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

 

Review: French Tuesdays “Up In the Air” at Lovage Rooftop May 9, 2017

Lovage

French Tuesdays Lovage Rooftop © Daniel Serrette

It was like entering an airplane about to embark on the swankiest flight. Bouncers standing at the elevator, which was decorated with luggage, flight attendants greeting beautiful guests while walking around and enjoying the 360º glass-in lounge at Lovage Rooftop NYC. Yes, this was not your average party but a French Tuesdays’ bash.  Have you ever heard of French Tuesdays? Neither had I. Since its inception almost 15 years ago, it is become social getaway from a boring work week. It has opened chapters in most major U.S. cities as well as abroad in Singapore, London, and of course Paris, providing the Y generation with a fun, empowering social event, while appearing in the city’s most beautiful venues. It began in 2003 with a small group of people, including the three-piece suit sporting Pierre Battu, a native of France, and friends in New York who desired a more sophisticated alternative to the nightlife options available. Its aim was to bring a little decadent French fun to New York’s party scene, yet today it boasts over 15,000 members worldwide.

Lucky winners of a trip to Paris. Photo Credits: Daniel Serrette

Tonight’s party started at 7:30pm and went through till midnight. Every element had the theatre including sparklers glittering over a bottle of champagne for groups celebrating friends’ birthdays. Photographers scurried the the room with cameras while guests made their way to the dance floor. Was this a work event or was this a club, I kept asking myself. A bit of both perhaps but all the more fun. 

Our evening’s sponsors included Paris-based XL Airways who raffled a free trip to Paris — full disclosure I did not win, but instead, opted for the endless cocktail supply of Pink Palomas, L’Orange Gin Fizzes, and Cope Perriers, courtesy of Perrier. For the high rollers and larger groups, however, bottle service was available from $110 a pop.

The beautiful people. Photo Credits: Daniel Serrette

As I mixed and mingled with the beautiful people in dresses and coats (yes they’re formal), I learned more about French Tuesdays and the extent to how it has expanded into a classy social-networking phenomenon and lifestyle brand, offering contemporary men and women an entrée to a network of successful individuals and a world of couture nightlife and entertainment. Each party has a different theme, including the Bordeaux wine-tasting at Splashlight studios, the Paris-themed event at Avenue Bar and the still-buzzing 14th anniversary party, at Zuma.   

So what kind of people did I meet? Lawyers, Mutual fund people, artists, publicists… to name a few. They were all very fun, looking to make connections, and having a good time after a dull day at the office.

For more information on upcoming events or membership, please visit French Tuesdays.

Review: Mezcal and the Taste of Oaxaca at MOFAD, May 4, 2017

Mezcal and the Taste of Oaxaca was hosted at MOFAD on May 4th

Cover image: Mezcal Creyente with oranges © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Some like it smokey, while others like it florally, but undeniably, Mezcal is the rising new hot spirit trend on this side of the border. The Museum of Food and Drink, better known as MOFAD, recognizes the importance of this popular spirit. On Thursday, May 4th, MOFAD along with the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York hosted Mezcal and the Taste of Oaxaca, on the first installment of the Spring Spirit Series with speaker Danny Mena who educated the crowd on Mezcal just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

 

Danny Mena the executive chef of New York City’s Hecho en Dumbo

Danny Mena, the executive chef of New York City’s Hecho en Dumbo and the speaker of the night, wowed the crowd with his extensive research on Mexican food. He’s been hailed as one of New York City’s top Mexican chefs and he proved to the audience why. Did you know that Mezcal is considered Moonshine!? That’s how it began. It hails from the agave plant, just like its cousin tequila. There are different types of mezcal including artisanal and traditional, and our guide Danny explained the origins and the processes of this delicious spirit.

Mezcales de Leyenda Guerrerol and illegal the alcohol itself usually has 35-55% alcohol. Danny mentioned that whiskey drinkers are more likely to enjoy Mezcal than a tequila drinker, which tends to gravitate to vodka… Who would have thought?

 

As avid tequila and mezcal drinkers believe there is an agave shortage. Danny quickly challenged  this by pointing to the fact that recently massive amounts of agave have been planted for harvesting later. Ironically, the amount of agave will become so great, according to him, that we will see farmers planting more corn. Simple supply and demand. 

Okay, so time for the fun part — TASTING!  There were three unique mezcal brands, each one carrying a different flavor. First was Mezcales de Leyenda table, which offered two different expressions of Mezcal: smoky and fruity. Both were smooth but were entirely different in terms of flavor and region of origin.

The tasting also included Mezcal Creyente, which is paired traditionally with oranges. Everyone at the table had a choice of four different types of worm salt to dip their oranges in. The group was instructed to have a shot of  tequila and then eat their orange covered with salt. I preferred the spicier salt myself.

Mezcal Creteyes wasn’t the only one featuring oranges with tasting salt. Merci Mercado also had a table of a variety of different salts with oranges for tasting. Yum!

Casa Mezcal provided the artisanal los amantes mezcals © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Casa Mezcal provided the artisanal Los Amantes Mezcals: Joven and Anejo.  The Joven had fruit tones and mildly smoked with citrus and sweet flavors that were slightly metallic and herbaceous. The Anejo had wood scents, aromas, and tastes of vanilla, coffee, caramel, and floral. Translation: They were very good. There were antojitos to eat from Casa Mezcal, including sopes with bugs on top. No worries – there were shrimp ones too for people not as adventurous, but both were equally delicious!

Merci Mercado also had a table of a variety of different salts with oranges © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Prior to the presentation, the reception area was open to ticket holders to taste the different Mezcals also. As they say… the early one catches the worm!

This was the first of MOFAD’s spring cocktail programs. If you missed it, there’s The Vodka Contract about the fascinating story of Polish vodka came to the U.S. which sounds just as yummy as the Mezcal. 

Oranges... yum! © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Oranges… yum! © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Review: A Night at the Opera – “Mistaken Identities” at the Greene Space April 17, 2017

Cover image: Driscoll and Constanzo at the Greene Space © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC
What do clay sculptures, a James Beard award-winning chef, and some of the most amazing voices in opera have in common? Usually absolutely nothing, but this Monday night an eclectic group of artists all came out to Greene Space at WQXR and WNYC to put on an absolutely one of a kind performance called 
Mistaken Identities, which is the first of three installments of The Opera Party series. These well-known and recognizable names in the New York art scene came out to entertain.

Davóne Tines wearing a Donald Trump mask © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

The very talented and hysterical Met Opera Star Anthony Roth Costanzo, a well-renowned countertenor (a man who sings like a girl for you non-opera readers), hosted this opera shindig with co-host with the F. Paul Driscoll, Editor-In-Chief of Opera News, where they explored reinvention and alternate reality in opera and art. provide that anything was possible during the duration of an hour. Anthony held court and you didn’t need to be a major opera buff to fully get a chuckle.

Costanzo interviewed some of his fellow actors and directors asking them the hard-hitting questions

At one point one bass-baritone Davóne Tines performed a lullaby before his interview. He adored a homemade Donald Trump mask while singing and cutting an apple with a knife… Obviously political but it was also an intriguing symbolism for the audience to figure out.

Greene Space Opera Party

Doug Fitch’s trojan clay turkey © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

In between performances, the food was served from the clay turkeys made by Doug Fitch. Audience members used small mallets to open it inside to find peanuts shells filled with marshmallows and muscles with caramels. Odd no? Costanzo mentioned the statues and the peanuts were not what they seem –just like opera… This was one of many surprises. Also James Beard Award-winning chef Patrick Connolly from the Brooklyn restaurant Rider who put together deceptive food like turnips shaped like scallops… They were delicious.

Nothing is what it seems © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

The grand finale of the party was an interview with F. Paul Driscoll. At the end of the interview, Driscoll stayed on stage while Costanzo disappeared from the stage and reappears in a class radio booth behind the audience singing and opera.  Driscoll interpreted the motions of Costanzo’s hand gestures as the contender use his hands to show the emotions of being “cold” to “showing off his manicure’.

Mistaken Identities was loveable, contemporary and flat-out just funny. Fans of opera and comedy will simply love this. Not an opera connoisseur? That’s okay! The performances are designed for anyone to understand and admire these true artists.

Missed this performance? Have no fear! There will be another performance on Monday, May 15, 2017, and Thursday, June 22 at 7 pm.

The second installment, “Secrets of the Opera” on May 15th, the audience will find out everything from backstage gossip to onstage disasters. Revel in the splendor of Met Opera star Ailyn Perez and amuse bouches by chef Antoine Westermann of Le Coq Rico. Co-hosted by writer, storyteller, and performer Justin Sayre. Lastly, the third and final installment “Pride Without Prejudice” on June 22, WQXR will celebrate NYC Pride Week. The event will feature performances by cabaret artist Justin Vivian Bond and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, a surreal confection by cake-maker Elizabeth Hodes, and enticing opportunities to show off just how much pride you feel.

Tickets are $30 per event and are available at thegreenespace.org