This year, I kept it pretty simple at the New York City Wine & Food Festival. Instead of snapping a billion photos, I only whipped out the camera for a few items that I wanted to remember in particular. I do wish I recorded some video of the kitchen staging tour we got behind the scenes of some of the ShopRite booths. But anyway, three pics. First, a mountain of beef bones that served as a stage for holding baked clams.
Next, wagyu beef. This was a tray of rump roast.
And finally, Strip House’s table had these awesome pig heads on display, where they were serving delicious bacon with fresh apple.
My buddy scored some tickets to this cool Xian Foods noodle pulling class at the New York City Wine & Food Festival, and he was kind enough to bring me along.
Basically, they taught us how to make dough, and then gave us some pre-made dough and all the ingredients to make some delicious tingly beef noodles, which has become so popular at their restaurants. Here is the man behind the brand, along with some wheat flour noodle dough:
And here is a video of me pulling my noodle:
And then some all-important final photos, and behind the scenes action of us taking photos.
Originally set up by the late meat enthusiast Josh Ozersky, this is the 11th Meatopia event. Meatopia also happens in other cities worldwide, expanding like my belt size after indulging in these delicious meats.
The concept here was pure wood and coal fire, no gas or electric. Just flames and meat carcass. Some shit was done quick on the flames for a sear, and other shit was done low and slow in smokers like these:
With heavy hitters like Creekstone Farms and Pat LaFrieda involved in the mix, you can imagine how excited I was to be here. And without mincing words I will simply say this: Meatopia is the greatest food event I have ever attended in my life.
Upon walking out onto Pier 92, I was blasted with the invigorating scent of roasting meat, and bathed in the billowing bovine smoke that was coming off of the giant Pat LaFrieda fire pit. Heavenly rays of sunlight shone down through the smoke and kissed the meat, as if God himself was proclaiming this to be a righteous undertaking.
What a sight to behold! And nothing was wasted from this animal. As you can see, even the head got picked apart by the savage carnivores that roamed the pier. Even the guys at Gotham Burger Social Club took a bite.
Want to know the most depressing part about the LaFrieda station? I didn’t know this meat was for the crowd. I thought they were providing the meat for all the other stations to use in their dishes, like a supplier of sorts. By time I figured out that I could eat this shit, they had run out. That’s right – they ran out of 1000lbs of meat!!! I was on line for it, five people away from getting a bite, when they finally called it quits on the beast. Not even a scrap!
I did try every other item at the event, however, which is probably a rare claim to make for anyone who attended, I would imagine. There was so much food. I think maybe 30 stations or more. It was very easy to get full if you weren’t smart, or fat.
My first and last stop of the day was this killer broth made by Marco Canora’s “Brodo.” This hearty and hot beef stock was just the right thing needed to keep warm on the windy pier.
As I wandered around with childlike wonder, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the Beatrice Inn station, where Chef Angie Mar was slinging pig for her hungry meat minions. I found myself just staring at this shit. Something deep inside me was triggered. Something primal and cave man -esque…
These not-so-little piggies were roasting on a spit all day and night.
Watch them spin!
So the actual food item being served here was a whole roasted wild boar, blackberries, port and mash. Here’s what a small plate looked like. My photo does it no justice:
This was succulent, juicy, crispy and savory. It had a slight hint of sweet from the berries that made the pig flavors pop. It was one of my top choices of the day, for sure.
Another favorite was Hometown Barbeque. This was a masterful execution of beef rib. So tender and juicy. I know those words are used up like cheap hookers, but they are accurate. The bark on these ribs was crisp without being too hard – just enough to lock in all the meat juices. It had sweetness, but the savory beef flavor was the star of the show.
Occasionally some meat angel would come around and plop one of these dinosaur bones in your hands for you to gnaw on for a while. Some were from Hometown, and some were from LaFrieda.
Another favorite was this sri racha pork belly by The Backroom at Moody’s. I went back for it twice. The belly was cooked sous vide style for 48 hours (okay that probably involves electricity), and THEN smoked. It had a nice pungent flavor that reminded me of fish sauce or Vietnamese food.
They also presented a nice array of charcuterie:
My favorite of the day, just slightly ahead of that pork belly, was this hot beef tongue sandwich by Harry & Ida’s Meat & Supply Company. The meat was so soft, unlike what you might expect from common tongue preparations that can sometimes be rushed, or have the consistency of deli meat.
This was more like pulled meat, or braised stew meat. Absolutely delicious. And they even had a nice tongue hanging on display for food porn photos:
I’m jumping around again here, because I want to front-load this review with the most interesting shit up top, in the event that you meat minions start to nod off, or the ADD kicks into high gear.
CHORIZO ICE CREAM!
There. Did that wake you up a little? It was actually good. These novelty ice cream flavors always strike me as purposefully odd – done with the intent of shocking someone rather than actually delivering a good flavor. But this chorizo ice cream was lightly chorizo flavored, and it was balanced by the presence of caramel. Oddfellow’s is not pulling stunts here. This is good shit.
There was a healthy variety of rib eye and prime rib preparations going around (Hawksmoor London, Andre Lima de Luca and Balthazar, in particular). Never did I feel like the shit was overlapping or redundant. I was actually surprised at how nicely cooked they all were, given the windy conditions and an open flame that is hard to control or regulate in terms of temperatures.
Speaking of those wind conditions causing problems, I think Jason French and the guys at the Ned Ludd station were battling what was probably the worst of the wind conditions. They were one of the first booths next to the large tent in the back. As the wind whipped in from the southwest, it gathered along the tent walls and flowed directly to their station, which was on the south-facing side of the pier. WHAM. The wind over there was bonkers. I have no idea how they were even able to cook in such conditions.
The meat quality of their lamb dish suffered a bit, at least in the plate I had, as it was overcooked and slightly tough. My guess is that these guys were concerned about serving something raw, and wanted to keep the meat roasting despite the wind – so they had to keep stoking the flames. It was still really tasty despite all that nonsense, which is a testament to the chef and cooks. I think if they had more control over the environment this would have been a winning dish: Whole roasted pastured lamb with grape leaf cumin yogurt sauce, and a basmati rice salad with golden raisins and cilantro.
And I was glad to see a nice lamb carcass gracing their work station:
Perhaps the most prominently featured cut of the day was short rib. Check out all the different varieties below:
Tough to choose a favorite between those. If I had to, I’d probably lean toward The Cecil (their veal was really memorable), or Hill Country.
Naturally there was some brisket as well:
One interesting item was this braised beef cheek terrine from Employees Only. Super soft and flavorful. I was hoping to see more cheek represented at this event, but this was really nice with the pickled tomatoes and radishes on top.
The only place featuring strip was El Blok. It as really nicely cooked with fresh turmeric and sour orange, sitting on a side of smoked calabaza.
And several other pork and non-beef items, most notable of which was probably this Portuguese porchetta fried rice from 42 The Restaurant – a very interesting mash up of Asian and Portuguese flavors:
Funny thing about that last photo: I was joking that chicken doesn’t really count as meat. The sauce on there was actually really great though, so it became acceptable to serve at this event, in my eyes.
This station sent me home with a packet of Badia spice seasoning. I always like samples!
There was even some dessert as well. I didn’t take a picture of the cookie I ate, but this banana chocolate turnover with maple bacon and peanut butter from Oceana was excellent. In fact their menu looks pretty brilliant, and it’s somewhat nearby, so I will have to go with my wife soon to try it out.
Don’t look so glum, whoever you are working back there in the pit… There’s meat hanging behind you and I’m sure there will be other Meatopia celebrations in the coming months. Can you say MIAMI?!?
That about does it guys. What an amazing day. I don’t want to wash any of my clothes because the lingering smell of smoke and meat is too precious to cast aside. It should somehow be bottled and sold as cologne.
Oh yeah… one last photo – my stalker pic of Iron Chef Michael Symon, who was the host of the event. People were waiting for hours just to press the flesh with him. I was too busy eating for any glad-handing with celebs!
Twelve vendors vied for support from hundreds of hungry BBQ fanatics, each wielding a single voting chip to cast their ballot for the night’s favorite food. All the while, old rag time and tin pan alley jug band music played to set the mood.
There was a nice open bar, stocked with vodka lemonades and hard root beer, to name a few items.
But the focus here was the BBQ, so let me get down to business… Here’s a quick list of the pit masters: BarBacon, Mexicue, Mile End, Sweet Chick, Kimchi Smoke, Miss Korea BBQ, Otto’s Taco’s, Tchoup Shop, Vermillion, Korilla, Pig Beach and Union Bar & Kitchen.
The dudes at Korilla really put together a nice spicy plate. I was told that this typically is MORE spicy than what we sampled last night, but take a look at the menu and see for yourself.
I snagged a nice shot of Adam licking a gun in this shot. Impeccable timing.
Right next door was Kimchi Smoke. I was psyched to see them using the Searzall at the table to melt cheese on top of their items.
Here’s a look at what they were serving up:
The brisket was super tender and flavorful. Perfectly done.
However the chonut slider was a bit too out there for me. It was a blast of every flavor known to man in one bite. Kimchi on a glazed donut with bacon and cheese! That’s on a whole other level.
I jumped a little out of order there because I was excited to talk about those items, but the very first thing we tried was one of my favorites of the night.
Tchoup Shop struck an amazing balance between sweet and savory with this crab and pork meatball slider. It had a hint of fish sauce to give it a distinct Thai or Vietnamese influence too. Jay put his chip on this as the best of the night.
My favorite of the night, which I thought just edged out Tchoup Shop by a sliver, was Mexicue.
Maybe it’s the nacho lover in me, but this was such an amazing bite of food. The chicken was deeply smoked to the point where it almost tasted like a pork item rather than chicken. The flavors were more on the savory side than the sweet side, which is what I like from my BBQ (I know that’s not normal). That may have ultimately been why I went with Mexicue over Tchoup Shop.
Another close contender was this classic pulled pork slider from Union Bar & Kitchen.
The pickle was nice and it cut the sweetness of the sauce nicely, but the meat was the star here – perfectly cooked and tender. A pile of that with the pickles, minus the sauce, and I am a happy man.
A nice outside the box item was this bacon and masa wrapped rib from Otto’s Tacos. Very creative and delicious.
My least favorite of the night was this hot dog. It just didn’t have the punch I was hoping for. I love a good hot dog too, so I was a little disappointed.
I had high hopes for Vermillion too, thinking that there might be a nice Indian influence going on. There indeed was, but it fell a little flat for me. The tamarind was a little overpowering, but the mango rice did cut the flavor nicely.
Miniature tacos are always a hit in my book. I might have to head back to this place (BarBacon) and try a few more items.
And there was a third Korean BBQ selection from Miss Korea BBQ. This pork was tender and juicy, with a nice light spice to it.
This joint offered up two items: a chicken chili and brisket.
At Pig Beach I was expecting starch based on the menu, but this baby was almost all meat. Nice!
One yeah – one more semi-celeb sighting from the food biz:
Definitely a fun night, and a very challenging one in terms of lighting and color for the photos. I was on my game though, so we did alright. Big thanks to Jay again for hooking me up with a ticket!
My wife and I got access to the NYC Wine & Food Festival on what was essentially “industry day.” People there were mostly people who work in either the food, wine or liquor business in some way or another.
There were a few stand out tables that really blew us away. I’ll feature those up front, and then do a photo dump on the rest. Enjoy.
First, the big winner for me: Fossil Farms. This place was slinging the best food at the event: duck pastrami with pate, foie gras and micro greens on a wonderful baguette.
After getting down on that deliciousness, I was intrigued. I starting chatting with the representatives and the owner. They’re big on game meat, and not-so-common products, like alligator, kangaroo, elk, etc. Check out the list below:
Here’s a scan of their “about us” info pamphlet as well: This is like my dream supplier!!!
It turns out they supply some of my favorite joints in the city. It’s no wonder I was drawn to this table. Blue Smoke, Eataly, Freeman’s Alley, Hill Country, Momofuku, Ottomanelli… Some of my old favorites. I even noticed some others on the list that I’ve been wanting to try, like St. Anslem and Route 66 Smokehouse. After my experience here with the fine folks at Fossil farms, I will definitely be adding those two to the short list. Lance (CEO/Founder) and Jen (Marketing/PR) were really informative and easy to chat with. I’m glad I was exposed to this.
Next up was the 3D sugar printing machine. WTF?!?? YES. I couldn’t believe the stuff this thing was printing! All edible, all made of sugar. Incredible. They had everything from little candy machine type things, to modern art sculptures. You can imagine that my wife was floored by this masterpiece of modern technology, being a baker and all.
We got to speak with the inventor of the machine. Apparently these babies are selling for $10,000 each, and soon there will be a smaller, more affordable version available as well.
Next: Booze. There was an abundance of wine here, but my wife and I were all about the booze. Here are a few of the stand-out brands that we got to try:
Fifty Pounds gin. I’m a gin martini guy. This stuff was incredible. I sipped it neat and warm, but it still was delicious. It had all the flavors I want from a slightly dirty but very dry martini (this is a London dry gin) in all the right proportions. The name is clever too: it stems from an old tax that the king levied upon producers of booze. All distillers were supposed to pay 50 pounds per year.
Four Roses bourbon. The single barrel (on the right) was by far my favorite of the three. The cool thing is that these guys gave out high quality glassware as well:
Some very smooth brandy, which was set up next to the gin:
Nice aged rum:
An Irish cream type liquor, which I really loved, by Amarula. Silky smooth, lots of flavor, and a cool elephant keychain to take home. This hails from South Africa, I believe:
KichenAid had a massive presence at the event. Look at all the pretty colors. The cake dealer was ecstatic.
This little stand had some of the nicest cheeses and cured meats. Sid Wainer & Son:
Romanesco & Cauliflower:
Edible flowers, black garlic, small tubers:
I have a lot of respect for the potato bun:
Great innovations in the booze and wine world. This was of particular interest to me since I actually patented some bottle glorifiers in my day:
Tasty bites from a section focused on Mexican cuisine: