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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 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.

Brooklyn Eats!

Brooklyn Eats entryBrooklyn Eats! at the Pfizer Building

Last week, The Summer Fancy Food Show, the major industry food expo was held in New York City at the Javits Center. I’ve covered this event for several years, talking about some of my edible finds and scoping out potential trends that I saw (as well as just noshing my way around the display of culinary treats for a few days). This year, I decided to focus my attentions a bit more locally.

Brooklyn Eats check-in tableCheck-in table

Brooklyn Eats! was held the Friday prior to the main conference, sponsored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, focusing on food artisans and entrepreneurs that are making NYC such a hotbed of gastronomic creativity.  The first one of these expos was held last year.  I think it flew under the radar of folks a bit, from what I heard.  This year, it seemed better promoted, bringing out a steady pack of food industry people, buyers, writers, and retailers.  The BCC also assisted those exhibitors who wanted to take part in the SFFS, too, helping them to register and set up their booths, so this project helps entrepreneurs not just in their community but also in the larger, more competitive specialty food market.

Bacchanal Sauce - displayBacchanal Sauce – check out this fiery condiment!

Brooklyn Delhi - displayBrooklyn Delhi – spruce up your meals with these tangy-spicy relishes

There was no shortage of great food products to sample at this event, either.  As I ate (and drank) my way around the tables set up at historic Pfizer Building (the event venue as well as the site of production kitchens for some of these companies), I was struck by a few interesting aspects.  Yes, there were plenty of new, intriguing products to try.  At the same time, what made me the happiest to see was that many of the folks whose foods I’ve tasted over the years are still in business.

The Jam Stand - no-sugar jamsThe Jam Stand – look at their new lo-sugar line

City Saucery - saucesCity Saucery – check out their expanded product line and new, larger jars of their sauces

Not only that, many of them have grown and are thriving, adding new items to their product lines and venturing into other areas.  Quite a few have gone from the markets like the New Amsterdam Market, Hester Street Fair and Smorgasburg to brick-and-mortar locations.  They now employ full-time staff and also mentor other budding culinary start-ups.  Many of the founders of these businesses also participate in panel discussions and at other events to discuss in the ins and outs of creating your own food items and brands, offering tips, advice, and resources to those who are thinking of breaking into the industry.

Liddabit Sweets - displayLiddabit Sweets – follow them to see where they’ll be opening up their new store

Robicelli's - displayRobicelli’s – drop by their shop in Bay Ridge

While I don’t have any idea of the dollar amounts that these activities contribute to the NYC economy, I do know that they add invaluable services and grow the resources of the city.   It’s exciting to see the continued success of these hard-working folks.  Of course, getting to eat delicious things is a bonus for the rest of us, too!  I definitely think that our foodscene has improved and grown due to their efforts.  Check out the slideshow below to see what other great treats I found at this event.

Buon appetito!

Brooklyn Uncorked 2014 by Edible Magazine

Brooklyn Uncorked signage

Every year I say this, and each year I mean it: Brooklyn Uncorked is one of my top favorite food (and wine) events of the year.  It’s also one of the events that I recommend to people to grab a ticket to when they ask me what local food festivals they should try to attend.  Local restaurants + local area vineyards = great food bites & wines.  It’s the perfect recipe for a fantastic evening.  As with the past few years, it was held at One Hanson Place in Brooklyn, which has some gorgeous architectural features, as you can see in some of the photos below.

Wine glasses at entryEmpty wine glasses waiting to be filled

Chef Annette Tomei and I teamed up to wander around and visit all the tables, food and wine alike.  Having been at this event the past few years, it was really nice to have a wing-person and also to get another viewpoint from a more trained set of tastebuds.  As we’ve worked together in the kitchen many times over the past couple of years, we have a familiar frame of reference and could shorthand some of our findings throughout our adventure.  The slideshow below shows a few of the things that we sampled.

I tried to capture as much as I could, but, inevitably, there were a few tables that we couldn’t get to due to the overwhelming number of folks who wanted to taste the various foods and wines.  There were also a couple of tables that were finished serving their dishes before we got around to them.  It was also lots of fun to bump into our friends and colleagues in the industry, which just made the evening feel even more like a giant celebration of the region’s culinary bounty.

The Good Fork - Mung Bean Pancake with Chilis, Perilla, and KimcheeThe Good Fork – Mung Bean Pancake with Chilis, Perilla, and Kimchee

Macari Early WineMacari Vineyards’ Early Wine

I even ran into one of my culinary school classmates who was helping out the team at the restaurant where he formerly used to work, The Good Fork, a returning participant.  They had one of our favorite pairings of the night, a tangy-spicy Mung Bean Pancake, which went really well with the bright fruit flavors of Macari Vineyards’ Early Wine.

Nightingale 9 - Vietnamese Tacos - Lemongrass Beef Tacos, Coconut, Cilantro, Lime, Chili-Peanut YogurtNightingale 9 – Vietnamese-style Tacos

Ravines Wine Cellars - RieslingRavines Wine Cellars Dry Riesling 2013

Tacos seemed to be the preferred vehicle for edibles this year.  There were lots of them served, as the photos show.  One pairing that I thought worked well was actually a table that we stopped at early in the evening.  Nightingale 9 offered Vietnamese-style Tacos composed of lemongrass beef , coconut, cilantro, lime, dressed with a chili-peanut yogurt.  In other words, this small plate had a lot of different levels of flavors – heat, spice, citrus – happening at the same time.  Fortunately, nearby were the folks from Ravines Wine Cellars who were pouring their 2013 Dry Riesling, which had just the right level of sweetness and acidity to work well with the taco.

No 7 - Double Decker Broccoli Tacos - Black Beans, Feta, Fried ShallotsNo. 7 – Double Decker Broccoli Tacos with Black Beans, Feta, and Fried Shallots

Marco Polo - Marinated Octopus - Mango, Lemon Yogurt, Black Quinoa, HerbsMarco Polo Ristorante – Marinated Octopus with Mango, Lemon Yogurt, Black Quinoa, and Herbs

A couple of other dishes that I thought were stand-outs for the evening – one taco and one non-taco – were the plates presented by No. 7 and Marco Polo Ristorante.  I went back (unashamedly) for seconds on the first dish and seriously contemplated doing another loop around the venue to grab a another plate of the second one.  Both of these had amazing flavor combinations with or without the addition of a wine pairing.

Bridge Lane - bottles on tableBridge Lane Wine

On the wine front, there were definitely some interesting vintages to sample.  Bridge Lane brought their boxed wine which are a whole different species of the unpleasant college experiences with the original boxed wines.  They also had a White Merlot, which was very intriguing and, when lightly chilled, has all the hallmarks of a perfect summertime food wine.  No surprise that I also enjoyed their Rosé, as they are the second label producer for Lieb Cellars, whose Rosé has been a go-to beverage of mine when I can find it on tap.

Brooklyn Winery selectionBrooklyn Winery

Another wine that I tasted at the event, that really made me say “Wow!” was the 2012 Barrel Fermented Riesling by Brooklyn Winery.  It has some of the same acidity as a traditional Riesling, but, having been fermented and aged in oak barrels, it comes out with extra earthy, funky notes due to the time spent in the wood rather than in stainless steel.  I sipped this wine independently of any food, and I’d like to spend some more time getting to know it and its particular personality.

Brooklyn Uncorked entry way2014 Participants

As always, there’s far to little room in a website post to cover all the wonderful food and drink that we had that evening.  Thank you to all the folks who made this event possible this year.  For information on the participating restaurants and vineyards from previous years, as well as to see photos of some of what was available to eat and drink, please see my write-ups from 2011, 2012, and 2013 (links take you to other pages on this website).

Buon appetito!

Brooklyn Uncorked 2013 by Edible Magazine

Brooklyn Uncorked 2012 by Edible Magazine

Brooklyn Uncorked 2011 by Edible Magazine

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.

Farmers Market Dinner at Jimmy’s No. 43 with Chef Annette Tomei

Chef Annette shopping at Union SquareChef Annette Tomei picking out vegetables

More than a few times folks have told me that they get a bit stumped when trying to figure out what to make with the produce that is on display at the local farmers market.  They ask me for helpful hints as to how to navigate the stands, advice on what to buy when, and how I come up with things to make using what I purchase.  On Wednesday of this past week, a handful of guests assembled for a dinner at Jimmy’s No. 43 featuring Chef Annette Tomei where she which did just that: pulled together a 3-course dinner based upon ingredients gathered from the Union Square Greenmarket, complete with beverage pairings.  We did the shopping for the meal the morning of the event, schlepped the bags of food back to the restaurant, and then got to work fixing the dishes, with me as her sous chef for the evening.  Chef Tomei made several menu adjustments along the way and even tweaked plans for what we were going to make while we were at the market, having looked around at what everyone was selling that day.

Bowl of ramp butter popcornRamp Butter Popcorn

The evening started out with a platter crostini of farmers cheese from Ronnybrook Farm topped with a ragout of local oyster and cremini mushrooms and topped with sautéed fiddlehead ferns.  I also whipped up a batch of the Ramp Butter Popcorn I mentioned that I’d been making at the restaurant to serve as well.  To go along with this, the guests were served a glass of Foggy Ridge sparkling cider.  The high acidity of the cider was a great balance to the butteriness of the popcorn and the richness of the crostini.

Salad - Asparagus with Sorrel SauceSalad of Asparagus with Sorrel “Pesto” and Shungiku

For the second course, some of those asparagus that Chef Tomei is holding in the first photo were sliced thinly and turned into a light, crispy salad.  The asparagus were trimmed and served raw, no cooking involved.  They were super fresh and crunchy, needing just a drizzle of a fruity extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.  On top of them are shungiku, edible micro chrysanthemum greens from Windfall Farms.  To go along with the asparagus, we had made a sorrel “pesto,” giving the salad a lemony lift.  To drink with it, we poured Barrier Saisoff Saison, which played well with the greenness of the vegetables as well as the citrus notes in the herb. 

Main - Duck Breast with Ramp Greens, RhubarbSeared Hudson Valley Duck Breast with Rhubarb Gastrique and Candied Rhubarb on a bed of 5-Spice Braised Red Cabbage with Roasted Parsnip garnished with Ramp Greens

The centerpiece of the main course was the gorgeous, seared duck breast from the folks at Hudson Valley Duck Farm, who also supply the duck that is on the regular menu for the restaurant.  To showcase this high-quality protein, Chef Tomei created a sweet-tart rhubarb gastric and then candied small cubes of the rhubarb that we had picked up at the market.  Thinly-sliced cabbage and chunks of roasted parsnip, which was also still available at the market, were seasoned with a mock Chinese 5-spice mixture to lend an additional layer of flavor to the dish.  A deep caramel-colored Proletariat Other Half Stillwater Collaboration Dark Amber was our choice to go along with the duck and this complex combination of tastes.  

Dessert - Maple Pain Perdu with Maple FluffSourdough Pain Perdue with Grade B Maple Syrup, Grated Maple Sugar,Maple Candy Floss, and Nasturtiums

While perusing the stands at the market, we’d had a few ideas about what to fix for dessert.  Apples still seem to be plentiful right now.  No berries or other early summer fruit has yet to appear.  Passing by Roxbury Mountain Maple‘s stand and seeing a bunch of people trying their maple cream spread and their maple cotton candy gave Chef Tomei an idea for a sweet finish to the evening.  We picked up some of that same cotton candy, a bottle of maple syrup, and a block of maple sugar.  At another nearby stand, we added a loaf of sourdough bread to our purchases in order to make a batch of Pain Perdue, or fancy French toast, for the final course.  Aside from the appetizer course, this was probably my favorite of the parings that we did that evening.  Carton Brewing Company’s “BDG” Brunch. Dinner. Grub. was the ideal match for the sweet, buttery, toffee layers in the dish and the perfect note on which to wrap up this Farmers Market Dinner.

Buon appetito!