Today was the much-anticipated Grub Street Food Festival at Hester and Essex Streets at the site of the Hester Street Fair on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The weather being on the sunny, if slightly cool, and very windy side, this was the perfect kind of fall day and combined with one of the only excuses (food!) that would make me suffer through the ever-changing MTA weekend subway schedule, I made the trek downtown. I had planned to meet up with Nora at Amateur Foodie Adventures and some friends to check out what was on offer, which was another incentive to venture south.
I know that some of my companions could not figure out the reason for dragging them out of bed to be able to meet me at the un-civil hour of 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday, but once it hit noon, they soon understood why the dedicated food festival goer always tries to be one of the early birds. The photo above was taken just as it all started. The lack of crowds gave us ample time to execute my tried-and-true methodology of plotting out my attack strategy: circle around once; make a mental note of the options; eat. This way you can create your “must eats” list and your “maybe I’ll go back later if there isn’t a line” list. Given the packs of people who have been at the same events as I have this year, this seems to work just fine.
On to the food. Our crew was great at getting tastes of most of the items, and there were plenty of great things to try. What was also nice about this food festival was that in addition to some of the established restaurants like Pies n Thighs and Ditch Plains, there were also some food truck folks like Wafels & Dinges and Kelvin Natural Slush Co. and some real artisanal food purveyors like P& Soda and Melt Bakery. For me, this is what New York food is currently about: layers of different types of people expressing themselves, their passion, and their creativity through the kinds of food that they love and then sharing it with the rest of us. I hope that this trend continues for a long, long time to come.
Here are some of our pictures. We also shared a table with some really nice folks who let us photograph their food, too. Hopefully, this will be an annual event (hint, hint Grub Street folks).
Freshly ground coffee from Kickstand was at the start of the festival
Followed up by filled fried rice balls by Arancini Bros.
We tried the tuna and the pumpkin-mascarpone ones.
Follow these guys! They should have a dessert truck.
Oh, who am I kidding. I pre-sserted.* Loved the Molasses Cookies with Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream.
Nora tried the Fried Pumpkin Pie (only the 4th person in NYC to have it!).
Grilled Cheese with Tomato Jam and Red Onions from The Smile
Pies n Thighs had a great spread
Pain d’Avignon had this gorgeous bread
Which could be a great vehicle for this Bacon Marmalade
Not sure how it would work with this Cheese and Truffle Pretzel with great mustard from Sigmund Pretzel Shop.
But it would be great with a handmade Grape Concord Soda from P&H
or one from La NewYorkina
Maybe it was time to return to the sweeter side with Wafels & Dinges
or this gorgeous palatte of macarons from Macaron Parlour
I should have had this sandwich from Nijiya Market
Instead I went for the Pork Buns from Purple Yam (others loved the ribs)
I also got to sample a bit of the wonderful pastrami from Mile End Delicatessen
While someone else went for the Chili Dog at Ditch Plains
Another person wanted to sample the Panna Cotta with Balsamic from Il Buco
We also checked out the treats from Hot Blondies Bakery
and watched the guys making amazing shaved ice treats at Bao Bing
There was still enough room for a delicious Short Rib Taco and Pulled Pork Slider from the truck at Mexicue
and don’t forget to get something for Man’s Best Friend.
*To Pre-ssert = to start a meal by eating dessert first; not to be confused with a snack. Courtesy my little brother.