Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bits & Morsels Tastes New York City

The Taste of Tribeca on Duane Street. Photo: Jack Berman.

by Erin Frankel

A weekend of Food Festivals in New York City. The beautiful weather we had this past weekend made it the perfect time to walk around town, trying delicious dishes from the many diverse restaurants New York City has to offer.

I started my weekend at the Taste of the Upper West Side, where I concentrated on comfort classics, then traveled downtown to the Taste of Tribeca on Duane Street, finally ending up in Prospect Park for the great GoogaMooga festival in Brooklyn.

The Taste of the Upper West Side is a chance for city-dwellers to sample small plates from the the Upper West Side's best restaurants, all under a large tent on Columbus Avenue. This year, I went to the Comfort Classics, hosted by Alan Richman and Andrew Zimmern. All vendors featured their unique take on comfort standards. Here are a few of my favorite bites from the evening:

Isabella's hearty Sicilian meatball sliders topped with ricotta salata cheese.

The Ditch Dog from Ditch Plains. Marc Murphy transforms the American ballpark frank by adding a heap of creamy white cheddar mac 'n' cheese to a griddled hot dog. I I mean, one small bite (or two) won't kill you.
Big Daddy's offered two delicious comfort classics. Both the Daddy's signature spicy jalapeno sliders with heavy cream, spicy Monterey Jack Cheese, and salsa verde ...
And the deliciously crispy Ma's Mac & Three Cheese.
The traditional Jewish favorite came from Barney Greengrass's Pastrami Salmon smeared with mustard on Pumpernickel bread.
An Aussie favorite, The Sunburnt Calf, sampled an unusual yet delicious and authentic Australian classic, Kangaroo Shepherd's Pie, a surprisingly light kangaroo sausage over crispy Parmesan polenta and haricots verts.
Indie Food & Wine's sophisticated take on the classic Turkey Club Sandwich in what they call the "Indie Club": Turkey, Bacon, and Lettuce and an additional Pickled Green Tomato and Potato Chips within a warm Pullman loaf, with a side Baby Carrot Salad and Goat Milk Ricotta.

Mamajuana Cafe sampled a vegetarian quesadilla with creamy goat cheese, black beans, corn, mushrooms, and garlic spinach.
Bodrum Turkish Mediterranean restaurant featured their Mitite Kofta, savory pan fried minced lamb meatballs with a side of perfectly buttered rice pilaf.
Taste of Tribeca. On Saturday morning, hundreds of adults and children crowded the small stretch of Duane street to sample over 70 dishes from the neighborhood's best restaurants to benefit arts and enrichment programs at both PS 150 and PS 234. There was much to admire at this outdoor culinary festival, but sadly your ticket only granted you six dishes ... so we had to choose wisely!
My six favorite dishes included ...

Jeffrey Chodorow's uber-popular Modern Jewish American restaurant, Kutsher's, served their signature KT pastrami (cured, smoked, hand-sliced) sandwich on rye bread, with a side of pickle salad. Simple yet heavenly.
The Bliss Bowls (often called a cross between a salad bar and a Korean bibimbap) at the healthy Yorganic. Our favorite was the brown rice with local, organic steamed and pickled vegetables topped with a spicy sauce.
Da Mikele's tiny rectangular crispy Neapolitan pepporoni pizza with the perfect amount of salt, sauce, olive oil and fresh mozzarella (not pictured).

Super Linda's signature tostadas de esquotes with roasted corn, Cotija cheese, lime and a dollop of chile.
Japanese neighborhood favorite Takahachi served some delicious eel and crab salad hand rolls.
Blaue Gans' sweet and tasty strawberry and elderflower coupe. We sipped the refreshing sweetness out of a straw. A perfect tropical dessert for a hot May day.
Ok, we cheated and sampled three more ...

Blaue Gans's grilled shrimp with a tangy sweet mustard fruit salsa and black bean lentil salad.
Zucker's bagels is now my favorite go-to bagel shop in New York City. Zucker's served two different chewy handmade bagels — one plain bagel with with smoked lox and sliced onion and an everything bagel with Zucker's signature jalapeno cream cheese and sliced tomato. Both worth noshing.
Bouley's amazing dessert — a vanilla crème brûlée on top of a white peach soup, with a side of amaretto ice cream.
GoogaMooga. Brooklyn's GoogaMooga festival sure was packed. The lines were incredibly long. Even still, the crowd was thrilled. All over Prospect Park New Yorkers laid their blankets on the grass and listened to up-and-coming bands while devouring some of New York City's tastiest bites.

Here's were some of my favorites ...
Luke's Lobster roll: Luke Holden's Maine-styled lobster roll was a winner at GoogaMooga. Served chilled atop a lightly buttered toasted New England-fashioned bun with only a dollop of mayo, some secret spices, and a drizzle of fresh lemon. So refreshing and delightfu.
Mile End's simple yet scrumptious signature cured and smoked brisket with mustard on rye with a side of sour pickle and creamy potato salad.
The Spotted Pig's juicy chargrilled burger with roquefort cheese with a side of crispy shoestrings.
Maharlika's filipino take on Mexican roasted corn, here prepared with cheese and scallions, replacing the crema with a shrimp paste and drizzled mayo cream.
Char No. 4's unusual yet absolutely delicious take on the classic hot dog. Here, they placed a smoked pork-garlic fennel sausage within a heated bun topped with a nice spicy helping cole slaw.

All of these tasty bites required some thirst-quenching drinks, our favorite being The Brindle Room's Donkey Punch, a refreshing concoction of watermelon, strawberry and hibiscus cooler.