In England, when you tell someone you are going to New York, they will give you a food recommendation. New York and Food are synonymous. So, when I was invited to the New York Food and Wine Festival I got excited. And I mean VERY excited. A woman who loves food in one of the food capitals of the world at a food festival. And all the proceeds go to really good causes? Yes. Please.
Picture the scene, New York’s Hudson river on a clear starry night with the Manhattan backdrop behind you. Grammy award winning singers, a rousing band and NYC cool DJ. More than 25 of New York’s finest eateries and a free-flowing bar serving up original cocktails, craft ciders and beer and a variety of fine wines. I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore Toto.
When I entered the room, I panicked. So much food to try and I didn’t have a plan. Foolish! I started with the closest booths, eating hungrily (I hadn’t eaten much all day to make sure I could try as much as I could possibly try!) The first thing to pass my lips was a giant meatball from Carmines Family Style Italian Restaurant…. the rough-cut ground beef and veal was like a punch of flavour smacking me in the lips with its signature tomato sauce and savoury flecks of Romano cheese. I think I swallowed it without chewing, I was like a child on Christmas morning; barely finished ripping the paper off one present before moving onto the next.
I behaved in this crazy manner for approximately the first 20 minutes. Que Chevereles juicy Slow Roasted Pork was demolished, Eggplant Parm Sliders from Major Food Group was greedily consumed. I had managed to try 3 things in 5 minutes and realised if I didn’t slow down, I would be going home with an antacid at any moment. I scanned the room. The atmosphere was high level excitement. People everywhere hurriedly dashing from booth to booth checking what was on offer. I picked up a VOSS water and figured there were probably 20 stalls in total (how wrong I was, but more on that later)
The band were playing The Strokes and I grabbed a dry white from Intrinsic wines and made my way around the room. Crispy yet Soft (how is that possible) Scampi from Scampi NYC, giant Mozzarella Sticks from Big Mozz with a killer marinara dipping sauce, Charles’ pan-fried chicken with Mac and Cheese, Pressed Cuban style sandwiches from American Cut. Each bite was a revelation, this was no ordinary food festival. This was special.
Feeling a little full I decided to go outside and check out the view while getting a little fresh air and giving my stomach a chance to get ready for round 2. When I opened the door, I seen it. There, glistening under the glow of the Hudson river light was the most magical foodie scene I had ever laid eyes on. A DJ was playing house beats, there were panoramic views of the New York Skyline and around another 30 or so experiences all offering the best of New York food and drink.
Kicking off with a signature cocktail from Grey Goose, I explored my new playground. My beloved Shake Shack drew me towards them, serving salty hot dogs in squidgy potato buns. Virgil’s real BBQ offered up smoky pork ribs stacked with porky meaty, you know, rib meat. A highlight for me was trying the Rack of Lamb (Yes, that’s right, I said Rack of Lamb) from Mustang Harry’s. Because I don’t have the budget to buy rack of lamb a lot you know? Holding onto the French trimmed bone made it the perfect finger food. Quintessential New York pizza was provided by Village Square Pizza and Caulipower. Dan and John were on hand to keep everybody stuffed full of crispy wings with celery and creamy blue cheese dip. Each dish got more delicious….
Four Roses Bourbon cocktails became my favourite of the evening (by this point I was tipsy, so it was a good job I was eating all this food to help soak it up. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) My sweet tooth came out to play when I spotted cookie dough from The Dessertist and sticky raspberry rugelach from Zach’s family bakery.
My stomach was trying to communicate with me, telling me it was done, and could we maybe go for a nap. But damn it I wasn’t a quitter, and there were a few more places I just had to try. Besides, people were REALLY enjoying themselves now. Dancing to LIZZO while the drinks flowed, singing along to The Killers indoors while nibbling on chicken parmigiana involtini with organic chicken served Milanese style. Burger lovers were being treated to Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer. This was rapidly turning into the best night of my life.
But alas, as the evening drew to a close and Grammy award winner Alessia Cara sang us out it was time to go. Goodie bags and boxes were being distributed and tired chefs were packing away. They had all done something amazing tonight, as all the profits from this incredible night went to No Kid Hungry and Food Bank for New York City. So not only had I had the most magical New York Food Experience, I had the privilege of knowing that those who need it most would benefit from this too. New York, as always, it’s been a blast. See you soon, Lots of Love, English girl xx