Last night I ventured over the river to a loft in DUMBO for the first Tasting Brooklyn event by Brooklyn Exposed to try specialities prepared by more than 20 food and drink vendors. The evening was sponsored by Bao Fresh Kombucha and Fairway Market (opening this summer on the Upper East Side!). This was a great opportunity to try dishes from some places I've never visited as well as to see some food folks whom I hadn't run into in a while.
My M.O. for this particular food event was to visit all the tables and then to go back to the ones that I found the most intriguing or that caught my eye as potentially the most delicious. As the evening went on, the space became more and more crowded, so I found that having done my early recon work was a smart move, as I'd been able to suss out all the goodies in advance. I'd also taken the extra step to get there a bit on the early side, which meant that I actually had the chance to talk to some of the chefs and food vendors. This made the event a more intimate experience and not so much of a crowd-fest.
Spanish Ham Croquettes with Mojito Sauce by Katalina Velez and Marcelo Arias (MojitoNY)
I normally love croquettes, but these were kind of cold by the time I got them.
Queso Fresco Croquettes with Tropical Mango Salsa by Katalina Velez and Marcelo Arias (MojitoNY)
Shrimp Rolls from Red Hook Lobster Pound
I was so full, I couldn't try one, but I'll catch them at the Flea next time around.
German Sausages and Kraut with Mustard from Loreley Williamsburg
This is a plate my father would love!
Jerk Chicken Wings from Cheryl's Global Soul
I couldn't even get over to the table to try these, but one person who was eating them was rolling his eyes, they were so tasty.
Farro Salad from Osteria il Paiolo
Gnocchi alla Bolognese from Osteria il Paiolo
The made-in-house gnocchi weren't the lightest ones I've eaten, but the sauce was delicious. Not surprising, as the chef's father is from Rimini in Emilia Romagna.
The Breuckelen Cupcake from the fabulous folks at Robicelli's
Apple Cake with Cinnamon-Caramel buttercream frosting topped with a Stroopwafel by The Good Batch
Seriously, if something this wonderfully tasty had existed in Brooklyn when my family lived here, they might not have migrated to parts South and West.
Very refreshing and different from the usual flavored drinks, these are herbal infusions made without artificial sweeteners. I enjoyed the flavor combinations and could see these being an interesting non-alcoholic addition to a party or dinner.
Brussel Sprouts and Hummus by Tanoreen Caterers
I wasn't able to get to this dish on my loop back around to all the tables.
New wines with artist-drawn labels from Brooklyn Oenology
It was great to catch up with Alie and Josh at BOE and to hear about the new vintages that are going to be coming out soon. Their 2008 Social Club White made with North Fork and Finger Lakes grapes was light, bright and filled with fruit. The 2008 Viognier had a crisp profile with notes of fruits. I could have seen that paired perfectly with an Asian dish with some spice to it. Both of these tell me spring is on the way!
Cappuccino Chocolate Cheesecake by Stone Park Cafe
These beautiful creations were going fast. I even saw chefs from the other tables stopping by to pick up a piece.
Braised Rabbit Tostada by Palo Santo
These amazing bites featured homemade salsa verde and guacamole. They raise the rabbits themselves and also grow many of the ingredients they use. I have never had salsa verde that tasted as fresh, herbal, and zingy as theirs. They were also nice enough to make a vegetarian version for those who gave up meat for Lent.
This you have to see as well, as they were making the tostada base themselves at the event with this wooden tortilla press and the cooker.
Braised Short Rib Ravioli by Fornino Park Slope
The luscious taste and feel of the delicate meat stuffed inside of a coverlet of fresh pasta all bathed in a veal jus with pot roast broth was rich, and decadently flavorful. I could have eaten a whole plateful of these. Good thing they are on their menu.
Oh, yes, and they brought a powerful cocktail with which to wash it down.
The Castello Plan's Stewed Mushroom Crostini
These velvety creations were so tempting, but I was trying to save some room for the other goodies I knew were coming, like the photo below.
Crabcake and Housemade Tartar Sauce from Fairway (recipe on their site)
This is the kind of food I was waiting for at this event, and Dan Glickberg and Mitchel London delivered (check out the website for their recipes). Big, white, sweet chunks of crabmeat lightly bound together and spiced, cooked until barely crunchy on the outside while still creamy on the inside, served with a delicately tangy sauce. Is summer here yet? That way, I can visit their Red Hook location and eat lobster rolls while sitting at the tables by the waterfront.
Kombucha the drink meet your new spicy hot sauce counterpart from Bao, one of the evening's sponsors. I haven't really hopped on the pro-biotic beverage train, but we received a bottle of the drink in our goody bag so I'm open to being converted.
Watermelon Gazpacho and Kale and Quinoa Salad by Linger Cafe & Lounge
The gorgeous colors of these two offerings tempted many a passer-by to stop and try them.
However, my nose knows truffle oil when it is in my midst, and across the way from the previous entry were these folks with one of my favorite dishes. The perfectly-cooked polenta made with cream and parmesan cheese was creamy, silky and smooth, with the truffle oil and oozing egg yolk dressing the dish in a whole other level of luxury as each perfumed bite begged for another to follow. The woodsy crunch of the pine nuts and green flavor of the parsley added an extra freshness to the plate and gave it more texture and a bit of pop.
Recently written up in the New York Times, I was interested to sample the vintages from these North Fork wine makers. I tried the 2008 Rose, which at first sip just flooded my mouth with all the wonderful aromas of summer, watermelon, raspberry and full-on fruit. This might be my new wine for this season. The 2009 Perlant is a combination of pinot grapes (blanc, noir, gris) with a slight fizz to it and very crisp apple and pear notes, which would make it perfect to try with the polenta I'd had at the previous table.
The 2008 Red had some wonderful fruity notes to it, but I like my reds a bit bolder. I wonder if I had tasted it in another setting, as in a restaurant or wine bar, I might appreciate it more than I did last night.
Chicken & Pork Adobo in Pan de Sal with Philippine Heirloom Rice from Purple Yam
These looked gorgeous, and I saw several people really enjoying the sliders.
Duck & Okra Gumbo by Tchoup Shop
These folks brought the heat with them to the party. Whoo-ee! If this didn't look spicy enough, there were bottles of hot sauce on the table to pep up the dish.
Yelp were handing out goodies
BFC. This is an amazing initiative and one that is working to change the face of food in the borough. Please check out their site if you might even be slightly interested in helping out, as they have a variety of programs. You can also check out Nicole at Heritage Radio Network on her program Hot Grease for the latest and greatest in local food information.
Chicken Rollatine in a Brown Sauce from Pete's Downtown
I ate here a million years ago, so it was great to see them with this group of more recent additions. It's one of those charming landmark restaurants that are anchors for the city and that serve great, classic dishes. I need to add it back on my list of places to go the next time I drag out of town guests across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Crostini of House-made Bresaola with Sheep's Milk Camembert and Apricot Jam by Thistle Hill Tavern
I heard raves about these, but they were completely gone by the time I got to their table.
Spring Pea Falafel with Mint Yogurt-Tahini Sauce by Thistle Hill Tavern
These were very well-received and gorgeous-looking. What a perfect thing to showcase just as peas are going to start to come in to season.
Clover Club's Lamb Sliders
Oh, these were so delicious and juicy. Perfectly-cooked hearty lamb with a hint of ground cumin and coriander in the meat (I shocked the chef when I asked about that.). The snap of the onion and citrus-herb crunch of cilantro married together the meat with the creamy goat's cheese all nestled on a brioche bun. I could have eaten a plateful of these.
Pool Vodka was serving several drink varieties, including a mojito I saw in several folks' hands.
The Chocolate Room had these decadent delights for dessert, but I had already committed myself to Robicelli's. Still, I think if I'd been able to eat more sweets, the popcorn would have been my first choice selections.
Kategna Rolls and Missir Rolls by Bati
This gets my vote for most exotic entry of the evening. If you haven't ever tried Ethiopian food, this might be one place to start that journey.
Chicken Tikki Masala with Rice and Naan by Baluchi's Indian Restaurant
An Indian food standby in the city, one look and smell of their delicious dishes could tell you why. Unfortunately, their location in my neighborhood closed a while ago, so I'd have to trek someplace to get my chicken tikki masala fix.
Barrio Foods. Shredded chicken with pico di gallo, pickled onion, crema, and a dusting of cheese. Yum! I'd like to find a place like this nearer to where I live.
This was a great evening showcasing some terrific foods to be discovered at the restaurants of Brooklyn. By no means was this an exhaustive display of the culinary talent and treasures to be discovered in this vibrant and dynamic borough. It was just enough to whet my appetite to do some more exploration of the food scene to be found in my (almost) backyard.