Events — 30 May 2014
New Taste of the UWS Kicks Off With Park “Soiree”

Blog: New Taste of UWS '14 - Soiree in the Park

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You didn’t actually think that a rescheduling due to rain would prevent one of the season’s most anticipated series of events from kicking off did you? Though Tuesday evening’s “Soiree in the Park” was pushed to Thursday night, the 2014 New Taste of the Upper West Side held its opening night event in the only fashion that it knows how- with absolute class and style. A multitude of philanthropic guests gathered at Theodore Roosevelt Park at 7pm, where a select group of chefs would prepare exotic samples amid the background of live music in celebration of the development and upkeep of what is perhaps Manhattan’s most sought after neighborhood.

The grassy area surrounding the American Museum of Natural History was an ideal setting for the evening ‘Soiree’ particularly on a clear, crisp spring evening. A classical quartet of string players welcomed guests into the West 79th Street entrance where a chic setting would await in the form of champagne and small bites from some of the area’s most widely respected restaurants. With gorgeous flower arrangements as the focal point of each table adorned in fine white tablecloths, the event commenced fittingly as the sun was setting right along the west side.

Joining the many sophisticated guests in attendance, we began by grabbing pours of the “LOCL Sumr Fizz,” a refreshing mint infused cocktail based around sparking Prosecco bubbles. The crisp, drinkable flute proved particularly tasty when paired with Corvo Bianco’s “Grilled Octopus,” served with a smattering of olives, beans, pancetta and nicely lacquered in a smoked paprika vinaigrette. Though this was our first “Soiree,” rumblings of “the food is better this year” could be overheard in agreement from much of the clientele in attendance. And it would be difficult to challenge their assertion when noshing on the likes of Calle Ocho’s “Marinated Ahi Tuna,” a deliciously smooth helping from Chef Rodney Mitchell that combined fresh tuna, white soy and a perfectly sized dollop of mustard oil that kicked up the spice to an ideal degree.

Though Chef Maria Loi has spent much time on her philanthropic ventures, on Greek television, and writing different cookbooks, she could not have been a more accommodating hostess on Thursday evening while representing LOI Restaurant. Chef Loi’s “Horiatiki Roll” showcased the undying love of her homeland with the usual ingredients from the fare of the region- feta cheese, cucumber, tomato and kalamata olives- but the bite sized sample topped in a yogurt sauce was fairly simple yet somehow still exceptional. We’d also be remiss to not mention the particularly tasty assortment of meats courtesy of Cesare Casella from Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto where we indulged upon the likes of “Porchetta Placenti” made from tender pork loin and garlic seasoning, “Salame Calabrese” cured with spicy chilies, and “Salame Toscano,” an excellent pepper spiced variety. Kitchen Surfing meanwhile, utilized “Proscuitto Wrapped Dates” to attract perhaps the evening’s lengthiest line while grilling two sweet and salty bite sized delicacies at a time to the hungry mass of patient guests.

Capping our evening with an array of desserts courtesy of Sarabeth’s, we joined the remaining crowd in recognizing the diligent work by the volunteers not just on this evening, but in anticipation for the remainder of the weekend. New Taste of the Upper West Side is typically a three day affair that highlights the many notable chefs and restaurants uptown and serves to benefit the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District, a nonprofit group that injects proceeds from the weekend directly into the neighborhood. And though the event resumes with Friday night’s “Comfort Classics,” the Thursday night “Soiree in the Park” was a perfectly swanky way to kick things off in style.

For more information on the 2014 New Taste of the Upper West Side including ticketing and the weekend schedule, beneficiaries and sponsors, take a few minutes to peruse their website here.

- Alexandra Fetsey

Food Photos from New Taste of the UWS ’14 “Soiree in the Park”
Calle Ocho: “Marinated Ahi Tuna, White Soy, Mustard Oil, Micro Cilantro”
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Savoury Indian Restaurant & Br: “Delhi Papri Chaat: Crispy Wafer served with Seasoned Potatoes & Chickpeas, topped with Tamarind, Yogurt and Mint Sauce”

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Loi Restaurant: “Horiatiki Roll – Feta Cheese, Kalamata Olives & Tomato Wrapped in Cucumber with Yogurt Sauce”

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Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto: “Selezione di Salumi”

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Sarabeth’s: “Rugelach,” “Chocolate Sandwich with Orange Apricot Jam,” & “Chocolate Chubbie”

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LOCL Bar – NYLO Hotel: “LOCL Sumr Fizz”

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Kitchen Surfing: “Dates Stuffed with Menuri Cheese & Turkish Purple Pistachio Wrapped in House Cured Wattle Bacon”

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Caffe Storico: “Watermelon & Cucumber Gazpacho, Ricotta Tortellini & Pickled Radish”

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