Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Taste of the Upper West Side: Best of the West 2012

Jacques Torres book signing for "A Year in Chocolate"

Best of the West, day 2 of the 5th annual New Taste of Upper West Side, was held on May 19th and was by far my favorite of the two days, featuring signature seasonal fare from 40 renowned chefs and restaurateurs including Jean Georges, Fishtag, Gastroarte, Calle Ocho, Bar Boulud and Jacques Torres.

The evening included a tribute to gourmet guru Gael Greene, best-selling author, restaurant critic for Crain's New York Business and a founder of Citymeals-on-Wheels. The evening also included a performance by Joe Bataglia & The New York Big Band.

The food presentation, savory dishes and the combination of food textures and flavors were phenomenal.

If you plan on going to New Taste of Upper West Side next year, be sure to block off your entire evening for the event. Two and a half hours was the perfect amount of time I needed to get through all the restaurant stations. Also, be sure to get in line early for the featured book signing - Jacques Torres' books were gone fast so I missed out on a copy, but it was a pleasure meeting him! He's quite funny and entertaining, and his chocolates are amazing - I highly recommend you try them if you haven't already! The food station lines move pretty quickly and the crowd is courteous and friendly, so you would definitely have a great time!
Just be sure to leave room for dessert!

Here are my picks from this year's Best of the West
Bar Boulud: Mangalitsa Pork Agnolotti - Louisiana Crawfish, Fava Beans, Mushrooms and Spring Peas

The Central Park Boathouse: Coriander Seared Ahi Tuna, Eggplant Caponata and Tomato Jam

Gastroarte: Tomato Six Different Ways - Confit Tomato, Tomato Marshmallow, Green Tomato - Olive Oil Gel, Roasted Tomato Pure, Tomato Water Gel, Dry Tomato, Heirloom Tomato

The Tangled Vine: Spanish Mackerel and Spring Vegetables

Duck Trap Smoked Salmon Layered on Whole Foods Market In-House Made Scallion Cream Cheese on a Local Just Bagels Mini Bagel

Lincoln Ristorante: Braised Pork Spareribs with Green Olives, Capers and Chili

LOI: Stuffed Grape Leaves

LOI: Baklava on a Skewer

Organic Baby Spinach Ravioli in Butter-Sage Sauce

La Boite en Bois: Leeks, Spinach, Ricotta and Goat Cheese Ravioli

Rosa Mexicano: Guacamole en Molcajete and Signature Frozen Pomegranate Margaritas

Landmark: Porchetta on Focaccia with Tomato Rosemary Jam

Jean Georges: Green Asparagus and Avocado Salad, Sorrel Dressing and Sesame

Fishtag: Corvino Crudo with Avocado Skordalia, Pickled Hearts of Palm, Dried Black Olives

Kefi Greek Cuisine: Meatball, Roasted Garlic, Olives, Tomato

Shake Shack Upper West Side: SmokeShack - Cheeseburger Topped with All-Natural Niman Ranch Apple-Wood Smoked Bacon, Cherry Pepper Relish and ShackSauce

Shake Shack Upper West Side: Shack-Made Seasonal Suds - Strawberry Rhubarb

AG Kitchen: AG Kitchen Signature Peruvian Roast Chicken
Calle Ocho: Datiles Almond Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Smoked Bacon

Gabriel's Bar and Restaurant: Short Ribs of Beef Served with White Polenta and Wild Mushrooms

Dovetail: Cured Carrot, Chicken Feed, Quail Egg

Ocean Grill: Chilled Seafood and Artichoke Salad

Jacques Torres in action and having fun at his dessert station

Jacques Torres Chocolates: Ice Cream Parfait & Frozen Hot Chocolate

Jacques Torres Sunflower Chocolates

Alice's Tea Cup

Magnolia Bakery: Banana Pudding, Mini Cupcakes, Red Velvet Cheesecakes and Lemon Bars

Nonna: Hazelnut Panna Cotta

Vietnamese Iced Coffee: Spiked with Root

Art in the Age Root

Sara's Smile

- Kim Weling

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Taste of the Upper West Side: Classic Comforts 2012

Tolani Wine Restaurant: Truffled Gnudi with Sweet Pea Puree

This year the New Taste of the Upper West Side was held on May 18th and 19th, with Friday night starting off with Comfort Classics under the grand tent on Columbus Avenue between 76th and 77th streets. 35 of the Upper West Side's innovative chefs / restaurants presented their take on "Comfort Food Reinvented", with Travel Channel co-hosts, Adam Richman from Man v. Food Nation and Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.

I attended New Taste of the Upper West Side for the first time last year, for Comfort Classics 2011. It was a completely different experience for me this year, seeing some of my favorite restaurants come up with crafty, delicious dishes and finding new ones that caught my eye and taste buds.

Attendees also enjoyed music by DJ Phresh, delectable desserts and fine
wines and cocktails from Southern Wine & Spirits.

If you find yourself on the Upper West Side this summer or are looking for
a few hot spots to grab a bite to eat during fashion week this September,
here some of my favorite restaurants.

Jacob's Pickles: Sweet & Spicy Carrots / Big Dill

Bistro Citron: Duck Confit, Wild Mushroom and Fig Tarte with Mousse de Foie Gras and Goat Cheese

Ditch Plains Upper West Side signature Ditch Dogs: Hot Dogs Covered in Mac N' Cheese

Gastronomie 491 Market Cafe

Barney Greengrass: Pastrami Salmon on Pumpernickel with Mustard

Shake Shack Upper West Side: A Vienna All-Beef Hot Dog Dip in Shack-Made Batter and Fried Crisp and Olive oil Cake Frozen Custard Topped with Local Strawberry Compote

Bomboloni: Mixed Bomboloni, Ciambella, La Bomba

Sarabeth's: Raspberry Bread Pudding

Gazala Place: Osh Al Saria - creamy yogurt pudding prepared with rose water, oranges and potato bread

Valrhona milk and dark chocolates

Baconery: Left - Mini Chocolate Bacon

Baconery Mini Bacon Brownies and Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

Cascal soda, crafted with natural juices comes in five flavors: Fresh Tropical (Mango, Jasmine & Kaffir Lime flavors) - my favorite! Also Crisp White (Pear, Apricot & Magnolia), Ripe Rouge (Chocolate & Rose), Bright Citrus (Lemongrass, Mango & Pineapple) and Berry Cassis (Currant, Tangerine & Lemon)

Art in the Age Rhubarb Tea

Cavit Moscato

Forbidden Secret Dark Mocha American Dream

Figenza Mediterranean Fig Flavored Vodka

OR-G Liqueur: French vodka with natural persimmon, papaya, mango and lime juices

Voli light vodkas

- Kim Weling