My mom and I had the wonderful pleasure of attending New York Taste 2013 benefiting City Harvest. We both had never attended a food festival and really didn’t know what to expect. As it turns out, these kind of events, especially this one run by New York Magazine, are absolutely incredible and exceed all expectations. First of all, everything is included, open bar, limitless portions from 40 different restaurants and great music sets the mood.Both of us are huge fans of Top Chef, so we decided to conquer all of the tastings in a similar fashion. Each dish was discussed in detail, somewhat ranked with certain dishes sticking out as the most memorable of the night.
Ironically, our favorite, insanely unusual dish was the final one of the evening. The High Road Craft Ice Cream booth’s line spanned half the length of the gigantic venue, knowing what waited at the front of the line would be well worth the wait. Cinnamon Sugar-Apple-Butter Cheddar Grilled Cheese Ice Cream Sandwich. Yep. High Road Vanilla Fleur de Sel ice cream between two slices of grilled cheese.
Sweet, salty, hot, cold, creamy and beyond life-changing, delicious. Pieces of brioche are smothered with apple butter and filled with slightly salty cheddar cheese. The vanilla fleur de sel ice cream completes this dish, and is actually the reason the entire sandwich works. Just like the grilled cheese, it combines a salty sweet element, balancing the flavors. It’s ridiculous, as the hot cheese oozes over the chilled ice cream creating yet another playful contrast. I don’t think description alone will be able to convince most about the amazing nature of grilled cheese ice cream sandwiches, and unfortunately High Road Ice Cream doesn’t have a New York storefront, or even a food truck yet to share their amazing concoctions with the public. Hopefully they will soon, and it’ll be a serious sweet name changer.
Some other highlights of the evening included the Lamb Bacon with Red Wine Shallots from Alison Eighteen, a restaurant I actually had a difficult time enjoying. Lamb bacon has a crunchy outside and a salty, richness rounded out by the sweet shallots and light foam. This should grace their regular menu and needs to be something all bacon lovers should enjoy.
While the Cronut was nowhere to be seen, Dominique Ansel Bakery brought their A game with chocolate caviar, presented in a golden tin over ice, identical to the high-end product. Crisp chocolate cookie and a coffee crème holds the caviar in place. The little chocolate balls burst in your mouth, completely replicating the experience of eating fine caviar. The delicate cookie and silky coffee cream enhances the caviar, which remains the star.
Iron Chef Morimoto’s namesake restaurant always ups the Japanese culinary game, this time recreating the Italian Burrata. The yu-burrata with truffle dashi and fresh wasabi maintains the thick skin outside and silky smooth interior. The truffle dashi adds an element of umami and spice from the incredible fresh wasabi, which is so much lighter than the packaged kind served at regular sushi joints.
Aquavit, known to many foodies as the place where Marcus Samuelsson got his start, created a whimsical dessert wonderland. Savory ingredients get a sweet twist, with sun dried tomato wrapped in spun sugar and cheesecake encased by thinly sliced carrots. Plus, licorice and the most incredible ribbons of mango and sugar covered the table (we had multiple of these).
Served as the amuse-bouche at the new, beloved restaurant Betony, roasted beets, goat’s milk and horseradish graced the menu at New York Taste. The genius (and super friendly) Bryce Shuman created a gin cocktail using identical ingredients, beets, horseradish and goat’s milk. This dish was one of my Mom’s favorites, and mine as well. I just selfishly wished they served their ridiculous lobster rolls.
Variations of squash and pumpkin soup made countless appearances throughout the evening. Once dish stood above the rest; the Kabocha Pumpkin-Butternut Squash Soup with Sweet Potato, Soy Sauce Powder and Freshly Shaved Black Truffle from Brushstroke. The soup was silky smooth with little diced pieces of soft sweet potato floating in the dish and a light saltiness from the soy powder. Of course, the real beauty and subtle flavor came from the two pieces of fresh shaved truffle. It was a beautiful soup.
These seven dishes were easily our favorites of the night, but selecting one to win the challenge would prove to be extremely difficult. I think we should just leave that to the fabulous Top Chef judges.
Of course we needed something delightful to wash down all of the delicious food. A jalapeño, pineapple margarita could easily do the trick, and when served in a mason jar with an candy stripped paper straw, it’s even more of a winner.
Here’s a ton of pictures of all the other incredible dishes that we tried as well. Enjoy the pictures and be sure to check out New York Taste 2014 and look for other ways to help benefit City Harvest!
New York Taste 2013 – The Waterfront (269 Eleventh Avenue) – New York, NY
Now check out one of these many incredible spots.. because you’re probably drooling after all these pictures. I know I am!