Category Archives: Local Products

Edible Good Beer Event 2018

EGB entry28 Liberty Plaza – site of 2018 Edible Good Beer event

Each year, when summer rolls around, Edible Manhattan puts together its Good Beer event.  This is always a great showcase of local New York breweries as well as dishes from NYC restaurants to go along with them.  Last Thursday, July 19th, for the first time, this gathering was held at 28 Liberty, the former Chase Manhattan Plaza.  The China General Chamber of Commerce was a co-sponsor of the event along with Tsingtao beer and Fosun International (who operates 28 Liberty).  One added activity for this year, was that attendees were able to vote on what beer would be on tap at the newly-opened Manhatta restaurant on the 60th floor of the building.

28 Liberty Plaza

View from the plaza

Breweries came from around the New York City area as well as from Long Island, and there were a few from overseas.  This was a opportunity to sample craft beers as well as more established brands.  As usual, from past Good Beer events, IPAs seemed to be on tap at almost all of the tables.  Ales, Pilsners, Stouts, and Gose were also in supply.  In addition to the beers, were ciders from Doc’s and 1911.  One visible trend was fruit in beer, with passion fruit, mango, grapefruit and other flavor being added to beers to boost flavor and to try to land that extra hook to capture the audience’s taste buds and fandom.  Another trend, which has been becoming more visible is that many of these products are available now in local markets in can form, instead of only on tap or at the tasting rooms.

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Some of the breweries and their beers

My two favorites of the evening were, as comes as no surprise: Ales, as I tend to steer clear of hop-heavy IPAs.  The Pub Ale from Strong Rope Brewery reminded me of many an evening hanging out with friends over a few pints.  This is a great food brew in the classic, crisp bitter style.  The other ale I enjoyed was the more complex, malt forward Driftwood Ale from Montauk Brewing Company, also something that would be a great match with many dishes.  Fortunately, there were also many different foods with which to try to pair them.

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Some of the food options

The restaurants who came out to this event brought some great beer-pairing friendly nibbles.  Noodles by Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. provided a spicy base layer with which to start the evening.  Pickles by their parent company Jacob’s Pickle and bacon by Maison Pickle provided contrasting tangy, porky, and sweet notes.  Fatty, spicy, hot, sweet seemed to the taste profiles of many of the dishes, minus the mochi by My/Mo Mochi and sweets from JoMart Chocolates.  Pierogies by Baba’s Pierogies had jalapeño, along with a spicy sour cream and lime dip.  The folks at Blue Smoke created another two-bite treat with saltine, pimento cheese, andouille, and a slice of jalapeño.  One of my favorites was the Nasi Lemak from Wok Wok, with layers of coconut rice and curry chicken and a sliced egg garnish.  All of these provided nice pairing options with many of the different styles and profiles of beverages.

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This new event location was ideal for a walk-around tasting, allowing plenty of space for wandering around the tables to pick up a glass of something and a bite of something else.  The tables on the plaza added that extra aspect of this being a place to hang out where groups of friends were getting together to compare notes and share samples.  A live band, plenty of beers, delicious food, and a rare, breezy summer evening made it difficult to say good-bye to this year’s Edible Good Beer festival.

With thanks to Shea Communications for arranging for me to attend this event.  Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc, a wheat beer, was selected by the attendees to be on tap at Manhatta.

Pig Island 2017 and Jimmy’s No. 43

Pig Island check-in

Pig Island 2017

Yesterday, the 8th annual Pig Island was held in Erie Basin Park in Brooklyn.  This pork-centric celebration featured regionally-raised hogs from Flying Pigs Farm as well as beers from Sixpoint Brewery, cider, and spirits from several area distillers, including New York Distilling Company.  What’s always so nice about going to this gathering each year is that the chefs are just as excited to be there demonstrating their use of the whole pigs as are the consumers of them.

Pig on the Smoker

Pig on a Grill

With a light breeze and clear, blue sunny skies, it’s almost as the spectacular end-of-summer weather was created especially just for this day.  Last year, I assisted one of the chefs with serving food the day of the event, but this year, I was on the other side of the table as an attendee, which meant I was able to get to eat quite a few of the pig-oriented dishes.

Ovelia

 Ovelia‘s grilled pork

Several of the restaurants have been cooking for this event for several years.  One returnee is Ovelia, from Queens, with their skewers of juicy, tender, marinated pork.  Watching these cook over the open coals, which give it a deep, smoky flavor, it’s no wonder that each year they have one of the longest lines for tastes of this dish.

David NavarroDavid Navarro of Jimmy’s No. 43

David Navarro, one of the chefs at Jimmy’s No. 43, and another veteran of this event, chose to go the whole roasted hog route.  He used a blend of Mexican spices and cooked the skin to a dark, lacquered crust.  Folks gathered around eagerly waiting for it to come off of the grill.

Arrogant Swine

Taco by Arrogant Swine

This festival usually has several taco offerings to showcase the hogs, and this year was no exception.  The taco from Arrogant Swine featured tender, delicate chunks of pork, pulled straight off of the smoker.  The green chile sauce packed a punch of heat that balanced the sweetness of the meat, with a crunchy counterpoint from the fried onions and coolness from the mint.

Smoke Show BBQ

Slider from Smoke Show BBQ

The folks at Smoke Show BBQ also cooked their pig in the North Carolina style.  They served hunks of it on Martin’s potato rolls with a schmear of pimento cheese and a mound of slaw.  It wasn’t exactly a traditional NC pulled pork slider, but it was delicious nonetheless and was also another stand-out of the day.

Jakes Handcrafted

 Sausage by Jake’s Handcrafted

Jake’s Handcrafted brought their hand-made sausage cooked on the plancha, serving it with Asian-flavored stir-fried vegetables.  These coils of meat, gorgeously seared, were one of the first plates that guests had a chance to try when they arrived at the event, kicking it off to a meaty, smoky start.

Insa

Insa‘s Korean-inspired pork bun 

Korean-marinated pulled pork in a Chinese-style flatbread topped with a sesame-chile sauce, and finished with your choice of pickled vegetables, this was the perfect blend of sweet, heat, spice, and acid.  This was put together by another restaurant making a return trip this year, Insa, from the folks at The Good Fork, who have also been at this event in the past.  This was probably one of the bites that I enjoyed the most this year from the savory group.  The bread was soft and crisp and cradled all the meat and the juices together, and it was the one item for which I went back for seconds.

BBDs

BBD’s Korean BBQ Fries

A few other restaurants also tapped into a Korean-ish theme this year, including BBD’s from Long Island.  They brought their Korean BBQ Fries, loaded up with pork and egg and the tangy-spicy crunch of kimchi.  Perfect bar food and great for an event like this one.

Belly Korean Bacon Shop

BELLY Korean Bacon Shop

With a name like BELLY Korean Bacon Shop, it’s as though these chefs and this event were made for each other.  The line for this hand-torched, thinly-sliced pork bell over sushi rice was consistently long throughout the day, with many folks going back a few times.  They also brought slabs of home-made bacon to keep the crowds patient while they put together the each batch.

Butter

A Piggy Tail by Butter

Butter Chef de Cuisine, Michael Jenkins, and his team put in their eighth appearance at the event, and it’s always a treat to see what they will bring for folks to try.  Along with the pork and plum pizza that they were firing up on the grill, they used several parts of the pig to make a Piggy Tail.  The dough and caramel contained pork fat, bacon was tossed to coat the dough-knot, along with hazelnut praline and chocolate cookie crumble.  I would have gone back for another one, but I didn’t, you know, want to make a pig of myself.

Clay Gordon

Chocolate-dipped Sausage with Bacon by Clay Gordon

Chocolate-covered sausage with bacon?  That was another one of the dessert options at this event.  Sounds a bit odd, but when you mix the chocolate with bacon fat and beer, it’s sort of like ganache or really rich chocolate sauce.  Sweet, salty, fatty, chocolately all in one, rounded out with a crispy, buttery cracker.

Roni-Sue

BaCorn by Roni-Sue

For those, like me, who are popcorn fans, Roni-Sue’s BaCorn is a favorite snack.  Chunks of bacon, caramel, mixed into popcorn.  It was a great treat to have in this setting and paired well with whiskey, as I found out by chance.

Catskill Food Company(1)

Catskill Food Company

After grazing at the different stands, having a beer or a couple, maybe even after a shot or two, folks hung out in the grass, kids running around, listened to the band and generally just took in the beauty of a late summer day.   It’s really more like a large block party celebrating the bounty that the pig brings us.  The laid-back vibe is what makes this more than just another food event and brings people back to it year after year.

Jimmy's No 43

Thank you so much to Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 for giving me the chance to attend this event.  As some of you may have read on Gothamist, Jimmy’s No. 43, a hub of the craft beer and local food movements in NYC, has temporarily ceased operation.

Cochon555 New York City 2017

Cochon555 sign
I don’t think I’ve ever hidden my fondness for pork products from anyone who reads this site. Heck, like most Southern-raised folks, I keep a can of bacon fat in the fridge, just for cooking up those eggs from the farmers’ market on the weekends. So, when the folks at PadillaCRT reached out to me to ask if I’d like to cover this year’s Cochon555 in New York, I jumped at the chance to check it out.

judges table

The Judges Table

Cochon555 was created in 2008 to educate and encourage chefs to use heritage breed pigs in their restaurants. It has grown into a 14-city tour for 2017, with chefs in each host city competing to be the Prince or Princess of Pork. That person will then go on to the national level competition to be crowned the Grand Cochon. Chefs are given a heritage breed pig from which to create their menu for the event. Prior to the guests entering the event space, they prepare a tasting plate of six bites that showcase their animal, its versatility, flavor, and the chef’s own creativity.  Proceeds from the auctions held at these events go to support Piggy Bank, a non-profit organization that assists family farms who would like to raise heritage breed pigs with genetics as well as sourcing for them.

piggy bank

Piggy Bank – one recipient of proceeds from the event

These pigs have such amazing flavor, a profile that is not what most of us were raised with, if we ate pork growing up at all.  My mother used to cook pork chops to death, after they’d been drown in Shake-n-Bake.  It wasn’t until I started going to events like this one and others around New York that feature locally-raised, heritage breed animals, that I was able to understand why it is so important to preserve these stocks and to make sure that there is a place for them in the food pathways and on our tables.  What I was most looking forward to seeing yesterday was just what the chefs would present to the guests.

Quality Eats montage

Chef Ryan Bartlow of Quality Eats (Mulefoot from Dogpatch Farm)

How else do you win over the hearts and tastebuds of hungry New Yorkers then with the deli classics?  Chef Bartlow created chopped liver on matzoh, ham “lox” and whitefish on a bagel, matzoh ball soup with kreplach, and, my favorite, a melt-in-the-mouth pastrami on rye, featuring the pork shoulder and belly.  You could wash it all down with a mini egg cream and end the meal with a black and white cookie or a morcilla rugelach.

Olmsed montage

Chef Greg Baxtrom of Olmsted (Berkshire from Autumn’s Harvest Farms)

The selections from this chef featured some of my favorite charcuterie items. Pâté, not too rustic and not too refined, country ham, rillette, fried rillette.  The meat selections were accompanied by peppery greens, a grain and sunflower seed salad, and in the case of the rillette by a mustard aïoli, each as a flavorful balance and foil for the richness of the pork.

Saxon-Parole montage

Chef Nicole Gajadhar of Saxon + Parole (Large Black from Spring House Farm)

I’m not going to lie, the flying pig display caught my eye and won me over, even before I’d tasted any of this chef’s food.  Then, I joined the line of folks waiting to sample the offerings, and went back for seconds.  The laksa hit all the soothing notes of fragrant lemongrass, cilantro, and coconut notes and then just pushed it out a bit further with slices of smoked loin, blood noodles, and pork crackling garnish.  The Lower East Side egg roll riff with pork shoulder pastrami was just what I’d like to have on my next dim sum jaunt.  The chicharrones filled with rillettes were delicious but a little challenging balanced on top of a broth laced with mezcal.

Birds-Bubbles montage

Chef Aaron Hoskins of Birds & Bubbles (Mulefoot from The Piggery)

What I regret about yesterday evening is that at some point, I saw a tray of biscuits fly by from the folks at Birds & Bubbles, and I did not manage to snag one of them.  The thick-cut bacon with mustard sauce made me want to pick up a few more of these bites.  The second bite that I had from this chef could be called pork with more pork, as it was a pulled pork with what seemed to be a whipped lardo on top of it.

Chefs Club montage

Chef Chris Szyjka of Chef’s Club by Food & Wine (Old Spot from Heritage Foods USA)

This savory take on the classic French Opera Cake was gorgeous to see and delicious to taste.  It was like consuming concentrated porkiness.  Dessert by this chef was also fun with a maple ice cream and shortbread cookies that had used lard in them.

NYC Chefs

NYC Chefs for Cochon555 2017

After several hours of feeding hungry guests, the chefs took the stage to hear the results of the judging and who would be crowned this year’s Prince or Princess of Pork for NYC.  After soaring rounds of applause as each chef’s name was announced, Cochon555 creator Brady Lowe pulled the white card out of the black envelope and revealed that Chef Nicole Gajadhar of Saxon + Parole would collect the trophy and wear this year’s crown for NYC.  The crowd went crazy.  Her dishes had been some of the favorites of the day, with a long line to try them.

Chef Nicole

Chef Nicole Gajadhar of Saxon + Parole

Thank you so much to the staff at PadillaCRT for the opportunity to attend and cover this year’s Cochon555 in New York City. For more information on this event as well as the other cities in which it will be held in 2017, please visit the organizer’s website.

Buon appetito!

Dessert-apoolza at Baked Tribeca

Cookbook displayCookbook Display

On Thursday night, I dropped by Baked‘s new-ish Tribeca location for Dessert-apoolza, a cookbook signing and tasting event that raised moneys for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and Getting Out and Staying Out.  The former organization, as I’ve mentioned in the past, is one with which I have a personal connection, and, well, having dessert for dinner is just one of those perks of being a grown-up (the other is having dessert for breakfast), so this was right up my alley.  If you’re looking for some cookbook ideas for this holiday season, check out these ones that were at the sweets-fest last week:

Ample Hills ice creamsAmple Hills Creamery – Egg Nog and Drunken Thanksgiving Ice Cream

Samples of two seasonal flavors of this local ice cream company were available for tasting.  The Egg Nog was a creamy, frozen version of its namesake holiday party beverage.  The Drunken Thanksgiving combined pumpkin, gingersnaps, and bourbon.  This can take the place of pie at my holiday feast any year.

Baked - Tri-color Bars Wintermint CakeBaked – The Tri-Color Bar Wintermint Cake

The hosts for the evening put out this seasonal, festive mini-cakes for everyone to try.  They have several cookbooks as well as a range of baking mixes.  Really, though, stopping by one of their shops to pick out treats to take home (or to eat on site) is the way to go.

Baked Ideas displayBaked Ideas – Cookies

I’m a big, big fan of cookies, as I’ve mentioned in the past, so it was no surprise that I wanted to hang out at this table for a while.  Patti Paige had several different kinds of cookies, including gluten-free ones, available for the guests to try.  She even had decorating supplies for us to create our own designs.  My cookie frosting M.O., however, hasn’t changed since childhood and is just to slather on a glob of icing and to pop it in my mouth, which wasn’t exactly what I think she had in mind.

Butter & Scotch - S'mores PieButter & Scotch – S’mores Pie

Samples of the fabulous S’mores Pie and Bourbon-Ginger-Pecan pie from Butter & Scotch were available at this tasting, so I tried to limit my self to just one sample of each, along with copies of Allison Kave’s terrific book First Prize Pies.  Aside from Ample Hills’ ice cream, I’d take any of these pies on my holiday dinner table, as well.  Keep in touch with these ladies, as they’re opening up a brick & mortar shop in Crown Heights any week (day?) now.

Dorie Greenspan signing cookbooksDorie Greenspan signing cards

No discussion of the year’s best cookbooks, or must-have baking books in general, would be complete without mentioning ones by Dorie Greenspan.  I had a chance to talk to one of the women who worked on testing the recipes for her most recent volume, and she glowed as she raved about how delicious all of them were, including the Palets des Dames and Limoncello Cupcakes we could taste during the event.

Ovenly displayOvenly display

Two of my favorite kinds of cookies – Salted Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter – were on the table by the Ovenly folks on Thursday.  I always enjoy seeing their baked goods around town, as I know that they’ll be something special.  Fortunately, these were packed up for me to take away to save to eat later.

Buon appetito!

Pig Island 2014

Pig Island 2014 signagePig Island 2014

For the second year in a row, chefs, pig dishes in hand, and the folks who love to indulge in porcine goodness gathered in Red Hook, Brooklyn at Erie Basin Park for the fifth annual Pig Island festival organized by Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43.  As in past years, this event featured hogs raised by upstate farmers, local wine, cider, and craft beer, and a lot of creativity, showcasing the range of culinary creations that can come from using the whole animal.  Fortunately, as well, even though there had been an early threat of thunderstorms, the inclement weather held off until the very end of the day.

Butter - adding grate to grillButter – putting the grate onto the hot grill

This year, I felt that there was definitely a broader range of dishes and concepts for using the pigs than has perhaps happened in previous years.  The tortilla seemed to be the vehicle of choice for delivering pork products to hungry mouths, whereas, last year, more bites seemed to be on sliders or bread.  There were so many incredible offerings that it is difficult to select just a few stand-out items.  There was an esteemed panel of judges that had that heavy responsibility, so I can just talk from the point of view of my own tastebuds here.

Hecho en Dumbo - Sample PlateHecho en Dumbo – sample platter

Taking home the award for “Fearless Stomachs Only,” Chef Danny Mena of Hecho en Dumbo created Volcanes de Chorizo Casero.  Two different versions of pork meats topped with tomatillo salsa: a red Mexican sausage called Longaniza and a green chorizo, where the herbs were blanched and then mixed in with the meat.  The small square item at the top of the picture is a version of chicharrones made in Mexico where some of the meat is still left connected to the skin, and then they are fried together, creating a crispy, puffed, pork fritter-like morsel.  I could have eaten plates and plates of these offerings, the flavors blended so well together, fatty meat, creamy cheese, hearty tortilla, and spice and acidity that just cut through all of that to bring the dish together.  I’m only sorry that I didn’t get a chance to swing by at the end of the event to pack up any leftovers that they might have had.

Jesse Jones - Pulled Pork StrudelJesse Jones – Pulled Pork Strudel with BBQ Sauce and Pickled Cucumber

Another memorable dish that I ate on Saturday was this inspired creation by Chef Jesse Jones.  For a spin on the usual pulled pork sandwich with slaw or other vinegar-based toppings, he built a strudel using slow-cooked pork.  The rounds were heated up on the grill and served with a barbecue sauce from Fairway, his event sponsor, and dressed with lightly pickled cucumbers, which were still crunchy enough to provide a nice textural balance to the succulent meat and pastry.  This is the kind of plate that makes me want to come back to Pig Island year after year because chefs just go for whatever they think might work to celebrate the hog, and sometimes it just comes together beautifully.

Revolving Dansk - Copenhagen Street Dog w Salty LadkrisRevolving Dansk – Copenhagen Street Dog

A newcomer to this food festival, Revolving Dansk went for a more traditional-with-a-spin for one of their dishes.  Taking their cue from the Danish hot dog wagon (pølsevogn), which they mention is virtually the only street meat in that country, they served up the Copenhagen Street Dog complete with a tangy remoulade, crisp locally-made Scandinavian pickles, crunchy onions, and a drizzle of a Danish salty licorice sauce, upon request.  It might sound like an unorthodox combination, but it worked.  I’m not a huge hotdog fan, and I would have gone back for seconds on these.  The hotdogs themselves were served on rolls made by Brooklyn bakery Leske’s.

Ends Meat - Pork NuggetEnds Meat – Pork Nugget

Those three plates were my favorites of the day.  For a complete list of the participating chefs, visit the Pig Island website. Here’s what the judges decided were their best dishes:

Fearless Stomachs OnlyHecho en Dumbo‘s Volcanes de Chorizo Casero

Best Nasty Bits – Ends Meat’s Pork Nuggets

Best Naked MeatOvelia‘s Spit-roasted Pork

Most RefreshingFlinders Lane‘s Pork Salad

Most MayanJimmy’s No. 43‘s Cochinita Pibel

Best Scrapple from the Apple Egg‘s Scrapple Taco

Best on BunsPig Guy NYC‘s Pork Sliders with Lime Chimichurri

Best Sweet CheeksButter‘s Bacon Banana Bread with Caramelized Bacon

Best to the TableThe Good Fork / Fort Defiances‘s Mer-Pig (read more about how they made it here)

Most Succulent SauceHometown BBQ and Balthazar‘s Tasso Pork Belly Taco

Pig Island - watermelonPig Island 2014

There were lots of great dishes filled with various versions of pork and pig bits, so it wasn’t easy to narrow down the best things I ate to just three items, as many of them were really quite delicious so it feels a bit like splitting (hog) hairs.  All the chefs and their teams worked in blazing hot conditions under bright sunny skies, behind smoky grills, to bring us yet another terrific event.  When I got on the bus to head back over to the subway, I overheard one volunteer say to a friend, “I smell like barbecue and pork.”  His companion chuckled, “As you should!”

Buon appetito!

A big “thank you” to Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 and creator of Food Karma Projects for inviting me to participate in this event and to cover it this year for him.  The food opinions stated here are my own.

Taste of Jewish Culture

Workmen's Circle - bannerTable at the street fair

On Sunday, a city block in the middle of a larger street fair on Madison Avenue was host to a mini festival celebrating Jewish food and culture.  The Workmen’s Circle sponsored the event, which was put together by Noah Arenstein of Scharf & Zoyer.  There were stalls with food stuffs inspired by traditional Jewish tastes – some classic, some a bit more modern.  Folks crowded the stand selling handmade Egg Creams and picked up bialys and babka to take away with them.

Yiddish Swing BandHoward Leshaw’s Yiddish Swing Band

A stage set up in the middle of the block featured a number of bands with singers belting out tunes and keeping the crowd entertained while they noshed on the different treats available.  This gave the whole event a festive and small town-like vibe right in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.  I spoke to Noah, who said that there might even be another of these gatherings in the works for later on this year, so if you missed out on this one, keep a lookout for another installment.

Buon appetito!

For more information about The Workmen’s Circle and their programs, please visit their website.