Pozole & Mezcal

 

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On Saturday afternoon February 29th, Jimmy Carbone’s Food Karma Projects, a producer of food and craft beverage events, held the first ever Bowl of ‘Zole pozole festival. The event was held at Bibi restaurant at 110 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The event brought together 10 chefs who cooked their versions of Pozole for people to sample and to accompany all that were 50 different Mezcal from 20+ producers. 

Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup (stew), associated with special occasions, festivals and family. Traditionally made with pork and hominy, it comes in three versions, blanco (white), rojo (red), and verde (green). It’s Mexican comfort food, something that grandma would cook for you.

Mezcal is an alcoholic spirit from Mexico made from the agave plant. It is similar to tequila and while technically all tequila are mezcal, not all mezcal are tequila. Tequila must use a single varietal of agave (blue agave) and be made in the state of Jalisco, while Mezcal can be made using up to 28 different varieties of agave and mostly produced around the city of Oaxaca put produced in other States as well. With tequila the agave heads are baked in above ground ovens while in Mezcal the agave is cooked in the traditional method in pits dug into the ground. Cooking in those in-ground pits is what gives the Mezcal its smoky flavor profile. The permitted use of many types of agave and wider geographic production area results in a greater variety of styles of the spirit than in tequila. Many are still made in the traditional method at small production family run operations which means that with the exception of a small handful of labels, many of the brands are not widely distributed and were not familiar to me. 

I have to admit that this was the first time I had a comprehensive tasting of Pozole as it’s an under the radar Mexican food choice. They are traditionally made with pork but there were versions made with chicken and seafood as well. I was able to sample the different versions of the stew and it was the perfect food choice to have on a chilly Winter Saturday afternoon. 

Some of the Pozole I sampled:

La Esquina chef Gonzalo Rivera: Vuelve a la Vida Pozole, Maine lobster, mussels, clams, organic hominy, fennel, toasted sesame, & chile de arbol oil, smoky hoja santa broth.

Balvanera chef Fernando Navas: Pozole rojo with radishes, avocado and fresh oregano.

Bacado chef Ivy Stark: Pozole rojo with braised short rib.

Hotel Indigo chef Chai Trivedi Kitsch: Rojo, matzo ball Pozole. 

Mesa Coyoacan chef Ivan Garcia: Shredded pork, hominy, guajillo, ancho chile broth, radish, oregano. 

Toloache chef Julian Medina: Pozole verde, heirloom hominy, green curry, coconut milk broth, thai basi, lemongrass, salsa macha, been sprouts. 

While Mezcal can be made from several types of agave, the “workhorse” is the Espadin varietal and many of the spirits on hand were made from that type of agave. I tried to sample as many made from agave other than Espadin.

Some of the Mezcal I sampled:

Ilegal Mezcal, espadin Fidencio, tepextate
Machetazo, cupreata Sombra, espadin
Banuelos, masparillo, tepemate El Silencio, joven, black
Del Maguey, arroqueno. wild tetextate Wahaka, tabala, madre cuishe
El Buho, tepeztate, jabal, ensamble Siete Misterios, arroqueno
AC, agave de cortez Mezcal Vago, cuixn, ensamble

 

 

Beef & Pork

 

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The 12th annual Food Network New York City Food & Wine Festival was held October 10-13.

It was a four day event that featured television chefs, culinary personalities, wine and spirits with over 100 events that included dinners, hands on culinary classes and late night parties. The festival raises money for the Food Bank of New York City and for the No Kid Hungry organization.

 

On Saturday afternoon I attended a couple of those events and was a day of meat.

I began the day by attending the Steak and Whiskey pairing held at STK Downtown restaurant located at 26 Little West 12th street in the Meatpacking district of Manhattan. It was a sit down affair that featured four different whiskey paired with four different types of beef.

Basil Hayden’s High Rye Bourbon paired with Lil Burgers made with a propriety blend of beef, onions, special sauce, tomato and cheddar.

Suntory Whisky Toki paired with Filet Mignon and signature STK sauce.

Bowmore 12 year Single Malt paired with New York Strip steak au poivre.

Knob Creek Rye paired with boneless beef Rib Eye with truffle butter.

 

Right after that event and a quick stroll down the block took me to the Octoberfest event hosted by TV Chef Andrew Zimmern. It was held at The Standard High Line Biergarden which is located at the southern terminus of the High Line walk at 41 Little West 12th Street.

In was a walk-around event and befitting an Octoberfest, there were many pork-centric dishes served including Zimmern’s famous wieners. Specialty cocktails, steins of Sam Adam’s beer, Pinot Noir and Riesling from Germany, and free- flowing Jägermeister were on hand to help wash it all down with.

 

 

 

Oysters & Cider

 

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In the last week of September, I attended a couple of Autumn themed events.

On Saturday September 28th I attended the 8th annual Long Island Pour the Core hard cider festival which was held at Heckscher State Park in East Islip Long Island. That’s about a 45 minute drive East from the Queens border. This is one stop on the Pour the Core tour that included Philadelphia and Brooklyn. This was an outdoor event and it was a beautiful, sunny Autumn afternoon.

Over 100 hard ciders were poured from across the country with many from New York State. Other countries such as England, Ireland, Sweden and Spain were represented as well. There were many of the well know big brands such as Angry Orchid, Magners, and Doc’s to name a few but there were many small producers represented as well.

Many styles of cider were on hand in various degrees of dry to sweet. Many were infused with fruit flavors and it seemed that rosé ciders are very popular this year.

I prefer bone dry ciders and Bad Seed, Merchant’s Daughter and Descendant Cider Co. poured some very dry and crisp versions.

There were food trucks for the hungry and live music to keep everyone entertained on this beautiful Autumn afternoon.

 

The next day Sunday afternoon, I attended the Oystober Fest oyster party held at The Well at 272 Meserole Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

It was one of the many oyster related events held for the 8th annual New York oyster week from September 17-29. The events are a production of the OysterHood, a global community of oyster consumers, producers, distributers and shuckers.

The Well is a bar housed in a former brewery in a neighborhood that had many in the past and the event was held in their in the outdoor event space, the “graffiti garden”. They served a rotating selection of East and West coast oysters, freshy shucked with a choice of various  hot sauces, mignonettes and citrus juices. My favorite of the day were the St. Simon, small and plump with the right mix of sweet and salty.

 

Oysters that I sampled:

East Beach Blond  (Rhode Island) Miyagi  (California)
Fiddler’s Cove  (Massechusets) Kosshi  (British Columbia)
Macho Maine  (Maine) Shigoku  (Washington)
St. Simon  (New Brunswick) Capital  (Washington)
Tuxedo  (Prince Edward Island)  

 

 

Pig Island 2019

 

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The 10th annual Pig Island BBQ fest was held on September 7th.

The event was held on the waterfront at Erie Basin Park in Red Hook Brooklyn. The neighborhood of Red  Hook is an old industrial waterfront area that in the 1990’s Life magazine called “one of the worst neighborhoods in the United States”. That has changed as the neighborhood has been going to a resurgence. Box stores such as IKEA and Fairway have made their way into the neighborhood and many of the warehouses have been converted to galleries, artists lofts, breweries and distilleries.

The event was produced by the Food Karma Project helmed by Jimmy Carbone who along with Josh Ozersky conceived Meatopia back in 2010. That wanted a farm to table event using pigs from small farmers.

With the cancellation of the Big Apple BBQ block party this year, this event was the premier bbq event of the year in New York and “the last great bbq event of the Summer”.

I attended after a two year hiatus. The park is on the waterway with expansive views of the harbor most of the way around. It was a big outdoor bbq with people and families spreading blankets on the grass while strolling from vendor to vendor.

Since my last visit more spirit vendors were in attendance this time around. Some of the interesting ones was Irish Whiskey from Kilbeggan and Tyrconnell which had a wide range of whiskey styles that I didn’t think Irish whiskey had. There were some nice single malts from Laphroaig, Auchentoshan and Bowmore, a couple of nice rye from Ragtime Rye and Knob Creek was on hand to make a smoked to order Old Fashioned.

When general admission was let in some of the food lines grew long, it seems that there’s a hierarchy of bbq vendors and some of the lines were longer than others.

 

BBQ to be sampled: 

Puerco a lo Cubano Vietnamese Larb
The Foxy Burger Mixiotes de Puerco
Apple Cider Brined Hog Pulled Pork Tacos
Puerco Ahumado Smoked Chorizo
Half Pig Porcetta BBQ Pigtail
Pulled Pork Bacon Cups Roasted Pernil

 

 

Bastille Day Fête 2019

 

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July 14th is Bastille Day, the national holiday of France. It celebrates the storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789 and the birth of the modern French nation.

FIAF (french institute alliance francaise) is the “country’s leading French language and cultural center” founded nearly 120 years ago to promote French arts and teach French language and is now housed in the heart of Manhattan at 22 East 6oth Street. For over twenty years they have hosted New York City’s largest public celebration of France’s national holiday.

It was a three-block long party on East 60th Street with French themed food booths, French products and a stage with continuous live music throughout the afternoon.

Of course there were a couple of wine tastings as well, a Summer in Provence tasting and a Champagne, Cocktail and Jazz party which I attended. At the party they served five very drinkable Champagne and a specialty cocktail while being serenated by Avalon, a four-piece Jazz band.

 

Champagnes:

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé

Pol Roger Reserve

Delamonte Brut

Besserat du Bellefon Bleu Brut

Michel Gonet Brut Reserve

 

Cocktail: “La Quatorze Juillet

Made with Routin vermouth blanc, Giffard rubarbe liquour, Giffard Menthe Pastille (a pepperment flavored liquour), a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters and topped with a slice of cucumber. It was very refreshing.

 

 

Westchester Magazine’s Grand Tasting 2019

 

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Westchester Magazine held its 9th annual wine and food festival on June 4-9. It was six days of foodie events that included a Burger & Beer Blast, a Food Truck Fest a tasting tour of Italy and winemaker dinners.

It’s signature event was the Grand Tasting Village which was held on Saturday afternoon, June 8th. The village was an outdoor tented area that saw 50+ local restaurants serving food with over 200 wines and spirits to wash them down with. There was also a “connoisseurs tent”, a separate area from general admission that featured additional high end wines and food.

The event was held at the Kensico Dam Plaza in the sleepy village of Valhalla with its two block long Main Street located in Westchester. It’s about an hour train ride north from New York City.

There was plenty of food to sample with many different ethnic cuisines represented and for a consumer event,  an impressive selection of domestic and international wines. It was a beautiful Spring afternoon for eating and drinking.

 

Some of the wines from the connoisseurs tent:

Laurent-Perrier: NV Cuvee Rosé, NV Ultra Brut, 2007 Brut Millesime

2018 Chateau d’Esclans Rosé Les Clans

2018 Chateau d’Esclans Rosé Garrus

2017 Castello della Sala Conte Vipera

2015 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva

2015 Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico

2013 Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino

2016 Tenuta Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore

2014 Bodegas Pintia Toro Tinto

2015 Macan Rioja Clasico

2014 Macan Rioja

2015 Bodegas Alion Ribera del Duero

2013 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle Musigny

2016 Joseph Drouhin Chorey Les Beaune

2016 Domaine de la Solitude Chateauneuf du Pape

2016 Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2014 Rombauer Diamond Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

 

 

Best of the West 2019

 

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Best of the West was one of two events held as part of the 12th annual Taste of the Upper West Side. The events were a fundraiser benefitting the upper west side community. Summer in the City was held on Friday evening and Best of the West on Saturday evening. Both events were held under the tents on Columbus Avenue between 76-77th streets in the upper west side of Manhattan, just across the street from the Museum of Natural History.

Both events had 80+ chefs from local restaurants serving unlimited food along with some drinkable wines, cocktails made with the ever present Tito’s vodka and Rums from Puerto Rico, beer and hard cider.

It was a big foodies event, a night of good eating, so much so I couldn’t get to all the food stations but had tried my best. Just wish I had brought a doggie bag.

 

Some of what I sampled:

The Milling Room: Mini Lobster Roll, featuring Maine lobster on Amy’s challah bun.

8th Hill Restaurant: Stuffed beet leaves with meat.

The Loeb Boathouse Central Park: Yuzi cured Hamachi, cucumbers and watermelon salad with ginger dressing.

Leyla: Fava bean bruschetta, fava bean spread, arugula, pickled carrots, dill over sourdough bread.

Lincoln Center Kitchen: Chilled spring pea soup, jumbo lump crab salad, smoked bacon.

Da Capo: Veal meatballs, pan seared San Marzano tomatoes, Sunday Sauce, basil.

Elea: Grilled octopus, fava puree with pepper & onion “Stifado”.

Shake Shack: Cheeseburger topped with Monterrey Jack cheese, double smoked bacon and fiery shack sauce.

Café 21: Mixed seafood Ceviche with miso ginger Asian slaw.

Red Farm: Chicken with truffle Shu Mai.

Tavern on the Green: Confit of Berkshire pork shoulder, pickled julienne vegetables, Sambai aioli.

Dizzy’s Club: Smoked baby back ribs with Carolina BBQ sauce, with jalapeno, peach slaw.

Salumeria Rosi: Pork meatballs, fresh tomato sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano.

Café Frida: Mole negro cooked for 8 hours, chicken breast, fried sweet plantains, white onions and sesame seeds.

The Leopard: Parmigiana of zucchini with smoked mozzarella, fresh tomato sauce and basil.

Café Luxembourg: Tuna tartare, avocado mousse, rice cakes.

Tessa: Chilled octopus salad, celery, pickled red onions, preserved lemon, smoked paprika oil, micro arugula.

The Smith: Toasted ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream.

The Mermaid Inn: Chilled ruby red shrimp ceviche, charred tomato, avocado, cilantro and old bay popcorn.

Crave Fishbar: Salmon sashimi tostada, avocado puree, Calabrian chili oil, grapefruit, crisp shallot, micro cilantro.

Calle Ocho: Ceviche Demorro, black grouper, pickled vegatables, calle ocho pique.

Alice’s Teacup: Mini pumpkin scones.

Treat House: Sea salt caramels, chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream.

 

 

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Fest 2019

 

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Brew it. Taste it. Sip it. Pork it. That’s the motto of the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival which is a pork-centric, American multi-city tour that began in New York City on January 26th.

The event was held at The Tunnel, a former railroad freight terminal turned nightclub now an event space located at 220 12th avenue at West 28th Street in Manhattan. The festival promised “60+ beer, 40+ Bourbon and lots of BBQ”, though it was an all-American whiskey list that included whiskey other than Bourbon. Beer and hard cider were also served to help wash down all the bbq. Music was spun by DJ Flava.

There were two sessions that day and I attended the “whole hog picking” session in the evening.

 

Seminars:

Bulleit hosted by Adam Geissler

Bourbon, Rye, Barrel Strength, 10yr Bourbon.

Makers Mark hosted by Alexa Amendognine

Bourbon, Makers 46, Private Select.

 

Others I sampled:

Koval (Chicago) Millet, Rye, Bourbon, Four Grain.

Virginia Distillery (Virginia) Port Cask Highland Single Malt Whisky, Chardonnay Cask Single Malt Whisky.

Deadwood (South Carolina) Rye, Straight Bourbon.

Buffalo Trace Distillery (Kentucky) Straight Bourbon, Eagle Rare Straight Bourbon.  

Balcones (Texas) Single Malt, 100°, Brimstone, Baby Blue.

Elijah Craig (Kentucky) Small Batch Bourbon.

Four Roses (Kentucky) Straight Bourbon, Small Batch, Single Barrel.

George Dickel (Tennessee) Rye, Sour Mash.

 

 

 

Pigs & Pizza

 

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Food Network held its 11th annual New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) on October 11-14. It’s New York City’s largest food and wine festival with four days of 80 events and 500 chefs featuring a grand tasting, culinary demos, rooftop parties, late night parties, dinners, cocktails, spirits and classes. A foodies dream with something for everyone concerning food, drink and parties. This is the sister event to the South Beach food and wine fest held in February in Miami. 100% of NYCWFF’s net proceeds benefit the No Kid Hungry campaign and Food Bank for New York City. I was able to get the party rolling by attending some of the late night parties starting with Tacos & Tequila on Thursday night and Rock & Roll Sushi on Friday night. On Saturday I spent the day eating well. I attended:

 

 

The Ultimate Pizza Party presented by Slice and hosted by Jeff Mauro

Who doesn’t like pizza? At this fest several pizza establishments served their wood-fired creations with a wide range of toppings that in addition to the traditional red sauce with cheese included toppings with various meats and cold cuts, cheeses, vegetables, and even egg and with red sauce or no red sauce. Some of the rotating restaurants sending hot slices out of the wood-fired ovens included Motorino, Speedy Romeo, LBK and Sottocasa to name a few.

The event was held at Fornino’s Pier 6 restaurant located at Brooklyn Bridge Park which has a stellar view of lower Manhattan. To keep with the Italian theme I washed down those slices with shots of Fernet.

 

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Pigs & Pours presented by Whistle Pig and hosted by Robert Irvine

Later in the afternoon, I attended the pigs & pour event held at The Standard High Line Biergarten at the Standard Hotel located at 848 Washington Avenue in the Meatpacking district of lower Manhattan.

It was a walk around fest of local restaurants serving all things pork and pork centric that included everything from a whole roasted pig to bacon desserts with everything in between. To wash all that down was beer from Modello, cocktails made with WhistlePig whiskey and surprisingly, a nice selection of pinot noir from Oregon and California that included:

Cambria Julia’s Vineyard, La Crema Sonoma Coast, Siduri Willamette Valley, Willakenzie Estate Gisele and Kendall-Jackson VR.

 

 

Upcoming Wine Event: On November 10, Robert Parker Jr’s Wine Advocate Matter of Taste is hosting one of the best wine tastings of the year at the Conrad New York Hotel. At the Grand Tasting there will be an opportunity to try some of the finest wines of the world.

Promo code for $50 off the Grand Tasting: SVNYC18

 

 

Food Network Grand Tasting & Outdoor BBQ 2017

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The 10th annual Food Network New York Food & Wine Festival was held on October 12-15. It was four days of 100+ events including dinners, wine tastings, classes, seminars and late night parties with 100% of the net proceeds going to the Food Bank for New York and the No Kid Hungry campaign.

I began the festivities on Thursday evening by attending the Tacos & Tequila late-night party held at the boutique Hudson Hotel at 237 58th Street in Manhattan. It was hosted by taco aficionado Aaron Sanchez and featured many styles of tacos and much tequila infused cocktails.

On Sunday I attended a couple of events, I began at the Grand Tasting held at Pier 94 at 55th street and the West Side highway. The event space was a 130,000 sq. foot “culinary wonderland” of food, wine, spirits and culinary demonstrations by Food Network and Cooking Channel stars.

I have covered this event in the past and was somewhat disappointed this year. In past years there was a separate room that featured higher end wines that were not available on the main floor. That was not the case this year, they omitted that room which for me took away much of the excitement of the event. It became just another large consumer event with a lot of mid-level wines.

Afterwards I walked next door to the Coca-Cola Backyard BBQ event held at the top floor of an unused multilevel parking garage. The event was hosted by Andrew Zimmern, Chef and host to the Travel Channel show, Bizarre Foods, and by Pat LaFrieda of Pat LaFrieda Meats. The event had pit masters grilling all sorts of meat, and even squid which was washed down with cold beer, wine and cocktails. An excellent live band provided the music and as this years event was “family friendly”, there were plenty of kids enjoying the event as well.

 

Some of what I sampled at the Grand Tasting:

Tablas Creek Winery. Winery in Paso Robles California that specializes in Rhone varietals.

2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc: Gold in color, honey notes on the nose, kiwi, melon on the fruit, nice balance.

2014 Esprit de Tablas Noir: black in color, black olives on the nose, chewy dark chocolate on the fruit, nice grip, good balance.

2014 Patelin de Tablas: Dark amber, closed nose of crushed herbs, tight with firm acids and tannin on the bitter red cherry finish.

Kendall-Jackson Winery

2015 Pinot Gris: Medium yellow with cantaloupe on the nose, dried herb on the finish with nice acidity.

2015 Grand Reserve Chardonnay : Medium gold, toasty nose, with big oak notes on the fruit.

2013 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Dark black, slightly closed nose of crushed dark berries, very concentrated with dusty, silky tannins and good balance.

2014 Ferrari-Carano Siena: Dark red to black, closed nose, juicy and concentrated, tree bark on the fruit, good, firm finish.

2014 Ferrari-Carano  Cabernet Sauvignon: Black, crushed ripe plums on the nose, thick and concentrated with some mint notes, balanced.

2014 Cambia Winery Pinot Noir “Benchbreak”: Medium amber, crushed blueberry and mint on the nose, tight, smoky finish.