribute to the city’s culinary finest in a grand celebration attended by top toques, restauranteurs, mixologists and industry insiders. Before the winners were announced, guests sampled bites from nominated spots, including L’Apicio, Pork Slope, Dear Bushwick and Gran Electrica, and sipped prosecco, Stella Artois and Frederick Wildman cocktails—all while eagerly anticipating the results.
TONY’s food-obsessed readers voted for their faves out of 40 nominees to determine ten winners in the Readers’ Choice categories—top honors included Best New Restaurant (The NoMad), Chef of the Year (Daniel Humm), Best New Italian Spot (Perla), Best New Cocktail Bar (Pouring Ribbons) and Best New Bakery (Ovenly). Additionally, ten Critics’ Picks were presented, in aptly named categories ranging from Best Big-Pimp’ Brooklyn (Blanca) and The New Nordic Wonder (Aska), to The Same Same But Different Award (Pok Pok NY) and The High Rolling Stoner Sushi Award (Chez Sardine). You can check out the full list of this year’s winners here.
Many congrats to all the winners and nominees!
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.
While headlining the Cayman Cookout last weekend, culinary power duo Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain commanded a beachfront stage at the Ritz-Carlton to teach an audience of epicureans some fundamental cooking techniques—from roasting a whole chicken and making pasta, to mastering a classic French omelet and grilling a perfect steak.
According to Bourdain, most people murder their steaks on a daily basis. His impassioned plea was that the crowd, at the very least, would walk away knowing how to properly treat their meat.
And while most of us Northerners won’t be firing up the grill anytime soon, those in warmer climates (or brave souls willing to bear single digits!) should get the barbecue basics down before their next steak craving hits.
Steak grilling tips à la Eric & Tony:
Bring to temperature. “Take your steak out of the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes before cooking it. This way, you will be able to sear the steak nicely, get a nice crust, and have the insides cook to your liking. If you don’t do that, you can burn the outside and the inside can still be raw. Bringing the meat to temperature is very important.”
Get your grill hot. “You want to be sure your grill is nice and hot before throwing your meat on there, but you don’t want the flames to be roaring and destroy your steak. Don’t go crazy. It’s more about how it tastes on the inside, and not about how it looks on the outside.”
Don’t mess with it. “After you throw it on a reasonable fire, leave it alone. Don’t poke it, don’t stab it, don’t start peeking into it by jabbing holes in it! If you must move it, move it once—45 degrees, thereby giving those perfect checkerboard grill marks that make steaks look so sexy. Beyond that, you don’t want to flip it over, and flip it back over…no good will come of it.”
Let it rest. “The single most important thing that everybody gets wrong, generation after generation…they take a perfectly good rare or medium-rare steak off the grill, and cut right into it prematurely. They figure that steak served hot is better. It isn’t! A steak should rest for about 5-7 minutes after you take it off the grill. It won’t become cold, but the muscle will start to relax and become tender. And all the blood and juices start moving around and settling in really interesting ways. That’s the way to go.”
What do you think of Eric & Tony’s techniques? Any other steak tricks you’ve learned?
Check out my gallery here for more images of Eric, Tony and the Cayman Cookout crew.