Taste of Tribeca 2014

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.

taste of tribeca - bouley worker
manning the bouley station

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.

taste of tribeca - china blue 3 cups chicken
china blue’s 3 cup chicken and pan fried pork buns

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!

taste of tribeca - brushstroke washu beef
brushstroke’s oregon washu – beef over rice

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.

taste of tribeca - telepan ramps
telepan local’s ramps w/asparagus, wild garlic, lemon ricotta & sorrel

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.

taste of tribeca - the odeon coconut ice cream
the odeon’s coconut ice cream cone

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.

taste of tribeca - ninja roast beef california and spicy tuna sushi
ninja’s roast beef sushi, colorful california roll and spicy tuna roll

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!

taste of tribeca - marc forgione
marc forgione’s fluke fish taco, smoked avocado, grilled ramp salsa verde

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.

taste of tribeca - jungsik miyeok paella
miyeok “birthday meal” seaweed soup paella

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.

taste of tribeca - bouley kuzu cracker and strawberry dessert
bouley’s “chef surprise”

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.

Top Bites at Taste of Tribeca 2013

Outdoor food festival season is in full swing, and this past Saturday was Tribeca’s culinary moment in the sun when it played host to the 19th annual Taste of Tribeca food event. Over 70 neighborhood restaurants came out to help raise proceeds for arts and enrichment programs at local public schools PS 150 and PS 234. Many of the volunteers consisted of parents of the children enrolled at these schools, along with the cute, energetic students themselves. The strong sense of community that prevailed at Taste of Tribeca gave the event a fun neighborhood block party vibe that you don’t really find at a lot of chaotic street festivals. Overcast skies and eventual rainfall did little to dampen spirits, as festival goers pluckily waited in the rain to sample enticing bites from their favorite Tribeca restaurants. The Gab and Gobble team was able to eat its way through 12 of the offered bites–here’s a round-up of how each one measured up.

Best in Show - Jungsik's seafood risotto
Best in Show – Jungsik’s seafood risotto

Jungsik: Seafood Risotto
Best in Show definitely goes to Jungsik’s amazing seafood risotto. I loved the comforting umami flavors of the beef-flavored, seaweed speckled rice and the fresh chunks of seafood nestled throughout, and the kimchee on top provided a nice pickled kick. A great understated take on a normally heavy, creamy dish.

Brushstroke's black truffle chawan mushi egg custard
Brushstroke’s black truffle chawan-mushi egg custard

Brushstroke: Black Truffle Chawan-Mushi Egg Custard
Brushstroke’s luxurious egg custard dish was also an impressive effort. The soft and silky egg and the black truffle broth were a dreamy, decadent combination.   

Scalini Fedeli's mushroom risotto with peas
Scalini Fedeli’s spring mushroom risotto with peas

Scalini Fedeli: Spring Mushroom Risotto
Scalini Fedeli’s dish stayed true to the hearty, rich flavors of traditional risotto. The rice was cooked perfectly and was coated in a delicious, creamy sauce. The mushrooms provided some earthy notes while the peas provided some complementary light ones.

Bouley's seared duck with kumquat puree over wild rice
Bouley’s seared duck with kumquat puree over wild rice
10 - Plating at Bouley
Plating at Bouley
09 - Plating at Bouley
More plating at Bouley
08 - Bouley Station
Bouley cooking station

Bouley: Seared Duck Breast with Kumquat Puree over Wild Rice
Bouley’s taste was certainly the most ambitious one at the festival. An elaborate assembly line was set up to piece together the different components of the dish. While I applaud Bouley’s efforts, I felt that the duck breast was too small and lacked flavor, and the kumquat puree was a bit overpowering and overly sweet.

11 - Tribeca Grill - Fried Chicken w Corn Bread
Tribeca Grill’s batter-up fried chicken with corn bread

Tribeca Grill: Batter-Up Fried Chicken with Corn Bread
The hefty, juicy chicken drumstick was a refreshing change from the daintier tastes that prevailed at the festival. The buttermilk fried chicken was perfectly crisp on the outside but moist and flavorful on the inside. The corn bread was a little dry, but let’s be honest, it was entirely upstaged by the chicken.

03 - Nobu Next Door - Black Miso Cod
Nobu Next Door’s black miso cod

Nobu Next Door: Black Miso Cod
Nobu’s black miso cod is one of those legendary dishes that spawned thousands of inferior imitations. I was a little disappointed by the version served at the festival. The fish tasted like it had been cooked the night before, and the filet was extremely tough, almost smoked and jerky-like on the surface. I’m willing to cut Nobu some slack though, because I’m sure serving a signature dish to the masses in the outdoors is a logistical challenge.

01 - Locanda Verde - Lamb Meatball Sliders
Locanda Verde’s lamb meatball sliders and summer salad

Locanda Verde: Lamb Meatball Sliders and Summer Salad
Locanda’s lamb meatball slider was very solid. The lamb patty was moist and flavorful, and the ricotta cheese nicely counterbalanced the gaminess of the lamb meat. The summer salad was a tad salty but was light and fresh.

02 - Marc Forgione - Lamb Ribs
Marc Forgione’s spring lamb dish

Marc Forgione: Spring Lamb Dish
I commend Marc Forgione for ambitiously serving up lamb ribs at an outdoor festival. The ribs were marinated in a heavy spice rub that was reminiscent of smoked, peppery beef jerky. I think if there were more lamb meat on the bones, the spices would have been more balanced and less intense. The accompanying coleslaw didn’t really add anything to the dish.

13 - Takahachi - Hand Rolls
Takahachi’s crab meat and eel hand rolls

Takahachi: Eel and Crab Meat Hand Rolls
I honestly chose this dish because the sushi rolls were pretty generous in size, and I needed something more substantial than just a bite. Plus, I think sushi rolls were a refreshing change from the dozens of sliders and burgers that were being offered at many stands. Overall, this was a solid hand roll.

04 - Greenwich Tavern - Teriyaki Slider
Greenwich Grill’s teriyaki burger

Greenwich Grill: Teriyaki Burger
I’m going to keep this one short. I hope this burger is in beta mode, because the restaurant needs to work out a lot of kinks.

14 - Odeon - Homemade Ice Cream
Odeon’s homemade pistachio ice cream

The Odeon: Pistachio Ice Cream
The Odeon played it smart and operated an ice cream stand at the festival. Ice cream is always a crowd favorite, and not surprisingly the demand for this sweet treat was high. The pistachio was creamy and delicious, and there were generous chunks of nuts mixed in throughout.

Taste of Tribeca Bubby's Pie Co. Rhubarb Apple  Brown Betty
Bubby’s rhubarb apple brown betty

Bubby’s Pie Co.: Rhubarb Apple Brown Betty
We finished off the day with a generous portion of Bubby’s delicious fruit crumble. Nothing says summer like fresh apples and rhubarb served with a dollop of fresh cream!

Fun Events: 19th Annual Taste of Tribeca

taste of tribeca logoI am so over winter. March and April are such an annoying tease, you get hints of the glorious springtime to come, followed by cruel bouts of reality that winter is still here to stay. But with a little patience, we can weather the storm and enjoy the wonderful spring outdoors that make New York City come alive! One event I’m especially looking forward to is the 19th Annual Taste of Tribeca, a one-of-a-kind culinary festival that celebrates downtown local flavor on May 18th. The streets of Tribeca will be bustling with activity from top local restaurants including Tribeca Grill, Landmarc, Kutsher’s Tribeca, Bubby’s, The Palm, Blaue Gans, Duane Park Patisserie and newcomers, such as Dirty Bird To Go and Aamanns-Copenhagen. The proceeds from ticket sales will be used to support the continuation of arts and enrichment programs at local public schools, PS 150 and PS 234.

You can currently buy Early Bird tickets for $40 at the following link (after April 30, advance tickets are $45/person, $50/person day of event). Buy them while they’re hot!

You can browse some mouth-watering pictures of last year’s event from several different publications if you’re not convinced:
Serious Eats
New York Social Diary
Tribeca Citizen