From May 18 to May 25 the Italian Trade Agency presented Italy on Madison, a celebration of Italian culture and cuisine involving restaurants, fashion showrooms and businesses, and featuring panel discussions and special events. On May 23 there were three of the latter, with two taking place at the Italian Trade Commission on East 67th Street. I attended the morning event, entitled ‘Women in Wine: The Italian Perspective’, wherein a panel of five professionals recounted their experiences as trailblazing women in the world of wine, and offered advice for those in attendance aspiring to follow in their path; afterwards guests were treated to a sumptuous lunch prepared by Il Gattopardo restaurant. The evening event was a comprehensive presentation of Italian food items – focusing on the Denominations of Origin which confirm the authenticity and quality of products and ingredients – in the format of a relaxed 10-course dinner.
Walking down Mercer Street on May 12th to attend an ICFF related event, I passed by something I didn’t know about in advance which was also timed to coincide with the furniture fair – a pop-up exhibition space called Casa Brasil. During the last iteration of the Interior Design confab – which atypically unfolded in November 2021, due to the Covid lockdown canceling the event from its normal Spring occurrence in both 2020 and 2021 – the Brazilians showcased their prodigious variety of interior design and furniture products at a temporary showroom in SoHo. With the ICFF restored to its habitual place on the calendar of May in 2022, the Brazilians upped the ante, with the trade organization ApexBrasil renting out a vast exhibition space spanning the block between Mercer Street and Broadway (with entrances on both), and featuring not only design and furniture from Brazil there but also hosting talks and programming focusing on other aspects of the nation encompassing manufacturing, travel, cuisine and wines.
The global nature of the produce business was fully evidenced throughout the London Produce Show and Conference (LPS19), put on by the Fresh Produce Consortium and Produce Business magazine over June 5-7 at Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott hotel on London’s Park Lane. As the UK’s leading global produce get-together, it enables suppliers and buyers to connect within an immersive networking event in one of the world’s iconic cities for the fresh fruit, vegetable and flower industries. Drawing upon London’s traditional role as an international hub of trade and commerce, with the LPS19 the fresh produce industry has thus built upon a regional retail scene that is evolving rapidly and matched that with a reach that is unparalleled.
If it’s January in New York City, that means the annual ‘Beer Bourbon & BBQ’ culinary extravaganza will be taking place, allowing folks from the greater New York area (and regions besides) to flock to The Tunnel at 608 West 28 Street in West Chelsea to fulfil the appetite of their ‘Inner Redneck.” Happening on January 26th, the theme for 2019 is ‘BEAST MODE. TASTE IT. SIP IT. PORK IT’ (which has been trademarked by presenters the Trigger Agency to mark the occasion), and it is an apropos coinage for the opening event of a series that is staged throughout various cities across the eastern seaboard over the year, from Florida to New York.
Among the five principal wine producing areas in Tuscany, Montecucco is one of two located in the southernmost realm of Maremma, abutting Brunello di Montalcino to the south and west, and lying directly north of Morellino di Scansano; further west is Bolgheri, and a ways north is the Chianti Classico region – thus, it’s unsurprising that the primary grapes grown there are Sangiovese. As with all things agricultural – particularly in Italy, but truly everywhere, given the demand by an increasingly informed public for assurance of the sourcing of any products they consume – a reliable means of certification is the guarantee that what you’re getting is both authentic and meets the standards of quality established by producers in any region or realm. So, it was that in 1998 the Appellation (DOC) of Montecucco wines was born, with Consortium for the protection of these wines founded two years later, and to mark the “20 Years of Designation of Origin” the Consorzio gathered an international group of wine aficionados to help celebrate the anniversary and provide their guests with an opportunity to discover and appreciate the region and its wines in depth and up close.
Same old, same old. Healthy, healthy, healthy. Blah. Everybody seems to be chasing the same brass ring and releasing product that duplicates something else in the market without any improved bells and whistles (if you don’t count ghost peppers or superfruits). I want to enjoy my food, not have my senses assaulted. Manufacturers have seemed to forget that their mandate is to sell product and have the customer binge eat that entire bag of chips or box of cookies. Having one chip and sealing up the bag or a single sip of that decadent beverage and putting it in the refrigerator doesn’t help the bottom line.
Whenever I walk the aisles of a well-known supermarket chain – which need not be named – it’s not an infrequent occurrence that there will tables set up where eager and (mostly) young people are engaged in demonstrations of new products, from chocolates to granola bars, from beer to coffee, from chips made from all variety of vegetables to dipping sauces to dunk them in. Most such products are launched on their journey to the commercial marketplace by being featured in the Fancy Food Show, which is staged by the Specialty Food Association twice a year and on both coasts – the Summer version taking place in New York at the Javits Center. Running from June 30 to July 2 in 2018, it promises not only to herald upcoming flavorful and imaginative additions to the American palate, but also to provide attendees – most of whom are engaged the food industry, from retailers to manufacturers to consultants, and the like – with opportunities to gain greater knowledge about the business while they network with partners, vendors and colleagues.
While most people associate barbeque (or, barbecue, or BBQ – however you wish to spell it) with the summer months, the fact of the matter is that any time of year, in just about any weather conditions – aside from blizzards or torrential rains – is a good time to enjoy the very American tradition of grilling meats over an open fire and slathering them with whatever sauce(s) you prefer; or, if you’re a purist, you can go without any sauce entirely. In New York in January, you don’t need to worry about the weather when the annual gustatory ritual of the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ event takes place, as it is safely indoors at the former nightclub space called The Tunnel, located at 608 West 28 Street.
What interesting times we live in. The retail industry is crashing and burning due to e-commerce (Macy’s, Payless, Sears/KMart, Radio Shack, J.C. Penney, The Limited, American Apparel etc.) Greedy landlords who have been jacking rents through the roof for years and leveraged their portfolios to buy more over-priced real estate are now facing the grim reaper as their major anchor tenants have walked away from long term leases. The vulture capitalists are circling the carrion. The unlikely knight in shining armor turns out to be low profit margin supermarkets who have figured out they don’t need 100,000 square feet when 40,000 will do.
Once again New York gourmands can welcome in the new year by attending a competition at which there are no losers – the Annual Cassoulet Cook-off at Jimmy’s No. 43, which will hold its 9th iteration on Sunday, January 15th from 1:00-4:00pm. Co-hosted with the Chefs’ Consortium, which will help source local ingredients for the competing chefs, it will feature both professional and amateur chefs vying for prizes from sponsors Wüsthof and Anolon Cookware for people’s and judge’s choice awards.