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Monday, October 15, 2012

NYC Wine and Food Festival

I'm just gonna go ahead and say that this past weekend was one of the best and yummiest weekends in my life. For those of you not familiar with the New York City Wine and Food Festival, NYCWFF, let me explain. Its a weekend full of culinary events hosted by the Food Network and Food and Wine Magazine to benefit Food Bank for NYC and Share our Strength. 100% of the proceeds go to the organizations, so while you eat and drink yourself into oblivion, you're actually helping to end hunger. Well, I've been a dream attendee of this event for a long long time and for my birthday this year, I got tickets to two events: the Grand Tasting and the Sandwich Showdown. The Grand Tasting was on Saturday, Oct 13th, and took place at Pier 57 on the Westside Highway. It was basically an enormous warehouse where you could watch some of your fave Food Network stars do demos, taste food from top NYC restaurants, and sip endless samples of Southern Wine and Spirits of NYC Portfolio. So ya, my idea of heaven if you didn't get the gist. It was unbelievable. As soon as I arrived I ran to the demo stage to watch Paula Deen. I swear we are blood related because she's the only person out there who appreciates butter as much as I do. After Paula I went full fledge tasting. The warehouse was divided in half vertically, and each half had two sides of long tables lining the entire building. These tables are filled with booths by different restaurants and different types of wine or liquor. You get in line (or shove in if your me) and have a field day. My favorite thing I tasted was the Lamb Rib from China Grill. It fell off the bone, was tender beyond belief, and melted in my mouth.
I also loved the Citrus Seafood Salad from Marble Lane, a bed of mixed greens with chickpeas topped with grilled calamari and a citrus dressing. I ate so many of these that when I saw the chef the next day at the sandwich event, he recognized
The food ranged from coconut milk shrimp ceviche:
to Richard Blais's nitrogen gelled meatballs...hi Blais
 Check out all these pix. I died.
A beet Raviloi with Poppy Seeds
 A Tempura Tuna Roll with Mango Salsa
 Meat Man
 fresh cut and lovely
 Tuna on fried Seaweed Crackers
 have a sip
After I tasted absolutely everything in the hall, I knew it was time to sit down. I snuck into the third row of the demo stages and watched Andrew Zimmerman grill heart and make a shaved steak salad out of it with a mustard vinaigrette that looked divine. I sat and listened to Robert Irvine explain the magic of caul fat. I watched Rachel Ray shave fresh white truffles into a buttery porcini risotto. I watched, I absorbed, I tried to recover from the food coma and the fantastical atmosphere that overwhelmed me.

DAY 2: Sandwich Tasting.
On Sunday, I returned to the big NYC, but this time accompanied by my Mom and Dad. We are all devout sandwich lovers, and appreciate crazy combos between two slices of actually anything.
The Sandwich Showdown, hosted by Jeff Mauro the "Sandwich King," was an event in which 15 restaurants/sandwich shops presented a signature sandwich to the guests. You'd taste them all, vote for one, and a winner would be picked. Sounds like the perfect way to spend a Sunday, right? When we walked in the building for the showdown, we all went silent. I was lost in a whirlwind of smoked pork aromas, jazz music, and bunches of tables with enticingly tasty signs. Before I knew what was going on I spotted my mom with like four sandwiches per hand. "What are you DOING? SLOW DOWN" I told her. "Sorry I just got so excited!" her response. We worked our way through all 15 sandwiches, tried some two or three times, and sipped some cold Blue Moon to wash away each one in order to properly prepare a clean pallet for the next. Let me just describe some of these babies for you. A spice rubbed pork belly with cucumber, cilantro, carrots, and insane sauce on a fluffy bun by Nam Pang.
 HOLE-ee smokes. This was in my top 3.
 Sandwiches can b sweet too! Snickerdoodle cookies sandwiching pumpkin and blackberry vanilla ice creams.
A lam'bretta of spiced coconut lamb curry with pickled carrots and daikons, cilantro, cucumbers, and chili mayo on a baguette and a side green papaya salad to cool you down.
A thick cut simple pastrami sandwich on rye. Classic NYC...and I love it.
 A mixture of ham, salami, mozzarella, pickled cauliflower and olive salad, on sourdough with an insane side of butternut squash chips. These were chips purely made of squash, and we were addicted. Especially my Mom, who ended up being friends with the man because she asked for so many extra chips.
Smoked pork and brisket sandwiches galore.
A lobster roll with fresh chunks of claw, no mayo to be found, and a drizzle of melted butter on a toasted buttery bun by Luke's Lobster.
Toasted tuscan bread with porchetta, pickles, provolone, and spicy calabrese bomb sauce and a side bean salad.
A classic Philly Cheesteak with spicy pickles and hot peppers from Philly Tavern. REPPIN
A simple prosciuotto and cheese on a baguette with a fennel citrus salad.
The winner was Marble Lane's kobe beef, mushrooms, and gooey cheese sandwich, and for good reason. It was pure bliss; intensely rich and meaty with a buttery toasted bread that literally blew the roof off the building it was so good.
Have you ever seen two happier people?
As you probably guessed, I had the best time. I'm also still perpetually full. DO you know what it feels like to eat 15+ sandwiches? Well besides being beyond filling, its amazing, and I highly recommend it. Especially when they're filled with pork belly and kobe beef. SO, until next year, this will have to hold me and you through. All else there is to say is that one day, I will have my own event and you will all come and be there and eat 15 of my sandwiches, watch my demo, or eat my glazed lamb ribs.

stay hungree

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