*photos courtesy of GrubStreet
As a New York resident of nearly eight years, I’ve done my best to venture into the concrete jungle in search of new restaurants to enjoy. However, I’m most definitely a creature of habit, and once I find a good spot, they tend to see me time and time again. Thankfully, I finally invested in a VIP ticket to New York Magazine‘s annual “Taste” so that I could get a better feel for what I’ve been missing.
Taste: A World of Flavors, which took place on Monday, November 7, 2011 at Skylight Studio in SoHo, was presented by HSBC and sponsored by a plethora of fancy brands. When I tell you the amazing gift bag weight at least 30 pounds, I can’t possibly be exaggerating. At least in heels it felt that way!
The most important part of the evening to note is that proceeds from the event go to benefit City Harvest. The New York-based organization partners with numerous restaurants and world-renowned chefs, creating programs to help end hunger in the NYC area.
We don’t need to preach to you, but hunger in America is still on the rise, with a sharp increase in just the past four years. Check the stats from the most recent Center for American Progress study to see for yourself! And New Yorkers, you can find more specific (and staggering) numbers on New York’s hunger problem on the City Harvest site.
That said, it felt good to give back on Monday night while finding out some exciting restaurants to enjoy. The open bar was sponsored by Spring 44 Spirits, and they were gracious enough to provide us with recipes for the drinks. I’ve included two of my favorites below!
And at last, here are my personal Top 7 favorite bites from the Taste – and you can bet I’ll be visiting these restaurants soon! If you were in attendance and had some of your own personal favorites, please share with us in the comment section below!
1. Toloache’s Tacos Koreanos by Julian Medina – ToloacheNYC.com
These little gems were prepared with braised brisket, and seasoned with ginger, Chile de arbol, kimchi and Mezcal crema. I nearly teared up on the first bite, not because of the wildly spicy sauce, but because the overall flavor was just so magnificent. Walking through the venue, I heard people beaming left and right about the tacos. Simply amazing!
2. TIE: Gramercy Tavern’s Pumpkin and Gingerbread Spiced Truffles by Nancy Olson and Francois Payard Bakery’s Tour du Monde Macaroons by Francois Payard – GramercyTavern.com | FPBnyc.com
It’s difficult to choose here. The handmade truffle from Gramercy Tavern (yes, tavern!) was absolutely to die for – they were everything I love about the holidays in one little nugget… just lovely.
Then over to FP Bakery’s macaroon table… I don’t think you could go wrong with these, but their inventive flavors were divine! My favorites were the gingerbread, salted caramel and chocolate with cocoa nibs.
3. Morimoto’s Yellowtail Pastrami Slider by Masaharu Morimoto – MorimotoNYC.com
I don’t know what goes in to making a pastrami out of tuna, nor do I understand what “Tobanjan Aioli” is, but Chef Morimoto’s little sliders were just magnificent!
4. Benoit’s Beef Short Ribs Parmentier by Philippe Bertineau – BenoitNY.com
As with any comfort food, the real secret too cooking a perfect short rib dish is in the seasoning. Benoit’s booth had a simple presentation with creamy mashed potatoes on top, and mouth-watering beef underneath prepared with Chateau Croix Mouton Bordeaux Superieur 2008. I’m no wine expert, but it was tasty. Not to mention, Chef Bertineau and his team were the most charming of the evening.
5. Qi Bangkok Eatery’s Tuna Tartare by Pichet Ong – QiRestaurant.com
If you’re a fan of tuna tartare, you probably have your mind made up on flavors that work together. Qi added a little spice to the mix with avacado, Asian mayo, wasabi, tobiko, red onions and scallions. Yum!
6. Hill Country Barbecue Market’s Smoked Texas Tenderloin with Skillet Cornbread by Elizabeth Karmel – HillCountryNY.com
The Hill Country bite was something I could have gone back for a few times, but I figured filling up on cornbread would defeat the purpose of being at this event. Chef Karmel’s North Carolina roots shone through on this dish – sweet, savory, sticky and scrumptious!
7. Red Rooster’s Shrimp Escovitch by Marcus Samuelsson – RedRoosterHarlem.com
I didn’t expect to like this, since the ingredients (pickled vegetables, sea urchin sauce and caviar) all made me crinkle my nose immediately. But I really want to like Red Rooster, given that I live right around the corner, so I gave it a shot – and what a nice surprise! The flavors were vibrant without being overpowering, and I enjoyed it much more than what I’d ordered at the restaurant in the past. So I’m going back and looking for this!
And here are recipes for my two favorite drinks from the event, made with Spring44 Spirits:
Rocky Mountain Botanical
1-1/2oz Spring44 Gin
1/2oz Velvet Falernum
2oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
1/4oz Fresh lemon juice
Garnish: Grapefruit twist
Prep: Place all ingredients in mixing glass and shake w/ ice. Strain into glass over new ice.
Pearls of Fall
1-3/4oz Spring44 Gin
1/4oz St. Germain
1oz Jasmine Green Tea
1/3oz Agave nectar
1/2oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4oz Pear Puree
Garnish: Pear Slice
Prep: Place all ingredients in mixing glass and shake w/ ice. Strain into martini glass.
For photos of these dishes and many more, click here to check out Grub Street’s beautiful slideshow!
Find out more about the New York Magazine Taste at NYMag.com/Taste and follow them on Twitter @NYMag and @NYMtaste
To find out more about City Harvest and how you can help this holiday season and beyond, go to CityHarvest.org