Cover image: Consider Bardwell at Edible Escape © Kaori Mahajan
Bottom Line: The line of people stretched across the street waiting to enter this year’s Edible Escape at the Angel Orensanz Foundation in the Lower East Side. Like Christmas or Thanksgiving, Escape is also one of New York’s annual highlights.
Review: When the doors opened, the guests poured in a gigantic cathedral, like a flood of the foodie faithful heading to a holy mass. It was not for religion, but rather, a total celebration of all things delicious. Gourmet-loving parishioners went from booth to booth, sampling savory bites and sipping boozy drinks. The buzz simply carried the evening with every corner brimming full of excitement.
This year’s Escape featured an impressive, eclectic array of food and drink, from the highly reputable to the fledgling innovators looking to be the next big thing. The first stop was at Loire Valley Wines in collaboration with French wine distributor Sopexa. Loire Valley proudly proved again why French wines are still among the world’s finest. The Sauvignon Blanc had a slightly citrusy, crisp dryness, perfectly cleansing the palette that would compliment any seafood dish, and the Crémant de Loire rosé carried a bubbly, effervescent charm. My favorite was the slightly deeper 2014 Muscadet with a clean, yet earthy finish that ticked all the boxes.
There was no shortage of delicious charcuterie to go with the wine. Family-run German-style terrine and pâté masters Schaller & Weber, originally from Long Island City and in the business for 80 years, served a simply amazing pâté of goose liver on apricot pistachio-flavored toasts with a drop of wild lingonberry jam.
Flying the French banner, Les Trois Petits Cochons, or Three Little Pigs showcased three creamy pâtés, but the addition of a sweet, pickled chili was an inspired flavor.
And with the holidays approaching, check out these amazing gift hampers of salumi heaven Eattiamo from Italy, who is also generously donating 10% of its sale profits to the victims of the devastating earthquake in Italy. If you’re looking for the perfect accompanying wine, visit Wainscott Main Wine & Spirits from Long Island for a wonderful Italian 2012 red Sangiovese.
With a glass of wine in hand, it was time to sample some delicious savory bites. Streets from Brooklyn, dished out beautifully grilled, spicy piri-piri chicken drumsticks. Moisty, with a perfect balance of sweet, savory and heat, it was a joy to eat. The other crowd pleaser was locavorian Halifax from Hoboken, New Jersey, serving a melt-in-your-mouth braised lamb, mushrooms and tiny fresh pasta. Hearty, warm and oozing with flavor, the guests clamored for seconds.
Featured in this month’s Edible, Vermont cheese champions, Consider Bardwell, maker of celebrated artisanal masterpieces from the Northeast such as Pawlett, Danby and the all-new washed rind creamy masterpiece Experience, dribbled sweet reduced maple onto slices of their signature Manchester, a nutty goat cheese that can take strong accompaniments.
There were plenty of new arrivals at this year’s Escape. Sensing a market niche for ready-to-use beurre noisette, or nut brown butter, former chefs Andrew Black and Eric Bolyard, started their own company. Their two spreads including a bay leaf, sea salt served on cornbread and a fiery aleppo pepper brown butter on popcorn were delicious.
Possibly the most charming and inspiring features of Edible this year was the Catskills booth, which could have easily been its own event.
A sucker for heartwarming stories of local, passionate people making magical things, I couldn’t resist a banter with Ray Pucci, President of the Catskills County Chamber of Commerce, who introduced me to Todd Pascarella of Union Grove Distillery, a passionate producer incredibly smooth vodka. All that was missing was a tin of caviar. Nicole Day Gray & Jessica Halbrecht of New York Dairy bravely treated us to some pungent but delicious locally made Alderney from Bovine Valley Farm and other creamy creations from Cowbella and Vulto Creamery. Next door, Awestruck Ciders, invited us to sample their ciders, the infused ginger was a joy to drink.
On to desserts! Royce Chocolate from Hokkaido, Japan, a region famous for its milk and potatoes, won my heart with a sinfully indulgent white chocolate covered salty potato chips served with perfected cubes of Melty Kiss-like dark chocolate ganache. I swooped by for seconds.
Neo-Indian dessert makers Bittersweet NYC made a brave take on a classic Indian pistachio barfi. Traditionally dense with a little bite, however, Bittersweet’s pistachio-almond caramel’s light and gooey texture caught me by surprise. It was good but radically different from what many Indian sweet lovers might recognize.
With our bellies full, it was time to go. We left left the church of gourmet decadence, with appetites satiated. It was a pure Edible celebration of what’s delicious and the passionate individuals who bringing something new and exciting to the food industry.