This weekend, every outdoor NYC event, from the 90s Fest to the Taste Talks Barbeque, battled the kind of wicked New York rain that really unleashes its full furor when you’ve closed your umbrella for the fourth time and ventured out into the open.
This past Sunday’s Taste Williamsburg Greenpoint found its participants gamely laughing through the rain and sharing tent space with welcoming food vendors.
The benefit for the Northside Town Hall Community and Cultural Center was a delicious way to contribute to a much-needed community space in gentrified Williamsburg. The center, a long unused firehouse, will provide space for social justice organizations and offer arts programming and neighborhood gatherings.
Contributing to community isn’t so difficult when you get to do it by quaffing Maison Premiere’s absinthe cocktails and oysters, served up by the most charming bartender and chefs on site.
A fleur anis cocktail was very anisey and not overly sweet, and the oysters were refreshingly briny and creamy.
Next up was Williamsburg mainstay Le Barricou’s perfectly-crisped artichokes, seasoned with lime juice, chili, topped with nasturtium flowers and a variety of greenmarket herbs. Le Barricou is definitely a restaurant that has gotten better as it’s gotten older, if this artichoke dish is any indication.
Franklin street favorite Anella did a spicy chilled corn soup with creamed corn and mascarpone, topped with fresh corn, crab and olive oil.
The soup was rich, voluptuous and summery, and the crab was a perfect touch.
The Williamsburg Hotel served up an Italian farinata topped with a simple preparation of tomato and peach in olive oil. The peaches were sweet and ripe and the farinata was pan-crisped. The chef said he’d just milled the chickpea flour that morning for the crepes. They were the perfect vehicle for all that sweet summer produce.
The Camlin, meanwhile, gave us deviled eggs for our hangovers. The deviled egg is the perfect complete meal, in my opinion. These were fatty, spicy and salty, with pickled jalapeno and chicharrones. The Camlin’s chefs also cleverly sliced the egg white thinly and piped the yellow yolk above and below the white, creating, in effect, a yolk sandwich that resembled a macaron.
Oleanders gave us food that turned out to be perfect for chilly rain. Their French onion roast beef au jus was topped with aged swiss cheese and real horseradish grated by the chef. The beef was tender and the jus was rich and savory. Extra horseradish, please!
The Randolph had healthier attendees covered, with hearty sample portions of a warm grain salad featuring quinoa, brown rice, bulghur, charred tomato, asparagus, kale and mushrooms.
The rain began to pour down at this point but didn’t stop Brooklynites from eating. Not even Sandy stopped us from whipping up gourmet meals and gaining ten pounds! A little downpour was nothing to Taste Williamsburg Greenpoint attendees.
Restaurant employees invited us under their tents to escape the rain and snack with them. Then, it was business as usual, as attendees returned to eating.
Delaware and Hudson served a hearty buckwheat pancake topped with house-smoked Pennsylvania trout. I can’t resist smoked trout and this was topped with caviar, dill and crème fraiche. Yes, a million times yes.
Northeast Kingdom went straight for the local, with a ratatouille of zucchini, red pepper, tomato and eggplant from a farm upstate in Ghent, all layered on a baguette with ramp walnut pesto. It was easy to eat while walking around planning my next course of action, which by this time was, of course, alcohol.
Brooklyn Winery’s friendly oeniphiles gave lessons in the unexpected joys of Chardonnay and Riesling and let me default to a full-bodied, fruity 2012 housemade Cabernet from Sonoma grapes.
To sober up later before my next assignment, I had a Califia Cold Brew latte with almond milk, and for good measure, a delicious shot of rum with the lovely bartender at the VIP tent.
When it came to desserts, Brooklyn Floss, Tea and Jam, Brooklyn Cupcake and Salty Road Salt Water Taffy brought their best mini delights.
Tea and Jam was particularly surprising, with its milk and cookies mini cupcake – a coconut milk, vanilla bean, chocolate chip concoction that I admit to wanting three more of. Plus they’re gluten-free, with almond flour, naturally.
Here’s a peek at some of the beautiful people who came to Taste Williamsburg Greenpoint yesterday.
East River Ferry sponsored the event and provided ferry tickets and sunglasses to wear while cruising with them to Dumbo or Governor’s Island.
Yelp was as cheery as it ever is, letting you spin the bottle for free company goodies.
Entertained by bands, games of cornhole and plenty of food and booze, I heard quite a few participants say that the organizers did a great job.
Getting to sample so many Greenpoint and Williamsburg restaurants I already know and love while finding new favorites was a treat. The quality of the food, the portion sizes, and the lack of lines were all wonderful. I really enjoyed this event and am looking forward to next year already.