Yesterday marked the 5th annual Taste of Williamsburg Greenpoint, an afternoon-long food and drink fest held in East River State Park. Dozens of food and drink vendors came out on the almost laughably gorgeous day (no, seriously, there were moments when we were standing under the sunny, cumulous cloud-strewn sky that we just started to laugh at how fortunate we were) to donate their time and wares to the good cause of… filling patrons’ bellies? Yes! But also, for the much better cause of funding the Northside Town Hall Community and Cultural Center, which intends to use this year’s money to renovate and operate the former Engine Co. 212 Firehouse for community activity, in order to “provide a permanent home to neighborhood social justice organizations for continued advocacy and direct services to Williamsburg and Greenpoint as well as foster civic and cultural engagement with original arts programming and community gatherings.”
So, all in the name of fostering civic and cultural engagement, hundreds of people (if not more? my mathematical estimation skills are terrible) turned out to eat, drink, and enjoy the excellent live music, curated by Rough Trade (of which Son Little was a particular standout). Early arrivals definitely had the best strategy, because some of the food ran out within the first few hours (next year, Rosamunde Sausages, we’ll eat you next year!), but the event was notable for having pretty manageable lines at almost every table, as well as a really diverse, delicious range of food and drinks. Plus, the portions! They were huge. While we sadly weren’t able to try everything on offer, here are the five dishes we tried that stood out the most. Plus an honorable mention!
#1: Bluefish pâté on toast with radish slaw, Delaware and Hudson
This offering from new addition to Williamsburg, Delaware on Hudson, was remarkable for the cleanness of its flavors, the contrast in textures, and for being good enough to actually convert my companion (previously a bluefish-hater) and incite him to thank the chefs profusely for changing his mind about this much-maligned sea creature. Perfection on a paper plate.
135 N. 5th Street, Williamsburg
#2: Porchetta, St. Mazie Bar and Supper Club
There were two porchetta offerings at Taste WG, one from Aurora served on ciabatta, and this one from St. Mazie, just heaped on a plate. I didn’t try Aurora’s (though it looked delicious), but the St. Mazie version was absolutely amazing. Redolent of fennel, the meat was succulent and spiked throughout with crunchy bits to keep it from having too monotonous a texture.
345 Grand Street, Williamsburg
#3: Yellow Pepper Gazpacho with Poached Shrimp and Thai Basil, The Elm
The Elm is one of Williamsburg’s most elegant (and delicious) restaurants; each dish is exquisitely plated, the care taken with the food evident in each bite. I wondered how exactly this would translate to an event like Taste Williamsburg Greenpoint, during which massive crowds of people are all fed at once from disposable dish ware and utensils. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, the geniuses at The Elm knew exactly how to translate their restaurant’s ethos from the clamoring crowds. Each bowl of gazpacho was presented and poured individually in such a lovely and careful manner that I almost didn’t even care as much about how it tasted. It’s just, after all, cold soup, right? Wrong! This was easily one of the winners of the day: the soup was the perfectly distilled essence of sweet pepper, the shrimp was beautifully poached, and the Thai flavors made the whole thing sing. Amazing.
160 N. 12th Street, Williamsburg
#4: Shortbread and Coconut Macaroons, Bakeri
Amidst all the savory food were some delectable sweet treats. Unfortunately, I missed out on the offerings from Ovenly, which is one of my Greenpoint favorites, but the delicious macaroons and shortbread from Bakeri made up for it. Just sweet enough with delicate flavors that lingered in the best possible way, these cookies stood out as being the perfect way to end a, uh, 12-course meal. Whoa. A lot was eaten yesterday.
150 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg
#5: Black Mission Figs with Whipped Ricotta, Serrano Ham, Fried Almonds, and Vin Cotto, Hotel Delmano
This bite-size offering from Hotel Delmano was soft, sweet, and savory all at once. It was the perfect accompaniment to the exemplary cocktail that Hotel Delmano was also making, a tantalizing blend of turmeric-infused Bulleitt bourbon and ginger… some other stuff that we don’t remember because, ohmygod, the bourbon was so good. I took a picture, but it looks like a urine sample, so.) I am definitely heading over to Hotel Delmano as soon as possible for another of those drinks.
82 Berry Street, Williamsburg
Honorable Mention: Beet Blush, The Juice Witches
While not a food per se, this beet, carrot, and ginger mix was one of the most delicious things we tried all day. It was earthy, sweet, with just the right amount of zing from the ginger. Delicious!
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