Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bits & Morsels: Tastings

Eric Ripert, Marc Murphy, and Francois Payard at the 18th Annual City Harvest Bid Against Hunger Tasting Event at the Metropolitan Pavilion.
by Erin Frankel

A mass of foodies took over New York City last week for two of the most praised annual food events this city continues to host — the New York City Wine & Food Festival and City Harvest's 18th Annual Bid Against Hunger. From Rachel Ray's favored Burger Bash to Bobby Flay's Tacos & Tequila, the past week was all about getting a good taste of the best of New York City.

The real festivities started on Thursday evening at S. Pellegrino's Meatball Madness hosted by the beloved Giada De Laurentiis. Big-eyed foodies gathered at 82 Mercer to sample and savor our city's best meatballs. While Donatella's tomato-braised veal meatballs won the audience award, Gabe Thompson got the thumbs up from the judges for his succulent pork meatballs in an amatriciana sauce from his newest family-style Italian restaurant, L'Apicio, which officially opened last week.
Giada toasts Gabe Thompson, whose succulent pork meatballs scored big points from the judges.
Here were some of my favorites:

Seasonal Restaurant & Weinbar and Edi & the Wolf: Chef Wolfgang Ban's Austrian take on the Meatball with pretzel stuffing, potato and baby cabbage dressed in mustard.

L'Apicio: Gabe Thompson's Pork Meatballs in an amatriciana sauce on top of a creamy polenta shaved with layers of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

A Voce: Missy Robbins prepared a Calabrian Style Meatball, seasoned with pungent flavors and spices, and complemented it with charred broccoli.

Hearth Restaurant and Terroir Wine Bars: Marco Canora made a delicious rendition of the simple and classic meatball parm, a juicy ball of beef with melted cheese and greens wedged between two hot, crunchy slices of hero bread.
Clockwise from top left: Seasonal Restaurant & Weinbar; L'Apicio; A Voce; Hearth Restaurant.
Trattoria L'incontro: Chef Rocco Sacramone prepared the traditional Nonna Concetta's Meatball housed in a classic marinara sauce with a side of deliciously creamy homemade lasagna.
Trattoria L'incontro.
Sirio Ristorante: Chef Gozzoli Filippo debuted Sirio's newest restaurant, set to open in the Pierre November 1rst, with his Mondeghilli Milanese Fried Meatballs, complemented by a light and fresh side of savory cabbage salad.

The Meatball Shop:
Meatball Master, Daniel Holzman, wowed us (with another new concoction) with his spicy pork meatball smothered with spicy meat sauce over creamy polenta. Our tongues were sizzling with spice!

Chef Massimo Carbone concocted Neapolitan Veal Meatballs topped with a marinara sauce and slices of ricotta over a preserved zucchini squash.

Keith McNally's Tony Liu took it up a notch with his pork meatball over spicy broccoli rabe, which added the perfect kick to the dish.
Clockwise from top left: Sirio Ristorante; The Meatball Shop; Brio; Pulino's.
Casa Pomona: Jodi Bernhard introduced the hip Spanish tapas newcomer to the Upper West Side with her unique Spanish take on the classic meatball with oxtail stuffed albondigas complemented by smoky, spicy potato chips.

Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria:
Justin Smillie prepared a light and tasty lamb and ricotta meatball over braised artichokes.

Morso Restaurant, Bar & Cafe: Pino Luongo prepared a hearty Malfada Meatball soaked in a creamy polenta sauce.

Corsino Cantina: Chef Tomas Curi concocted a flavorful pork belly meatball in a pesto modenese sauce with fried marble potatoes and large chunks of fresh parmigiano.

Casa Nonna: Executive Chef Kenneth Tufo stayed true to his restaurant's traditional Roman fare with his local veal meatballs with sweet ricotta in a classic pomodoro sauce, with a side of herb polenta, seasoned brilliantly with Parmesan and fresh rosemary.
Clockwise from top left: Casa Pomona; Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria; Morso Restaurant, Bar & Cafe; Corsino Cantina; Casa Nonna.
Next up, undoubtedly the most popular event each year, was Rachael Ray's 4th annual Burger Bash, where we were kept warm with beer and hot apple cider while noshing on the best burgers from over 20 of New York City's famed chefs.

Josh Cappone's Bash Burger from Burger & Barrel won the audience choice award while the judge's named Michael White's White Label Burger from Ai Fiori as the best. 28 Burgers were to be chowed down in only 3 hours.
Host Rachel Ray and audience choice award winner Josh Capon.
I made my rounds, but focused primarily on the burgers I've never had before. These were my top eight:

North End Grill's impressive behemoth consisted of a Short Rib Burger with Pickled Grilled Onions and Chipotle Mayo.

Gotham Bar & Grill's famed Gotham Burger — a mammoth patty made from aged fat, dry-aged sirloin and ground chunk hanger steak — with tomato confit, Italian black truffle cheese, pickles, and roasted garlic aioli on a housemade roll.

Le Promenade des Anglais showcased their signature LP Veal Burger — a husky chunk of veal on a potato roll with ricotta cheese, arugula, and fresh housemade tomato sauce, with a side of crispy zucchini chips.

Benoit served a juicy custom blend of beef with a touch of espelette pepper topped with Sucrine lettuce, tomato, and onion, dressed with a bearnaise sauce on a housemade bun.
Clockwise from top left: North End Grill; Gotham Bar & Grill; Le Promenade des Anglais; Benoit.
Tertulia prepared their Spanish interpretation of the classic American patty with their lightly smoked beef burger with smoked American Cheddar Cheese, caramelized onion jam, house pickles, and nora pepper ketchup with a side of early autumn vegetable salad, smoked potatoes, shelling beans and peppers.

Cast Iron executed their Penultimate Bacon Cheese Burger, a burger blend by Pat La Frieda topped with cheddar, McClure's Pickles, fried onions and a "special sauce" made with Sir Kensington's Ketchup.

21 Club concocted a Buffalo Burger, a signature '21' blend topped with cheddar cheese, and fried onions slathered in both a Buffalo sauce and a pungent blue cheese and bacon sauce.

Park Avenue Autumn wowed me with their simple yet flavorful chuck, brisket, and short rib patty on a potato roll with classic American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onions with sweet potato tater tots on the side. No frills or fuss in this one. Sometimes less is more.
Clockwise from top left: Tertulia; Cast Iron; 21 Club; Park Avenue Autumn.
I wrapped up my week of gorging with Bobby Flay's Tacos & Tequila event,sponsored by Avion Tequila, which confirmed the best tacos this city has to offer. Just like last year, the vibe was vibrant, the crowds were charged with excitement, and the chefs worked hard to concoct unique and inspiring adaptations of the taco.

Bobby Flay.
The Lion: John Delucie never fails to surprise us with his innovative creations. He showcased his heritage pork taco spiced with ancho chilies, topped with pepitas, sweet squash, delfino cilantro, and salsa verde.

Balaboosta: Einat Admony prepared a Middle-Eastern interpretation of the traditional Mexican classic with what she calls her "Jerusalem Mix," a flavorful mixture of chicken thighs, merguez (Admony's spicy sausage seasoned with her housemade Harissa), sweat breads, and garden pickles. The filling was seasoned and spiced with cumin seeds wrapped inside a crunchy toasted tortilla.

Ditch Plains: Marc Murphy's sweet Pastrami Taco topped with a creamy red cabbage slaw.

Dos Caminos: Ivy Stark's Lobster Tacos with a fresh citrus blend of Jicama, Coconut, Mango and Pineapple Slaw. A refreshing exception to the majority of carnivore-friendly tortillas showcased at the event.
Clockwise from top left: The Lion; Balaboosta; Ditch Plains; Dos Caminos.
Mestizo: Aaron Sanchez's Tacos de Huitlacoche. Otherwise, a pork-filled taco with Huitlacoche (a Mexican truffle or more simply, what we call "corn fungus") topped with with chicharon (deep fried pork rinds), a brussels sprout salad, and sweet red onions.

SugarCane Raw Bar & Grill: Timon Balloo's lentil naam taco with shortribs was blazing with colors and flavor, thanks to his addition of cilantro, mint, yogurt, and a variety of spices.

Empellon Taqueria: Alex Stupak prepared a beer braised tongue with chorizo and smoked potatoes, topped with refried black beans.

Buddakan New York: Brian Ray concocted an upscale Asian display with his Peking duck taco, topped with Chinese pickles.
Clockwise from top left: Mestizo; SugarCane Raw Bar & Grill; Buddakan New York; Empellon Taqueria
Beauty & Essex: Chris Santos incorporated some sweetness into his Braised Short Rib Soft Tacos with his addition of chipotle and sweet potato salad.

Mexico Lindo: Claudia Bonilla's roasted pork butt taquitos were packed with flavor with her addition of pepitas and a mango pico de gallo sauce.

Rosa Mexicano: Jonathan Waxman prepared tacos filled with rich oxtail stewed with garlic and fennel, topped with horseradish crema, pickled okra, and toasted almonds.

ilili Restaurant: Philippe Massoud and John Shim displayed a Lebanese interpretation with their Beef Rib Eye rubbed with sumac and aleppo pepper. The meat was seasoned with fresh thyme and rosemary, and topped with seasonal salsa on a sweet, soft taco.
Clockwise from top left: Beauty & Essex; Mexico Lindo; Rosa Mexicano; ilili Restaurant.
The Plaza Hotel: Willis Loughhead's lobster roll with goat cheese and creamy avocado sauce was quite the crowd pleaser. Not quite your standard taco, but then again, everyone has their own interpretation.

Saxon & Parole: Brad Farmerie showcased his Tail Taco, a soft tortilla filled with diced meat with hibiscus and lime, dressed with Avion tequila-spiked watermelon.
Saxon & Parole.
City Harvest's 18th Annual Bid Against Hunger is a favorite event of mine. Besides the mind-blowing array of delectable bites from New York City's most celebrated chefs, each and every restaurant involved is committed to providing food to millions of hungry and less fortunate New Yorkers. This year, City Harvest raised over $1,000,000! This will help them rescue 30 million pounds of food for those who don't have access.

Clockwise from top left: T-Bar Steak & Lounge; Aldea;
5J Cinco Jotas; Untitled.
Clockwise from top left: Landmarc; Serafina; Pain D'Avignon; L'Apicio.
Clockwise from top left: Murray's Cheese Bar; Hecho en Dumbo; Booker & Dax; Rosemary's.
Clockwise from top left: Raymi; Michael Jordan's The Steak House NYC; Ed's Chowder House; Picholine.
Clockwise from top left: Toloache 82; No. 7; Cafe D'Alsace; Victor's Cafe.
Clockwise from top left: Ouest; The Darby; Blue Hill; Bareburger.
Clockwise from top left: Benchmark Restaurant; David Burke Townhouse; Gramercy Tavern; Le Bernadin.
Clockwise from top left: Talde; Maialino; Loi Restaurant; Dos Caminos.
Clockwise from top left: Craft; Brushstroke Restaurant; Porter House New York; Fatty 'Cue.
Clockwise from top left: The Wren; Tribeca Grill; Tertulia; rankie's 570 Spuntino.
Clockwise from top left: Red Rooster Harlem; Millesime Restaurant; Ardesia Wine Bar; Ai Fiori.
Clockwise from top left: Scarpetta; Oceana; A Voce; Caviarteria.
Guests were treated to said top chefs in action and sampled new seasonal dishes while bidding on exclusive prizes in both the live and silent auctions, including exclusive dinners with top chefs, sports memorabilia, concert tickets and vacation packages.

The food was sensational.

Here were my favorites from the evening. And yes, I tried each and every dish on this list!:

Chris Bradley's Roasted Veal Sandwich with Caramelized Onions and Kale Pesto.

New Leaf Restaurant & Bar
Scott Campbell's House Smoked Duck Pastrami with Buttery Soft Polenta and Beech Mushrooms.

George Medes' Mussel Soup with Linguica, Coconut-Curry and Lime.

Marc Murphy's Orange and Ginger Braised Pork Belly with Spicy Aioli & Pickled Vegetables.

T-Bar Steak & Lounge
Ben Zwicker's Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with Soy, Ginger and Sesame Seeds.

Gabe Thompson's Polenta with Short Ribs and Gremolata.

Alfredo Duarte's Ravioli with Baby Spinach and Sage Butter Sauce.

5J Cinco Jotas
Fracisco Carrasco's Iberico de Bellota (Ham Carving Station).

Pain D'Avignon
Assorted Breads with Olive Tapenade, Bean Dips, Herbed Butters and Olive Oil.

Murray's Cheese Bar
Tia Keenan's Cave-Aged Challerhocker with Pumpkin Chutney and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds.

Wade Moises' Housemade Capicolla, spicy cabbage, and pecorino on an almond hoagie.

Booker & Dax
Mixologist Tristen Willey's Coriander Old Fashioned.

Hecho en Dumbo
Danny Mena's Quesadillas de Chorizo: A Caramelized Queso Oaxaca with Housemade Berkshire Pork Belly Chorizo in a warm flour tortilla.

Terrance Brennan's Wild Scottish Game Rillette topped with Cranberry Gelee and "Game Chips."

Richard Sandoval's Ceviche Clasico made with Corvina, Sweet Potato, Habanero, and cilantro.

Michael Jordan's The Steak House NYC
Cenobio Canalizo's Charred Strip Steak Crostini with Creamed Spinach.

Ed's Chowder House
Ed Brown's Peekytoe Crab Salad with Blood Orange and Piquillo Pepper Vinaigrette.

Cafe D'Alsace
Philippe Roussel's Reggiano Cheese Gougeres (Cheese Puffs.)

Toloache 82
Julian Medina's Braised Short Rib with Thai Basil-Chile de Arbol Chimichurri Salsa and Bone Marrow.

No. 7
Tyler Kord's Shrimp Salad with Peanuts, Cucumber Puree, Chili and Lime on a Saltine Cracker.

Victor's Cafe
Fritas Cubanas con Patipas a la Juliana: Miniature Cuban-Style Prime Sirloin-Chorizo Hamburgers with Onions and Julienned Fries.

Misha Levin's Organic Beef Sliders.

Thomas Valenti's Moroccan-Spiced Salmon with Cucumber Raita and Paprika-Chile Oil.

Blue Hill
Dan Barber's Carrot shots with Buttermilk Panna Cotta.

The Darby
Alex Guarnaschelli's Heirloom tomato soup with bacon popcorn.

Benchmark Restaurant
Ryan Jaronik's Pork Parfait with Braised Pork Shoulder, Mashed Potatoes, Chipotle Barbecue Sauce and Miso Caramel.

Le Bernadin
Eric Ripert's Crab Filled Zucchini Flower with Truffle Foie-Gras Sauce.

Gramercy Tavern
Michael Anthony's Pork Terrine with Sweet Potato.

David Burke Townhouse
David Burke's Pastrami Salmon with Rye Blinis.

Nick Anderer's bite-sized salumi sandwiches with pickled chili tapenade.

Loi Restaurant
Maria Loi's Dolmadakia paired with a thick Labne sauce.

Dos Caminos
Ivy Stark's Crispy Lobster Tacos with Mango and Habanero Pico de Gallo.

Dale Talde's Pastrami Spice-Rubbed Beets marinated in yuzu with pumpernickel crumbs and bonito flakes.

Fatty 'Cue
Zak Pelaccio's Ham, Jam, Butter, sandwich.

Brushstroke Restaurant
Isao Yamada's Black Truffle Chawan-Mushi.

Chris Lavey's Butternut Squash Mousse with Apple Cider Vinegar and Sage.

Porter House New York
Michael Lomonaco's Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese with Mangalitsa Ham.

Rosa Mexicano
Joe Quintana's Guacamole en Molcajete with Homemade Tortilla Chips.

Tribeca Grill

Kamal Rose's Farfalline Pasta with Potatoes, Clams, and Basil Pesto.

The Wren
Mixologist Krissy Harris' Ginger Rye Sour "Black and Blue" made with Farmer's Gin, blackberries, blueberries, and mulberries.


Seamus Mullen's Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Citrus Yogurt and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds.

Frankie's 570 Spuntino
The two Frank's and Ryan Bartlow's duck leg with kabocha squash and amaretti crumble.

Ai Fiori
Michael White's Charred Octopus with Fennel.

Red Rooster Harlem
Marcus Samuelsson's Lamb Bunny Chow.

Ardesia Wine Bar
Amorette Casaus' Chicken Liver Mousse Crostini.

Millesime Restaurant
Seared Hiramasa with Piperode Marmalade.

Scott Conant's Timpano.

Ben Pollinger's Alaska Weathervane Scallops with Almonds, Raisins, and Roasted Pumpkin.

A Voce
Missy Robbins' House-made Pugliese-Style Mozzarella with Anchovy and Dried Tomato.

American Sturgeon with 23K edible gold. Yum!