Girls on Food

NYC

Pour The Core: Hard Cider-ing in Brooklyn

IMG_8419On this day of Saturday, June 11th the year of 2016 I came….I saw….I cidered.  Now, I’m not traditionally a jacked up apple juice gal but when I saw this event I thought I would give it a second chance.  What with hard soda, root beer, and a plethora of other alcohol-infused delicacies making waves in the foodie universe it couldn’t hurt to see how far the cider game was expanding and innovating.  Boy, am I glad I did.

Pour The Core
http://www.pourthecore.com

My friends and I chose to attend the session that ran 12pm-3pm, which took place at The Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint.  Typically, you find yourself elbow to elbow at these events.  I attended a similar beer expo down at South Street Seaport where after standing on lengthy lines I exited with an awkwardly shaped sunburn and sore feet.  However, the Pour The Core was delightful.  There was plenty of room to move, little to no lines, and interesting cidervations that I would never have thought possible.

IMG_8433Did I mention that Applegate was giving out free hotdogs all day if you showed them your funky dance moves?  Kettle brand potato chips pushed three bags your way including pizza, jalapeño, and smoked maple.  No need to carbo load before the event, they had you covered!  Check out the beautiful presentation near the Applewood truck with a gorgeous sunflower arrangement, folksy bandanas, and buttons for all!

Angry Orchard
http://www.angryorchard.com/

Angry Orchard had a pretty sweet photo booth where you could pose with their iconic tree and apple insignia and walk away with this too cool for school printout.  My friends all grabbed at the box of apples that they also had for the public’s enjoyment.

APPLEGATE - Mobile Tour

IMG_8415

Due to its prominent celebrity status in the cider cannon, Angry Orchard had the most options to choose from.  I was very pleasantly surprised by their Elderflower.  I prefer a bit of dry bite and generally opt out of anything too sweet.  It was invigorating to find ciders that spoke to that.  You can visit Angry Orchard and even take a tour.

IMG_8424This event did not only showcase cider alone but also had a couple of beer kiosks including Long Ireland, which hails from Riverhead, Long Island, and as you can see below, Neversink showcased their Apple Brandy and Gin.

Neversink Spirits
info@neversinkspirits.com

 

 

 

 

IMG_8426There was an entire area of jumbo games featuring Connect 4 and Jenga because go big or go home, amiright?!?  Caitlin and Eric took their jumbo game of Connect 4 very seriously while I explored the Magners section.  I do have to give a shout out to Woodchuck Cider’s Campfire Pancakes.  It ACTUALLY tasted like a smokey campfire and I kinda really loved it.  I inquired as to how they got that niche flavor and the response was they infused the cider with smoked maple syrup.  Cider and syrup and camping, oh my!

 

IMG_8420

If you find a Pour The Core in your area I highly recommend stopping by and redefining how you feel about that sweet, sweet, nectar of apples.

 

Momosan Ramen and Sake in NYC

It was finally my one day off and Mother Nature decided that NYC should be chilly and gloomy. However, I was determined to make the best of it. I have been wanting to visit this restaurant that opened recently, and this was the perfect day to do it.

Momosan Ramen and Sake
342 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

Momosan Ramen and Sake is Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s latest restaurant concept; a ramen shop “where noodles are front and center,” according to the official Momosan website. However, the menu also offers other tasty appetizers, 20 sake options, three draught and three bottled beers, and choice of either two reds or two whites for wine drinkers.

The anticipation had been building for a while, but it was on some serious overdrive when I crossed the threshold and laid eyes on a familiar figure. “Is that…oh em gee, that’s Morimoto!” I Irish whispered as I grabbed my accompaniment by his arm and nearly knocked him over. The hostess giggled at my ecstatic expression and sat us at the bar.

Edamame
Edamame

Chef Morimoto was literally the length of a high five away almost the entire time, watching over his line, cooking, bussing tables, as well as touching tables and rubbing elbows with guests, myself included. At one point I got a bit ditzy and dropped the menu out of my hand. I just went and got it and held on to it, but Chef felt that I needed a fresh one, so he went over to the hostess stand and fished me out a new menu!
A few minutes had passed, and I was able to collect myself and look around the restaurant. The colors are neutral, yet elegant. Pasta decorates the walls of the restaurant as a sort of edible crown molding.

I was flipping through my fresh menu, and my companion and I decided that we should try some of the sake. We each had a glass of the Rihaku, which has notes of coconut and pumpkin. It’s presented in a most unusual manner; the glass is placed inside of a square bowl and then purposely overfilled, letting the extra pour into the square bowl. This is done as a welcoming gesture, letting you know that your presence is appreciated and enjoyed. You’re to drink the contents of the glass first, and then pour the additional liquid into your glass as an “extra” way to say “welcome, thanks for coming by.”

Napa Cabbage
Napa Cabbage

Then the fun began. We ended up trying the Edamame, Pork Gyoza, Sticky Ribs, and the Napa Cabbage, and the Crispy Mimiga (pig ear) appetizers.

IMG_5703
Sticky Ribs

The presentation was beautiful, following suit with clean lines and classy yet simple (but by no means basic) plating. It was all so delicious, and so many different flavors and textures were lingering on my palate.

Pork Gyoza
Pork Gyoza

My friend had his fill with the appetizers, but I knew it was just a warm-up for me; I wasn’t leaving without a bowl of ramen. I had a bowl of Tokyo Chicken ramen, which was almost too beautiful to eat. I loved the piece of nori with the restaurant logo (I love the simpler things in life). The rainbow of colors in my bowl was quite visually appealing, and the broth was so rich, it sent my umami sensing taste buds into a sort of tranquil hypnosis. Each sip took me deeper into a semi-dreamlike food coma state.

unnamed
Tokyo Chicken Ramen

IMG_5706After the meal was over, I fully gathered my composure and asked Chef if he wouldn’t mind taking a photo with me. He did so happily, thanked me for coming in, and warmly shook my hand. Chef Morimoto may be a man of few words, but his presence and atmosphere spoke volumes to me that afternoon, and I can’t wait to go back there soon for another taste of Japan through the eyes of an Iron Chef.
Momosan Ramen and Sake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New Xe Lua Vietnamese Restaurant in NYC’s Chinatown: Pho-kin’ Rad

The closest thing I’ve had as of late to having a relationship with Pho consists of endeavoring upon the chicken noodle soup from the Chinese place down the street from my apartment and that isn’t nearly as complicated to eat.  However, when my good friend Lincoln suggested we try a Pho place before seeing a play I simply had to say (insert yes in Chinese character here).

New Xe Lua Vietnamese Restaurant
86 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
http://xeluanewyork.com

Lincoln points to The Pho with purpose. He is preparing for his slurping journey.
Lincoln points to The Pho with purpose.

Lincoln has always been my go-to on all delicacies from the East.  Having grown up with Chinese parents from Vietnam and himself being schooled in authentic bubble tea and dumpling recipes, he knows what’s up.  He will periodically foodie shame me for ordering Pad Thai dismissing it with “that’s like ordering chicken in a steak house.”  I bow my head in shame.  So now when he speaks I listen in the hopes of expanding my palate and not sadly ordering chicken at a Chinese version of Peter Luger.

My Pho journey begins at Xe Lua, a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown.  Pronounced ZAH LOO-AH, the title of this eatery, is Vietnamese for “train”.  One truth is for certain; the flavor train had definitely pulled into the Lohne station.

chai go
Chai Go

In the most anti-feminist move I have ever made in my life, (sorry International Women’s Day and Gloria Steinem) I handed the menu over to Lincoln and said give me an authentic experience.  Just nothing spicy.  Lincoln nodded thoughtfully ordering cha gio (aka) Vietnamese Spring Rolls.  These delightful crispy treats are made to be rolled in lettuce and dipped in the sweet fish sauce.  I was warned about the potentially briny taste, but the flavors combined beautifully and the prologue to my photastic evening was already winning.

pho5We ordered Pho Tai, which in some places is referred to as Vietnamese gumbo.  This dish served with beef and linguini shaped rice noodles (Banh Pho) is scalding hot when it arrives in front of you.  Lincoln whispers to me this is because the beef is raw and the broth is cooking it in front of your very eyes.

Once it sat a moment I was given Mr. Miyagi style instructions on how to approach this bowl of wonder.  When you receive your Pho, it comes with a side platter of mishegas, which includes bean sprouts, basil, and lime.  It is up to you to season your broth to taste.  I spread a bit of everything and squirted my lime.  Lincoln opts to go sans lime.

Next, you squeeze out your various dipping sauces.  For beef, you use either the hoisin sauce or sriracha or both.  Hoisin is a dark brown sweet sauce perfect for any taste.  Due to my scaredy cat taste buds, I stick with the sweet stuff and leave the hot sauce to the natural across from me.  Once this is done take your soup spoon, pull apart pieces of the beef and place one on the soup spoon.  Then, while you have a taste of the beef swirl some noodles into your spoon utilizing your trendy chopsticks and create the perfect bite all in one rotation.  It is WAY harder than it sounds.  I felt like a toddler attempting to eat spaghetti with my hands while I looked on upon Lincoln across the table making three step ninja maneuvers as the pho slid effortlessly into his mouth.  With each bite, I could hear the distant echo of wax on…wax off…wax on…wax off echoing in the catacombs of my brain.

pho3It’s ok that I looked like a fumbling baby bird because I had this international beer to wash it down.  It helped me channel all of the montage sports movie moments scored by Eye Of The Tiger while negotiating noodles with my lime green chopsticks.

Having been Pho’ed beyond my wildest dreams, we wandered out into the lukewarm streets of Chinatown-the warmth of the raw beef and broth sitting at the bottom of my stomach I have truly had an experience.  Next time, I’ll have to try turtle soup with the shell still floating to the top or mystery $1 meat on a stick.  Who’s kidding who, no matter how devoted I am to food-ventures I am NEVER doing that.  It would be a Pho-tastrophe.
Xe Lua Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

An NYC Cozy Day Classic: Samantha’s Ode to Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

tomato soupWinter on the East Coast isn’t all “Winter Wonderland” and “Do you want to build a snowman?” type situations. You’re lucky if the temperature reaches a high of 30 degrees, and your digits don’t completely freeze off while walking from your house to the train/bus. I’m getting chills just thinking about it. However, a thought that warms my heart is my favorite comfort food during the frigid winter months. It’s fairly simple, both in method of preparation as well as any sort plate presentation pizzazz. However, it’s a classic meal that you don’t have to be a foodie to make or love. It’s easy and inexpensive to make.

grilled cheese

Grilled cheese and tomato soup is an affinity pairing. The pieces of toast are porous and somewhat crunchy, but so perfect to dunk and absorb the tomato soup, be it freshly made or even Campbell’s. The cheese is melted and smooth, like a layer of liquid gold, and is a beautiful contrast to the acidity of the soup. Is there even a more perfect way to spend a wintery day off than at home in your favorite sweats, Netflix, and this? When it’s too cold to go outside, just plug in your Panini Press (or a George Foreman grill, if you lack an entire kitchen of culinary gadgets) and warm up with a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. The chills will instantly melt away after one bite…unless of course, you’re into freezing, that is.

grilled chz soup

Game of Brunches: Equus at Castle Hotel and Spa in Tarrytown, NY

IMG_5636How often do you earnestly get to feel like the king of your castle?  Well, maybe sometimes late night at Burger King but let’s not give paper crowns all the power.

 

Equus at Castle Hotel and Spa
400 Benedict Avenue, Tarrytown, NY  10591
http://castlehotelandspa.com/equusrestaurant.aspx

IMG_5611
The prefix brunch menu
I found a straight up majestic castle to take my mother to for her birthday brunch. My family loves a good historic hotel, and this delicious fortress is not only a restaurant but also a hotel and spa. Dating back to before the turn of the 20th century the property was purchased by newspaperman, playwright, and businessman General Howard Carroll. Constructed to resemble fortifications in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland the finished product had a massive 45 rooms. If you are interested in knowing more historical tidbits, visit the webpage here. I’ve also included a photo of the menu above which capitalizes on complimentary choices.

IMG_5614
Artichoke bread.

IMG_5616
Dips for bread.
IMG_5615I’m entirely smitten with their pre-meal bread offerings. I’ve often said that if I had a last meal, I would be a major biatch of a foodie and request perfectly baked warm bread with butter, and these Mediterranean style offerings were a delight. Served alongside three kinds of butter including one with pistachio and delicious hummus with olives they had me at “would you like a roll”. Indeed sir, indeed I would.

The prefix brunch includes an appetizer, main course, and dessert for $58; and you even get a complimentary glass of champagne. So, the price is worth it. Opting for the ricotta and beet ravioli to start I was blown away. Honestly, my favorite part of the meal were these bite size vegetarian ravioli that were not only breathtakingly plated but one of the most satisfying bites I’ve had in a long while. Sweet and savory, drenched in a light buttery sauce; hats off to the chef.

IMG_5617
To die for: goat cheese and beet ravioli

IMG_5623
Crab Benedict
The crab Benedict was my main choice. Crisp and well made with a cardinal hollandaise and served alongside a local green salad. It was tasty. However, I couldn’t help but be envious of the beautifully prepared duck served with butternut squash and honey nut glaze, on top of grits, that nested on my mother and aunt’s plates. Luckily, I had the opportunity to try a piece, and it was lovely.

IMG_5621
Duck with butternut squash and honey nut glaze
On to the perfect conclusion. I went with the “New Year’s Resolution” for my final act. As seen above, a colorful explosion-mandarin creme aux, lemon shortbread, cranberry gel, mandarin jelly, and a light cranberry sorbet it was a sweet surprise.

The "New Year's Resolution". Fitting name.
The “New Year’s Resolution”. Fitting name.

Citrus Bliss
Citrus Bliss
If given the choice I would have gone with what was behind door number two or as it’s aptly titled on the menu: “Citrus Bliss”. A sliver of cheesecake with candied kumquat, lemon curd, and white chocolate chantilly.

IMG_5679IMG_5680

It is the east….and Megan is the, well, girl standing in the slightly shady area that is receiving no sun.  There is something so wonderfully magical about romping around the grounds of a faux castle on a Saturday afternoon. I took the opportunity to Little Mermaid thrust my torso over the stones of this castle wall in a post-meal saunter.

If you are looking for an upscale brunch and a magical jaunt into another time, spend the afternoon at Equus restaurant.  It’s beautiful, charming decor and pleasant wait staff won’t make you regret it.  You may even be tempted to recite some Shakespeare.

 

Equus Restaurant Castle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Village Voice Holiday Spirits Cruise on the Hudson River, NY

Recently I attended an evening of wine, whiskey, bourbon tasting. The Cooperstown Distillery hosted several cocktail vendors from all over the east coast as we set sailed on the Hudson River…in a rain storm.  Don’t get me wrong, it took away none of the romance or allure, just the necessity of a good hair day.

Cooperstown Distillery
11 Railroad Avenue, Cooperstown, NY 1332
subway2sound@gmail.com

IMG_5177.JPG
Whole Foods was nice enough to offer a delicious sample of sundaes with hard biscotti like cookie paired with ice cream.

Suerte Tequila enchanted us with their fake tattoos.  Spending the day with a Spanish Day of The Dead bunny on my arm-yes, please!  Check that one off the to-do list.


The buffet had no lack of meat, pasta, and inspired carbs to get our stomach prepared for the many tastings of whiskey, bourbon, and other cocktail delights.  I chose some tender beef alongside shredded BBQ chicken and pork buns.

My friend and I had a long chat with the brand ambassador Gavin Harris from The Cooperstown Distillery.  While still toddlers in the distillery business, their whiskey had a nice smooth taste. You can pair a visit to their birthplace by visiting The Omegang Brewing Company also a Cooperstown native.  If you find yourself craving an afternoon of booze and baseball history, you should pay them a visit!

I highly recommend this Village Voice cruise romp next holiday season. You may run into an ugly sweater party or two, but it will be worth it for the generous tastings and informative brand ambassadors

I Want Candy: Sugarfina at Columbus Circle in NYC

The phrase “kid in a candy store” is a bit outdated and restricting, in my opinion. I’m in my 20’s, but I still get excited when I go to a candy store. Why should the love for candy and candy stores end or be subdued once you’re an adult? It doesn’t!

Sugarfina – The Shops at Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019
http://www.sugarfina.com

Display Wall
Display Wall

Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick, the co-founders of Sugarfina, don’t think so either. The two are not only business partners, but a couple as well, and the idea of a candy store for adults came about on their third date. Sugarfina was the sweet answer to a more adult-friendly experience, encompassing minimalistic, yet still elegant décor, while still playing with pops of color and fun with all of the candies; more than 140 different ones to choose from, just to give you an idea. The shops have a clean design, using white and a robin’s egg blue for the main color scheme.

Selections for my bento box
Selections for my bento box

Sugarfina originated in California, from where the couple lives, and has been popping up nationally over the last new years, as well as being sold in Nordstrom. They also have a display in Bloomingdales on 59th Street & Lex. Customers can order online directly from Sugarfina website. You can buy candies by the individual cube (small or large), or you can build a bento box full of goodies. The packing is beautiful, can be customizable, and makes an excellent gift. Sugarfina also offers pre-built, themed boxes and cute cards for all sorts of occasions. In addition to being a purveyor of gourmet sweets, the company is environmentally conscious, limiting excessive packaging, and donating portions of the profits toward re-planting trees back into the earth.

Cocktail themed gift box
Cocktail-themed gift box

When I heard that there was an actual store front opening in New York City (there’s also another store coming into the Oculus at World Trade Center building), I just knew I had to go. I got to chitchat with Carla and Travis, the manager and assistant manager of the store in Columbus Circle. Each one of them had a wonderfully sweet personality and were full of awesome pieces of information. Travis explained that although Sugarfina is designed to attract an audience with a more sophisticated palate by using ingredients such as kumquats or alcohol inspired candies, his nephew adores the champagne gummy bears. After chatting for a bit, I decided to build myself an eight-piece bento box (for research purposes, of course!).

Kyoto Blossoms
Kyoto Blossoms

Amongst my selection was the Finnska Red candies, a strawberry licorice from Finland, which Carla playfully referred to as “Twizzler’s rich cousin.” Of course, the Champagne Bears were a huge hit as well, and not forgetting to mention the Marzipan Lemon Cakes, which remind me of a lemon pound cake. It’s safe to say that I’ll be sampling and researching for a bit, but you can bet that I’ll be back at Sugarfina soon for a refill on my favorites sometime soon!

 

The Food And Film Festival Food Porn Party in Brooklyn

The Food Porn Party which took place on Friday, October 23rd might be one of the most lurid, saucy film events this side of the George Washington Bridge. Food porn is not to be confused with adult porn like that which is often watched on websites like http://www.m-porn.xxx, if you go to one of these events expecting that type of porn then you’ll be rather disappointed although well fed. Alternatively, if you find yourself on sexfreehd xxx, you’ll be well entertained, but a little hungry. Choices, choices. After my night of tender stories about meat I had no idea that warm gooey tales of food and family would transition into a brash, cheeky, sassy night to remember. Did I mention there was a live burlesque show and a full service ramen station at the after party? I’d not be shocked if I heard there was something like a KBH København Massage og Escort going on behind the scenes to be honest. Back to the food, though.

IMG_4656
Cocolo Ramen. All the way from Berlin where the Japanese noodle soup delights many a foreign palate.

The ramen was in such high demand that you had to present a ticket to get your sample and wait until your number was called. I felt like I was in the fourth grade all over again waiting for my opportunity to visit the “treasure chest” and get a treasure troll eraser topper for good grades. Once our numbers were called, it was worth the wait Perfectly prepared and all the way from Berlin, the noodle soup artisans of Cocolo Ramen will definitely get five Ja Wohl’s from this girl!

IMG_4597
Festival goers hoot it up with the food burlesque gals.
IMG_4652
Food burlesque in action! Half naked hamburger birthing hamburger babies. Four words: a star is born.
IMG_4636
I couldn’t say no to this limited edition Lovecraft Narrangansett. Adore the decor and the taste.

Each night, their open bar serves up different beer and wine. In the spirit of Halloween being right around the corner I simply had to carry this Lovecraft inspired Narrangansett with me. I geeked out a little in a way only a closet sci fi nerd could. OK, let’s be honest, I hide no emotions about the amount of fantasy I read.

IMG_4635
Straight from the fried ice cream station. I’ll admit it, I’m a vanilla kind of girl, but not without delectable coating of oreo deep fried to perfection.
IMG_4606
Ricotta Lemon Ravioli with Pesto by Night Kitchen

Night Kitchen Catering
25 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238
http://www.nightkitchencatering.com

This. Ravioli. Is. Amazing. With a light hint of lemon and pesto it makes the perfect bite. Created with a very exciting roller that cuts the perfect square into your fresh pasta by Repast, making tools to make your cooking easier. Roller’s were in the after party where guests could get an up close look at it’s sleek wooden utility.

IMG_4607
Cocolo’s Handmade Gyoza by Chef Yosuke Sumida. Another import from Berlin, this gyoza was sehr gut!
IMG_4608
Pasta with Ratatouille by Night Kitchen. I was finally able to witness an in life demonstration of how to make this iconic dish and not an animated one…..although, I do love a good cartoon rat cooking.
IMG_4609
Chocolate and Onion Tart by Dirt Candy

Dirt Candy
86 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002
http://www.dirtcandynyc.com

I was lucky enough to sit next to some of the spirited chef’s from Dirt Candy before the films began. Not only did I adore their spirit and excitement about their food but the thesis of the restaurant is fantastically inspired. Finding new and innovative ways to make people eat their vegetables, Dirt Candy explores vegetarian and vegan dishes in a new light. Utilizing every part of the the vegetable down to the carrot pulp, these innovative restauranteurs are really onto something and their chocolate onion tart was a perfect example of how they are ready to rock the veggie industry and throw it a curveball. The delicious rich chocolate chart was topped with what tasted like grains of salt but was really caramelized onion specks. It blew my mind! If you’re downtown in the city check them out, but definitely make reservations first….it sounds like this eatery is in high demand.

IMG_4610
Mixed Berry Tart by Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215
http://www.birdsblack.com

This bite of their mixed berry tart was a fluffy infusion of pastry and berry. Similar to a rugela, it’s the perfect nosh over coffee or gift for a party.

The Food Porn Party is not complete without a visit from their resident douchebag “Food Porn Star, Larry Caldwell”. He released three hilarious short films conducting a wine like tasting for what some would call…..the champagne of trailer parks. One of my favorite adventures was his erudite analysis of Miami Vice: Coco Nuts. Where do I find this drink? However, fun fact, when googled it is simply described as Malt Liquor. Thank you Food Porn Star, Larry Caldwell….you have truly educated a foodie at a festival.
IMG_4614 IMG_4615 IMG_4616

After two nights of decadent food and film, this Girl on Food is exhausted but wouldn’t trade the experience for five tickets to The Food & Wine Festival (OK, I would be conflicted if it was a Bobby Flay event) but in all seriousness, it is evident that festival creator George Motz loves food and film and has done an amazing job of paying homage to them both. My strainer goes off to you sir!

The Food And Film Festival in NYC: Meat, It’s What’s For Dinner!

On the fateful evening of Thursday, October 22nd I attended Tender: Stories of Love And Meat presented by:

Schweid & Sons
666 16th Street
Carlstadt, NY, 07072
http://schweidandsons.com

My life was changed forever. The five films presented were diverse and juicy tales of how we prepare, grow, and buy our meat. Each short story plays alongside a menu item that was featured in the movie. As the servers rush down to your aisle with a tray that you pass along to your neighbor on the honors system sizable portions literally, allow you to be a part of the excitement. Special guest appearances were made by Scott Morales of Taylor Cafe (http://texasbbqposse.blogspot.com/2010/12/taylor-cafe-your-chance-to-attend.html) and Kent Black of Black’s Barbecue. Their film Central Texas Barbecue was a succinct point of view piece detailing pit masters in their element doing what they do best, make food. As the opening line states, “when I die, I want to be cremated and have my ashes thrown in the pit.” This is the level of dedication that these men have to their meats, and the process of grilling ain’t no joke. Describing their BBQ as religion and food as a family, entirely sums up what makes the evening so special.

Food brings us together; it is the heart of memories and the warmth of holidays. When we make food together, we become community and The Food & Film Festival demonstrates the many ways in which we come together to do just that.

One of the highlights from Central Texas Barbecue. A smoky, rich brisket barbecued to perfection.

IMG_4548
Brilliant Brisket!

The other films of the evening were fascinating, and one short documentary stood out, in particular, Course of Food directed by Oklahoma City’s own Christopher Hunt. The piece follows subject, pig farmer Andy Bowmen, who by plaid-laden appearance would be labeled a hipster farmer of sorts, however, is truly a Renaissance man attempting to unite his small community in Oklahoma to adopt a benevolent philosophy in the way they raise and appreciate their locally grown food and livestock. The emphasis of the evening was attempting to appreciate better our food as exhibited in Pig Not Pork. Focused on an artisanal butcher based in Maine as he attempts to create a presence in his community harkening back to the days where everyone knew their butcher, and he was almost like a member of the family.

Festival Director, George Motz has indeed created an evening of edible memories. The excitement continues into the after party, where film festival guests are ushered toward an area filled with live music, samples of EVEN MORE FOOD, and a bright, warm atmosphere where filmmakers and guests alike mingle and talk about one of their favorite topics: delicious noshes.

IMG_4555
Just like an old fashioned in a bottle! Yes, please.
IMG_4562
Chunky cheese and crackers from Iron Station located in Brooklyn, NY. Cheese Wiz doesn’t stand a chance next to these snacks.
IMG_4559
Fresh soft tacos in action. You could add your own garnish. I chose zesty cilantro and a splash of lime juice. Presented by Tortilleria Nixtimal, this is a stop on the food tour that you will have to take.
IMG_4561
No BBQ event is complete without a raucous, plaid draped band with an upright bass. I need more cowbell!
IMG_4563
Fresh donuts from Leske’s Bakery.

Leske’s Bakery
7612 5th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11209
http://www.leskesbakery.com

IMG_4564
Max & Mina’s, an explosion of flavor

  Max & Mina’s Ice Cream
7126 Main St., Flushing, NY 11367
http://www.maxandminasicecream.com

Even though we were to maximum capacity, my friend Caitlin and I couldn’t help but sample the certified Angus beef sliders from Schweid & Sons, prepared by Schnippers. Juicy and perfect, they were more than a slider, alone those “small burgers” could qualify as a meal. We really truly are such dainty broads, ain’t we?

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention the generous open bar provided by festival sponsors In The Raw, as well as liquid treats from NY Distilling Co. and Bruce Cost, with wine by One Hope. Bite size slices of Acme Smoked Salmon paired beautifully with Black Rooster Rye Bread. Black Rooster hand slices their loaves thinly to perfection.

IMG_4580
Nothing spells Thursday night like wine, juicy mini burgers, and movies about chowing down.

The Food and Film Festival is an evening not to be missed.  Now in it’s 9th year and celebrating its new home, the AMC Empire 25 as fine wine, gets better with age.  Part entertainment, artisanal edibles, and good company it’s a fantastic, joyful event to put on the calendar now.  This time next year you could be swimming in perfect portions of pork shoulder.  Just make sure you have the right attire, you’re going to need the extra loose holiday jeans for this one.  Stay tuned tomorrow as I detail my adventures on Friday evening’s event: Food Porn.  I’ll let your imagination run wild with that one……

Slurp with Samantha in Brooklyn: Ganso

When the discussion of Ramen came up in the private Girls On Food Facebook page (for bloggers only!), I barely needed a second to solidify what I wanted to talk about. There’s one name that immediately comes to mind. Five letters spell out the name of a small place (thirty, maybe forty covers maximum?) in downtown Brooklyn that fills each bowl of ramen with massive amounts of flavor and that warm, fuzzy, comforting feeling; like your favorite cute winter sweater and jeans.

Ganso
25 Bond Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
http://www.gansonyc.com

ganso triple shrimp
Triple Shrimp

Ganso has been satisfying the ramen cravings of Brooklynites since 2012, and not wasting any time catching the attention of both local and national media as well.  This ramen rendezvous spot has been praised by Eater, Thrillist, and The New York Times, just to name a few. The menu items are similar year round, but each season has a specialty item or two as well. I’ve been a fan of Ganso since I came across it by accident in 2013, and it was one of my happiest accidents to date. It’s busy nearly every time I go in, but it’s worth the wait. My taste buds are so happy slurping down the Triple Shrimp (year round) bowl, each slurp and inhalation setting of an explosion of heat and the most amazing savory flavor in your mouth. During the warmer months when some might deem it “too hot for soup,” Ganso offers Summer Ramen (seasonal), a chilled noodle dish that when plated, looks like an edible rainbow of bright, vivid colors. For those looking to skip the spiciness, the Yasai Bowl (year round) although lacks meat, is still bursting with delectable textures and flavors.

SK Yasi
Yasai Bowl

While many New York City residents keep warm by cramming into Starbucks for Pumpkin Spice this or Salted Caramel that, do yourself a favor and skip all of that. Head over to Ganso instead. Even during the most frigid weather, a bowl of Ramen could warm even the coldest of hands, mouths, and hearts.
Ganso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cannon’s Blackthorne: A Taste of Irish American in Rockville Centre, NY

imagesFried mozzarella, and nachos, and dumplings oh my!  This menu is the kind that bar food aficionados dream about. Conveniently located next to The Rockville Centre Long Island Railroad train stop, it has a little bit of something for both weary travelers and townies alike. They also have an event coming up for Oktoberfest:

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/wings-oktobeerfest-tickets-17960640760?ref=gh

For a mere $25 you can sample some of the best wings on Long Island! Get out there this Saturday, October 17th and see what it’s all about.

Cannon’s Blackthorn
49 Village Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY, 11570
http://www.cannonsblackthornli.com

image
The inside looks just like Grandma’s house. A comforting way to spend and afternoon sipping a beer and imagine Grandma nagging at you.
image
Swarthy Menu

For starters we sampled Canon’s egg rolls which is a specialty of theirs. Rich with corn beef and cabbage and a refreshing mustard sauce beneath it’s a delicious way to start any meal.

imageAlso, I can never turn down a dumpling as I’m sure you can tell from my last dumpling festival post. Granted I generally prefer mine steamed, however, these deep fried duck and shrimp delights were a flavor explosion. I could have used a bit more duck in each but the flavor pairing was interesting and unconventional for a train side pub.

image
Canon’s egg rolls
image
The cobb salad with steak!

One of my favorite things about Cannon’s (you can already tell this is not my first time to the rodeo) is that you can create your own salad. I chose to top my cobb creation with steak as opposed to chicken. You can opt for either chicken, shrimp, or steak all cooked to perfection.

image
The gael pasta

Simple and tasty, if you find yourself stranded on Long Island for the afternoon or even want to take a trip there for funsies, visit Cannon’s. Its castle-like decor is especially adorable during the holiday season. Don’t forget to get your ticket to this festival coming up this weekend! A perfect pairing for any Octobeerfest I know.

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/wings-oktobeerfest-tickets-17960640760?ref=gh

For a mere $25 you can sample some of the best wings on Long Island! Get out there this Saturday, October 17th and see what it’s all about.
Cannon's Black Thorn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The 2015 NYC Dumpling Festival: A World of Tastes

Friends, Romans, Dumplingmen, lend me your bowls. On National Dumpling Day, Saturday, September 26th, enthusiasts of the delicious gooey balls of glory gathered at Sarah Roosevelt Park and sojourned from tent to tent in hopes of finding the perfect bite at The 2015 Chef One NYC Dumpling Festival.

IMG_4146

10413327_10100300025648337_7852690023253709995_n
Human Dumplings Break for Babies

Visitors to the event were greeted by a walking Dumpling Mama Mascot who was not shy about the photo ops. See left as she breaks for a little time with the future dumpling eaters of America.

Pedestrians rejoiced as they enjoyed an appetizing array of dumplings from cultures around the world. Admission to the festival is free but for a mere $20 tasting ticket, you can grab goodies from four tents of your choosing and the portions aren’t small.

 

 

IMG_4147

DumplingGo offered up their steamed chicken and basil dumplings. Chef One, the events sponsor showcased their edamame dumpling with a chicken wonton and asian salad slaw.

One hundred percent of all proceeds from ticket sales are being donated to Food Bank for New York City a major hunger relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs. Since 2004, Chef One a major Brooklyn based food manufacturer has been hosting the festival with it’s infamous Dumpling Eating Contest as a way of paying it forward to members of the community.

IMG_4141
Takeru Kobayashi pounding dumplings for a demonstration!

For those who know me, they know I have an extreme fondness for an occasional eating contest.  Although I didn’t participate this go round I did some stomach exercises silently to myself while watching Takeru Kobayashi doing a 30-second demo of dumpling eating to show future contestants how it’s done.  Note to self Megan, hold dumplings high, to the mouth, and shove.  Rinse and repeat.

 

IMG_4135As always I was accompanied by my homies #squadgoals. The ladies hit up the bubble tea tent to get their tapioca fix and Lincoln made sure to grab an empanada. Jocelyn was actually in from Denver just in time to get her fix! She’ll have to bring all of her secrets back to the Rockies. Rocky Mountain Dumpling high anyone?

 

 

 

 

IMG_4132That green somewhat shapeless blob is the dumpling of my nightmares.  The festival hosts a dumpling cutting ceremony as opposed to the so last year tradition of ribbon cutting.  Chef One has happily obliged creating this monster for that exact use.

IMG_4134I was pleasantly surprised by a beverage they were showcasing. Bruce Cost Gingerale was light and refreshing with passion fruit on the bottom. You could really taste the ginger but it didn’t bite the palate as it’s want to do. I highly recommend this fizzy treat.

I know what you’re saying at this point….but Megan, dumplings make me gag (I do honestly feel for you if you say that) but stranger things have happened. Don’t worry, the dumpling festival has a plethora of activities to entertain the most crotchety dumpling naysayer. There were live cultural performances including these sweet dancing dragons. Raffles, a dumpling making class, and of course the dumpling eating contest! Even if you don’t want to put them in your mouth, watch on in awe as a mere mortal puts one too many in theirs.

No matter where you stand on dumplings, the Dumpling Festival is a joy. There was never a dull moment, or for that matter an empty plate. Next year, take out your tastebud passport and stamp it in honor of the NYC Dumpling Festival.