Tasting Brooklyn

I am very proud of the fact that Brooklyn is the next happening place in New York City.  This means that I can go outside and find plenty of fun things in walking distance that people come here from much farther to experience.  Brooklyn's popularity was evident at the recent Tasting Brooklyn food event by Social Fix.

Have you ever been to Gowanus?  It's a neighborhood in north-west Brooklyn, known for its namesake canal and highway and general sketchiness...until now.  Last year, we gathered the courage to actually walk around Gowanus and found a gentrifying, culturally rich, beautiful, walkable area.  Dinosaur BBQ has an outpost there, and Ample Hills Creamery is opening a huge storefront there in a month or so.  There is a strange, intriguing building right off the Union Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal called, simply, the Green Building.  The brick facade is painted a very peaceful grass green. Besides just being a colorful backdrop for photo shoots (yup, we've done that!), it is also an event space where Tasting Brooklyn was aptly held.

My first bite - and I'm glad I had it because they ran out very soon after - was a shrimp roll from Luke's Lobster.  A small shell of buttered toast encased a mound of ever-so-lightly dressed Maine shrimp.  The warm crisp bread gave way to plump mini shrimp.  It was a fun mouthful, a perfect amuse bouche.

Next was the soup course, if you will. The Pines had a little cup of split pea soup with boar belly, whole peas, and preserved lemon. Not a combination I would have thought of, but the lemon did lend a fresh citrus flavor.  I loved the thick consistency of the soup; in my household, we tend to always have broth-y watery soups so I like a soup with some body and texture. Speaking of texture, if they packaged the smoky boar belly bits, I'd certainly enjoy sprinkling it on anything and everything.

1 Knickerbocker presented two cute crostini, one with liver mousse and one with mushroom mousse.  I was particularly a fan of the mushroom one: it led my taste buds on a real adventure with twists and turns, first citrusy, then earthy and mushroomy, and finally fresh and almost minty.

Further down the way, we encountered Dinosaur BBQ!  If you recall from our adventures at Pig Island, we loooooove Dinosaur BBQ!  Tonight's pulled pork sliders was no exception.  These pillowy rolls were piled high with a mound of moist, fatty pulled pork, which was in turn layered with coleslaw and tangy BBQ sauce.  I had two of these bad boys.  Even more exciting, we watched the chef prepare a hunk of pork into pulled bits, and here's how it starts: he unwraps a charred, dense, meaty chunk from plastic wrap, then forcefully and almost erotically smushes the whole thing with his hands!  The tender pork implodes and breaks away into thick shreds, which fall apart into bite-sized shreds after a little careful mixing. I would have gladly licked the cutting board.

Here's something that you don't see every day: gator sausage with savoy cabbage by Tchoup Soup.  I've never had gator and I found the slivers of sausage to be a bit...fishy?  Definitely spicy, and palatable even though it was not my favorite since I can't get over the idea of eating alligator.

Time for a little dessert interlude with Baked and their samoa bar, very much like the Girl Scout cookie.  I loved this little square of shortbread cookie with caramel, coconut, and chocolate.  Very simple, well-loved flavors all around and a chewy texture to boot.

The guys at Benchmark doled out baby back ribs with spicy BBQ sauce. The ribs were super tender and juicy, though I found the bourbon BBQ sauce to be a tiny bit overpowering.  I do think I could have eaten a whole rack of ribs though!

One of Alex's favorites of the night was the samosa by Dosa Royale. They dished up a wedge of a perfectly crafted potato samosa (not greasy or heavy on the outside, not too chunky or gritty on the inside) topped with a medley of condiments.  The flavors of the curried potatoes and tangy chutney were bold and bright.  We came back for seconds from Dosa Royale as well!

I was starstruck later on down the line when we met Allison Robicelli of Robicelli's Bakery in Bay Ridge.  I loved her tour of Bay Ridge on Serious Eats: New York and endeavored to visit a few of those places.  I fan-girled with her for a bit while sampling her cutting board full of squares of blueberry cream bars.  I am a sucker for fruit crumble bars and these were possibly my favorite use of blueberry ever.  There was a delicate creamy layer amidst the cookie and blueberries studded throughout.  We will certainly be making a pilgrimage over to Miss Robicelli's.  

Across the way, I tried a couple of shrimp rolls from Vietnamese restaurant Falansai.  These were just like one of my favorite dishes at dim sum: shrimp cake wrapped in tofu skin and fried up all nice and greasy. 

Time for a vegetable intermission with St. Austere's broccoli rabe with anchovies, shaved Parmigiano, and hard boiled eggs.  I was a little scared of the anchovy bit - fearful that it would be too fishy - but I really enjoyed the dish.  The broccoli rabe was sauteed and covered in a thin slick of oil.  Finely chopped anchovies and shaved Parmigiano both leant a salty barely-fishy flavor.  I can tell my mom that I had my veggies.

The friendly gentlemen at Hunter's served raw fluke marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt, topped with slivers of celery and green onion.  The fluke was very fresh and light, though it had a chewy texture.  

Last but certainly not least, we sampled the dish of one of the event's sponsors, Fairway: lobster rolls and lemonade. The lobster rolls were filled with sizable chunks of unctuous lobster meat.  The lemonades were just the right ending to an awesome Brooklyn-centric dinner.