Blog: Taste of the Town 2016
The picturesque setting of the sky-high ballroom at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows has been reason enough alone for us to travel into Queens in recent years. The classic space always manages to host some truly special affairs- and Thursday evening would be no different. Dozens of local Queens restaurants and businesses would gather amid the sprawling space for a food tasting event that both showcases the best of the borough and also fundraises for a truly notable cause. The first annual ‘Taste of the Town’ would welcome hundreds of philanthropic guests to benefit ANIBIC or The Association for Neurologically Impaired Brain Injured Children, a nonprofit organization that we learned a great deal about as the evening progressed.
For more than fifty years, ANIBIC has been providing an array of services to local children with special needs through a variety of different initiatives toward education, personal and career development- and most of all, enablement. Thursday evening’s event was a blend of delicious fare, refreshing cocktails and a bevy of silent auction items that would allow guests to take home memorabilia from the New York Jets and Giants, an assortment of wine bottles and gift packs from Brooklyn Brewery and Lagunitas Brewing Company to name a few. Of course no ‘Taste of the Town’ would be complete without the taste, and the friendly staff working the event handed out some chips for us to vote on the evening’s stars of the night: the food.
The sights and smells inside the main ballroom space were equally appealing with so many different pockets of the borough being represented. With our eyes wide, we set out to begin tasting our way around the room with our first stop being Bayside’s Papazzio. Offering up three different dishes, we went wild for the “Bow Tie Pasta with Shrimps and Scallops” ensconced in lobster sauce, which was an immediate contender for the evening’s “Best Taste,” an actual award to be decided upon by the evening’s guests. Just steps away, we dug into some Cajun-style fare from Bell Boulevard’s Bourbon Street where the likes of “Jambalaya,” “Boo Coo Balls” (with a spicy chipotle mayo) and “Corn Bread with Pecan Butter” each proved to be particularly delectable.
The room was appropriately laid out with the food tables in a circular fashion allowing attendees to easily move between tables without having to do much pausing. Our eyes (and stomachs) were immediately drawn to the large bowl of “Turkish Kalamata Olives” laid out by Mt. Ararat Bakery. We quickly filled our plates with some delicious “Feta Cheese” and “Kasseri Cheese” alongside some sweet tastes from nearby La Adelita before grabbing a seat to take in the delightful ambiance of the room. Aside from the wonderful decor of Terrace on the Park, we were enchanted by the live music and lively conversations taking place around us, enhanced by the offerings of wine from Franny Lew Wine & Liquors.
After a brief reprieve, our gluttonous journey continued. We noshed on some Mexican from Tacuba Cantina Mexicana- their “Molcayete de Mariscos” (which included Fluke, Shrimp, Octopus, Clams, Lobster-Chipotle Salsa, Cilantro Rice, and Mojo de Ajo) was excellent- American comfort food from Monahan & Fitzgerald, another Bayside favorite that served delicious “Sesame Chicken Sticks,” “Pulled Pork Sliders” and an awesome “Mini Shepherd’s Pie,” and Indian inspired cuisine from Sohna Punjab, where the “Vegetable Samosa” was entirely notable. It was at this moment that we discovered Buddy’s Kosher Delicatessen. While their “Salami Sandwiches” delivered, we were pleasantly surprised with their “Pigs in a Blanket,” wonderfully enveloped in dough and served piping hot.
Choosing our favorite dish of the evening proved to be immensely challenging as we grabbed tasty bites of “Paella” from Sangria Tapas & Wine, “Jerk Chicken Wings” from The Door, “Cheese Ravioli” from Luigi’s and “Shrimp Tempura” and “Crab Cakes” from Tavern 18. For our money, the “Chicken Tamales,” fresh guacamole and the “Passion Fruit Margarita” from La Adelita earned our ‘Best Presentation’ chip based on tasty food, versatility and friendly staff.
After making a quick round at the dessert table, which included delicious “Baklava” from Stamatis and some tasty AND beautiful cookies from Jersey Cookie Girl, we grabbed a seat to watch the evening’s awards ceremony where Papazzio would win for “Best Taste” and Jersey Cookie Girl won for “Best Presentation.” In all, the evening was a complete success for both the generous guests on hand, the restaurants and the organization itself who would lean upon some established Queens-based restaurants to draw the evening’s crowd but delivered an important and lasting message for those same attendees filing out of the posh event space on Thursday night.
- Jackie Benavides