I’d been in training for the 8th annual Village Voice Choice Eats. I knew there were going to be more than 50 great restaurants lined up with delectable morsels to sample, not to mention scads of beer and other libation stations, and an entire upper floor devoted to desserts.
I ate big meals all week and on The Day just a light lunch, because I knew I needed to rally for this marathon foodie event. By the time I got to the venue, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, the crowds already stretched around the block.
I’m proud to say I ate at least one bite from every station, and I’ve whittled down the list to some of the most impressive.
Here are my Top Five:
Hands down the most unusual offering on the table: sea urchin panna cotta. Thank you, NoMad, for making sea urchins palettable! I’ve tried them before, turned off by the unctuously slimy texture, and tried them again, turned off by a strongly fishy flavor, and had no desire to go round three. But when at a festival with a mission to sample, food aversions be damned! I manned up and grabbed a spoon. Panna cotta happily masks the texture of sea urchin, leaving behind a silky, clean taste reminiscent of the sea.
Did you think something as simple as a pretzel was going to make the list? Neither did I, but one bite of soft, chewy, golden brown carb perfection sent me boomeranging back to the stall for more, sacrificing precious stomach space – but it was worth it, I tell you. Especially with the beer-cheese dip that accompanied it. You can check Sigmund’s out for yourself in Alphabet City, where they sell the likes of jalapeno cheddar and gruyere paprika varieties.
Their Italian was delightful, and incredibly impressive considering the pasta was homemade, an ambitious feat considering the ravenous hoi polloi clamoring for delicious morsels of everything they could get their hands on at Choice Eats. If you’ve ever attempted homemade pasta, you know how time consuming it is. Respect.
This is the way to pay homage to southern comfort food. Juicy, smoky brisket with maple and bourbon-tinged glaze collard greens, and corn cakes, all in adorable bite-sized portions. ‘Nuff said.
There were enough calorie-laden confections to induce one’s own sugar coma on the upper level of the Metropolitan Pavilion, but Ample Hills took the cake (see what I did there) with their signature Salted Crack Caramel ice cream. The “crack” is buttered, chocolate covered saltine cracker bits. Crack-addictive indeed. I did my research. I ate the doughnuts, the cupcakes, the dessert lasagna and the cookies. But nothing quashed my dessert craving like the cool and creamy Ample Hills.
If you missed Choice Eats, not to worry! Get your elastic waist pants ready and gear up for the 4th annual Village Voice Choice Streets, featuring food trucks this May.
What dishes have you tried and loved lately? Share below!
By: Sarah Henry of Written in Chocolate