Review: FIAF’s 2016 Bastille Day Block Party Sun. Jun 10, 2016

Cover photo: © WhereNYC

Bottom Line: France may had lost dismally in the 2016 Euro Cup final, but in New York, the mood was far more jovial at FIAF’s annual Bastille Day block party. With the uncorking of champagne bottles, cheese tastings, pastries, and live entertainment, who could have asked for more.

Dancing the Can-can © Michael George

Sarah O’Dwyer Dancing the Can-can © Michael George

With each ticket - guests could enjoy up to five classes of champagne and as much chocolate as they could eat.

With each ticket  at Champagne & Chocolate Tasting- guests could enjoy up to five glasses of champagne and as much chocolate as they could eat. © WhereNYC

Tarte aux abricots. Apricot tarts from François Payard. © WhereNYC

Tarte aux abricots or Apricot tarts by François Payard. © WhereNYC

Review: If only every Sunday could like this: French food, music, dancing, soccer and wine. French Institute Alliance Française of New York’s annual block party in Midtown is always one of my favorite summer events, and every year, it gets better. Even with the crowds of people stepping on each other trying to get from one booth to the next, there was no real mayhem. The addition of three ticketed indoor tasting events provided a perfect oasis from the heat and crowded street and made this year’s festival even more special.

Macarons were a hit at the MadMac table.

Macarons were a hit at the MadMac table.

Stretching from Lexington to Fifth Avenue on 60th Street, visitors sampled classic French pastries from legend François Payard, nutella crêpes from The Crêpe Escape Caterers. The event was full of great names like Daniel Boulud’s Épicerie Boulud (which serves the best gourmet merguez dog by Lincoln Center!). Delicious charcuterie by Le Bec Fin Fine Foods, and Maman Café and Financier dished out goodies. And who can forget those buttery biscuits from St. Michel! With all that food, I was about to surrender my soul to gluttony. How do the French stay slim!

The classic crême brûlée.

The classic crême brûlée. ©WhereNYC

Classique = Magnifique! François Payard's classic tarte aux fraises with pistachios, sitting in a buttery pastry crust. © WhereNYC

Classique = Magnifique! François Payard’s tarte aux fraises with pistachios, sitting in a buttery pastry crust. © WhereNYC

Perfection on a serviette - a superbe tarte aux pommes by Maison Hugo. © WhereNYC

Perfection on a serviette – a superbe tarte aux pommes by Maison Hugo. © WhereNYC

Highlights included crispy-on-the-outside-and-gooey-centered classic French macarons by Madeleine Macaron or MadMac from Patterson NJ from and the crowd-pleaser crême brûlée. French Brasserie Maison Hugo from Midtown dished the perfect tarte aux pommes or apple tart. I could have had six of them.

maisonclose

Naughty Maison Close – although the display was a little family friendly, their steamy collections online are NSFW!

Some traditions, however decadent, should never die. The traditional can-can dancers are always a hit as everyone waits for the perfect crotch shot. Just across Park Ave. Maison Close sold sexy lingerie, masks and plumes. Très naughty!

But it wasn’t all about decadence and hanky panky. French Morning, the French-language newspaper and organizer of the Speak Easy language exchange events, Air France Mon Voyage, French cable channel TV5 Monde and bilingual magazine France-Amérique gave out promotions.

Stanley Egubchulam and associate displaying the goods at the VIP room at Amali

Stanley Egubchulam and associate displaying the goods at the VIP room at Amali © WhereNYC

First stop: The VIP lounge at restaurant Amali by Lexington offered guests a cozy retreat with open bar full of French wines, cocktails and tasty bites. Cognac maker Bache Gabrielsen served guests refreshing cocktails. Delicious and refreshing but a bit sweet.

Bache Gabrielsen served guests a sweet ,citrus cocktail

Bache Gabrielsen Cognac’s sweet, citrus cocktail at the VIP Lounge at Amali © WhereNYC

I stuck with sparkling rosé and noshed on the cheesy bits. It was tempting to stay, but the clock was ticking towards the kick-off of the Euro Final.

Next Stop: Wine / Cheese / Beer / Cocktail tasting on the ground floor and lower level at FIAF.

All in zee famille! My French Wine Club serving reds and sumptuous white wine.

All in zee famille! My French Wine Club serving reds and sumptuous white wine. © WhereNYC

Soldiering through the crowds on 60th street wasn’t easy, but we didn’t rest on laurels with more cheese and wine on our radar. The buzz at the Tinker Auditorium in the basement was incredible, while chilled Kronenbourg 1664 beer was available on the first floor.

C'mon Issac, where's me drink? Ricard's anniseedy cocktail. Would have preferred it with Oysters Rockafeller.

C’mon Issac, where’s me drink? Ricard’s anniseedy cocktail. . © WhereNYC

For food, Président served the usual plate of  the best French suspects: brie, comté and roquefort. My only negative was that the baguette slices were doughy and lacking the crunchy crust.  But the cheese and wine worked beautifully. Most of the wine was from the Languedoc or Southwest region, which is one of my favorites but treacherously underrated.

My poison of choice was the Villa des Anges rosé that Sud de France served, which had a beautiful crispness on the palate with a clean but fruity finish. I had to go back for seconds.

Les filles du Président! Serving guests cheese plates.

Les filles du Président! Serving guests cheese plates. ©WhereNYC

Final Stop: The Champagne and Chocolate Tasting at Le Skyroom at FIAF.

Villa des Anges Rosé second on the right has made my Christmas list (c) Brittany Buongiorno

Villa des Anges Rosé second on the right has made my Christmas list (c) Brittany Buongiorno.

Having had my sips of wine and Ricard cocktails, it was time to catch the soccer final at Le Skyroom on the eighth floor – one of two spots showing it at the Bastille Day event.

Watching the 2016 Euro final over champagne, chocolate made it extra special.

Watching the 2016 Euro final over champagne, chocolate made it extra special. ©WhereNYC

À la vôtre! Reps from Piper-Heidsieck - one of my favorite champagnes. Yummy.

À la vôtre! Piper-Heidsieck – one of my favorite champagnes. Yummy. © WhereNYC

Guests guzzled champagne from some of the greats including: Brimoncourt, Billecart-Salmon, La Caravelle, and Drappier. One of my favorites of the bunch was Piper-Hiedsieck that had a dry misty refreshingness that complimented the chocolates beautifully.

Plateau du paradis. Belgian Chocolatier Neuhaus beautiful chocolate truffles with dried raspberry.

Plateau du paradis. Belgian Chocolatier Neuhaus © WhereNYC

Speaking of chocolate, Belgian chocolatier Neuhaus served a beautiful raspberry truffle.

La Maison du Chocolat from Paris and locations in NYC serving exquisite classic French chocolate Truffles.

La Maison du Chocolat from Paris and locations in NYC serving exquisite classic French chocolate Truffles. ©WhereNYC

Santé! Brimoncourt and smiles © WhereNYC

Santé! Brimoncourt and smiles © WhereNYC

Both the La Maison du Chocolat and Marie Belle served scrumptious champagne truffles.  The latter had a unique crunchy exterior with a soft ganache filling. As for the game, the fact that no one scored in first 80 minutes didn’t seem to bother the guests as they cheered over a glass of bubbly. In the end, France lost to Portugal 0-1, but even in defeat, we toasted one last time with a sigh and carried on.

Tension and eventual defeat, but everyone had a fantastic time.

The agony of defeat! French soccer fans watching the final on the giant screen at 60th St. © Michael George

Don’t miss First Tuesdays with free language sample classes and hors d’œuvres. For more on upcoming events, visit FIAF.

 

 

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