Blog: Tasting New York
Swarms of hungry guests filled up two floors at the Flatiron Hotel on Sunday afternoon for a four hour long food event, creatively titled “Tasting New York.” Hosted by real estate mogul Robert “Toshi” Chan, and sponsored by Resident Magazine, the day would bring together some of Manhattan’s finest area restaurants, live music, and a celebrity guest emcee in celebration of the festivities.
For many of us, this would be our initial visit to the Flatiron Hotel, which couples a boutique type feel with the swagger of the energetic city. The line of attendees wrapped long around the building in advance of the 1pm start time, but it managed to move quickly as guests were ushered inside. Once the event kicked off however, it quickly became clear that despite the luxurious venue, the oversold space was not a good fit. In all likelihood the push of Groupon sales two weeks out drove discounted tickets into the hands of value-seeking locals, and as such, attendees were packed into the lobby space without much room to move much less eat food samples upright. More than a few ticketholders could be heard within earshot voicing their discontent about the event setup. While the arrangement was certainly frustrating, the restaurants more than made up for it with the fare being doled out.
We immediately spotted Chef Kenneth Johnson from Pescatore whose “Parmesan Panna Cotta” was off-the-charts spectacular. The wonderfully plated sample combined a sweet tomato marmalade, with a rich basil oil and a touch of olives for spoonful after spoonful of smooth, rich heaven. Similarly delicious, Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse brought a “Maple Glazed Quail” with a sweet syrupy glaze that left us gasping for water with its fiery finish. The tender, perfectly prepared meat stripped right off of each handheld bone, with the sticky glaze remaining on our tongues long after discarding its remains. The afternoon’s most bandied about dish however was from Marco Polo Ristorante. Their overstuffed “Crawfish Ravioli” wonderfully meshed fresh cream, herbs, and Cajun spices around thick hunks of the shellfish, doused in a liberal amount of a sherry cream broth. The dish repeatedly caught the eyes of surrounding guests searching for the source of the generous portion of noodles.
Other participating restaurants included the likes of KTCHN, Ferrara’s, and Benares, each of whom had minimal waits despite the large crowd in attendance. While the afternoon would see a portion of its proceeds to St. Francis Food Pantries & Shelters, it was a challenge for many of the attendees to see the bright side of the event as even the elevator wait for a ride up to the vendors in the penthouse was maddening at times. Fortunately, donning a fresh smile and sharp suit, Fox 5 news anchor Ernie Anastos was the emcee of the day, welcoming guests and posing for pictures repeatedly as the afternoon wore on. His uplifting demeanor managed to briefly deflect our collective attention away from the exasperating attempts to find comfort inside of the bi-level space.
The day’s organizers were certainly well intentioned, despite the diminutive space housing so many hundreds of unmoving guests. The participating restaurants certainly did their part to bring delicious, inventive food dishes to “Tasting New York,” even though the work to be able to taste them was a challenge in itself.
- Jane Van Arsdale