Last night I attended the mildly crowded and extremely delicious event that is New York Taste, sponsored by Open Skies and Rhone Valley Wines. All the restaurant heavy hitters were there: Andrew Carmellini, Dan Barber, Anita Lo, Zak Pelaccio, Marcus Samuelsson, Michael Psilakis, Masaharu Morimoto, and more. I got to sample some of the best food in NYC; it's a tough job, but someone's got to do it.
I can't possibly list everything I had, not only because that would be boring to you, but because I can't remember everything. There were 45 restaurants being represented; I'm amazing, but not THAT amazing. My trick is, I take a business card for everything that I felt was worth mentioning, then when I get home, go through the cards. BOOM. Some "tastes" were so good that I don't even need to refer back to my cards to remember - read on for those special few.
1. Fatty Cue – Whole Heritage Pig with Maple Cider & Winter Green Curry: I know it doesn't sound like much, but this was hands down my favorite of the night, and believe it or not it was the FIRST dish I tried. That never happens. The pork was dripping with flavor (literally) and the spinach underneath was buttery and spicy. After that "taste", I am thankful that Fatty Cue is located in my neighborhood.
2. Hill Country Chicken – Mini Texas Hand Rolls: The description is not very self-explanatory, so I'll describe: deliciousness in a wrap. Good? This was more than a "taste", by the way, this was a big chunk of juicy, fried white meat chicken slathered with a sweet and slightly spicy coleslaw, wrapped up in a flour tortilla. I saw a few people walking by and exclaimed "I want THAT." The chef, Elizabeth Karmel, who said that it's just "good, comfort food", is absolutely right.
3. Telepan – Squash Tortellini with Red Cabbage and Dried Cherries: I loveeee squash. One of my fave things about fall. This was a little sweet and tasted kind of like a blintz, which was a little odd, but I happen to love blintzes so I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
4. Locanda Verde – Lamb Meatball Sliders with Caprino & Pickled Cucumbers: Ok, I know practically EVERY foodie event I've been to within the past year has had a lamb slider, but I think there's a reason for it. This one had Caprino cheese on top (like a creamy goat cheese) which made it even more delicious. I surrendered to the standard.
5. Blue Hill & Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Forono Beets, Pine Nuts & Blue Hill Yogurt: Again, doesn't sound like much, but this was really delicious. It was one of those "tastes" with a lot of layers, but every layer had something to offer, and they were even better when mixed together. I also liked the farro stick with fresh peanut butter, it represented everything that Blue Hill stands for - fresh, seasonal ingredients made into something wonderful. Chef Dan Barber wins the farm race.
6. Red Rooster Harlem – Gravlax, Waffles, Purple Mustard: I normally am not a huge fan of gravlax (salmon cured in salt and sugar), but Marcus Samuelsson changed my perception. Maybe it was the combination of chewy waffle and tangy mustard along with it, but I really liked it. I will also point out that Chef Samuelsson was one of the friendliest chefs in attendance. He was chatting up a storm with guests and I managed to snag a pic. Too bad the flash didn't go off..
7. The Meatball Shop – Spicy Pork Meatballs with Spicy Meatsauce over Polenta: Don't act surprised. I have an addiction to The Meatball Shop and I'm not afraid to admit it.
Dessert time! My favorite time. There weren't as many desserts as there were mains, but here are my picks.
1. Le Bernardin – Parsnip Custard with Dominican Chocolate, Hazelnut & Brown Butter: Yes, I said parsnip custard. Trust me, you wouldn't even know it was in there if you didn't read the description – hats off to Chef Michael Laiskonis for that. This was probably the best chocolate confection I had; it even topped The Best Chocolate Cake in the World (that still made the list though, naturally). The chocolate was bittersweet, the custard was light and smooth, and the crunchy hazelnuts…damn. Save me from myself.
2. The Best Chocolate Cake in the World – The Best Chocolate Cake in the World: Um…description? Really? Ok…so rich and chocolatey I felt my unborn grandkids develop diabetes. LOVE. CHOCOLATE. Thank you, Chef Adriano Lucas, nice to know others share my obsession.
3. Spot Dessert Bar – Soft Cheesecake with Valencia Oranges, Blueberry Compote, Walnut Soil & Raspberry Foam: Quite a mouthful, huh? Did I want to eat something with the words "walnut SOIL" in it? Yes, I did. The cheesecake sat atop the "soil" (walnut breadcrumbs basically) and was not a regular cheesecake; it had a custard-like consistency, and the orange hints came through while the raspberry foam added a bit of tartness. Drool.
Til next year, New York Taste.