Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gelato Ti Amo - Love at First Bite

Wild berry sorbet
I worked on Memorial Day. The assignment involved food. A private gelato tasting to be exact. Someone had to be the first to report on the East Village's new Gelato Ti Amo, the only US outpost of this small, Italian chain.

Co-owner Luca Meacci spoke to me as he worked a small batch into its final stage, softening thick, creamy ribbons of` hazelnut gelato, pausing to add whole nuts along the way.

All 20-25 traditional flavors are made on the premises, using all natural, seasonal ingredients. So the colorant free-pistachio, won't be mint green, but a soft beige from using the finest Italian pistachios from Bronte. Results yield a just sweet enough dessert that allows the soft nuttiness to shine.
Decadent cheesecake gelato
One flavor created in honor of the New York opening is cheesecake. My first bite left me wondering how to refrain from becoming addicted to the sweet, strawberry swirls. It really does taste like cheesecake, thanks in part to a proprietary cream cheese-like ingredient.

Gelato dates back to the Renaissance. The technique uses few ingredients and differs from ice cream in three main ways: a lower butterfat content, a slower churn and a lower storing temperature. The result is a denser, creamier consistency with more intense flavor.

A handful of non-dairy (and non-fat) sorbets taste equally rich and luscious. The outstanding lemon is intense and refreshing. And the mango tastes just picked.
All of the packaging is biodegradable from the spoons to the cups ($3.80 - $7.30) and elegant to go containers ($12.80 - $25.80).

68 Second Ave (at 4th St)
Open daily 11 am - 12 am

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gourmet Sausage Fest at 5 Boro PicNYC

As noted last month, I'm a huge fan of the humble sausage, which deserves far more respect than it often gets. That's why it's so exciting to suddenly see more chefs getting creative with signature dogs.

I spoke with Jimmy Carbone of Food Karma Projects (and Jimmy's No. 43) about the Memorial Day weekend 5 Boro PicNYC and his decision to give sausages a starring role.  

So big NYC food festivals have gone one of two ways lately: amazing with lots of food and drink available, or abysmal with endless lines and runs on food. How’s 5 Boro PicNYC shaping up?

Food Karma Projects is an experienced NYC food event producer. This will be our third year on Governors Island. We've learned a lot! 5 Boro PicNYC is a manageable food fest. We won't oversell. And our lineup is interesting but straightforward: grilled sausages, tacos, grilled cheese, hot sauce tastings, sides, snacks and desserts. Plus free ferry rides, bicycle rentals, and historic buildings all on a beautiful, kid-friendly island.
And craft beer and live blues are key too! 

The gourmet sausage is such an ideal picnic food. I’m thrilled you are showcasing it this year. How did you make that choice?

It is an ideal picnic food and our partners are creating some incredible varieties. Fossil Farms out of New Jersey has an amazing lineup of wild game sausages and specials like Kobe beef dogs! Chef Jason DeBriere at Peels has been smoking his own sausages in preparation. I visited our sausage partners this week for a preview. What can be better for a summer Memorial Day weekend event?        

Tell me more about what meat lovers can expect to taste.

Grilled kielbasa from East Village Meat Market, custom smoked sausages from Peels, BBQ chicken from Jimmy's No.43, kimchi chicken tacos from Dave Miss (with Tortilleria Nixtzamal in Queens), chili from Lucky 777, and more!

What will my vegetarian friends feast on?

Grilled cheese! Jarlsberg is sponsoring a grilled cheese cook off! We'll have side stations with potato salad, pickles, and cole slaw. And organic rooftop garden salads from Brooklyn Grange.

 Are tickets still available?

Yes, tickets are still available online. There will be tickets for sale day of too. General admission is $25 and premium tickets are $55.

I know Food Karma Projects likes to have a charitable element to your food events. Are you working with any community charities this weekend?

It's true. One of the key components of our events is that we always have charitable/community non- profit partners. We're trying to make a "happening" that brings a lot of people together. Our charitable partners for 5 Boro PicNYC include: Slow Food NYC, Earth Matter (compost center on Governors Island),and Teen Battle Chef (teen culinary program created by Family Cook Productions). Many of the food stations will have teens cooking alongside chefs too!

5 Boro PicNYC takes place on Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27th. 11:30 am - 4:30 pm

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vendy Awards Creates Sustainable Meat Event

Sustainable jerk chicken, greens and rice from Veronica's Kitchen

Here's an NYC edible experiment worth cheering about.

What happens when you pair local street carts with sustainable local farms, and one outstanding food market? The Vendy Awards + New Amsterdam Market's "International Meats Local."  The concept was launched at this past Sunday's outdoor market.

Former Vendy winner Solber Pupusas drew a crowd
Vendy Awards managing director Helena Tubis hatched tha plan with New Amsterdam Market director Robert LaValva. Tubis sees it as a "really important project [to be] studying the economics of local sourcing for street vendors; seeing how it could make sense for them to use a better quality of meat; and how this would impact the pricing of their food."

Tickets ($20-$35) were exchanged for hefty tastings of five international dishes: meaty pot stickers, spicy jerk chicken, chorizo breakfast burritos, gooey pupusas and fresh tamales.

Taiwanese chicken and beef potstickers from A-Pou's Taste
Former Vendy Award winners - A-Pou's Taste, Veronica's Kitchen and Solber Pupusas - joined  nominees Eggstravaganza, and Guadalupe's Tamales as the vendors paired with sustainable purveyors Bobo Poultry, Marlow & Daughters, Dickson's Farmstand, Saxelby Cheesemongers, Shushan Farm, S&SO Produce Farms, and Rogowski Farm.

And now the Vendys have plans in the works to help vendors source sustainably in general. Can you hear me cheering?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mile End Jewish Deli Hits Manhattan

Smoked meat sandwich is smokin'
Visiting Mile End on Bond St. on Day One of opening week is really too early to tell much other than the meaty menu will lure me back. Specifically, smoked meat is the star by far. Whether it's the classic smoked brisket (aka smoked meat sandwich), smoked lamb, or smoked mackerel, the process is all done in-house. Ditto for bread baking and veggie pickling.

The Bond Street sandwich shop is the first Manhattan offshoot of the original Montreal-style Jewish deli in Boerum Hill. Husband and wife team Noah Bernamoff and Rae Cohen created an enticing menu of old and new. Jewish classics such as whitefish salad ($10) and chicken and matzo ball soup ($8) sit side-by-side with fried eggplant, ramps and haloumi on pita, smoked lamb sausage with harissa slaw on a zatar roll, and pickled veal tongue with onion raisin marmalade on pumpernickel. Sides include golden beets ($10) and dandelion greens ($10).

Deluxe platter with poutine ($21) was uneven
I stuck with the deluxe ($18) with poutine ($3), a platter that includes the smoked beef brisket on house-made rye, with a side of coleslaw, pickles and poutine, the classic dish of gravy and cheese curd-smothered fries from Montreal. The soft sandwich slices were small but piled high with thickish slices of spice-crusted meat. The infusion of smoky flavor means that nothing more than a schmear of mustard is necessary. It's very, very good.

Unfortunately, other than the hefty sour pickles, it was the only item on the platter that was polished off. The red cabbage slaw was bland, but the real disappointment was the poutine which came out with warm fries coated in cold gravy and cheese curds. I know that wasn't the intention.

The interiors are shiny and bright, with white tiled walls and a giant blond wood high top table in the center. The table is designed for standing only, but has boomerang shaped grooves, to keep parties clustered together.

Mile End adds to the haute deli sandwich concept which is alive and well in the area, from Joe Dough, to This Little Piggy and even legendary Katz's a few blocks away. It's good to have options.

53 Bond St near the Bowery
212 529 2990
8am - midnight daily