Yesterday marked the third annual Choice Eats tasting event hosted by the Village Voice and Slow Foods NYC. The tasting comprised dozens of restaurants chosen and favored by the Voice’s Robert Sietsema and Sarah Digregorio, and was set in the Lexington Avenue 69th Armory. Four aisles running the length of the armory were packed with food and beverage stalls with crowds of people sampling offerings from all five boroughs and nearly forty nationalities.
Each stall offered a taste of food as well as a little inspiration. Take, for example the dishes served at Smorgas Chef, which as one might guess takes its cues from the Swedish smorgasbord. At the table decked in silver warming trays could sample from platters salmon and cumbers and Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were served with a lingonberry compote, a dish it turns out, that is served at Ikea, but one I have never seen served elsewhere. The result is a little reminiscent of a Thanksgiving meal where there has been some cranberry sauce seepage, but the lingonberries are a less tart, sweeter flavor, which compliments the meatiness of the meatball as well as bumps up the flavor or the potatoes in an unexpected way.
Inspiration and some major representation were also coming in from the direction of Brooklyn with a handful of restaurants from Greenpoint and Williamsburg turning out to share some of their better-known dishes with the public.
Here’s the best of the best of North Brooklyn:
Motorino, recently anointed with a star by the New York Times and declared by the Times’ Sam Sifton to be the best pizza in New York, did turn up with the Neapolitan pies they are best known for. Rather without access to a brick oven they perhaps thought it better to serve on of their antipasti dishes, octopus salad. The octopus swam lightly in capers, olive oil and fingerling potatoes.
Also on the seafood bandwagon was Dumont with a seafood chowder, which was one of the tastiest things I tried all evening, Brooklyn bias aside. With herbs making the base green for spring and lightly lifting the flavor of the seafood.
Egg, the all day brunch spot, also had a good showing, with a shredded pork sandwich. Actually with it’s neighbor, Baohouse, the new pork bun restaurant on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, Egg was causing quite a stir with lines causing traffic jams through the whole aisle. It is also interesting to note that pork seemed to be a theme of the evening. Perhaps with the current rage for Asian sandwiches and street food, pork is enjoying a certain boost in popularity across the board. How quickly Babe is forgotten.
Speaking of pork, Fette Sau, literally fat sow, was serving up its pork and beef, dry rubbed barbeque. Delicious as usual, and again, some of the best in the city.
With other neighborhood restaurant favorites Juliette, Bep, and Radegast Hall & Biergarten, North Brooklyn proved that in the present and future New York food scene, this is an area to contend with.