KFWE2013: The Best Bites

A special thanks to Stephanie Meissner and her associate Ilya for providing me with press passes for both the day and evening events.

Where do I start? I feel like almost everything I tasted should be on this list! But what I listed below really stood out for me head and shoulders above everything else. Let’s get started:

Heavenly Caterers:  Their standout dishes? The vegetable water (which most people seemed to find bitter, but I actually found made a fantastic palate cleanser) their brisket au jus and their rice krispie treats on a stick. These were served during the day.

At night, they had these edible spoons made out of pretzel dough filled with seared tuna and adorable little cones filled with spicy salmon tartar. Delicious!

Flower Water (Heavenly Caterers) : A bitter but refreshing drink of pomegranate, tomato and hothouse cucumber.

Flower Water (Heavenly Caterers) : A bitter but refreshing drink of pomegranate, tomato and hothouse cucumber.

 

 

Brisket Au Jus (Heavenly Caterers. The softest, most tender brisket I've ever eaten.

Brisket Au Jus (Heavenly Caterers. The softest, most tender brisket I’ve ever eaten.

 

 

Rice Krispie Treat (Heavenly Caterers) This was delicious- the peanutbutter with vanilla topping was better

Rice Krispie Treat (Heavenly Caterers) This was delicious- the peanutbutter with vanilla topping was better.

 

Gemstone Caterers: There was fierce debate here: was the polenta really polenta? It had kernels of whole corn in it, and to some was on the thin side and under seasoned. Personally? I took that piece of smoked veal belly, smeared it in the gastrique and polenta and ate one of the best mouthfuls of the day.

 

Herzog Oak Barrel Smoked Veal Belly with corn polenta and blackberry & port gastrique (Gemstone Catering

Herzog Oak Barrel Smoked Veal Belly with corn polenta and blackberry & port gastrique (Gemstone Catering)

I will also mention I got the slightest bit tipsy on the jello shots. I tasted three: the rum-and-coke, the champagne bellini, and the gin and tonic.  For me, it was the champagne bellini that got the gold star – not too sweet, not too strong.

Kedem Champagne Bellini Jello Shot (Gemstone Catering)

Kedem Champagne Bellini Jello Shot (Gemstone Catering)

 

Hakadosh BBQ: Their pulled chicken slider for me was their best bite. The BBQ alone was sweeter than I would prefer (I prefer smoky to sweet) but combined with the bread-n-butter pickle and the soft roll it was nearly perfect.

So delicious - the sweet of the BBQ, the soft roll and the tang of the pickle. (Hakadosh BBQ)

So delicious – the sweet of the BBQ, the soft roll and the tang of the pickle. (Hakadosh BBQ)

Silverleaf Caterers: I went looking for them this year. And just like last year, they didn’t disappoint. This year they rolled out a churrascaria station!  My favorites: chicken thigh wrapped in Jack’s Gourmet Facon, and the flame grilled churrasco beef. The beef, slathered in the best chimichurri I have ever tasted, was a true pleasure to sample.

Churrasacaria Station - the chimchurri beef was delicious! (Silverleaf Caterers)

Churrasacaria Station -L-R flame grilled beef with chimichurri, mojo marinated chicken breast tenderloin and chicken thigh wrapped in Jack’s Gourmet Facon (Silverleaf Caterers)

Wolf and Lamb: Their slow braised veal was wonderful. Another bite where you put a bit of everything (in this case turnip puree, fried shallots and porcini sauce) onto your fork and enjoy.

Slow Braised Veal with turnip puree, fried shallots and porcini sauce (Wolf and Lamb)

Slow Braised Veal with turnip puree, fried shallots and porcini sauce (Wolf and Lamb)

Rolls: I asked the chef for his best, and I was treated to a sashimi plate with the freshest raw white tuna, seared tuna and spicy salmon tartare with a delicious honey wasabi sauce. That’s right – honey wasabi. I intensely dislike wasabi anything, but I loved this sauce.

 

The special sashimi plate the sushi chef from Rolls made for me- it was fantastic!

The special sashimi plate the sushi chef from Rolls made for me- it was fantastic!

Basil: This exhibit provided a bite of food that I couldn’t stop raving about.  Take a homemade kirby pickle. Top with icelandic cod, add a tapenade of grapes and capers. Eat all in one bite.  Try not to jump up and down and act all giddy. I know I wanted to, and could barely restrain myself.

Icelandic Cod Crudo with grape/caper tapenade (Basil)

Icelandic Cod Crudo with grape/caper tapenade (Basil)

 

The dessert that stood out far and away? It was a toss between two, but both from the same exhibit. Susan Sez Say it With Cake. Their lemon squares had me raving for days and their chocolate cake with ganache had me wondering if their cakes were secretly dairy. They’re not- they are just that good. I can say I hadn’t tasted any baked good so delicious since I left culinary school.

Needless to say, it was an experience I will not be forgetting soon, and will be looking forward to next year!

 

 

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!