Review: The 2018 Big Chocolate Show

Cover image: Chocolat Moderne’s creamy display © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC Chocolate Show

Is there anyone who doesn’t love chocolate? Believe it or not, there’s a whole week in NYC that is dedicated to the rich tasty dessert, chocolate. The main event of the whole week is known as The Big Chocolate Show! This 2-day tasting event had main stage demos and classes taking place throughout the day. Now its third consecutive year, the Big Chocolate Show is an amazing showcase of sinful, creamy indulgence.

Chocolate On Maui © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

More than 200 chocolatiers, artisans, chefs, authors, purveyors and experts from around the world offering chocolate tastings and ticketed master tasting classes throughout this mouthwatering and festive weekend. 

Hopping from table to table, I must have jumped a couple pant sizes, trying different treats and stuffing myself with each bite. Some of my favorite goods were Cookie DOH Cones from The Dessertist, which had my favorite cookie dough in an ice cream cone.

Hudson Valley Marshmallow Co. had different flavors of marshmallows including salted caramel, which was to die for. Atlantic Confectionery Company had beautiful and delicate chocolate hearts. I tried chocolates with various ingredients such as ginger, lavender and quinoa.

Alyssa Tognetti (c) for WhereNYC

The Dessertist’s Cones – Alyssa Tognetti © for WhereNYC

And of course, who could forget Chocolate On Maui, the Hawaiian-based chocolatier who blends exotic flavors such as passion fruits and orange bringing a little acidity and Macadamia nuts for added texture.

A true delight. 

Arcay Chocolate from Venezuela © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

Other memorable twists included: Euphorium Brooklyn – a local artisanal chocolate maker who blends ingredients from Japan. The surprise was a Japanese plum or ume-flavored chocolate, inspired by the story of historical Japanese scholar/ poet/ politician around 9th century, Sugawara no Michizane. It was his poem about plum tree flavor as a melancholic memory that inspired the creation.

There were creative designs as well including the quirky Roni Sue’s Chocolates, whose beautiful chocolate bars decorated with dried fruits and swirled with white chocolate over dark chocolate to create swirls, reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting on a brick of chocolate.

Beautiful displays at the Big Chocolate Show © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

For fans of boozy chocolate delights, the Big Chocolate Show did not disappoint.

This year there is an entire 21+ section with chocolate spirits and cocktails- YUM, including the Saturday night event with the Cocktail Guru.  The Cocktail Guru & The Big Chocolate Show’s Decadent Evening of Chocolate & Cocktails is a curated two-hour walk-around tasting. Guests will visit stations stocked with an array of chocolate-friendly liquor brands that are paired with a selection of bespoke desserts and dishes made by NYC’s premier chocolatiers and chefs.

Punch from the Cocktail Guru Alyssa Tognetti © for WhereNYC

At the bar, chocolate purists and cocktail lovers can taste signature lines of chocolates while watching some of NYC’s finest mixologists shake, stir and serve custom libations designed to bring out the best in each variety. This event includes unlimited chocolate, pastry, spirit, and cocktail samples. I sampled a few of Jonathan Pogash’s cocktails. They were delish, of course.

Besides the oh so delicious chocolate, there were other vendors like rum brands, a fragrance house that made chocolate scented perfume and massages!  It was quite a day of pampering!

If you ever have the opportunity to go to The Big Chocolate Show, I highly recommend.  You surely won’t be hungry after. For more information about next year’s show visit: bigchocolateshow.com

Kei Hayashi contributed to this article.

Review: FIAF’s 2018 Bastille Day on 60th Street

Cover image: © WhereNYC

Crême brûleé © WhereNYC

Like Christmas, FIAF’s Bastille Day block party is an annual tradition that New Yorkers never miss. For me, however, it was my very first. This year was different. I was excited to go, and I sure picked a great year to attend. Not only was I able to experience this French block party of delicious food and desserts but able to catch this year amazing win by les Bleus for the 2018 World Cup with fellow Francophile compatriots.

Live Street Music © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

As I got there with my hot date, we decided to walk down 60th street where were greeted by French vendors ranging from crepes to free Nespresso to musical artists engaging the crowd to dance. This year’s celebration stretched over four blocks, longer than previous years. Each booth in every corner showcased something new and different.  There were French pastries, tourist offices and boutiques dazzling crowds with promotions and delicious goodies.

Champagne Party Ticket © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

 

Noticeably after we passed the rainbow of balloons, we saw a gigantic screen and a crowd of strangers huddled together watching the World Cup final between France and Croatia. It was a picture perfect year with les Bleus’ 4-2 win, and the subsequent burst of joy right on 60th Street.

FIAF’s Bastille Day indoor events also provided a much needed relief from the summer heat and celebratory screaming crowds. After a while, we headed to the VIP Lounge at Amali, 115 E. 60th Street. That is where we met some amazing different writers to mix and mingle with. We sipped on wine, some Perrier, refreshing limonade and ate delicious bread and cheese — including Brie, my favorite!

Sporting their summer’s best at FIAF’s Bastille Day © WhereNYC

In addition to the beloved cheese and wine pairings in the lower level hall of FIAF, the Champagne Tasting at Le Sky Lounge on the top floor was like entering a luxurious world full of delicious bubbly and chocolate. My guest and I were given a ticket that allowed us to have one decadent dessert from each exhibitor. As for the champagne, it was a rare treat to sample from some of the lesser known winemakers. There were exceptional sparkling champagnes from Pol Roger, Ayala, Champagne Delamotte, and Besserat de Bellefon, as well as refreshing, sparkling cocktails made with Grand Marnier. We nibbled delicious macarons from world-famous Ladurée, decadent chocolates from Voilà Chocolat, and sweet dessert from Maman Bakery.

Grand Marnier cocktails © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Voilà Chocolat was a lot of fun and a neat concept of DIY truffle dipping. The company brought their station to make Bastille Day truffles. I got to pick my own truffle dip it with chocolate and decorated it with a fancy FIAF topping. Not only was it fun to make, but très delicious!

Bastille Day Truffles © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Jazz singer Chloé Perrier entertained the Sky along with favorite French and American songs from the 1920s to the 40s. It was definitely the icing on the cake and really made the tasting classy.

This was definitely a wonderful experience to remember. As always with mingling over a glass of wine at an event like this one, you meet new friends and discover something new. I plan to keep in touch with some of the people I met in the VIP lounge. If you decide to come next year, it is free entry to block party, food and drink available for purchase. But the real fun and decadence happens indoors with the extraordinary champagne and wine tasting events that are worth their price tag.

For information on upcoming events in the fall including the must-attend annual open house, be sure to visit FIAF.

Review: Japan Society 20th Annual Sake Lecture & Tasting: Unorthodox Variations

Cover image  © WhereNYC

After countless sushi sessions midday with my partner in food crime, I’ve developed a taste for a warm, yet delicate cup of sake. This warm rich treat has quickly become a staple with my spicy tuna roll.

John Gaunter, presenter and editor of Sake World is the face of Japanese sake in America. © WhereNYC

Now, as a self-proclaimed spirits connoisseur, I’ve gone to several whiskeys, beers and wines, but never have I ever made the effort to go out to taste sake. I decided to investigate. Each year the Japan Society hosts an annual sake talk and tasting with 30 types of premium sake. I knew I had to go.

The night was kicked off by industry expert and Sake World editor John Gauntner with an informative discussion on the unorthodox variations of sake. Gauntner delves into the pros and cons of these sake anomalies and examines how they stack up against the tried-and-true standards. He went through the different types of sake and explained the different types of sake to the lively crowd. As he continues, it opened my eyes to the many different variations of this drink. I never heard of red sake. Sparkling sake? I did not know that it was a thing, but as he went on I knew I must try each variation. After some lively Q&A, John Gauntner invited each of the brewers on stage before the main event– the tasting.

Sake © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

So after the presentation, it was time to finally try the different variations! The Japan society was arranged with several tables with brewers. They had all the northern sakes located in the north part of the building and the southern sakes in the South part of the building. The building itself is gorgeous with a bonsai tree in the build of a fountain.

I carefully took note of each sake, in order to understand the different notes in liquid. Each was unique in its own way. As I went from table to table, I learned to distinguish different notes. I tasted crisp, citrus, and fruity sakes to name a few! The crowd became super friendly as we all tried the different brewer’s creations. Some notable standouts included Kirin Hizoshu from the Kaetsu brewery in Niigata which was enclosed in a beautiful blue bottle that looked too beautiful to drink. The was a cold sake Hanagaki Usunigori Junmai Daiginjo that crisp and as white as snow.

Kirin Hizoshu © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

If you thought this event exciting, then the Japan Society is something you should look into. The Japan Society host many unique programs to immerse people into Japanese culture. It’s an American nonprofit organization supported by individuals, foundations, and corporations that bring the people of Japan and the United States closer together through mutual understanding, appreciation and cooperation. More than a hundred years after the Society’s founding, its goal remains the same—the cultivation of a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. To learn more about the Japan Society for more information on programs and events at JapanSociety.org.  

Hanagaki Usunigori Junmai Daiginjo © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

After this event, I know I more confidence to taste and order sakes. I plan to incorporate more sake into my diet in the near future.

Review: “Meet the Spirited Authors” Book Signing with Robert Simonson, Kara Newman and Carey Jones

Cover image: © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

It was a Monday night before the Thanksgiving holiday, and I could feel that it was going to be a long week already. Fortunately, I was in the mood for a drink and headed to HGU Hotel for a cocktail to celebrate some of the best drink writers in the industry’s new cocktails books.

‘Meet Spirited Authors’ © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

This was a signing for Hanna Lee’s “Meet the Spirited Authors” book signing event featuring New York Times’ Robert Simonson, Kara Newman of Wine Enthusiast and Carey Jones.  The event celebrates our agency’s 13th anniversary and is part of an ongoing series that gives back to the community and supports authors. And you know, I need to add to my already extensive cocktail collection. I sat with all three guest cocktail authors as they schmoozed with . While all were about mixology and cocktails, each one brought a unique twist. Robert Simonson’s “3-Ingredient Cocktails,” a collection of the greatest drinks of all time, modern and classic, all of which conveniently feature only three ingredients.  Kara Newman’s “Shake. Stir. Sip.”  has an interesting cocktail strategy of using equal parts of the main ingredients and adding a dash of bitters or a splash of seltzer to gild the lily.  Lastly, Carey Jone’s “Brooklyn Bartender” showcases bartenders and cocktail recipes from the booming borough at the height of its international popularity. 

Cocktails! © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Of course no event with such great cocktail writers could leave out amazing drinks. Notable sips included the Danny Boy, a cocktail with Slane Irish Whiskey with truffle infused amaro — you bet you could smell that truffle! Mr. B’s Ballerias had Aviation Gin, St. Germaine Elderflower cordiale and these incredibly cute roses in the middle. Classic looking! And you know if there are cocktails, there are bites including Ahi Tuna Flatbread, Butternut Squash Ravioli, Whiskey Pork Belly, Crispy Chicken, Sea Bass Ceviche and Forest Mushrooms.

For cocktail enthusiasts hunting new ideas, these recipe books will provide plenty of inspiration.

Review: Sip Smoky Scotch Cocktails & Limited Release Single Malt Whisky at Flatiron Room-November 6

Cover image: Scottish Tea Time © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

The Flatiron Room, known with their extensive collection of brown spirits—whiskeys, bourbons, single malts—you name it, hosted a very private, exclusive event for media a week ago that yours truly got to try some delicious libations.  This was a night to celebrate GlenDronach and BenRiach, two delicious smokey single malt whiskies from Scotland. Some of the best drink writers in New York City dropped in to reminisce and sip the classics, but the reality for them was to try the rarity.

GlenDronach and BenRiach © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Spoiled for choice, you could go either neat or mixed cocktail depending on the mood. Owner Tommy Tardie of Flatiron Room guided me through the GlenDronach portfolio. including the 12-year-old and the peatier 18-year old. Then, I tried the BenRiach 10-year-old, which according  to Tommy was the blue cheese of the brand. Each one was tasty in its own right,

Having had my “neat” introduction, it was time to dive in straight for the whisky cocktails. The bartenders at the Flatiron Room showcased three signature drinks. First up, was the Smoky Star. I’m quite the sucker for a pretty drink in a coupe glass, especially garnished properly. For fans of smoky cocktails, the name would not disappoint; however, in need of a little more sweet tasting drink, the Scottish Tea really hit the spot.  The hands-down favorite was the Allardice Elixer that was also sweet.

GlenFronach’s Kingsman Edition 1991 being poured © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Towards the end of the night, BenRiach’s Ambassador Stewart Buchanan said a few words to commemorate the brand, while we sipped our suds. He showed us to the GlenFronach’s limited Kingsman Edition 1991 that salutes the new blockbuster Kingsman: The Golden Crown. From the 2,000 bottles produced, only 200 bottles actually reached the American shores. The guest raced to the corner where it was being poured to get a few drops of this exclusive dram.

The night was good laughs, great people and wonderful drinks. While not everyone one can experience this VIP sort of event, so for our readers, here is the recipe to make the Smoky Star for your next adult beverage.

Smoky Star by Young Kim

Smoky Star @ Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Smoky Star

1.5 oz BenRiach 10 Year Old Peated Curiositas

.5 oz Dry Vermouth

.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur

.25 oz Benedictine

1 Cinnamon stick

2 Star Anise

Add all ingredients including 1 cinnamon stick and 1 star anise in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with star anise.  

GlenDronach and BenRiach is the perfect gift for your whisky lover this holiday season. But if you’re going to try a brown tasty drink, head over to the Flatiron Room.

Review: The Big Chocolate Show at the Waterfront Oct 6, 2017

Cover image: © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Imagine a room full of chocolate… Sounds amazing right? This might seem like a fantasy, but the weekend of October 6th was a dream come true. Over 50 notable chocolate makers and vendors of the industry came together to show off amazing chocolates.

The Big Chocolate Show © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Since its inception in 2016, The Big Chocolate Show has attracted over 5,000 attendees over the three-day expo, with professional experts, foodies, food editors and fans enjoying up-close-and-personal live demos, tasting and pairing classes and of course, a plethora of samples from chocolatiers around the globe at The Terminal Stores on the city’s bustling waterfront.  A notable component to the weekend included the ”Legends” award that honors some of the chocolatey best. This year’s honorees included Sophie and Michael Coe, Ed Seguine, John Scharffenberger and Juan Carlos Motamayor.

Chocolatier Jacques Torres © Vicha Saravay for The Big Chocolate Show 2016

Chocolatier Jacques Torres at the Big Chocolate Show 2016 © Vicha Saravay for The Big Chocolate Show

So I know what you are thinking… Just spill the chocolate beans, Alyssa… what kind of chocolate did you have? Well, I was like a kid in a candy shop! It ranged from all the usual suspects (white, milk, and dark) to drinking chocolate to chocolate with quinoa — you can’t say I did not have anything healthy that night! Soft chocolate with beautiful designs from Chocolate Moonshine was irresistible. Fun political chocolate from DC-based Harper Macaw al la Flip-Flopper (chocolate with huge chunks of toffee). Hoja Verde Had a sweet rose and lemon bar that opened my palate in so many ways.

Chocolate Moonshine © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

One of the most decorated chocolates was William Dean Chocolates, which follows the artisan tradition of creating every truffle, confection, and piece of chocolate by hand, in small batches. The beautifully crafted treats are truly works of art, exciting the eye and intriguing the palate with interesting flavor combinations and vibrant designs.

Both delicious and a treasure to the eye, some of the presentation of some of the chocolate was an eye-popping experience. There were LAZOR engraved chocolates, which were perfect for corporate gifting and party favors. Also, chocolate shape as shoes was totally cute.

I attended the date night portion of the show on Friday night which paired chocolatey desserts with a boozy counterpart.  Before entering the choco-boozy room, I met Celebrity chef, Mary Giuliani who was promoting her new book The Cocktail Party, which was right up my alley!

Chocolate hearts © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

An interesting read, it got me amped up to enter the section of the show dedicated to desserts and spirits.  I soon discovered a lot of local sweet shops paired with some of the most delicious spirits in the industry— and of course, there was chocolate. Spirits like the sweet Indian liquors like Somrus to dessert vodkas like Van Gogh paired up with boozy cupcakes and bacon mousse tarts… YUM!

Truly an unforgettable experience. The Big Chocolate show was truly a sweet experience.

Review: Taste of NY Experience Craft Beverage Week – September 12th, 2017

Cover image: Beet Cider © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

As New Yorkers, we are spoiled to have an abundance of fresh ingredients in our food, only matched by our selection of tasty spirits, beer, wine, and cider – we have it all!  Well, it’s no doubt that the local movement is here to stay and one of our great state initiatives in New York is to promote local food and especially the beverage scene. The Taste of NY Experience is a celebration in honor of the first-ever New York Craft Beverage Week started by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which is coming up November 5-11, 2017. The week is designed to promote local artisanal beverage producers from the five boroughs of NYC and reinforce the city as an incomparable travel destination for epicures and drinks enthusiasts.  Over 50 local craft spirits, wines, beers, and ciders artisans came out to the landmark Pier A Harbor House to show off their finest liquid gems.

Taste of New York Sign (C) Alyssa Tognetti

One of the major standouts to me personally was how many great ciders there are in New York State, and now with apple season in full force, it’s a no-brainer that this would be the choice ingredient. Some of the cideries featured were Brooklyn Cider, Doc’s Draft Cider, Bad Seed, and of course, Angry Orchard, which brought some of their unique ghost bottles to wow guests! The most eye-popping and tastebud gamechangers of this category that I tasted was actually not made from apples but beets. If you are not afraid of beets, Pennings Farm Ginger Beet Cider is worth the taste – plus the pinkish-purple is quite mesmerizing! If you are not a cider traditionalist, then Doc’s Draft Hard Pumpkin is a refreshing change guaranteed to get your proper pumpkin spice fix for this year.

Nahmias et Fils Distillery Mahia (C) Alyssa Tognetti

If beer is your vice, then there are no shortage of breweries in New York State. My latest beer obsession was Greenport Brewing was there with two of their finest beer. I found my newest favorite IPA from War Horse Brewing called Lieutenant Dan. Yes, named after Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump.

Angry Orchard Ghost Bottles (C) Alyssa Tognetti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For wine lovers, there was a wonderful selection: including Stoutridge Vineyard which has no sulfates. It was incredibly fresh. The take the whole farm to table movement to heart. Other amazing wineries that should be noted for their deliciousness are Sheldrake Point and Enlightenment Wines.

Sheldrake Point (C) Alyssa Tognetti

But if you’re after something stronger, New York State does have a fine share of spirits. One of the most intriguing spirits happened to be called Mahia from Morocco and made from figs from Nahmias et Fils Distillery in Yonkers. They are the only local Mahia spirit in the US. Another notable spirit producer is Hudson Valley’s Denning’s Point in Beacon with their award-winning Maid of the Meadow, herbs and wild honey infused in a wheat-based spirit, which mixes quite well in cocktails or is quite lovely to just sip.

If any of these amazing New York State spirits intrigue you, then run to your nearest Taste of NY store.  Learn more at taste.ny.gov 

Review: The Beer-Changing Magic of Brewing with Hops at The Greene Space, July 19, 2017

I found myself on a Thursday night out and drinking a few hoppy beers but not at a bar but at the radio WNYC Greene Space.  Like they say Thursday is the new Friday.

© Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

This was The Beer-Changing Magic of Brewing with Hops talk and tasting emceed by owner Jimmy’s No. 43, host of Beer Sessions Radio and beer aficionado Jimmy Carbone, who kicked off a serious beer talk and brought some of his beer buddies to discuss the popularity of hoppy, sudsy thirst quenchers.

© Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Before entering the Greene Space main doors, I received a full bottle of Lagunitas IPA — it was that or the Pilsner, but I was here for the IPAs. I walked in holding a check list of beers featured on the tasting menu. Before taking my seat, I swooped in for some delicious cheese and bread topped with roast beef. Then, I headed straight to the tasting tables lined, which included Two Juicy Unfiltered from Two Roads Brewing Co., Tools of the Trade Extra Pale Ale and Power Tools IPA from Industrial Arts Brewing Co., and Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewing. I tasted one before realizing it would be better to sample the brews during each presentation.

Jimmy Carbone (right) at the Breakfestival 2016 © Kaori Mahajan for WhereNYC

Jimmy’s line-up included many well-known beer experts ranging from various industries: Jeff O’Neil, founder and proprietor of Industrial Arts Brewing Company in Garnerville, New York, which focuses on using the best ingredients available to make “fresh, clean, hoppy beers”; John Segal, co-owner of Segal Ranch a third-generation, family hop farm widely known among craft brewers for estate-quality hops and a commitment to innovation in hop growing; Katherine Kyle, a managing partner at New York City’s Blind Tiger Ale House; and John Holl, writer, author of American Craft Beer Cookbook, co-host of Steal This Beer podcast and senior editor of Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine.  Each person brought a different perspective and story to the table.

© Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

“Did anyone think IPAs would become so popular?” Jimmy asked his fellow panelists. This opened up the discussion with the history of the IPA, beers like Liberty, dating back 40 years ago, that introduced pale ales  to the public. Although the initial reaction was mixed, eventually beer drinkers grew to like the bitterness, which at the time was the major shock appeal. Still more people were drawn to light lagers at the time. That has changed, according to Hall, who said people are asking “what IPAs do you have on tap?” Likewise, Katherine Kyle of Blind Tiger discussed how of her 28 her beer lines, 5-9 of them are IPAs. She can’t keep an IPA on very long since it’s always in demand- more than anything else.

@Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

The discussion was an eye opener to beer industry as a whole. It was both informative and interactive with the audience by passing around different types of hops and the pellets.

After schmoozing with the panelists, I grabbed some more cheese and brews before heading home.

To learn more about upcoming events or WNYC, please visit the Greene Space and catch Jimmy Carbone’s Beer Sessions Radio show here.

Review: The Wonders of Peruvian Pisco at MOFAD, JUNE 22nd

Cover image: Pisco Cocktail © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

If you are are a true spirit connoisseur, then you know that pisco has become quite the darling of the industry in recent years. I knew I really have enjoyed this spirit in the past at restaurants and events, but I was never really quite sure of what it was. So when I heard the Museum of Food and Drink had The Wonders of Peruvian Pisco in their Spring Cocktails series, I knew I needed to investigate.

As I arrived at MOFAD, I was greeted at the front desk at with a pisco cocktail and was told it was similar to a Moscow Mule. It had ginger beer, lime, and something other than vodka, it was distinctly pisco. I sipped my drink and mixed with the lovely crowd that was eager to learn more about this spirit.

(c) Alyssa Tognetti

Diego Loret de Mola the Master Distiller and Brand Champion of BarSol Pisco © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

The speaker of the night was Diego Loret de Mola the Master Distiller and Brand Champion of BarSol Pisco. As a passionate as he was about Pisco, he taught the crowd about its origins in Peru and the different varietals of grapes that are used to produce the spirit. Later, he discussed the different processes of making Pisco and why the spirit becomes clear during the product. From there he explained the history of Pisco being added to the menus at different bars across the United States but ultimately leaving its mark on San Francisco.

Previous events at MOFAD include the Mexican Mezcal with a buggy twist. © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

 

After hearing Diego speak, the audience went back out to the main area and grabbed their second cocktail, which was the beloved Pisco Punch as we mingled and waited for the food. I did stop by the Barsol Pisco table and tried two different piscos straight. Here they asked what do I prefer whiskey or vodka to better understand if I liked more of a floral pisco or a dry pisco. Since I do enjoy whiskey more, they suggested the more floral pisco, which was very delicious. For kicks, I decided to try the dry pisco as well, but I prefered the more fragrant notes of the first.

(c) Alyssa Tognetti

Mission Ceviche © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Mission Ceviche and Pollo D’oro both had tables for their restaurants and served up some delicious grub. I cannot say that I have really gone out to a Peruvian restaurant before, but after attending this event I might have to. Mission Ceviche served up some raw seafood that I was shocked how much I loved it, while Pollo D’oro samples a great quinoa dish. I greedily went back for seconds for each.

Sounds fun? MOFAD has a lot of great programs coming up! Learn more at MOFAD.org.

Review: First-Ever Taste NY Experience – Wednesday, May 24

Cover image: Courtesy of Taste NY / Tiff

Have you ever seen the Taste of New York Stores that have locations all around New York State? I notice it every time I go to Grand Central. When I have a second to stop in, I realize I only go to a select few wines that I’ve tasted at vineyards up north and am clueless when it comes anything else.

Governor Cuomo had a solution for customers like me.  To encourage purchases from local farms and distillers, he created the first-ever Taste NY Experience an event that took place on May 24th at Pier A in Battery Park. This is an ongoing initiative to support the economic growth and tourism for NY state for the state and showcased 50 of New York State’s craft producers of spirits, beer, wine, and cider.

I met many artisanal producers representing 10 distilleries, 13 breweries, 18 wineries and 9 cideries from the Empire State including: legendary bar The Dead Rabbit, Finger Lakes Distilling, Brooklyn’s New York Distilling Company, Shmaltz Brewing, Yonkers Brewing, Brooklyn’s Brooklyn Winery, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Brooklyn’s Brooklyn Cider House and way too much more.  Food to soak up the booze included: Brooklyn’s Anomaly Season (unconventional kimchi, e.g., apple, beet, blueberry), New York’s Chobani Yogurt, and Cabot Creamery

Taste of NY Glasses © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

My plus one and I decided to plan out our journey…Wine first, spirits second, cider third, and then top it off with a few cold beers… Sounds good right? So,  I grabbed my engraved Taste of NY glass and sampled the wines. I first meet Lakewood Vineyards in the Finger Lakes and enjoyed a glass of their Bubby Candeo, and swiftly moved on to Dr. Konstantin Frank – which I am a huge fan of since I had their Dry Riesling at the Culinary Institute of America. I was so excited to try their bubbly Chateau Frank Brut, which did not disappoint! From there, I had Johnson Estate’s dessert wine, Pinot Grigio from Wagner Vineyard, and Thirsty Elephant wine from 21 Brix which was phenomenal (and pink). I had a lovely conversation with the owner of Anthony Road Winery and the how generational the winery is and how they allow the younger generation to have some ownership by giving them design control of the labels.  Hemann J. Weimer’s Dry Riesling was AMAZING, and the guy behind the table knew which bottle to introduce me to without saying a peep.

Brix21 Thirsty Elephant © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

After, I tried some spirits. I had to go to the New York Distilling Co., because — well duh– who makes a better gin than Alan Katz? I actually tried the Queen’s Courage gin that is only made at the distillery. That gin could make any gin hater fall in love.  Next up, Five & 20 Spirits, which had both rye and bourbon. I was very surprised that I enjoyed the rye over bourbon which is my favorite thing ever. The Finger Lakes Distilling had their McKenzie Whiskeys and mixed us up some enjoyable Manhattans with it in the back. 

For ciders, I tried the Brooklyn Cider House, Eve’s Cider, and South Hill Cider. They were all good. The South Hill Cider brewery owner Steve Selin explained the consistency of the product and the about how some apple seasons are rough – especially last year. I tried his Pomme Sur Lie which is dry and still, and crisp!

Kings County Brewers Collective © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

When I got to the beer, I went for the Yonkers Brewery and tried a few of their brews that I was not quite familiar with. From there I tried some Kings County Brewers Collectives brews, had Ithaca Beer’s famous flower power IPA. I met great brewers such as Abandon Brewing Co, who was so passionate about his beer and brewed a great Saison– might I add.  I was awfully surprised that one of my last beer was so delicious. It was the Community Beer Works beer, which I was not expecting to like since it was that color brown that I know it isn’t my favorite. It was so crisp and delicious.

Cheese, crackers, and honey © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Amazing NY-based foods were also featured. I had kimachi blueberries, which were delightful. Chobani had yogurt drinks that were Pina Colada flavored. All sorts of cheese were on display from cheese curds to bleu cheese and gouda. Mercer’S Wine Ice Cream paired nicely with the drinks and the product that JUST launched that weekend – totally unique. I was able of sample some of Bruce Cost’s famous ginger ale and Red Jacket Fuji Apple helped us take a break from the rough job of sampling.

I’ve been meaning to travel up to upstate wineries, distilleries, and breweries. This was exactly the little taste that I needed to get me in the car!

Learn more about the Taste of New York visit taste.ny.gov