KFWE15: Food, Glorious Food: A Review

Many thanks to to Vicki Garfinkel  of VICKIGJ PR for the opportunity to attend KFWE. For inquiries, please contact her at vickigj@gmail.com All opinions and recommendations expressed in this post are my own and are unsolicited. For the entire photoset of my experience at KFWE, please click here

As many people who attended the evening (food) portion of KFWE in 2014 can attest, there was many a fervent prayer that this year, 2015, would be better. Everything from last year felt off and short of the mark – from the way the venue was laid out, to the food that was almost-but- not-quite-there.

I have to say that 2015 is the year fine kosher cuisine got its groove back. With few exceptions and an overabundance of brisket and charcuterie, this year was fabulous. Nearly everything I tasted was spot-on, and the level of sucessful execution was higher than ever. I for one am sincerely glad I decided to come this year.

Let’s get hungry and talk about food, shall we?

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Ari White of Wandering Que, Got Cholent, and Gemstone Catering fame led it off right from the start. His Wandering Que display during the day (the wine portion) of sliders, ‘chettas, and lamb belly bacon were absolutely perfect with all the wine and liquor. A few of my fellow bloggers and I would taste a few wines, feel a little tipsy, then go back and visit Ari’s booth for meat goodness. I couldn’t get enough of the carnechetta and the vealchetta – his kosher take on panchetta, and one that is really delicious. The thinness of the slices and the flavors – it was magic. Simply incredible. And the lamb belly bacon was so spot-on for taste, thickness/fatiness, and mouth feel, I wanted to take some home and fry it up. I even thought about what might happen if I dipped it in melted chocolate…

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While we are on the topic of charcuterie, I have to say that I tasted bresaola from a few different places that day. Without question, the best came from Prime Grill. Almost buttery in taste and sliced paper thin, I could have eaten this a whole evening. But then there would have been none for anyone else. And there were other delicious things to try, so let’s move on, shall we?

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Chagall Bistro served a beef tartare with a homemade potato chip that made me smile. Rich and smooth, I was very surprised – I am not a fan of many completely raw protein presentations in general, but I could have eaten another helping of this with pleasure. They also served a seared tuna a la Provencal that made me want to cry. I wanted to try it so badly – it looked that perfect! But I had just eaten the beef tartare and for kashrut reasons I don’t eat fish directly after meat so that was that. I’m putting Chagall Bistro on advance notice: the bistro is not far from my house, so I will be stopping in some time in the near future.

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T Fusion Steakhouse was on point again this year – a pulled brisket with microgreens served on a crispy-bliniesque chip with a balsamic reduction. Not too rich, the crisp of the chip and the juiciness of the brisket, with the hint of herbal from the microgreens made this one of my favorite offerings of the evening.

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Estreia, to me, was a new find – and I am so glad I did! The duck confit with mango salsa on crostata was excellent, and their brisket on mashed potato with remoulade sauce was simple and delicious. I would keep my eye on this place – I have a feeling more delicious things will come from here.

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The Loft presented for the first time, and it was a delicious introduction. They are literally 4 blocks from my house, and it makes me so proud. Fine dining has come to Boro Park. Their polenta square was so good – but again, I had to leave some for other people, you know.

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Miami Beach Chocolates – why oh why does Miami get to have them?! They need to come to New York and give the folks here a run for their money! Their chocolate is the new gold standard in non-dairy chocolates. It is blatantly obvious that this is a chocolatier who takes pride in their work, and is commited to their craft. I told him I tasted Callebaut in the amaretto bonbon I sampled, and he nodded. ” That and some others – you must be a chocolatier yourself to pick that out in there.” We talked shop a bit while I sampled another creation and tried not to swoon.

One person I missed there this year was Heavenly Caterers. I was sad not to see them.  I also was hoping to see Breadberry, but alas, no. Perhaps next year. Bottom line is that this year raised the bar. Next year I would like to see less charcuterie and pulled brisket, Breadberry and Heavenly Caterers make an appearance, and more fish options. But even with this wishlist, I have to say that the KFWE this year was the best yet, and I looked forward eagerly to see what awaits next year.

KFWE15: Wines Review

Many thanks to to Vicki Garfinkel  of VICKIGJ PR for the opportunity to attend KFWE. For inquiries, please contact her at vickigj@gmail.com All opinions and recommendations expressed in this post are my own and are unsolicited. For the entire photoset of my experience at KFWE, please click here

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Confession time: I very rarely drink, and never more than a sip or two at a time.  My husband calls me a cheap date. I call myself  a light-weight. The last time I drank anything was at last year’s KFWE. So you’re probably wondering what someone like me knows about wine. Apparently I know more than I thought I did, and most importantly I rediscovered what I like. I thought very well of myself for buying my case of red and case of white for cooking every year. I cook with wine – I can count on one hand dishes I’ve made recently that don’t have wine in them.  I told myself that it was better to leave the tasting and posturing to people who knew about that sort of thing, who cared about terroir, aeration and oak barrels.

Every year right after Purim, I’d go into the wine store, and ask for a case of dry red and a case of dry white for cooking. No, not the cheapest ones!  My philosophy is that if I won’t drink it, I won’t put it into my food.  But if it is going into food, it doesn’t have to be top shelf either.  Almost a year ago, I purchased a case each of the 2010 Weinstock Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Weinstock Chardonnay. I asked the clerk at the shop and this is what he recommended. And for what I use it for, it does exactly what I need it to. At the time, it was about $10 a bottle, and that was what I was willing to spend to cook with. I have no trouble at all using a half- bottle of Chardonnay in my Shabbat chicken soup. ( I make 8-10 qts at a time) and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for marinating a French roast is not unheard of in my house.

I even use liquors and spirits for my chocolate making – rum or whisky for boozy cherries, coffee liqueur for candied pecans, amaretto in chocolate mousse, cognac for soaking candied and dried fruit.  But I prided myself on knowing exactly what I wanted and for what. Til this year, my knowledge was utilitarian at best and deliberately ignorant at worst.

This is the year I stepped out of my comfort zone and discovered a whole new world of wines and liquors. And I can say now that I truly know what I like, why I didn’t truly appreciate what I had tried til now, and I can confidently say that I can never look at wine and liquor the same way again. Will I become a wine snob? I don’t think so, but I know what I really like, and how to put it with what I cook with, and that for me a rather fine start of it.

Let’s begin with the wines.

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My favorites, hands down, were both by Domaines Rollan de By.  The 2012 Domaines Rollan de By and the 2010 Tour Seran were..what can I say? I want them. I could have quietly taken a bottle of the Rollan de By and found a quiet corner and would have been very happy.  The Tour Seran prompted me to whisper something in the pourer’s ear that had us both giggling – it was that good. After I tasted that, I wanted nothing more than a large, mid rare steak and that bottle.  Neither wine was too dry, or too fruity-sweet. They started a little sweet and by the time you swallowed it mellowed to a nice dryness. The Rollan de By is sweeter and more fun, in my opinion. The Tour Seran has some serious seduction power- rich and intoxicating.

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Another wine I really enjoyed was the EL 26 – a Spanish wine that I would want to share with my girlfriends at an all-ladies dinner. Nothing too heavy – thinly sliced steak and grilled vegetables over penne – and with this wine it would make it a meal to remember.

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I surprised myself! For YEARS I thought sherry was simply awful. Seriously, I didn’t like it at all – so dry and lacking in flavor. Tio Pepe changed that for me.  The Extra Dry Light Sherry for me is now something I have to buy.  This makes me want to buy a whole Nile Perch filet and oven-roast it. Mix a little of this with some parsley, shallots, fresh tarragon and olive oil and I don’t think you need anything else. Maybe a few slices of  roasted bell peppers on the side.

In terms of champagne, hands down, no question the Laurent Perrier Rose Champagne. You ever hear of people swooning? That was me, after a sip of this. To me, this is perfect – you don’t need food! Or maybe you could go fancy with raspberries in the glass. Myself, I’ll take the bottle, thanks. A clear, cool night, my husband, and this bottle. To me, that is the ideal way to drink this.

So why didn’t I like what I had tasted til now? Why was it that even the wines I buy for cooking seem didn’t make me want to smile and swoon? For so long, I relied on what other people said was good. I didn’t trust my wine palate. I thought if everyone whose opinion I trusted liked a particular type, or if a wine had a certain price tag or label, by definition it had to be good. Allow me to stand corrected.  I’ve a new philosophy on wine now.  To me, it’s forget what the rest of the world says is so wonderful and focus on what you like. What do you want to experience when you drink? Do you want something super sweet, or something more acidic? Something that is light and fun or more serious and sophisticated? The traditional way to pair wine is red with red (red wine with red flesh, like meat, lamb and dark cuts of poultry) and white to white( like fish, veal, and white meat poultry)  This is the classic way of pairing and a good way to start off if you are like me and know little about wine.

As a result, I will in future be attempting to pair what I create for the blog with a wine I either use to cook the dish, or what I would serve with it. All the wines mentioned here are available for purchase at www.kosherwine.com

KFWE2014 : A review, and a message

Many thanks and special consideration to Monica Gonzalez and Dejha Carrington of Rockaway PR for graciously enabling me to attend both the trade and the evening events gratis. All opinions are my own and are uncensored.

The Kosher Food and Wine Experience is a chance for restaurateurs, caterers, food brands, vinters, and spirit producers to showcase what is up and coming in the world of kosher food.  It is a chance to set the trends and raise the bar.  In my three years attending the event, this year I will have to say that with a few absolutely stunning exceptions, this did not occur.

I believe it is because the kosher food world is undergoing a revolution, and while everyone is eager to be on the forefront, not everyone is perhaps truly prepared or able (or even willing) to be at the vanguard.

I would like to state with as strong a voice as I am able: the world of kosher food is changing, and there is no reason whatsoever for mediocrity in any form as the status quo, to accept anything less than the absolute best from those in the service of hospitality. The excuse ‘well, it’s kosher, so..’ is no longer acceptable. The consumer has a larger sphere of influence and a stronger voice than ever before, and it would behoove every member of the service industry to listen.

I do, however, want to focus on the exceptions. They were few, and they were excellent in every sense of the word. What is my definition of excellence?  It is simple – the food that was presented tasted as it was supposed to, and there were no flaws in technique.

Gemstone Caterers/Got Cholent/Wandering Que was far and away the favorite of the event.  The veal pancetta and lamb bacon (served with hemp seed sweet potato mash), the tofu with smoked carrots and beets, the 18hr oak and apple angus brisket, and the mesquite smoked chicken with avocado crema and lamb belly bacon lardon were indisputably the best eating of the event. Each dish was executed properly, and every single thing tasted incredible. Top marks to the pitmaster from Texas for innovation, technique and taste.

Veal panchetta and lamb belly bacon with hemp seed sweet potato mash

Veal pancetta and lamb belly bacon with hemp seed sweet potato mash

 

Mesquite Smoked Chicken and Avocado Crema with lamb belly bacon lardon

Mesquite Smoked Chicken and Avocado Crema with lamb belly bacon lardon

 

18 hour Oak and Apple Smoked Angus Beef Brisket

18 hour Oak and Apple Smoked Angus Beef Brisket

 

Smoked Tofu with smoked heirloom carrots and beets

Smoked Tofu with smoked heirloom carrots and beets

On the completely opposite end of the culinary world, Silverleaf Caterers also garnered excellent marks in my book for their Euro-with-a slight-twist menu. Presented as if it were a set dinner (appetizer, salad, main, dessert) the entire menu, while more traditional, was executed perfectly – everything tasted as it was supposed to, the ingredients were the best and treated respectfully to enhance their flavor, and the presentation was simple.  Their offerings (nightshade crostini, moschata duchesne salad, lamb polpetine, and choco-caramel-buttercrunch-sea salt covered maztoh) were ones I could not get enough of.

Nightshade Crostini - eggplant, toasted pine nuts, tomato, paprika, olive oil on artisanal crostini

Nightshade Crostini – eggplant, toasted pine nuts, tomato, paprika, olive oil on artisanal crostini

 

Moschata Duchesne Salad - roasted butternut squash, tahini, fresh pomegranate, kale.

Moschata Duchesne Salad – roasted butternut squash, tahini, fresh pomegranate, kale.

 

Lamb Polpetine - ground lamb, lemon, coriander, toasted slivered almonds

Lamb Polpetine – ground lamb, lemon, coriander, toasted slivered almonds

 

Unleavened Manna Dessert - matzoh, buttercrunch, chocolate, caramel, sea salt

Unleavened Manna Dessert – matzoh, buttercrunch, chocolate, caramel, sea salt

ETC Steakhouse is a restaurant to watch. From innovation (their chocolate carmel/peanut nougat) to taste and technique, (pink peppercorn crusted ribeye with red amaranth salad, orange zest scallion and pomegranate molasses) I was quite impressed. The first farm-to-table kosher restaurant, this is a venue I would travel to.

Pink Peppercorn Crusted Ribeye - with red amaranth salad, orange zest scallion, pomegranate molasses

Pink Peppercorn Crusted Ribeye – with red amaranth salad, orange zest scallion, pomegranate molasses

T Fusion Steakhouse also impressed. They offered a coffee rub and bbq smoked brisket with blue mashed potatoes and a baby carrot. They also served a chicken roulade with spinach, olives and sun dried tomato tapenade. While the sides with the brisket could have been seasoned better, the brisket was the true star – melt in your mouth tender and full of flavor. I was especially happy with the roulade. Juicy and quite savory, I was pleased –  a roulade can be dry if not prepared and handled properly, and I was initially quite suspicious this would be the case. I can honestly say I was mistaken.

Coffee Rub -BBQ Smoked Brisket - with mashed blue potatoes and baby carrot

Coffee Rub -BBQ Smoked Brisket – with mashed blue potatoes and baby carrot

 

Chicken roulade - stuffed with spinach, olive, sun dried tomato tapenade

Chicken roulade – stuffed with spinach, olive, sun dried tomato tapenade

This year I did indulge a little in the wine and spirits department, and I am glad I did. The wine and spirits component of the event was larger than I ever remember it being, and the few I did sample (I am a complete lightweight!)  were absolutely wonderful. Keep in mind, I took literal sips of each, but even from that small amount I could tell what I had was fantastic.

I tend to go for wines that are semi dry – too sweet and I find it cloying, too dry and I find it overwhelming. With a bit of help from Yosef Silver and Naomi Nachman, I was never steered wrong. I very much enjoyed the Bartenura Asti and Prosecco, and something lovely and red from Or Haganuz. I apologize for my ignorance, but I will confess wine is not my area of expertise. However, from this experience, I would like to change that. The best thing I drank all evening: Drappier Champagne. I’ve had champagne at family occasions before, but nothing compares to this. It is what people dream of – a glass of golden bubbles that hit the tongue in the perfect marriage of sweet and dry. I still taste that champagne.

Bartenura Prosecco and Asti - some of my favorites

Bartenura Prosecco and Asti – some of my favorites

 

Or Haganuz - very delicious reds and whites for every occasion

Or Haganuz – very delicious reds and whites for every occasion

In conclusion, I would say that it was worth it to attend KFWE – and I would go again. I have heard quite a few people say that perhaps it is not worth the travel, or the expense. I am not sure if I agree. Then again, I am also intensely curious to see what will happen, where kosher food will go next. Since kosher (or kosher style, at any rate) appears to be the non-kosher foodie world’s newest trend, I am intrigued to see how this will translate onto the genuinely kosher food scene.

These next few years will change the landscape of kosher food dramatically, and both consumer as well as proprietor will need to be willing to step out of their comfort zone to face this new reality.  Open, positive dialogue on both sides is key.  The world of kosher dining has changed so very much over time, and it has survived -and thrived- with each challenge, each new innovation. I have every confidence that kosher food and wine can and will be on par with its non-kosher counterparts in due course.

I took so many pictures that I want to share, I decided to add a Facebook album of all the pictures that didn’t make this article on my FB blog page. It will be available in the next week or so. Click here  for my FB page for this and other photo galleries, as well as a backseat to many of my other food adventures!

Philadelphia Candy Show 2014

Many, many thanks to Shirley Cox, the Show Director, who gave me special permission to take photos. All photos taken with permission. All products are kosher, but for each individual item one should check the package/manufacturer to ensure it is to your standard of kashrus. In case of any questions, please refer to your trusted rabbinical authority.

The atmosphere at this show is completely different to any other show I have ever been to.  It is extremely quiet, very professional, and everyone is incredibly polite to one another. The convention room they used was large, and there was no such thing as pushing and shoving. Photo taking, large handbags, and taking items off displays were strictly prohibited, and there were some security guards walking around to enforce this.

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As a food blogger, I went to the Show Director and was given special permission to take pictures, but with a warning from the head of security. I was to ask permission before taking any photos, and if anyone complained I would be asked to leave.  After assuring them both I would do as asked, I was free to go about my business.

This show is to show off what the upcoming trends are and what the latest and greatest is in the chocolate/confection/candy industry, from raw chocolate and confections to package design. There were names I knew – Guittard, Callebaut, CK Products, Merckens, Imani Chocolatiers. There were new names I learned-Niagra Chocolates, Kopper’s, Blommer’s.  For someone in the business of making sweets, this was the place to see and be seen.

Let me divide the post up now. First we start with Chocolate. Many of you know I am going into business for myself as a chocolatier, and I went to the show to meet people I would be ordering supplies from.  I also wanted to see what the trends are. In terms of chocolate, I could not be more thrilled. The trend is swinging towards making more products kosher, and with a respect to sustainability. From bean to bar, more attention and more care is going into chocolate production than ever before. I tried a cocoa nib from Guittard (OU Parve) that I wanted to devour by the handful. I spoke with a rep from Callebaut, and was shown some new product they are coming out with – 2 new dark chocolate couverture and one milk chocolate couverture. (OU Dairy)

Callebaut is working incredibly hard in the area of sustainability – improving the areas where they source their beans, making the most of each batch they get. I found this incredible. The one thing that made me sad was that they would not be producing Cholov Yisroel white chocolate this year.

Another sustainable chocolate producer I spoke to was Blommer’s. (OU Dairy) They manufacture organic, kosher chocolate as well as no added sugar and sugar free lines. (http://www.blommer.com/)

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I see this item as something that will catch on. Lang’s Chocolates Karmalicious (LVKC dairy) is a pretzel stick that is wrapped in caramel, then dipped in milk chocolate. All their products (chocolates, and candies) are kosher dairy, and most are gluten free. I spoke with the owner and producer at length and they are researching different kosher certifications so their product would be available to a wider kosher audience. (http://www.langchocolates.com/)

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Chocolate is being used to cover anything and everything! Imani Chocolatier (All Pareve, Star-K, CRC and Udvari) makes a full line of chocolate covered cookies, pretzels, nut bars, clusters, and dried fruit. They even chocolate cover dried lemon slices, something I never saw before.  They also carry the full Mimi Sweet Candies – from sour sticks that actually taste good, to candy filled toys, to candy tattoos that go on the tongue! (http://www.imanichocolatiers.com/)

 

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It seems to be that in the world of cake confections, there are two words:  bold, true colors and metallics. At every place I went to that showcased these items, I saw beautiful color and metallic sheen everywhere.

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The biggest breakthrough seems to have come from CK Products. They have a line of luster dust called Crystal Colors that is made here in the USA under the CRC of Chicago certification. Apparently, the best luster dust with the best colors and certification was coming from the UK until now. Luster dust is used in many cake and chocolate creations – it is added to chocolate or chocolate coating to give it color or add detail, and it can be added to gum paste and fondant as well. (http://www.ckproducts.com/)

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Sweet Works Celebration Candies line featured a few types of candies that I found really cute – an assortment of mini candy pacifiers and shiny, colored candy hearts. I am not a cake decorator, but I could easily imagine these on a frosted cake.

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I also saw gold and silver metallic star candies. I do not claim to be an expert on candy decorations for cakes, but these impressed me because they were not too big or small and the colors were not garish. (http://sweetworks.net/) The products I mentioned are OU Pareve.

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For the kosher baker, chocolatier, or candy maker, the selection of high quality products available has never been better..and it seems as if the sweet trend is only getting started!

For more information on the Philadelphia National Candy, Gift and Gourmet Show, please visit their website: http://www.phillycandyshow.com/

Best of Kosherfest 2013

I attended Kosherfest as a member of the press – I was not paid for my opinions. If you see a product listed and are unsure if the certification is to your standard of kashrut, please do not hesitate to contact your local rabbinic authority.

I went to Kosherfest for both days and these were the products that in my opinion are among the best of the event.

This product generated a lot of buzz last year, and the gluten free variety has everyone talking this year!

This product generated a lot of buzz last year, and the gluten free variety has everyone talking this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet British Revolution! Blake Hill Farms artisanal lines of jams, marmalades, and chutneys are small-batched crafted in true English fashion. A hands-down favorite of mine.

Sweet British Revolution! Blake Hill Farms artisanal lines of jams, marmalades, and chutneys are small-batch crafted in true English fashion. A hands-down favorite of mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An espresso strength instant coffee? Be still, my coffee loving heart! This extremely smooth instant coffee will be a staple in my house.

An espresso strength instant coffee? Be still, my coffee loving heart! This extremely smooth instant coffee will be a staple in my house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quality, Cholov Yisrael liquid nutritional supplement, Nugen tastes great and also comes Kosher for Passover! Good health always!

A quality Cholov Yisrael liquid nutritional supplement, Nugen tastes great and also comes Kosher for Passover! Good health always!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a full range of delicious tasting spreads, dips, and salads, Halfa Salads gives Sabra a serious run for their money.

With a full range of delicious tasting spreads, dips, and salads, Hafla Salads gives Sabra a serious run for their money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've heard of grape seed oil but grape seed flour? Solio offers gluten free grape seed flour, one of the most innovative of my findings at this year's Kosherfest

I’ve heard of grape seed oil but grape seed flour? Solio offers gluten free grape seed flour, one of the most innovative of my findings at this year’s Kosherfest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack's Gourmet wowed last year with their signature product Facon. This year, they bring us Facon filled sausage patties, as well as a chorizo  and a sweet Italian sausage patty. As a sworn lover of the sweet Italian, I love this new riff on an old favorite.

Jack’s Gourmet wowed last year with their signature product Facon. This year, they bring us Facon filled sausage patties, as well as a chorizo and a sweet Italian sausage patty. As a sworn lover of the sweet Italian, I love this new riff on an old favorite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Greek yogurt, blend til really smooth, cut out at least 50% of the sugar. Norman's does just that with their all new   Greek light yogurts. With all the protein of the original, with less sugar. Another must-have in my fridge.

Take Greek yogurt, blend til really smooth, cut out at least 50% of the sugar, make it 100 calories per container. Norman’s does just that with their all new Greek light yogurts. With all the protein of the original, with less sugar. Another must-have in my fridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KFWE2012 Menu of Desserts Sampled -Finale

What’s the best way to complete a meal than with delicious desserts? KFWE2012 was no exception. I truly enjoyed each sample I tried. Hungry yet?

First stop was Pardes. In fact, someone stopped me and told me to go here “because they have good desserts”.  I tried a berry tartlet, with a meringue-style topping. There was also a spot of sauce on the plate, and I added that to the top of the tart. It was  incredibly delicious! My only complaint: I wanted more! It was light and satisfying, sweet without being overwhelming.

I feel that to enjoy a dessert, you must have a coffee or tea to go with it. Noi Due was next on my travels. The coffee they had on offer was strong and smooth. It reminded me of the strength of Starbucks, but none of the bitterness or after taste. I actually stopped by twice: one to try, one to take home. The one I took home I enjoyed cold the next morning. I will be making a trip to Manhattan to enjoy this again, soon I hope.

My Most Favorite Food is aptly named: their display was both food for the eyes as well as the stomach. In honor of Valentine’s day, they had on offer cookies in the shapes of hearts, X and Os, and lips. I got there too late to enjoy these, sadly. I did enjoy, however, a delicious variation of a linzer tart. Filled with apricot, drizzled with chocolate, it was nutty, cinnamony, and I could have easily eaten a half-dozen.  They also had the most adorable stand with little cakes on sticks shaped in hearts. Just looking at their display made me very happy.

I will say that Guilty Pleasures got my dessert vote of the night. I am a chocoholic, and these did not disappoint in the least. I took a few to sample: one with pink on top filled with dates, a rectangle with an almond on top filled with an amazing nut filling, and one shaped as a strawberry with a rich chocolate-strawberry center. While all of the chocolates were indescribable, the strawberry was the stand-out. The fruit flavor didn’t taste fake! I have to say: I was impressed.  Guilty Pleasures, fellow chocolate lovers, is one to watch out for and tasted.

Silverleaf Caterers had a secret dessert: a tiramisu cake-up! I wasn’t totally surprised that after asking people where they got them, it was from Silverleaf Caterers. They seemed to be going luxe on all their offerings-why would dessert be any different? There were layers of delicious cream alternating with cake inside a ice-pop holder, but it was the cake that got my attention the most. I felt there was too much cream, and found myself a bit impatient: I just wanted to get to the cake already! It was worth it, because the cake was everything one would want: rich, moist, and simply delicious.

Finally, I stopped by Mixology. I’m not a big drinker, but I was intrigued by these mixed drinks. The menu showed what was on offer, and I settled for the passion fruit cocktail. Not sickening sweet, it was the perfect ending to an amazing evening.

KFWE2012 Menu of Apps and Mains I sampled part 2

Because I  sampled so many things, I want to share it all with you!  I will start with this disclaimer: these are strictly my opinions. Just because I was pleased or not pleased with a particular offering, it in no way means an offense to the establishment providing the sample, and should not be taken as such. I merely liked or didn’t like an item of offer.

 

I started at Sushein, where they had a beef slider w/french fries on offer. The beef was a perfect medium, and the fries were delicious; crisp on the outside and soft and hot inside. They also had a California roll on offer as well.

I then headed to Joburg Kosher, which had several interesting things, including a dried beef. My favorite: the penne with sausage. The marinara was flavorful, the sausage was spicy but not over powering-a pleasing dish all the way around.

Next stop was ETC Steakhouse. I was given a very pretty plate with a type of pulled beef in sauce, with mashed potatoes. The potatoes were very good (homemade, with little chunks of potato even!) but the meat was not bad and not good. It was just there.

The next place I visited was Le Marais. I was extremely excited to come here. Living in Boro Park, you hear how fancy and delicious Le Marais is. I wanted to see if they lived up to the hype. They had on offer a slice of hangar steak, cooked medium, that had been cooked in or marinated in chimichurri and lime juice, decorated with microgreen garnish. This was atop a bed of dark lentils.  I loved the lentils! They had a lot of flavor, cooked perfectly. I easily (if it hadn’t seemed like I was being greedy) could have asked for a second helping of those.  I was really disappointed in the steak, however. It was chewy, the seared crust seemed to separate from the meat, and despite being told that the meat was cooked/marinated in chimchurri and lime, I tasted little to none of these flavors.

Carlos and Gabby’s was my next stop. Chips, salsa and dips! The chips were delicious-crispy, light and best of all not greasy. I completely fell in love with the salsa. It was hot, but not enough to burn your mouth. Delicious all the way around.

Next stop: Silverleaf Caterers. They had, far and away, the best on offer this evening. I tasted a meatball, made out of duck confit, with crimini chips, a wild mushroom ragout, and the most amazing thing..a pipette that allowed me to add as little or as much of garlic demi I wanted! Served in the style of an amuse-bouche (though slightly large for the presentation) in a silver spoon. Unbelievable. The meatball was tender, soft, with delicate flavor, the ragout gave a rustic Italian flair, and the chips added a delightful texture. I added a tiny bit of the garlic from the pipette, and that was the icing on the cake, so to speak.

They also offered a deconstructed Shepard’s pie. The meat was veal, not beef. Truffled mashed potatoes and caramelized onion sauce completed the sample. It is literally comfort food, made modern and luxe. This (and the meatball) were the only samples of the night I finished entirely.

Jack’s Gourmet’s offering was not for the faint of heart. A spicy sausage atop rice and beans. The sausage (for me) was so spicy that I literally took one bite, and desperately needed water. I tried the rice and beans to see if I could use that to calm the fire in my mouth, but that was also spicy. Between the two, I literally couldn’t taste anything other than heat and spice.

After a long drink of water, and ten minutes outside admiring the lights and the water off the pier, I came back inside and headed to Shalom Bombay. Shalom to you too, Shalom Bombay! They had the prettiest plate presentation (that I saw) as well as the second-best offerings of the evening. Biryani rice, chicken korma, and tawa beef were all on offer, and despite the chicken being a little dry, the flavors between all the options on the plate were incredibly complimentary, and the colors very beautiful.

Final stop for apps and mains: Gemstone Caterers. They had on offer a poke tuna with lemongrass foam-style dressing, which was delicious and refreshing. They also had a beet, apple and jicama kebab, which was simply incredible (and I can’t stand beets!) and of which sadly I didn’t get a picture of.

Please stay tuned for the final part of my KFWE2012 experience..the desserts!

A Night to Remember..KFWE2012 part 1

The night of February 13, 2012 is a night I will remember. Located at Pier 60 in Chelsea Piers, it was all I could have asked for in terms of food and wine to sample. I arrived about 7.00pm ( the event started at 6.30) and immediately took a quick walk-round to see what was on offer. I also wanted to meet some Twitter-pals (@bethanyshondark and @hsabomilner) before I went to taste everything.

I met @bethanyshondark, and she was among the nicest people I ever met. Even though I never met her before that night, it didn’t stop her from giving me a hug and the biggest smile. @hsabomilner was incredibly gracious as well, in the few moments I had to chat with her. I was very happy to finally meet people who I tweet to on a frequent basis.

I decided that I was going to start in places where they weren’t so many people: I decided I wanted to focus in on some names that were so familiar, at least to me. There was so much to try, I wasn’t even sure where to begin. So I literally found a place that had the least amount of people, and there I began.

It was an evening filled with good food, mixing and mingling, and a stunning February night on the pier. Please see my next post for a full menu-style format (pictures and commentary included) of what I sampled and enjoyed.

I would like to thank @AJMadison for the opportunity. They graciously gave me a free ticket to go and enjoy the event, and for that they deserve special mention.