Blog: WCS Sip for the Sea
Set amid the backdrop of the Central Park Zoo at dusk, the Wildlife Conservation Society hosted a classy outdoor affair Thursday night entitled “Sip for the Sea.” The second annual event would bring together more than two dozen restaurants and vendors for a seafood centric food tasting and wine pairing to benefit the transformation of the New York Aquarium, whose plans for construction were severely altered following the damages of Hurricane Sandy. With live music, an array of incredible eats from some of New York City’s top restaurants and chefs and even an exhibition courtesy of the Zoo’s sea lions, “Sip for the Sea” proved to be both tasteful and captivating for the hundreds of philanthropic guests in attendance.
The dulcet tones emanating from the back of the open air space were utterly infectious as blues band The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn allured packs of guests closer and closer to their catchy sounds. With a wine glass in one hand and a dish in the other, it became methodical to figure out how to manage wining and dining around the picturesque space- but the high top tables stationed around the Zoo’s corridor proved pivotal for resting one’s glass in order to use both hands to quickly devour some of the mouthwatering food being served up by the chefs and their staffs.
The evening opened an hour earlier for ‘Grand Taster Guests,’ giving many folks the opportunity to enjoy some of the culinary delicacies being plated before the remaining crowds would arrive. It was during this hour that the west side’s Lobster Place would host an exclusive wine and oyster pairing solely for these attendees- and the sounds of ‘Wild Cat Cove’ oysters being freshly shucked and slurped down, quickly filled the air around us. The early start time also allowed guests to marvel at the Zoo’s immaculate grounds while the day’s remaining sunlight shone down upon the space in all its majesty. Only in New York City is it possible to be wowed by a group of zoologists feeding hungry sea lions performing tricks, while also gazing toward a towering skyline of buildings in the background.
As vivid as the quaint setting was, the selection of delicious food being doled out was equally as exceptional. Atlantic Grill’s “Hamachi Crudo” was an early favorite- a thin slice of chilled fish topped by red radish, a crispy maitake mushroom and a subtle drizzle of Yuzu-Kosho vinaigrette. The pairing with Argentinian wine 2013 “Colome Torrontes,” a fruit forward citrusy white that is deliciously pungent, was equally as notable as we sipped and swirled our way around the outdoor area. Scallops were among the most popular dishes during “Sip for the Sea” evidenced by the delectable offerings from the likes of HM Bistro (“Alaska Weathervane Scallops”), Fresh Hamptons (“Wood Roasted Montauk Day Boat Scallops”) and Clement at the Penninsula, whose “Scallop Escabeche” with a seaweed aioli was our clear cut favorite of the bunch.
While both Esca and Tavern on the Green offered up differing and delicious takes on “Alaskan Black Cod,” other standout dishes included Almond’s “Coho Salmon Crudo” on a bed of sticky rice, Felidia‘s perfectly crusted “Yellowfin Tuna Semi-Carpaccio” and The Stanton Social’s “House Cured Wild Salmon Crostini,” a nice contrast of textures from crunchy cracker to the rich dollop of creamy aioli. Surprisingly, the evening’s culinary highlight came courtesy of the event’s sole meat dish and Fred’s at Barneys’ crunchy “Braised Brisket Tacos” were a big hit. Stuffed with tender pulled meat, fresh radish and thick guacamole, each hearty taco packed a multitude of different flavors which oozed out with each savory bite. And the brilliant pairing with the full bodied 2012 “Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon” from The Hess Collection was utterly fantastic.
Stuffed with some tasty fare, inspired by some of the guest speakers on hand, informed about some noteworthy affordable wines, and left in awe by the views of the Central Park Zoo at nightfall is perhaps the sentiment that best sums up the experience at the second annual “Sip for the Sea.” The tasteful affair was one that managed to be both casual and refined at once and allowed those of us fortunate enough to be in attendance to have a taste of the good life- for a cause that is great.
For more information on the Wildlife Conservation Society and their efforts to support, rebuild and transform the New York Aquarium, take a peek at their website here.
- Dave Gendelson
Lobster Place: “Assorted Oysters”
HM Bistro at Sheraton NYC: “Alaska Weathervane Scallops, Crispy Kale Polenta”
Hundred Acres: “Salpicon-Style Bluefish with Fried Tortillas”
The Wayfarer: “Cured Alaskan Coho Salmon with Cucumber & Jalapeno Apple Vinaigrette”
Atlantic Grill: “Hamachi Crudo, Crispy Maitake Mushrooms, Gooseberries, Yuzu-Kosho Vinaigrette“
Rouge Tomate: “Yellowfin Tuna, Wild Mushroom, Cauliflower, Wild Rice, Cashew“
Esca: “Smoked Alaskan Black Cod“
Almond: “Coho Salmon Crudo with Arancini and Citrus“
Thalassa: “Lavraki with Caviar Mousse & Zucchini Fritter with Tzatziki Sauce”
Davio’s Manhattan: “Gnocchi Bolognese” & “Mushroom Truffle Gnocchi”
Crave.It: “Polenta, Hazelnut and Almond Cookie“
Tavern on the Green: “Miso Cured & Smoked Alaskan Black Cod“
Felidia: “Yellowfin Tuna Semi-Carpaccio with Almond Milk and Caponata“
Clement at the Peninsula: “Scallop Escabeche with Seaweed Aioli“
Parlor Steakhouse / The Writing Room: “Local Blue Island Oyster with Watermelon-Chili Granite“
Tolani: “Salmon Tartar“
Gordon Ramsay at the London: “Carpaccio of Coho Salmon“
The Lambs Club: “Yellowfin Tuna Sliders“
Robicelli’s: “Assorted Desserts“
Butterfly Bakeshop: “Vanilla Cake” & “Chocolate Cake with Cappucino Buttercream”
The Stanton Social: “House Cured Wild Salmon Crostini“
Fresh Hamptons: “Wood Roasted Montauk Day Boat Scallops“
Fred’s at Barneys: “Braised Brisket Tacos”