Events — 20 October 2014
NYCWFF ‘Grand Tasting’ Brings Out Stars & Chefs

Blog: NYCWFF - Shop Rite Grand Tasting

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What happens when the New York City Food Network Wine and Food Festival comes to town? They take over a west side airplane hangar and turn it into a smorgasbord of demonstrations, eats and drinks and an elaborate and lavish tasting event of course. The bulk of the day Saturday and Sunday this past weekend showcased so many of the finest chefs and restaurants that New York has to offer as it does each and every year at the highly anticipated affair- earmarked by perhaps the most grandiose of them all- the annual “Grand Tasting” presented by ShopRite. For six full hours, thousands of guests were once again treated to a walkaround tasting inside of a massive warehouse-sized space replete with hundreds of purveyors, celebrity guests and plenty of swag to take home as keepsakes.

Once inside, Pier 94 was a surreal experience from the inside and with so many people buzzing around, it was hard not to be overwhelmed. The Saturday session provided a slew of familiar faces from start to finish. Guests like Andrew Zimmern, Rachel Ray, Martha Steward, Emeril Lagasse, Bethenny Frankel and Adam Richman alternated at the book signing tables and in delivering culinary demonstrations on stage to seated crowds. Meanwhile, the room itself was intricately assembled to provide wines, beers and spirits mixed with some delicious New York City eats from restaurants all over town.

Pacing ourselves, we began by tasting some of the delicious servings being plated- starting with Midtown East’s Vitae, where friendly Chef Edwin Bellanco was plating an outstanding “Chestnut Agnolotti.” The light, creamy envelopes of pasta were decorated with mild shreds of cheese and made for an excellent precursor for what was to come. Just steps away, Chef Sean Olnowich of “Bounce Sporting Club” was doling out savory “Carnitas” tacos overstuffed with heaps of freshly pulled pork and topped with greens for garnish. The dish paired brilliantly with pours of “Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012,” the sultry ripe red wine celebrating the winery’s 40th anniversary, being hand poured courtesy of Zachy’s. The long finish made the red far more approachable than one might expect from the highly acclaimed winemaker.

Parading around the room we stopped at the erected beer garden where pours of Negra Modelo and Blue Moon were a much welcomed surprise. The latter’s “Cinnamon Horchata Ale” was one we had tried for the first time and pleasantly, it was really something special. The perfect fall weather beer is deliciously spiced without being overpowering, but the cinnamon flavor here made the draught pour entirely different. Definitely a beer to look out for in bottles. After grabbing bulbous rice balls from Sirio Restaurante (“Sirio Arancino”) and “Lugo Meatballs Pomodoro” from Midtown West’s Lugo Cafe Italiana, it was time for some more eclectic tastes and we stumbled upon the Upper East Side’s Kaia Wine Bar for their “Lamb Tongue Puff Pastry.” Avoided by some because of the dish’s eccentricity, the grayish colored meat served with a drizzle of rich cream worked together admirably atop some field greens and pastry crumbles. We also supremely enjoyed Chef Roxanne Spruance’s (the soon-to-open Kingsley) tangy “Bone Marrow” dish pairing white chilled hunks of rich marrow with crispy mushroom shreds at the bottom of a small bowl.

Though we took some time to check out Man Vs. Food host Adam Richman and chefs John Besh and Aaron Sanchez performing live and in person, it was hard to stay away from the eats for too long. Our favorite of the afternoon though came from Chef Sungchul Shim, representing The Taste of Korea. The former Per Se chef was on hand with a small staff concocting a savory and flavorful pork belly, tastefully plated beneath a slice of lotus root. Layered over a rich brown drizzle, the ingredients were revelatory and left us yearning for a trip to the West Village’s Neta where Shim currently works as the executive chef. Our final stop took us a just a few short feet away for pours of Ole Smoky’s bottled Moonshine. From drenched maraschino cherries to their “Apple Pie” flavored blend, each sip was more delicious- and more booze-soaked- than the last. Though the brand is based out of Tennessee, the $28 retail price is an absolute steal and we’re certain to be on the look out around Manhattan to grab one of their array of flavors which range from 40 up to a whopping 100 proof.

With so much going on inside of the “Grand Tasting,” there’s simply no way to capture all of the happenings. There was a massive Cutthroat Kitchen display featuring an interactive money grab, refreshing pours of wine from the likes of Cupcake and Mionetto, a Colavita olive oil/KitchenAid cooking demonstration, and a full on Delta Airlines lounge with its own spread of wines and dishes from which to taste. Our extensive photo library provides but a glimpse of all the action that went down at this weekend’s “Grand Tasting,” where only New York City’s largest waterfront space was able to harness it all.

- Dave Gendelson

Food Photos from the 2014 NYCWFF: Shop Rite Grand Tasting

Bounce Sporting Club: “Carnitas”

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Vitae: “Chestnut Agnolotti”

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North Square Restaurant & Lounge: “Corn Tamale Cake

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Dare: “Caponata, Ricotta Salata, EVOO Drizzle”

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Hellmann’s Knorr: “Panko Crusted Chicken Slider

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Black Bear: “Buffalo Style Hot Dog

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Sirio Restaurante: “Sirio Arancino

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The Red Lion Inn: “Berry Patch Ratatouille Salad”

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Tessa

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La Slowteria: “El Negrito”

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Kingsley: “Bone Marrow”

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Crave Fishbar: “Smoked Sea Scallops”

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Le District: “Croque-Monsieur” & “Vichyssoise”

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Kaia Wine Bar: “Lamb Tongue Puff Pastry”

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Potatopia

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Yucatan Tourism Board: “Cochinita Pibil”

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Brick Lane Curry House: “Assortment of Samosas”

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Between the Bread: “Duck Foie Gras Macarons”

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Lugo Cafe Italiana: “Lugo Meatballs Pomodoro”

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Institute of Culinary Education: “Ancho Chile Rubbed Lamb”

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Schmackary’s: Schmall Wonders: “Pumpkin Spice and Maple Bacon”

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The Taste of Korea

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