New York City Wine & Food Festival - Grand Tasting

Talk about epic foodventure.  We have just returned from NYCWFF's Grand Tasting, our minds blown and stomachs filled (not to mention, livers battered).  I've never seen anything like this before, and probably will not until next year's event.

The Grand Tasting is sort of like a trade show for everything in the food industry.  Housed in Pier 57 on the Hudson, it's this ginormous space packed to the gills with vendors, edibles, and foodies.  It's really fun, in a way, but you can also start feeling extremely claustrophobic and overwhelmed easily.

When the hardworking volunteers popped a wristband on me, I was wondering why there were two little tabs with the images of a wine glass and a briefcase.  When we entered, I discovered that the wine glass tab was to get you a free wine glass from IKEA (efficient and environmental way to dole out wine samples) and a tote bag half-full of goodies (for you to fill the rest of the way with more goodies to come).  Let me just say we came home with a ton.  Of.  Goodies.

I think it'll be easier for this to be mostly a photojournalist-style entry.  So I'll let Alex take it away with his food porn.

Hot Dog
Meatballs (FANTASTIC!)

Latkas with pastrami and melted cheese

And now for the alcohol...

Chocolate Liquor
And now back for more food...

Hummus and olives in ice cream cones
Cheddar cheese and Kind bars
Vegetable dumplings with salsa
Bread and olive oil

And now for dessert...

Vanilla ice cream with olive oil

Suffice to say that everything we tasted was great.  This is not a cop-out, this is the truth!  We had: cheese, prosecco, meatballs, wine, pasta, vodka, arancini, sake, mac & cheese, did I mention vodka, mezze (hummus, tapanades, that kind of stuff), more wine, ice cream, olive oil, more cheese, more everything.  Happily, we were not over-sated like at other events where it was just an onslaught of food.  Here, it took a long time to meander around the booths and collect tidbits and goodies.  We also got a chance to talk to lots of the vendors, so that was pretty nice.  Soon, my bags were getting heavy from all the freebies.  I love freebies.  Truly.

Another part of the event was the cooking demonstrations by Food Network stars.  There were two different arenas that hosted simultaneous demonstrations and I would have loved to stay to watch them all (obviously I would have loved this - what could be better than watching Food Network live?!), but we had to pick one stage so I chose to watch Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, and Masaharu Morimoto.  Bobby demonstrated his Thanksgiving dinner, along with some frightening indications that he was still drunk from NYCWFF events and afterparties.  He will probably be drunk for the following week. Tyler Florence demonstrated his popular fried chicken, cooked sous-vide and infused with herbs.  I really would have loved to try this.  Finally, Morimoto expertly demonstrated how to make sashimi and sushi.  Although his segment was not entirely intelligible and he wasn't really teaching as much as he was showing off his AWESOME SKILLZ, he was the best to watch all afternoon, and if I could pick one chef to sit down and spend an afternoon with, it'd be him.

The whole purpose of the NYCWFF did not hit me until I listened to the emcee during the cooking demos.  All of the proceeds from this weekend go to charities that try to alleviate hunger in New York City and hunger in our children.  Rather than a bunch of foodies gathering to pat each other on the back, there's actually a good cause to all this.  I was impressed and pleasantly surprised that in 5 years of the NYCWFF, they have raised $5 million to their charities.  Plus, we got a load of free stuff and I'll never need to buy an ice cream scoop or basting brush or wooden spoon or cheese slicer or hand sanitizer or olive oil or paprika or ......... ever again.  Win-win.

See you again next year, NYCWFF!!