Hellooo spring! The weather could not have been any more fabulous for the 2014 Taste of Tribeca food festival. Not surprisingly, the crowds came out in full force for the best neighborhood block party in town. Families with children and local foodies intermingled within the culinary triangle that is Duane, Greenwich and Hudson St. Despite the crowds, the lines moved quickly, and there was plenty of food to go around. The Taste of Tribeca is a well-oiled machine–when you’ve been in the biz for 20 years (what a milestone!!), you’ve got the whole operations thing nailed down.
And it helps that this is all for a good cause. All the proceeds are going towards the arts and enrichment programs at local Tribeca public schools PS 150 and PS 234. How could you not support all the cute kids in pursuing their creative dreams? Who knows, maybe that tiny girl serving you your VIP tray or punching your tasting card might grow up to be the next Lady Gaga! The heavy-hitters on the Tribeca food scene were all here to serve tasty bites to the hungry crowd. Old stalwarts like Tribeca Grill, Bubby’s, Bouley and The Odeon were there, as well as some fresh new faces like China Blue and The Butterfly. The food offerings were impressively broad and deep–Italian, Chinese, Laotian, Mexican, hot, cold, savory, sweet–you name it, you got it. Here’s a recap of what we gobbled and gabbed our way through on Saturday.
China Blue’s 3 Cup Chicken and Pan Fried Pork Buns – This was my absolute favorite. Who doesn’t love a little dim sum in the middle of the day? The 3 cup chicken was fantastic–the tender, juicy chicken was marinaded in a sauce where the critical elements of sweet and savory flavors were in perfect harmony. Just like the kung pao chicken of your youth, only much more elegant!
Brushstroke’s Oregon Washu Beef Over Rice – The washu beef was divine–it was tender and sweet, and at the slightest touch it would blissfully dissolve into your mouth. Happy cows produce happy meat–this is what you get when you feed them sake and massage their muscles! I felt like I was eating quite possibly the best bowl of bulgogi over rice, and I’ve had many beef bowls in my lifetime.
Telepan Local’s Ramps w/Asparagus, Wild Garlic, Lemon Ricotta & Sorrel – Nothing says spring like a plate full of fresh, green ramps. These light, seasonal vegetables were a refreshing change of pace from the heavier options that hit the food festival circuit. You could tell from the vibrant flavors that these vegetables were definitely sourced locally, and the amazing lemon ricotta cheese gave just the right touch of richness to round out the dish.
The Odeon’s Coconut Ice Cream – Eating ice cream from a cone during an outdoor festival is a must. Not surprisingly, people were constantly lining up for the delectable frozen treats at The Odeon stand. The coconut ice cream really hit the spot–it was just a tad sweet, creamy and not too dense, a perfect treat for a sunny day.
Ninja New York’s Sushi – Ninja certainly knew how to work the crowd. The energetic servers were handing out free ninja headbands to those who walked by, getting them into a raucous state of mind for their colorful sushi rolls, which were surprisingly tasty and filling. I’m glad that there was some substance to their ninja schtick!
Marc Forgione’s Fluke Fish Taco – This fish taco was small, but what it lacked in size it made up for in flavor. The fluke was impeccably seasoned–the fullness of the avocado and cream was a very pleasant sensation, while the salsa verde added some nice, sharp complexities into the mix. Tacos are a hot trend right now, and Marc Forgione’s definitely places high in the rankings.
Jungsik’s Seawood Soup Paella – Jungsik did a repeat showing of its miyeok seaweed soup paella. It was just as good as last year–the rice was coated in a salty, briney veil that paired very well with the excellent kimchee on top. Certainly blows all the other birthday soups out of the water.
Bouley’s “Chef Surprise” – The culinary powerhouse classed up the cheese and cracker plate with a very innovative rendition. The cracker itself was made from kuzu, the root of a Japanese plant that grows wild in mountainous regions. It was extra firm and crisp, and the truffle topped aligote cheese was delightfully decadent. The sweet portion of the Chef Surprise reminded me of a strawberry icee with cream and bananas, which was an absolutely refreshing treat.