Blog: Edible Escape 2016
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Fall was in the air and in the offerings at Edible Manhattan’s Edible Escape inside of the enchanting Angel Orensanz Foundation building on the Lower East Side on Thursday night. The fare leaned to the slightly heavier, slightly warmer side of things, much like our wardrobes. The crowd was all too happy to say goodbye to summer and jump into seasonal dishes from around our local area and from some far off places.
We began with a short hop across the Hudson River where Halifax is a newer restaurant occupying the downstairs of the posh W Hoboken hotel. Their “Ricotta Cavatelli” highlighted locally sourced ingredients, including foraged mushrooms and lamb from Gladstone, New Jersey. The earthy braised sauce and nutty parmigiano was conveniently located right next to St. Francis Winery‘s pours, straight from Sonoma, California. Their award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Old Vines Zinfandel (both 2013) stood up equally against the rich sauce. The red Zinfandel’s black fruit flavors and mild spices worked well as a change up to more atypical reds for its drinkability alone or, even better, when paired with food.
Across the way were some more rich offerings, none more so than Black & Bolyard’s “Brown Butter.” Their ”Aleppo Pepper Butter” spiced up some popcorn while their “Bay Leaf Butter” was richly slathered across cornbread. Their stand was dangerously close to Orwasher’s Bakery, tempting us to go no further for some delicious crusty bread and a quick schmear. On we pressed to the next rich bite from Esperanto where we sampled warmed goat cheese encrusted in a “Fried Plantain” on a bed of melted leeks, topped with a cilantro-forward pico de gallo. The bright garnish helped balance the smooth cheese and buttery leeks. Feeling a fullness coming on too early in the night, we sought out a changeup across the room and found another New York City restaurant’s table.
Streets, which offers a “culinary adventure” at their Brooklyn restaurant, highlights the best of street food (taken to the next level, of course) from around the world. Their South African “Peri Peri Wings” offered a much needed respite from our fattier forays. Their garlicky, gingery and slightly sweet spice added an addictive spin onto an otherwise classic wing. Similarly, La Compagnie des Vins Suranturels elevated game day fare, serving up “Buffalo Chicken Rillettes.” The confit had all of the classic components in a much more grownup way, including a celery cracker and translucent shaved celery garnish. We chose to pair these spicier bites with some white wines from the Loire Valley. The 2014 Muscadet from Louis Metaireau, Petit Mouton, was a delightful alternative to a typical Sauvignon Blanc; it was full of minerality and light citrus without any offensive lingering acid. However, our favorite was the Rose Cremant de Loire from Moncontour. This sparkling rose- made up of 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Chenin Blanc- easily balanced the spiciness of our recent dishes, but would be highly enjoyable on its own. Ever so slightly sweet, its structure and balance ended on a crisper note, making it a sure crowd-pleaser for your next festive occasion. Our other favorite white of the night was from Baumgartner, a Gruner Veltliner with citrus and white pepper notes Baumgartner served from – get this – a keg. Gaining some popularity on Long Island, kegs of wine are still not super popular but we can vouch that they can be filled with some pretty good stuff.
Revived by the zip of pepper and bubbles, we carried on to some other rich dishes. Upstairs, Schaller and Weber’s charcuterie and pâté were lined up in front of catalogs of similarly luxurious meats. Their “Goose Liver and Jam” served on pistachio and sesame crackers nodded towards Thanksgiving, while their more classic “Pâté served with Onions” showed the strength of their traditional offerings. Downstairs, Les Trois Petits Cochons presented their own foie gras and pâté with their house pickled baby gherkins. Their “Pâté au poivre Noir” (pork and chicken liver pate with black peppercorns) was as delicious as it was difficult to say, served on an edible cracker spoon. Directly behind their table, we stumbled upon a crostini topped with a horseradish crema, smoked trout and a persimmon chutney from the Catskills region. Should you have the means, I highly recommend smoking some trout up as these purveyors did earlier that morning. Continuing with the theme of the region, Molecular Mixology, Inc. created Catskills-inspired cocktails nearby. Their classes and resources can help you really impress your friends, especially if you also smoked some trout earlier that day. If you are the type who prefers someone else to do the work for gifts or parties, check out Eatiamo. They curate baskets that feed four people a 3-course meal using locally sourced items from small producers in Italy. Reasonably priced and full of delicious things supporting independent businesses, this is a very good gift to give someone (hint to all my loved ones).
Awestruck presented its hard ciders made from New York State apples and combined with delightful things like lavender hops and hibiscus ginger to up your cider game. Not to be out-falled, Brooklyn Brewery’s “Pumpkin Ale” was similarly seasonal without the sweet or overbearing drawbacks of many pumpkin beers. Lightly spiced, it is a way to get on the pumpkin train without overdoing it. For those looking for a subtler nod to the season’s favorite produce, check out Union Grove Distillery’s “Apple and Wheat Vodka.” The apple is there on the nose, but the vodka is not sweet or fruit flavored, just smooth. Our personal favorite apple-based items were cider donuts from Harbes Farm and Vineyard out on nearby Long Island. A weekend trip out to grab some of these delicious confections (and maybe some caramel apples, perhaps a quick wine tasting) would be well worth the journey out of the city.
We ended our night seeking some more sweets, starting with a delicious aged, raw goat cheese topped with maple syrup from Consider Bardwell Farm in Vermont. Creamy and nutty, the drizzle of maple syrup made this an ideal post-meal bite for those who avoid more heavily sweet desserts. Similarly, Bittersweet NYC’s “Chocolate Besan Ladoo” made of chickpea flour, cardamom and cashews was just sweet enough to be satisfying. Taking traditional Indian desserts and re-imagining them in new ways is Chef Surbhi Sahni’s inspiration. Combining unique spices and chocolates, she introduces classic flavors to an unfamiliar audience, and new takes on old favorites to a familiar one. That was a bit of an unofficial theme of the night: introducing participants to new lands, new tastes and new products. We certainly picked up a few new favorites for ourselves, plus a few new gift ideas for the upcoming holiday season!
- Mallory Sullivan