Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Prosciutto di Parma Parma-palooza

Parmapalooza guidebookParma-palooza guide to the chefs

Thursday night under a beautiful fall evening was the perfect setting for an event celebrating Italy’s most iconic pork product: Prosciutto di Parma. Underground Eats put together a roster of some of New York’s top chefs along with legs of this ham for a Parma-palooza at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn in order to highlight the 50th anniversary of the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma.  The evening culminated in one chef being crowned “Prince/Princess of Prosciutto di Parma.” For those attendees brave enough to get inked with a tattoo heralding their fandom for this meat, they walked off with their very own leg of prosciutto, not a bad goodie bag item.

Wall of legs of Prosciutto di ParmaWall of legs of Prosciutto di Parma

Before heading into the main event space to visit each of the chef’s tables, guests could stop by an sample 24-month and 36-month-aged prosciutto, allowing their tastebuds to savor the saltiness, fat content, and flavor development of each level of the process.  The beverage station, with wine and drink choices offered by Vinissimo, had a garnet-hued Lambrusco, perfect for cleansing the palate after eating the rich ham, or maybe to pick up an Aranciata Twist, a spin on a more traditional aperitivo made with Aperol and orange bitters.

Sampling 24-month Prosciutto di ParmaSampling 24-month-aged Prosciutto di Parma

Then, it was on to try the creations put together by the chefs.  I definitely had my favorites among them.  The prosciutto was showcased in a number a versions of salty-sweet-fatty combinations.  I really like the idea of shaking up the typical cataloupe-and-prosciutto pairing, as several chefs did at this tasting.  There were also some other presentations that I thought might be interesting to try the next time I treat myself to a bit of prosciutto at my local Italian market.

Massimo CarboneBrio

Brio - Prosciutto di Parma-wrapped Gorgonzola-stuffed FigFig stuffed with Gorgonzola and wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma

Ryan HardyCharlie Bird

Charlie Bird - Octopus Saltimbocca with Prosciutto di ParmaOctopus Saltimbocca with Prosciutto di Parma

Elizabeth FalknerCorvo Bianco

Corvo Bianco - Scallop, Butternut Squash Puree & Prosciutto CrispScallop, Butternut Squash Puree and Prosciutto Crisp

Danny BowienMission Chinese

Mission Chinese - Tartine Rye, Genovese Pesto, Prosciutto di Parma, Sea UrchinTartine Rye, Genovese Pesto, Prosciutto di Parma, and Sea Urchin

Sam MasonOddfellows Ice Cream

Oddfellow's - Prosciutto di Parma-Cantaloupe-Red Wine Ice CreamProsciutto di Parma-Cantaloupe-Red Wine Ice Cream

Sara JenkinsPorsena, Porchetta

Porchetta-Porsena - Crostino w Cataloupe Melon Butter & Prosciutto di ParmaCrostino with Cataloupe Melon Butter and Prosciutto di Parma

Sean RemboldReynards

Autumn Squash and Prosciutto Saltimbocca with Honey MayoAutumn Squash and Prosciutto Saltimbocca with Honey Mayo

Francis DerbyThe Cannibal

Prosciutto di Parma and Egg Sausage with Tomato JamProsciutto di Parma and Egg Sausage with Tomato Jam

Ann Redding & Matt DanzerUncle Boon’s

Thai Chili and Prosciutto di Parma dipping sauce with fried pork rindsThai Chili and Prosciutto di Parma dipping sauce with fried pork rinds

Wild Rise Pizza

Margherita with Prosciutto & HerbsPizza Margherita with Prosciutto and Herbs

While I really enjoyed everything that I tasted, basically because there was ample prosciutto on almost everything, there were a few stand-out items.  Although you might have given a “ick” or “eww” when looking at the photo of the Prosciutto di Parma-Cantaloupe-Red Wine Ice Cream, you would be cheating yourself out of trying one of the most creative dishes of the evening.  I’d had prosciutto ice cream before at another anniversary event for the consorzio back in May, so I knew that this combination could work. It did here, too, with the sweetness of the fruit and cream melding beautifully with the funky, meatiness of the ham.  Another dish I saw tackled, literally, every time a server came around with it was the Autumn Squash and Prosciutto Saltimbocca with Honey Mayo. It took me a few passes to get my hands on one of these nibbles. One bite, and I understood completely why they were in such demand. Salty, fried, hot, earthy, creamy, with hint of sweet, they hit every flavor, taste, and texture note that you could want in a party dish.

Hand slicing 36-month Prosciutto di ParmaHand slicing 36-month Prosciutto di Parma

So, who was crowned “Prince/Princess of Prosciutto di Parma”?  The dish that won over the most tastebuds and hearts was the Octopus Saltimbocca with Prosciutto di Parma by Ryan Hardy of Charlie Bird.  The octopus was cooked perfectly and sat on a bed of puréed chickpeas with additional soft, tender chickpeas on the side.  The dish was bathed in a sauce of sage, butter, lemon, prosciutto, chick pea liquid, and octopus braising liquid and then topped with a slice of crispy prosciutto.  The combination not only hit every point on my palate with layer upon layer of flavors melting together in harmony, it also left me wanting to eat several more plates of this dish and to dip a mug into the sauce just to drink that on its own.  More that a few folks told me that they ate several plates of this item, and as I walked back to the subway to head home, two woman passed by me still raving about the tastiness of the sauce.

Chef Ryan Hardy crowned winnerChef Ryan Hardy crowned “Prince of Prosciutto di Parma”

Thank you so much to the folks at PadillaCRT for inviting me to attend this event.  It was a pleasure to meet all of the chefs and sponsors and to have a chance to highlight the wonderful work of the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma.

Buon appetito!

Pig Island 2013

1 - Pig Island 2013 entryPig Island 2013

Under gorgeous azure skies with just a hint of a breeze blowing off of the water, Pig Island 2013 took place yesterday on the Red Hook waterfront, site of some of the worst flooding last year in New York City from Hurricane Sandy.  Featuring 25 local area chefs, 80 hogs that come from the surrounding areas, all the food you can eat, and beer, cider, and wine that you can drink, this is the ideal mix for a festival that celebrates all the bounty of the region.  “This is pig heaven,” said a woman who passed by me while visiting the food stands.

2 - Sixpoint Brewery - The CrispThe Crisp – by sponsor Sixpoint Brewery

As usual, there were some absolutely stand-out items, and ones that I thought could have been constructed a bit better.  Before I launch into the pork dishes, several of the sides that were served with the pork also deserve a special mention.  Route 66 Smokehouse had one of the most delicious potato salads that I’ve ever had to go along with their Roast Porchetta Sandwich.  They’re opening up a place down in the Financial District, so that’s a place I’m going to add to my list to stop by for a meal.  The folks at Fort Reno (who are also behind Pig Island veterans Palo Santo) made a crunchy, tangy coleslaw with the exact right balance of seasoning that went perfectly with their roasted pulled pork.  I wished I could have taken a container of each of these salads with me to eat today at home.

3 - Peter Kaminsky announcing judges decisionPeter Kaminsky, author of Bacon Nation, announcing the judges’ decisions

While there was no formal competition for best dish of the day, a group of judges (including me) were asked to recognize some of the more stellar creations. Peter Kaminsky, food book author and writer, Jonathan Forester, Food and Beverage Writer & Consultant, and Mike Edison, from Heritage Radio Network, judged the day’s results.  As you can see from the list below, this wasn’t the most serious of battles, more a chance to acknowledge all the hard work that the chefs and their teams did to make the day a delicious success.

5 - The Good Fork + Ft Defiance - mer-pigThe Mer-Pig

The Best Roast PigThe Good Fork / Fort Defiance

Two chefs + 1 pig + seaweed = The Mer-Pig.  This dish of succulent seaweed-wrapped roasted pig plus and housemade kimchi sauce was the creation of chefs St. John Frizell of Fort Defiance & Ben Schneider of The Good Fork.  Ben had mentioned at the Pig Pick-up on Wednesday that they were going to dig a hole in the ground and roast the pig in it.  From a simple cooking concept to a plate filled with big, bold, smoky-tangy flavor, this was definitely one of my top tastes of the day.

6 - Neuman's Kitchen - Pork Menage a TroisMénage à Trois

The Best MénageNeuman’s Kitchen

This Ménage à Trois was a three-way pork treat for your tastebuds.  Roasted pig plus crispy pig’s ear plus bacon vinaigrette brought a meaty, fatty, crispy combo that was made fresher and lighter with the addition of a salad of frisée and apples.  This dish was definitely a crowd pleaser, with one guest saying to the staff: “That was awesome.  Thank you for that.”

7 - Fort Reno - pulled pork & coleslawPulled Pork with Coleslaw

The “Cue”-estFort Reno

Several participants decided to go with straight-up barbecued pork and fixin’s.  One of these was Fort Reno, whom I mentioned also gets my “best coleslaw” nod for the day.  They served up big pieces of braised pork and let guests dress it with several of their housemade sauces: smoked jalapeno and garlic, habanero with mustard and tumeric, and a fermented chili and garlic, along with traditional vinegar and barbecue sauces.

9 - Jimmy's No. 43 pork taco Mexican styleMixiotes “Mexico”

The “Realest Mexican”Jimmy’s No. 43

There were a few chefs who decided to tap into their Latin American roots for this porkfest.  One of these was David who helms the kitchen at Jimmy’s No. 43.  His juicy marinated pork (something I wish I had more of again to eat today) was partnered with sautéed onions and cactus as well as with spiced pickled onions.  Part of the reason he received this accolade was for his use of avocado leaves, a Mexican ingredient not generally used here.  He manged to capture spicy, sweet, meaty, with a touch of heat and a punch of zingy all in one, making it one of my favorite dishes of the day.

10 - Zarela Martinez serving her pork dishZarela Martinez serving up whole roasted pig Oaxaca-style

The Boldest “Balls Out” pigZarela Martinez / Arrogant Swine

Teaming up with Tyson Ho, creator of the Arrogant Swine North Carolina barbecue events, restauranteur and cookbook author Zarela Martinez chose to display the whole entire pig, stuffed with fruit and vegetable picadillo in the style of Oaxaca.  This was a terrific combination of meat with a tangy-sweet mixture that balanced out the richness of the pork.

1 - Ducks Eatery - Crispy Pigs Ear in Lettuce WrapCrispy Pigs Ear Lettuce Wrap

The “Loudest”Ducks Eatery

Having really enjoyed his dishes at past food events, I have to say that Chef Will Horowitz’s dish of Crispy Pigs Ear with Smoked Pork Pâté, Fermented Chow-Chow, and Black Sesame Seeds all put together in a bib lettuce “wrap” was one of the more interesting dishes that I tried yesterday.  Creamy pâté and crunchy pigs ears paired with vinegary chow-chow all nestled in a crisp lettuce holder made this an intriguing combination.  After lots of sandwich bread, tortillas, and rolls, I was also very glad to see him serve a bread-less option.

2 - Bitter green -trio of saladsA Quartet of Salads

The Most KosherBittergreen

While there weren’t a lot of options for non-pork loving diners, as in past years the organizers had a special featured tent with a vegetarian plate.  Chef Tim Cavaretta created a selection of refreshing, hearty salads that many dinners dove into as a break from all of the meat dishes.  I really enjoyed the cool Watermelon and Radish Salad with Cilantro for its brightness and sharp, peppery snap.

4 - The Chocolate Life - Peach with Peach confit on a White Chocolate Bacon BiscuitBacon-fat Grilled Peach with Peach Confit on a White Chocolate Butterscotch Bacon Buttermilk Biscuit

The SweetestThe Chocolate Life

Didn’t think we’d be talking about desserts, here, did you?  Well, a few chefs decided to tap into their sweet tooths for this event.  Butter made Lardo-glazed Cinnamon Rolls with Bacon.  Davis Famous whipped up a batch of Bacon Brownies and served them with whipped cream and Candied Bacon.  The winner in this category went to Chef Clay Gordon who grilled his peaches in bacon fat, made a peach confit, and served it all up on fluffy, decadent biscuit with chocolate, butterscotch, buttermilk, and more bacon.  Sweet, meaty, bacon-y, chocolatey, fruity – what more do you want?

5 - Parish Hall - Sesame pig skin noodles w SausageSesame Pig Skin “Noodles” with Spicy Sausage, Scallion and Pickled Mushrooms

The Most InventiveParish Hall

I can’t argue that probably the most inventive dish of the day goes to the folks at Parish Hall, who decided to turn pig skin into noodles to serve it alongside their housemade sausage.  With invention sometimes goes risk, and unfortunately, this dish when I tried it was really gummy and unappealing.  I was so disappointed, as I’d really looked forward to trying this dish and to see how they’d pull off the concept.

3 - Ovelia - serving meatKontosouvli (Slow-roasted Rotisserie Pork)

The Best Hunk ‘o MeatOvelia

For most stripped-down presentation of the day, the award should also go to Ovelia, who chose to serve their dish simply from skewer to plate.  I really, really liked the flavors in the marinade and basting sauce; however, I felt, and at least one of the judge concurred with me on this, that the meat could have been much more tender; it was actually kind of on the tough side.  It was such as shame as it tasted fantastic.

7 - Joe Doe - burrito“White Guy Burrito” – Tip-to-tail Pork, Green Salsa, White Cheese

The Best “White Guy”Joe Doe
Before turning your nose up at this dish from Joe Doe as just another burrito, you should have been there to give it a try. Hunks, I mean hunks of juicy pork, were cradled in a thin white tortilla and loaded up with salsa and cheese plus an optional dollop of hot sauce. This was a hearty start to my food adventures for the day.

6 - Fletcher's Brooklyn BBQ dishGinger Soy Pork with Bok Choi Slaw and Chick Pea Salad

The Best “Asian-ish”Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ

A few chefs took their pork dishes for a spin on the other side of the world, including the guys at Fletcher’s.  The ginger-soy pork had a deep full flavor balanced out by the crunchy slaw, which I really enjoyed.  I sort of thought that the dense potato bun didn’t do the combination any favors and could have seen it served on something much lighter with to highlight more of the Asian influence.

8 - Mosefund Farm - Pork n BeansSpice-rubbed Mangalitsa Pork Loin with Spicy Dominican Baked Beans

The Best Rare BreedMosefund Mangalitsa

Have you had a chance to try mangalitsa pork meat yet?  You should definitely treat yourself to some as soon as you can.  It’s tender, flavorful, moist, and just all-around delicious.  Chef Michael Clampffer and his team treated guest to a riff on pork-n-beans yesterday that was full of spice, hearty tastes along with a pop of contrast from the pickled onions, greens, and crushed tortilla chips.  If you want to pick up some of his meat, drop by New Amsterdam Market the next time they are in town on September 29.

9 - Pig Balloon for Pig IslandSee you next year!

As the food was finished and beverage cups were drained dry, everyone seemed to be having a good time, lounging around on the lawn listening to the live music.  Kids were running around doing cartwheels and couples were boogie-ing to the tunes.  I saw several chefs finally sitting down after hours of serving the hungry hoards, tossing back their beers and breaking down their stations.  It was then time to say good-bye to another very scrumptious Pig Island.

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.  The food opinions stated here are my own and do not, unless otherwise specified, reflect those of the other judges.

Buon appetito!

Scharf & Zoyer Pop-up Evening at Brooklyn Oenology

Scharf & Zoyer signScharf & Zoyer stand at Smorgasburg

For the past couple of months, I’ve been manning the grill at Scharf & Zoyer each Saturday at Smorgasburg.  Now, Noah Arenstein, the owner and creator of S&Z, has put together a one-night tasting at Brooklyn Oenology called Scharf & Schnickered where he’ll showcase some of the sandwiches for which his stand has become known at the market.  Interested in seeing how modern Jewish-style deli food pairs with beer and wine, maybe even how it goes down with a pickleback?  If so, you might want to check out this unique food & beverage event.

Scharf-Zoyer-menuScharf & Zoyer weekly menu

The menu has the fan favorite Kugel Double-down in sweet and savory versions, the Berber spice-inspired zucchini spread that we use on our breakfast sandwiches, and the tuna salad that goes into our really delicious tuna melt.  In the photo below, you can see how we usually serve these items at the market.  The dishes will be modified somewhat to be small portions so that guests can taste a bit of everything as they sip the beverages that the folks at BOE have selected to go with them.

Scharf & Zoyer - menu display plateS&Z Sandwich Menu Display

In addition, Noah is bringing back a couple of items that debuted at Smorgasburg, but he decided not to continue to carry, as they didn’t really find an audience at the market.  One of these was the chopped chicken liver.  It had many faithful followers, but it was a hard sell compared to some of the other things that we fix each week to bring with us.  There’s an interesting series of articles about S&Z in Serious Eats that talks about how a food vendor creates a concept and then works to make it all happen.  It goes into a bit more depth about the process for our menu development and selection.

Scharf & Zoyer saltine w pimento cheeseSalted Habanero Pimento Cheese on Saltine

Another of these items was his fantastic, spicy, creamy pimento cheese.  I know how great-tasting it is, because I took home a bunch of leftovers to work with on the last day we had it to sell.  As a very perishable food item, as are most of the things that we make, if we can’t sell it, it has to be discarded (sadly) or exchanged with other market vendors for things they haven’t been able to sell that day or we take it home to eat ourselves.  The pimento cheese found a home on my breakfast table when I used it on poached eggs to give them a bit of a kick.  I miss the fact that we don’t carry it anymore.

Scharf & Zoyer - cooking kugelHeating up the kugel for the double-down

So, if you want to treat your tastebuds to a new take on this cuisine, you might want to pick up a ticket to Scharf & Schnickered (click on the link to purchase them).  I’ll be there, too, cooking away and helping to prepare the dishes.  It takes place from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25th at Brooklyn Oenology‘s tasting room in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  There’s a limited number of tickets available.  This is a wonderful chance to taste products from two New York City food and wine entrepreneurs in one location and to support local business.

Buon appetito!

Brooklyn Uncorked 2013 by Edible Magazine

Wineglasses at entrywayWineglasses at Brooklyn Uncorked 2013

One of my favorite events on the NYC culinary calendar each year is Brooklyn Uncorked, put on by Edible Magazine.  Local-area restaurants and New York State wineries, many from the Finger Lakes and Long Island, set up for an evening at a former bank building in Brooklyn to show guests the breadth of vintages and variety of small plates that they can create.  I really enjoy tasting the developments in the wine industry of this state, and, each year, I find more and more wines I’d like to add to my non-existent cellar (or maybe I can find some closet space for them).

Edible Magazine displayEdible Magazine display table

As with most events of this size, I didn’t quite get to make it around to every table before the food was gone, but I tasted quite a few wonderful pairings.  In some cases, the wineries worked hand-in-hand with the restaurants to create a dish, but in others the matches were done a little bit more on the spot, as I discovered.  Some of these worked for me, and some didn’t.  Here’s some of the more memorable match-ups of the evening for me, and some of the combinations that I wish had been put together.

Favorite Food & Wine Pairings:

Marco Polo Ristorante - Wild Boar RavioliMarco Polo Ristorante – Wild Boar Ravioli

Scarola Vineyards signScarola Vineyards – 2010 “Masseria” Merlot

It’s really difficult when one of the first food + wine taste of the evening basically knocks it out of the park for me.  The bar for everyone else is then set really high.  The Wild Boar Ravioli (ok, so they pretty much had me a “wild boar”) by Marco Polo Ristorante with its amazing aromas coming from the pan in which the portions were being reheated matched with a 2010 “Masseria” Merlot from Scarola Vineyards was the best savory bite I had all evening.  The fresh pasta filled with tender, succulent meat dressed in a sauce made with a reduction of the Merlot just hit every right note.  A sip of the wine revealed round full tannins and deep red berry and cherry flavors that balanced out each element of the pasta.  I thought about going back for more, but then I realized I was only at the start of the evening.

Rosewater - salmon w puff pastry, dill cream, rampsRose Water Restaurant – Smoked Salmon with puff pastry, dill cream, capers, ramps, and ramp oil

Wolffer Estate VineyardWölffer Estate – Classic White 2012

Another food and wine combination that I thought just worked really, really well was the Smoked Salmon nibble by Rose Water Restaurant with the Classic White 2012 by Wölffer Estate, who always turns out amazing wines year after year.  The acidity and crispness of the wine beautifully highlighted the buttery richness of the smoked salmon.  The citrus notes in the wine and the tartness of the capers and ramp oil pulled this whole bite together.  The only other wine I would like to have tried this with, perhaps, is my current pick for Summer 2013 quaff, which is the new 2012 Social Club White, another perfect seafood wine, by Brooklyn Oenology, who was also at this event.

Cleaver Co - Rhubarb Brown Butter Cakes & Dark Chocolate TrianglesThe Cleaver Co. – Rhubarb Brown Butter Cakes & Dark Chocolate Triangles

Macari - wine pairing for dessertMacari Vineyards – 2010 Block E

I am so not a fan of sweet wines, and it has taken me quite a bit of time in my wine education to appreciate the subtlety and nuances that many dessert wines can have and how, with the right food, they can actually be delicious and partner very well with food.  My favorite dessert pairing of the evening was definitely the Rhubarb Cupcake by The Cleaver Co. with Macari Vineyards 2010 Block E.  The tartness of the rhubarb and richness of the brown butter cake were an ideal match for fruit and sweet notes of the wine.  The wine itself is done in the ice wine style which gave it a lightness and clean finish that I don’t usually experience with dessert beverages.

Great bites that I wanted to see paired with beer:

Gramercy Tavern - Smoked Kielbasa w Tarentaise & Country MustardGramercy Tavern – Smoked Kielbasa with Tarentaise and Country Mustard

I know, I know, this is a wine event, not a beer one.  Good Beer Month is still a few weeks away (in July).  Still, when I tasted the porky goodness of Gramercy Tavern’s kielbasa dressed with creamy slaw, spicy mustard, and a pop of caraway, I really just wanted to sit down with a whole plate of these around a big table of family and friends, glasses of lager in hand.  I mentioned this to Chef Michael Anthony, who was manning the station at the event, and he agreed completely; however, he told me I’d have to talk to the organizers about that.  Coincidentally, Brian Halweil, the editor of the magazines, was standing right there.  He didn’t comment on my remarks, but we took some time to compare notes on what we’d eaten and drank so far.

The Vanderbilt - Rampwurst w Spring Pea SlawThe Vanderbilt – Rampwurst with Spring Pea Slaw

Another dish that was just begging to be matched up with beer as well was the Rampwurst with spring pea slaw by The Vanderbilt.  I had to give them major creativity points, too, for coming up with another use for ramps, which are now heading out of season, that I’d never tried before.  The garlicky-herbal green was perfect mixed into the sausage meat.  The cool, crisp slaw with the grassy freshness of the peas was a wonderful combination.  This was definitely more of a beer-appropriate than a wine-friendly dish.

Pairings I would have like to have seen:

Watty & Meg - Tuna Tartare Taco with Pickled Spicy VegetablesWatty & Meg – Tuna Tartare taco with Spicy Vegetables

Bedell Cellars wine bottleBedell Cellars – 2011 Taste White

As I mentioned above, some of the pairings this year just seemed a little bit off to me.  The tuna tartare taco from Watty & Meg (of which I could have had a few), needed a great, crisp, aromatic wine to balance out the buttery tuna and the spicy mixed vegetables.  When I asked one of the wineries nearby to their table, they didn’t have a beverage that they’d paired up with this dish.  My pick would have been the 2001 Taste White from Bedell Cellars with its tropical flavors and slight sweetness to tame those spicy notes and make you go back for bite after bite of the taco.

Cookshop - Olive Oil Cake w Strawberries & MascarponeCookshop – Olive Oil Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone topped with Pistachios

Macari Vineyards - pouring dessert wineMacari Vineyards – 2010 Block E

Another match-up I would have made at the event was to take the dessert wine by Macari Vineyards that I enjoyed so much and tasted it alongside the Olive oil cake with strawberries and mascarpone by Cookshop.  I’d heard raves about this dish so even though it was towards the end of the evening, and I felt I’d reached my saturation point on the food and beverage front, something that does happen at these activities, I picked up a plate and walked away to a table to eat it.  Moist cake, tart berries, creamy cheese, crunchy nuts all came together in a perfect bite.  Unfortunately, many of the stations had been broken down by this point, and they were no longer serving wine, so I couldn’t put my theory to the test.

Most-used seasonal ingredient:

Palo Santo - Ramp Taco w cheesePaolo Santo – Ramp Taco

I have to give a special nod to the most-used seasonal ingredient.  You guessed it: Ramps!  By my count, this product turned up in no fewer than three dishes I tried and was used twice in one of them.  It might even have been stealthily included in a few others as well.  Next year, I’m expecting to see it in desserts – kidding, really, I’m kidding.

ALC Italian Grocery - all goneALC Italian Grocery – all finished for 2013

This is a terrific event that continues to bring great food and wine to us each year. The folks I talked to as we nibbled on our dishes and sipped local beverages all seemed to be having a great time and were really impressed by the variety of the wines and the caliber of the food offerings. The only dissent that I heard was that there seemed to be few vegetarian options this year as well as there being lots of dishes containing pork.  I sampled so many delicious dishes and drank lots and lots of great wine.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s event to see what new vintages New York State wineries will produce.

Buon appetito!

Thank you to Edible Manhattan for providing me with a press pass so that I could attend this event and cover it for this website.  The opinions and tasting notes are mine, as unrefined as they may be, and were not influenced by any of the food or beverage partners or by the magazine and its staff.

Smorgasburg Opening Day 2013

Smorgasburg – previous location

Smorgasburg – new location, just across the street

Spring seems to be taking its own sweet time getting started this year in this area, but that hasn’t stopped us all from longing for its impending arrival.  One such marker of the onset of warmer weather is the opening of the outdoor seasonal markets in the city.  Yesterday, Smorgasburg kicked off in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in their new location at East River State Park, just across the street from their previous venue which had been a vacant lot and is now slated for development.  It was a perfect, sunny day, if a bit crisply cool, to explore some of the treats on which local food vendors have been working to bring us this year.

Dough‘s display

I kicked off my day at the market with a donut from one of my favorite places (and that of many other folks, judging by the lines): Dough.

Dough donut at SmorgasburgDough donut – Passion fruit and Cocoa nibs

This year, it looks like there have a couple of new donut varieties, or at least ones that are new to me.  I tried the Passion fruit and Cocoa nibs which combined tropical flavors with a bit of a chocolately crunch.  Next time the Earl Grey and Chocolate version is on my list to try.  Can either of these unseat my usual favorite flavor, Hibiscus?  Only time (and more donuts) will tell.

Butter & Scotch – Bananas Foster Trifle

From reading market vendors’ posts on Facebook this week, I knew that one stand I couldn’t possibly pass up visiting was Butter & Scotch.  They’d mentioned something about making a Bananas Foster Trifle just for opening day.  Creamy, boozy, incredibly decadent, this is dessert made the way it should be.  In some ways, it was just fine that my friends were going to be late meeting me because that meant I didn’t have to share this with them at all.

Bellocq teas

Meandering through the food stalls, I enjoyed the new configuration where there’s two main rows with venders on either side without the space in the middle where some of the vendors were set up in the two previous years.  There seemed to be ample picnic tables and extra space on the grass where groups of folks were seated with their friends, enjoying the beautiful weather and great eats.  I also had a chance to pick up some things for my pantry, like the Afghani Chai from Bellocq teas.

Anarchy in a Jar jams

Another staple in my kitchen is the delicious jams from Anarchy in a Jar.  My refrigerator has been suffering from a deficit of them during these months, as I’d eaten my way through the stash I normally keep on hand.  I picked up a couple of jars to restock my supply, although it was really difficult to limit my choices, as there were all of these wonderful flavors.

Momo Dressing display

Aside from seeing friends and catching up on the latest news from vendors after not seeing each other over the last few months of the pause in the market season, there were also plenty of great new products (or at least new to me) that I also tried yesterday.  I had to restrain myself from picking up lots of these goodies to keep on hand for new recipes and summertime eating.  One condiment that I think I’ll need to find some room for on the shelf is Momo Dressing‘s Asian-inspired dressings and sauces.  They had a light Non-oil Shiso, a zippy Ginger, and nutty Sesame available to sample at the market.

Kalypso Greek Yogurt terra cotta pots

Artisanal yogurt was also a new item that I saw yesterday with two vendors launching their products in the market.  I tasted Kalypso Greek Yogurt and found it to be rich and creamy with a pleasant tanginess and none of the chalky backnote that I find that some yogurts have.

White Moustache Yogurt display

Another item on my shopping list for my next visit will be a pot of yogurt from the folks at White Moustache Yogurt.  I think some of this will work well with the granola-yogurt parfaits that I love having when the summertime berries come into season.

Nut Butters from The 3 Nuts

Like peanut butter?  Why not check out these nut butters from The 3 Nuts.  I really enjoyed tasting the Coconut Cashew and Salted Caramel varieties.  These would be perfect for snacking or making satays or adding to noodles.  Looks like there’s another item I need to find space for in my kitchen.

Floyd Beer Cheese

Another big hit for me and for a few others I spoke to at the end of the day was the savory, sharp, tangy Floyd Beer Cheese.  Served on a Ritz Cracker, this was a perfect snack, and one that I can see gracing the cocktail platters of many a retro-Southern-inspired party this summer season.  The only reason I didn’t take any of it home with me from the market is that I was afraid that I’d crack open the container and just eat it all in one sitting.

Pimento Cheese with jalapenos from Scharf & Zoyer

Pimento Cheese, another Southern culinary delight, made its debut yesterday at the market courtesy new food vendors Scharf & Zoyer, who were cooking up some tempting grilled cheese sandwiches.  This stuff was spice-y, maybe a bit too much so, but I could see it being a wonderful accompaniment slathered onto some creation or other.

Tuna Melt from Scharf & Zoyer

This vendor also had a Tuna Melt on an everything croissant that received high marks from several food scene folks who noshed on it.  It’s also high on my list of things to eat while there next visit, unless I get distracted by another of their amazing-sounding sandwiches.

Fixing up a brisket sandwich from Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque

There was some fierce competition yesterday for the longest line to stand on at Smorgasburg.  Usually, this honor goes to the folks at Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque for their brisket sandwiches.

Fried Chicken & Waffles from Buttermilk Channel

Buttermilk Channel‘s fried chicken and waffles might have actually taken first place in wait times this time around.  I had tasted this dish last year at the market and had enjoyed it.  It’s on the list to try again this year.

Short-rib Taco from Takumi Taco

Despite all the nibbling and tasting and sampling, after walking around checking out all the tables and stalls, I still had a bit more room left to try a little something.  At the indoor version of the Brooklyn Flea at One Hanson Place, I’d had a chance to eat Takumi Taco‘s Japanese-Mexican concoctions.  By the time I worked my way back to their table, they (along with many other vendors) had run out of some of their offerings, but their Short-rib Taco really hit the spot.

As usual on the open day for any of these seasonal markets, all the activity and hubbub are a lot to capture in just one short post so I uploaded lots of photos into Flickr to showcase the day.  There was such a positive energy in the air yesterday and whiff of anticipation for many more lovely summer afternoons to come.  I’m already looking forward to my next visit there and to discovering some more fantastic edible eats.

Buon appetito!

We Have a Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook Giveaway Winner!!!

Liddabit Sweets - cookbookLiddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook

Congratulations to Cristal C whom the Randomizer selected as the winner for this prize!!!  A big “Thank You,” too, to everyone who entered this giveaway!  From my brief tally of the responses, it looks like Anything-with-Chocolate might be the sweet of preference for everyone.  Peanut Butter-Chocolate combinations were a huge favorite, which is one of mine as well.  Liddabit Sweets has a candybar just for that: The King.

Liz Gutman & Jen King – Liddabit Sweets

I wish I could have given out copies of this book to everyone who wanted to have one as this is such a terrific edition to one’s cookbook library.  Liz and Jen are going to be on tour with their book (and treats!).  They are fantastic people and fabulous candymakers.  Check this list to see if they will be coming by your way.

Buon appetito!