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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NYC Food and Wine Festival Recap

Sorry this is coming so late (weeks after the festival) but since they often have the same events I figured this could still be relevant... oh and there was a hurricane which set me back a week or so seeing as how I didn't have water, heat, electricity or cell service.  Anyways...the line up of events were:

My Food & Wine Festival experience started with Meatball Madness with Giada DeLaurentiis. I made the rookie mistake at this one by trying to have a bite of every one of the meatballs.  Turns out 35 large bites of meatball is A LOT.  I was NOT feeling well by the end.

I personally thought the Hearth Restaurant & Terroir Wine Bars meatball was the best - It was a meatball parm sandwich which literally melted in my mouth and wasn't too bready.  And it was different from the countless pork meatballs everyone seemed to be serving.

The other huge hit was Lugo Caffe's foie gras cappuccinos - extra points for creativity AND taste!

The only other thing of note was downstairs at Meatball Madness, the Borgate Casino had built this whole experience with card tables and music and drinks and things.  It was really really lame except one section where they had built this "brick wall" that you could spray paint with....wait for it.... CHOCOLATE!  That's right.  They had chocolate spray paint, chocolate paint paint, etc, that you could use to draw all over the wall... or just spray in your mouth...yeah I tried it...


Next up was the Chopped event all the way up at the Landmarc restaurant in Time Center where each of the Chopped judges were serving a signature dish.  My favorite were the mini ice creams sandwiches but to be honest I couldn't really eat much because I was so full from Meatball Madness - IDIOT!  I thought it was a very nice event although WAY too small of a space for the number of people.  It felt pretty claustrophobic and I later heard a lot of people with tickets couldn't get in!


Burger Bash with Rachael Ray was the first event of a very full Friday.  It also turned out to be my favorite event of the week.  I only wish I'd known it was OUTSIDE!  I was somewhat freezing because I did not come prepared for the outdoors but I soon lost track of the cold in the magic of the Burger Bash tent with it's twinkly lights and live cover band.  This time I knew better than to stuff my face at the first burger joint and instead strategically reviewed the "menu" they give you at the door to determine my top picks to eat first.
The Park Avenue Autumn EASILY walked away with my vote.  Their chuck, brisket and short rib patty on a potato roll with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and sauteed onions with a side of provolone and sweet potato tots was orgasmic.  Pretty sure half of it ended up on my face instead of in my stomach but hey that's why they call it "saving some for later" right?
Some other honorable mentions were Bobby Flay's Napa Valley Burger with fresh goat cheese, watercress and Meyer lemon honey mustard and Ai Fiori's White Label Burger with Nueske's bacon, white American cheese, McClure's pickles and mustard.

Last but not least I had my "starstruck" moment when I met THE Jacques Torres.  I spent a solid 30 minutes telling him about how much I love his chocolate chip cookies and then ended up giving him my "token" for best burger even though he wasn't serving one because I love him so much!

Next up was the Godiva Sweet event with Sandra Dee which I think was probably the low point of the weekend.  I wasn't particularly impressed with the food at all and I'm a HUGE dessert person.  Nothing stood out to me at all but I did enjoy the Godiva lady in the giant manufactured dress and the giant cake made by Duff.

We rounded the night out with Rock and Roll with Morimoto which always features Morimoto and crew drunkenly karaoking to classics like "Don't Break My Heart" by the Backstreet Boys.  There was also a special feature with multiple Food Network talent dancing it out to Gangnam Style.  Once again I was soooo full so I didn't eat much but I did get a chance to meet a ton of Food Network talent.  Robert Irvine was the most down to earth guy and Jeff Mauro's sister had me in stitches.  Last but not least the event took place at the Harvard Club which is one of the most beautiful buildings I've been in that I will probably never get to go to again.  I think I took more pictures of the building than the celebrities!

Today it was up and at 'em early for the Grand Tasting event at Chelsea Piers.  This one was another of my least favorite due to the sheer crush of people.  It was unnerving and I was so uncomfortable that we left after one circuit.  We did however hit up Anne Burrell's demo as well as Justin and Jeff who as a duo were absolutely HILARIOUS.  They should have a cooking show together - the straight man and the funny man.  I would watch in a heartbeat.

I was actually starving by the time we made it to Tacos and Tequila with Bobby Flay.  This is apparently the most popular event of the festival and I can see why!  So many tacos, so little time!!  And the place was crawling with famous food people.  I had about nine million great tacos but the standout here was one of the first I had - Lee Ann Wong's taco which was a miso braised Mangalista pork neck taco with jicama-ginger slaw and yuzu guacamole.  I think I was still sucking the juices off my finger hours later.

My final event of the weekend was the Next Iron Chef event with Alton Brown and the NIC chefs.  Again some incredible food including a crazy take on grilled cheese and sweetmeats which I've never had and finally decided to try.  The highlight of my night was meeting Michael Symon who might be the sweetest man on Earth.... well after Jacques that is! :-)

Overall the festival was a TON of fun and I can't wait to return next year.  Pretty sure my mom was so jealous that she has already booked her flight to attend as my plus one!  Keep eating and see ya next year!

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