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.
In a way, the Festival is very much like a film festival, wherein the schedule includes lots of distinctive and different things going on simultaneously; I’m almost tempted to say that there are too many options, but the fact that there are so many presents numerous choices to experience a considerable variety of things even if you’re only able to attend only a handful of happenings. For New Yorkers, being accustomed to having the best there is of everything the world over in their own city, this is both apropos and a good thing. The type of events on the schedule ranges from seminars, wine and spirits tutorials, panel talks by authors and chefs, intimate seated dinners, larger themed tastings where attendees can sample things as they stroll, and grand tastings where an even greater variety of prepared and packaged foods, wines and spirits tastings and talks are all presented.
On the final day, Sunday, October 19, Buddakan threw open the doors to their cavernous bi-level space adjacent to the Chelsea Market for Dale Talde’s Dim Sum Party, at which a great variety of innovative takes on the traditional mid-day Chinese feast of small dishes was presented by an impressive collection of chefs and restaurants. Talde himself offered a traditional item, shrimp shumai dumplings, but paired them with Old Bay-seasoned Chinese sausage and corn for a savory variation on the usual. Another seafood option was provided by the Bowery establishment The General, which served a Banh Beo Vietnamese steamed rice cake with shrimp and pork cracklings.
A number of dumpling varieties were on offer. Xi’an Famous Foods served their satisfying trademark spicy and sour lamb dumplings, while event host site Buddakan had two types, both popular with vegetarians in the crowd (and crowded it was) – a luscious and mild Edamame dumpling, and an earthy wild mushroom, kabocha squash mochi dumpling in mushroom broth; Buddakan also plated a kabocha donut (actually a donut hole, as it was spheroid and not circular). Another good veggie dumpling, filled with pumpkin, was offered by Tao – which also provided a DJ for the proceedings, who stuck to a largely hip-hop soundscape.
There were both traditional sorts of dishes and others that departed from the norm. An example of the former was the Chinese sausage and egg summer rolls served up by Pig & Khao, whereas tradition was tweaked by Speedy Romeo’s Justin Bazdarich, whose pork bun contained Kansas City-style BBQ baby back ribs. Exciting adventurous flavors were to be had in the mortadella and sopressata agnolotti with XO Sauce and pistachios served by all’onda, and also the foie gras jammers – sandwiches comprised of a foie gras torchon biscuit topped with jam – served by TelepanLocal.
And would any brunch-time Sunday feeding in Manhattan be complete without cocktails? Of course not – and there was much creativity on display at various corners of the space. Imbibers had their choice of a Sake Sangria, featuring Ty Ku Silver, fresh fruit, peach juice and mint garnish), a Ty Ku Coconut Nigori (Junmai Nigori sake infused with coconut), a Ginger Crush (Zyr Vodka, ginger beer and fresh lime), and a Ty Ku Sake Black (Junmai Ginjo Sake with cucumber garnish); teetotalers could slake their thirst with Acqua Panna & San Pellegrino water. No doubt no one left hungry or thirsty – at least until the NYCFF events happening in the evening.