Kosher Food Wine Experience:
What a fabulous food extravaganza KFWE was, last night at the Metropolitan Pavilion! Oblivious to the fact that I was not a growing girl any more (unless you threw in width, not just length), I had been “sampling” all the delectable offerings on display all evening, going right back to a spot anyone suggested I might have missed. I knew it was time to stop while I was still ahead when I spotted a few Kosher Food Wine Experience guests slightly slumped in their chairs, sipping water and tea with tangible relief, nursing the lightheadedness occasioned by the night’s delicious excesses. Eating like this is kind of a rough sport! I woke up this morning in a slight daze, wondering if I was still fleishik. Whew!
You will enjoy the pictures below, but I am very low tech, so please forgive me of my Kosher Food Wine Experience photo gallery looks far from perfect.
In my Kosher Food Wine Experience 2013 Review I said flat out I didn’t speak Wine-ese, still don’t, so I look forward to the wine experts’ reviews. I just know a good wine when I taste it. Suffice it to say the wine and spirits selection looked and tasted dazzling. So I will again focus on the food, listing my remarks along the lines of the venue (alphabetical) order listed in the KFWE 2015 directory.
The jury seems still out on the last choice of a venue KFWE was held at last night: The Metropolitan Pavilion. KFWE guests, who in previous years had been accustomed to the sprawling space at Chelsea Piers felt somewhat as if they had visited old empty-nester friends who moved from their penthouse apartment to a studio, but you know what, the guests don’t pay the bills, and the bill kills at Chelsea Piers, so it is only natural for a realistic event planner to look for a more affordable location, even if it means it might be mobbed. Hint: Next year Please Gd if the event continues to sell out and grow, might the event planners consider using one more floor of the Metropolitan Pavilion, thereby doubling last night’s space, and reducing congestion?
Some Kosher Food Wine Experience Winners:
Abeles and Heymann The enduring sixty-year old Deli Institution gone yuppie with Beer Flavored and Whisky Flavored Hot Dogs, Shtibel food and drink all rolled into one, with cute and generous takeaway canvas bags containing whole packages of the hotdogs. I saw a couple size nothing girls in stiletto heels walking away with the dog totes and raving about them. That’s right, girls, why wait for next year’s Super Bowl?
Abigael: Chef Jeff Nathan is not just a talented chef, he knows another secret of successful restaurant owning: Be nice to people! Yes, it sounds hopelessly corny, but it is paramount, it is what made us at Levana the longest running Kosher restaurant. Jeff served Moroccan Lamb Sausages, and delicious Pastrami Dumplings, I remember wondering, how the heck did Jeff get them dumplings sizzling and crisp with such tough modular heating amenities?
Basil: Always a pleasure to see Chef Jose Soto. I loved their seviche.
Bedford: Opening soon in Queens. Chef owner Alex Reznik has a special fondness for romanticizing arcane subway station names, I bet you never thought that possible (his other Restaurant, in LA, is called Ditmas). Alex served a wicked Short Rib Terrine, fantastic preview of the coming attractions at Bedford.
Cake and Co: Custom made cakes for all occasions, as well as a retail selection. I liked a tiny cupcake-size chocolate cake filled with Merlot custard and topped with buttercream.
Carlos and Gaby: So sorry this is too far removed from my culinary comfort zone, and I can’t speak about it intelligently.
Chagall Bistro: Lovely owners Danny and Sonia Halimi are coming into their own as restaurant owners of the Park Slope French Bistro. The Beef Tartare they served was out of this world. I just gotta have more of it, so a visit at Chagall is in order!
Estreia: Duck confit….. Mmmmm… Might the chef consider another pairing for his delicious duck confit than the demure sweet potato? That didn’t do it full justice.
Etc Steakhouse: An absolutely perfect composition: Cured Chamomile Ribeye with Potato Bacon Mousse and Lotus Root Chip. It made my tongue smile.
Finchi Desserts: Owner Aunti Rashi has special need dessert eaters foremost in mind, and fills a great need not just for Kosher diners: Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free etc.
Gemstone: Hard to believe that cute unassuming owner Ari White carries such a huge workload, wears so many hats and goes by so many aliases: Wandering Que, Got Cholent, Gemstone. Ari had an impressive display (Cholent Bar, Herring and Caviar Bar, Wandering Que), with a great standout: Quince Wood Smoked Rocky Mountain Oysters. Quite a mouthful, yes, but well worth it, as were all his goodies.
Glatt A La Carte: This low-Carb Baby liked their pulled chicken sliders, and enjoyed them sans bun.
Grow and Behold: Always a pleasure to see owners Naftali and Anna Hanau. Their fantastic artisanal sausages lend themselves to so many dishes, like the Sausage, Kale and Butternut Saute dish I recently developed.
Hod Golan: Dry Salami Snacks. Check out their other line products, I love their Smoked Turkey Breast.
Jack’s Gourmet: Sausages: I do quite a nice racket with their terrific sausage line, like my Paella. Their sliced Merguez Hero sandwiches, with Grilled Peppers, Caramelized Onions, Garlic Mayonnaise and baby Arugala, were moving up fast last night!
JewMaican: Can you handle the heat? Check them out! Nice people too!
La Brochette: I tasted an outrageous and beautiful Chicken and Duck mini roulade, and El Gaucho Steak Bites.
Le Marais: I’m a big fan, but I gotta tell lovely Chef Mark Hennessy two things about last night’s Bourguignon: 1. It needed to cook at least one more hour to attain the melt-in-your-mouth-tender texture Bourguignon is so prized for. 2. You gotta bring more food with you, you were the first to run out. People pay very good money, so, bring twice the amount next year! Thanks Chef Mark!
The Loft Steakhouse: Winner: The Polenta Crouton with Tomato Jam and Duck Cracklings.
Miami Beach Chocolates: I love the owners every bit as much as I love their adorable and delicious chocolate line, designed for every imaginable occasion. You will also do excellently if you decide to make a gift out of one of their gorgeous boxes, as I often do. Gentle editing recommendation: It is Ganache. Not Ganash. You’re welcome.
Mike’s Bistro: Chef Mike Can Cook, everyone knows that! I couldn’t keep my hands off a fabulous raw tuna hors d’oeuvre he served!
Mr Penguin: Couldn’t find their website. Good ice cream and sorbet, in several terrific flavors, none of them too sweet. I loved the strawberry.
The Nuttery: Ditto. No website. Gorgeous and delicious display of nuts, dried fruits, chocolates and Halva, and beautiful gift boxes.
Pitopia: Decent Mediterranean fast food, most convenient when you are on the go in Midtown Manhattan.
Pomegranate: OK. Please allow me to pour my heart out here. To be sure, Pomegranate’s Food Samplings were all delicious, especially a heavenly pastrami their staff couldn’t slice fast enough. This is not my gripe. My gripe is, they brought in a display a mile long, with more than fifty samples from their gigantic line, swashbuckling style. Now I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone how to run their business, but it just seems to me that making a display showcasing so much of a mammoth line risks blowing everyone else out of the water, and not necessarily because you’re the best, but just because you used the marketing equivalent of brute force. Another point is, bringing in everything inevitably goes against the grain of showcasing, and showcasing is the crux of this event. All merchants present have made their choices, and worked very hard on offering two, three or a few more samples. How could they keep up with a merchant that takes such a huge show on the road? Wondering if the event planners at Kosher Food Wine Experience should not make it a rule to cap the number of samples for each merchant at, say, a dozen at the most, across the board? Please consider it.
Prime Hospitality Group: Stunning display of their famous signature home-cured charcuterie items, with all the trimmings.
Susan Sez: None of the samples tasted quite as homemade as they looked, and the almond pastries went way overboard with a bitter almond flavor; still well worth checking out and discussing improvements with owner Susan.
Shlomy’s Heimeshe: Couldn’t find a website for them. Just as the name says. Good institutional quality baked goods.
Silverleaf Caterers: When I decided to ignore their somewhat tiresome steaming neon color props alarmingly hooked on tubes like life-support equipment, I thoroughly enjoyed their pulled brisket with mashed potato and gravy whimsically presented in parfait cups.
Sprinkles: Check them out, many of their flavors are vegan.
T-Fusion Steakhouse: Wonderful Duck Confit Mini Tacos.
Sushi Tokyo: Unremarkable. This was the only sushi station, and the only fish display to speak of. To put it kindly, I found that last night, sushi was the wallflower of the party. Great indignity for that perennial party favorite. Great Kosher Sushi Restaurants, where were you last night?
Wolf and Lamb: Fabulous Cabernet-Braised Spare Ribs, with Creamy Polenta, Braised Radicchio and Natural Jus. Radicchio was the star of this treat, what brought the whole shebang together in great style.
To sum up, as the above listings will bear out, although it was all delicious and valuable, last night’s Kosher Food Wine Experience event was severely skewed on the Fleishik side. As mentioned, sushi and all fish offerings were scarce at best, and strictly vegetable dishes and salads were all but absent. Why? A disequilibrium well worth finding an antidote for in subsequent years. Until then, hearty good wishes of continued Hatzlacha to all of you, food and wine merchants, event planners, and guests at Kosher Food Wine Experience! Keep up the beautiful work!