While January annually brings cold weather, it also avails New Yorkers a great and singular opportunity to indulge in the kind of pleasures one normally associates with the long days, warm and sunny weather, and open-air celebrations of summertime – namely, the feast presented by the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ event, slated for January 30th. Once again taking place at the Tunnel, at 608 West 28th Street, the Manhattan installment – the 7th annual – of Beer, Bourbon & BBQ is the opening event in a multi-city tour; future stagings are set for February 27 in Tampa, Florida, April 1 & 2 in Timonium, Maryland, May 7 in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 21 in Atlanta, Georgia, June 11 in Richmond, Virginia, June 17 & 18 in National Harbor, Maryland, August 5 & 6 in Cary, North Carolina, August 20 in Virginia Beach, Virginia and September 17 in Leesburg, Virginia. Named by Fest Forward the ‘Best of the Fests’ 2015 Award Winner, it is indeed a welcome gustatory escape from the rigors of winter.
Following up from the great ‘Discover Georgia in New York’ event that took place in the Chelsea Market from September 25-27, and which enabled visitors to acquaint themselves with the fashion, art, food and wine products of the ancient Caucasus nation, aficionados of that land’s culture had an opportunity to savor the viticultural products of the region in depth at a wine tasting held at the Astor Center on October 6. Although Georgian wines have been available in the US for some years, the occasion was only the second time that a “critical mass” of these – representing many different wineries and major areas – have been presented to American oenophiles, with the broad assortment poured displaying the diverse styles and rich history of over 8,000 vintages cultivated.
The Summer Fancy Food Show and the Gay Pride Parade both celebrating victories this year in New York. Fancy Food inaugurated the first ever Specialty Food Week in New York and the LGBTQ community celebrated the historic Supreme Court ruling. 2,500 exhibitors showcased 180,000 products, thankfully not all of them food or I wouldn’t have been able to finish the show. There were some interesting new products this year that made it worth spending three days trudging through NYC’s infamous Javits Center. These are the ten food items that are worth you tracking them down and trying them with your friends and family.
By any measure, it is truly a golden era for food in the United States, and particularly with regards to the specialty foods industry. A niche that hardly existed 50 years ago, specialty foods sales have achieved a record high of $109 billion, accounting for nearly 15 percent of all retail food sales in the U.S. While it may now seem to have been inevitable that a nation with a populace as diverse, large and steadily growing as that in America would embrace the development of an increasingly abundant variety of food products and cuisines, it nonetheless took some visionaries to recognize the potential for the growth in this area and to cultivate the means of delivering such a bounty to what has become an ever expanding marketplace.
The first time I laid eyes upon the statuette given to the winners of the SOFI™ Awards – the annual honors recognizing outstanding achievement in the realm of specialty foods – I detected a distinct familiarity about the form, but couldn’t immediately place it. While the figure is fundamentally modeled on ‘Oscar’, the three-dimensional logo of the Academy Awards, in that it is bisymmetrical, golden, standing erect, and holding an object (appositely a serving platter instead of a sword), there was another aspect to it that struck me as reminiscent of an iconic predecessor – namely, the head. The SOFI statuette, you see, is apparently wearing a chef’s toque, but not one that is clearly delineated; rather the sculpting is more evocative than realistic, so that the abstracted headwear resembles as much a bulbous projection extending the cranium as a hat sitting atop it.
And then I had it – the SOFI statue is a Kanamit!
While so many aspects of Scottish heritage have influenced North American culture that it’s easy to take them for granted, it’s always a grand occasion to celebrate them during Tartan Week, which will be unfolding from April 6-11. The expanding slate of events, featuring daily concerts, parties, and of course capped off by the 17th Annual Tartan Day Parade down Sixth Avenue on Saturday, April 11th, was announced at St. Andrews restaurant, at 140 West 46 Street – a site of a number of the events in store.
Lots of folks dread the winter, spending the colder months on the calendar biding their time and pining for the days when they can once again venture out of doors without layer-upon-layer of clothing to protect them from the lower temperatures and occasional inclement elements. Poor souls. Even though that doesn’t describe me, as I prefer colder weather, there is something I have in common with many of those with a more delicate constitution even during the short days and longer nights of January – an appreciation for the heartier fare in food and drink both more available in and more apropos to wintertime.
Every October there are many traditional rituals marking the Autumnal season, and some of the most satisfying of these celebrate the Summer harvest by offering an array of foods and drink meant to be enjoyed communally. For the last several years a highlight of this season in New York has been the New York City Wine and Food Festival, an offshoot of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival; from October 16-19 countless events scheduled as part of the Festival took place in various sites in New York City, enabling New Yorkers the chance to sample a dizzying assortment of gustatory delights.
It’s not altogether unusual for wine tastings in New York to take place in venues that often boast a unique atmosphere, whether one is considering aspects of ambiance, architecture, history or grandeur in a setting. Nonetheless it’s rare when an event space features a combination of all of the aforementioned elements – particularly when the history in question has been earth shaking and is yet still evolving. Such was the case on the afternoon of September 15th when Montcalm Wine Importers, Ltd [www.montcalmwines.com] had a portfolio tasting at the 7 World Trade Center address where the firm is located. The tasting floor overlooked from the north the pit of Ground Zero, where one could glance out and see the progress of the memorial and other developments there that are at long last replacing the downed towers.
Among the number of specialty food niches one could survey at the International Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center this year I was particularly struck by the expanding varieties of packaged dried meat products – and this was only in the North Pavilion annexed to the main building of the Javits. Certainly I have noted more and more different brands of various beef and other jerkys on offer in the supermarkets, delis and specialty food shops around the city, but the International Fancy Food show, as always, featured varieties I had no prior knowledge of. After sampling a number of these over the time since the show, I can offer an account (by no means exhaustive) of notable products in this area.