It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, despite what the NYC department stores are trying to convey, it’s not Christmas. But for foodies, it’s pretty darn close. It’s the NYC Wine & Food Festival!
Last year I won an all-weekend pass to festival events, courtesy of Illy Coffee. This year, I had no such luck but since it’s a food blogger’s paradise, I was not going to miss this weekend for the world.
Stacked: Sandwich Showdown
We kicked off the festival with a sandwich tasting event (and vendor competition) hosted by Chef Robert Irvine. You know, this guy with his arm around me…
There were quail egg and duck confit biscuits, lamb sliders, ham & cheese meatballs, roast beef dip, cauliflower sandwiches, and pretty much any combination of deliciousness that you could put on a Martin’s potato roll. Paired with some Voss (only the best) and a cocktail in a mason jar (which we got to keep) and this was an event worthy of the pounds that I gained. Tom, who used to work in a sandwich shop and says his favorite food is “sandwiches” (which I say is a food GROUP) – this was some form of heaven for him.
When I first walked in I thought, “Imagine tasting every single sandwich here!” By the time I left, I was saying, “I can’t believe we tried every sandwich here.” We waddled our way home to digest.
Tacos & Tequila: A Late Night Fiesta
Tom and I went to this event last year and we knew it was one we’d be returning for annually. We turned it into a party with some more friends and family also in attendance. They moved the event to the “late night” category (starting at 10 p.m.) and it also changed to the rooftop venue. It was a litttttlllle chilly but luckily there was some tequila – including an Illy espresso and tequila concoction – to make up for it. Oh, and tacos. Lots and lots and lots of tacos.
The most delicious of the night was probably from Toloache, one of the featured restaurants that I’ve actually eaten at. They had Tacos de Lechon roasted suckling pig with pickled vegetables and chicharron, served with a warm brussels sprout salad. I’m a huge brussels sprout fan, and I hope/wish this is on their regular menu.
In second place, I would vote the taco from Kin Shop: Braised Beef Brisket & Bone Marrow Taco with fried taro root, radish sprouts and yellow bean aioli Crispy Roti. The taco shell was like a warm pita – delicious.
The weirdest of the night was a cow heart taco that I’m told tasted like bland pork. (Animal organs are the one thing I don’t experiment with.)
And no, my memory for all these tacos is not that great. A cool addition to this year’s event was the esurance SavorBand – you tap the band at each taco station and rate what you like. Then you can login online and revisit what you tasted! Cool technology, cool promotion.
Oh, and since the event was hosted by Casamigos – you know, George Clooney’s tequila – we got a pic with Georgey. Or is that just an excellent photoshop job? Ah, let’s just say it’s him.
The only disappointment of the night was the “ghosting” of Bobby Flay. He was the headliner for the party, but he showed up to give a quick two minute speech and then he was out of there.
Grand Tasting (Sunday)
Since Saturday was already packed with “stuff your face” events, Sunday was reserved for the Grand Tasting. While it wasn’t as star-studded as last year (meaning I didn’t have to wait in line for an hour to hand Giada a cook book with trembling hands so that I could get her autograph), the food was just as good without the distraction of the Food Network talents.
I entered to win about 50 contest (let’s see how lucky I am) and meanwhile got some fun free stuff. Just like last year, we ate way too much food and still tried to shove more in as if we were starving. (The irony is the event is to combat child hunger… I have mixed feelings about this hypocrisy, but I suppose it’s all for a good cause.)
We ended up with a strategy of not finishing each sample, no matter how small it was. This was easy to do on the Barilla pasta station and the places that handed you a full sandwich. But on some … it was just too hard to resist.
So what was the best thing I ate? Well, I have a new favorite food. Keeping with the the trend of “hybrid” pastries (see: Cronut) I was introduced to the delectably satisfying “bruffin.” It was explained as a brioche muffin-type pastry, but it tasted like a flaky croissant. It was the first and the last thing I ate (and the only thing I had seconds of). The best part is, if I head downtown I can get another one here in NYC – Bruffin is a store on Delancey Street and they are frequent Smorgasburg vendors.Ah, I was so sad to see the weekend end. I think I have post-festival depression – this event is just too much fun. Until next year NYCWFF …