Blog: Queens Taste 2013
Over the past few years, Citi Field has scant been the source of celebration as most fans of the New York Mets might attest. The immaculate and beautiful field continues to await the fielding of a winning team in Flushing, as it sits in anticipation of being the site of the 2013 Major League Baseball All Star Game this summer. But while there hasn’t much to cheer about on the field, Tuesday night’s event held inside the stadium’s massive Caesar’s Club proved that the borough is as bustling as any that New York City has to offer, evidenced by more than forty restaurants and businesses on hand for an evening entitled “Queens Taste.” The 2013 event, sponsored by Fairway market, would benefit the Queens Economic Development Corporation, an outfit focused on creating jobs and growing small businesses. But really, the true beneficiaries were the some 1000 folks who attended.
At 6pm, droves of Queens residents joined a sea of small businesses within the famed ballpark for a night of eating, drinking, and exclusive raffles in celebration of community unity. Food purveyors would line the room’s far back windows, lined up one after another for easy transitions in blissful consumption alongside some of the wine and spirits distributors mixed in accordingly. Meanwhile, beers courtesy of Brooklyn Brewery and draughts from the likes of Blue Moon and Pacifico were being poured in three ounce cups at the Club’s lengthy bar area, heavily occupied throughout the three hour event. Arriving just at dinner time, our hunger pangs mandated we begin doing some tasting immediately and fortunately, as we reached the line of notable Queens eateries, we stumbled upon gastropub The Dog And The Duck. With a variety of five distinctive and tender sliders, there was no shortage of delectable eats. Duck, pork, short rib, lamb and meatball were each separately placed on tiny buns and devoured as soon as they hit the table. Just a few short steps away we made a quick pivot to the table housing the famed New York institution Ottomanelli Brothers, where we found their traditional burger made into slider form. The perfectly prepared meat was flawless, served piping hot and was the recipient of our dollop of ketchup to keep it old school.
Mama’s of Corona proved true to form, filling us up just like mom does with a heaping bowl of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil doused in a delicious vinegar based drizzle, and an overwhelming platter of traditional Italian inspired sandwiches. These lovely women wouldn’t let us go home hungry and even tried to pack up sandwiches for us to take home. Seeking out every food group possible, we made our way over to O Lavrador, who was doling out a scrumptious open-faced “Codfish Fritter” topped with a chunky vinaigrette dressing on a crostini that sent us back for seconds.
Other notables included the likes of La Rioja, carving a decadently fatty “Serrano Ham” from the bone in thin slices onto our plates and Austin Steak and Ale House, whose juicy cuts of “Skirt Steak” and small “Crab Cake Balls” literally melted in our mouths. Perhaps our favorite dish of the evening however belonged to the crostini topped “Filet Mignon” from Christos Steak House. Each succulent slice was topped with bacon and sautéed mushrooms, giving us all the more reason to want to take the train back out to Queens. With our satiation setting in, dessert became the next logical option as we awaited the announcements of the raffle prizes, generously donated from so many Queens businesses. Experiences like Mets field level tickets, tennis camps from the USTA, and twenty tickets to Long Island City’s Laughing Devil Comedy Club, sat alongside a 42 inch Visio television, and donations from Brooklyn Brewery, McClure’s Pickles (named the evening’s best appetizer) and a food basket from Fairway, as bandied about rewards for the participants. We noshed on some mind blowing “Chocolate Covered Animal Crackers” and “Chocolate Covered Jalapenos” from recent startup company Little Bird Chocolates and some confections from Cookie Fairy Sweets and Becky’s Bites as we watched each winner raise their hands overhead, smiling at their brand new takeaway. And despite not winning anything ourselves, sharing with the locals in a genuine Queens borough experience in the home of the New York Mets made the quick ride on the 7 train one worth taking.
- Jay Rubin