Review: The Third Annual Charcuterie Masters at the Flushing Town Hall

Cover image: Il Porcellino Coppa cured ham © WhereNYC

As someone who recently started eating meat after being vegan for the past six and a half years, it’s easy to say that the craft of charcuterie was relatively foreign to me. Meat has always, for a lack of a better word, scared me. I still can’t bring myself to touch raw meat and more often than not, I will let my partner take over the cooking in that case. Aside from aesthetics, the meat industriously has often left me questioning: what am I consuming and where is it coming from?

New York’s own Le District serving savory samples. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC.

My knowledge of charcuterie and palate has expanded immensely. I tried liverwurst and even blood pudding for the first time, as well as witnessed first hand (from a live demonstration with Chef Rodrigo Duarte) the importance and care that goes into butchering the animal.

˝Despite having consumed more artisanal meat in the span of four hours than I have in my entire life (and enjoyed every smoky and seasoned minute of it) this retired vegan has a new appreciation for not only the consumption of meat, but also more importantly, the handling.

Chef Durant giving a demo on the infamous Flushing Town Hall stage. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC.

 

 

Some of the countries best in charcuterie were seen last Saturday [February 24, 2018]

at the historic Flushing Town Hall in Queens. Home to some of Jazz’s greatest legends, like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong [just to name a few], the event had an immediately welcoming atmosphere that felt oddly nostalgic despite the fact that this was a place and a world I didn’t know much about.

Too delicious to wait for a photo. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

“The hallmark of [Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts] (FCCA)’s current programming is a cross-cultural focus: works that fuse or bridge different cultures, as well as larger programs that bring together presentations of art forms from different parts of the world…”

˝With a fitting space to compliment the event, like the cheese and wine to the evening’s main course, 60 different charcuterie products were selected out of 98 applicants from all over the US and Canada. From Peter McChesney’s espresso salumi, to Will Horowitz’s fermented and seasoned radishes dipped in a mushroom sauce, there wasn’t a corner of the room that wasn’t filled with creativity and care.

Chef Horowitz’s fermented radishes. ©Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC.

“We want to recognize everybody who entered…we realize that there was a lot of work, money and time that went into all of these products. And it’s obvious that all of the contestants care about the subject matter. That means we care about you too,” said judge Chef Brian Polcyn, co-author of Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.

Guests sampled the contestant’s charcuterie and participated in a People Choice Award, with the overwhelming task, of selecting their favorite table. Doug Kelles aka “The Bacon Guru” was the crowd pleaser and the Grand Champion of Charcuterie Masters was Bill Miner, Chef and owner of ll Porcellino salumi. His wagyu beef bresaola alongside the thinly sliced coppa, proved the attentive skill required to “wear the crown.”

The winning table giving out samples. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC.

“I’m completely blown away. This is a dream. We’ve only been in business for two-and-a-half years, so we’re really brand new at doing this. It’s humbling to be among the best of the best in the country,” Miner said.

With plans to open a wholesale facility next month and sell nationwide by the summer, Chef Miner bases their success off of hard work and “using the best quality animal for the best quality finished product.”

Regardless of my dietary preferences in both the past and the present, the statement resonated with an underlying principle: transparency; a word that felt universal between the participants and judges.

Brooklyn Cider House serving patrons. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

“Charcuterie is a very important part of modern American cooking; it’s not a modern craft…Our costumers want to know where their food comes from… it’s a craft that needs to be cracked, it’s a craft that needs to be developed, it’s a craft that is learned. And it’s a pleasure to see how thing have changed,” said Chef Polcyn before awarding the winners in front of an enthusiastic and wildly supportive crowd.

Eager crowd sampling the charcuterie before the announcement of the winners. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

“It’s a nice community,” Miner said,” It’s not a bunch of egos. Everyone’s [here] to help each other.”

Whether you were there for the Black Label Donuts made from banana, pecans, miso and bacon (lots and lots of bacon); the Brooklyn Cider House’s simplistically perfect “apple only” cider, or just the appreciation of well cured meats, it was hard to leave without feeling apart of the camaraderie. I certainly don’t plan on showcasing my “talents” any time soon, but will say I do feel a little more at ease with the idea of approaching meat in my kitchen. I might even season it myself next time.

Guest enjoying a Black Label Donut.  © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC.

For more information on upcoming foodie events, visit: https://www.nyepicureanevents.com.

Review: Edible Magazine’s Food Loves Tech Expo 2017

Cover image © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

Panel discussions included “What’s Old is New” in the food industry. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

Foodies, inventors, and entrepreneurs alike gathered November 3rd and 4th for Edible Magazine’s Food Loves Tech (FLT) expo at Brooklyn’s Industry City. Over a hundred different exhibitors were featured throughout the event, showcasing groundbreaking technologies in and around the food industry, as well as educational entertainment concerning important issues around food supply.

Guests enjoy alcoholic drinks and well as non-alcohol drink with @CuriousElixirs.© Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

From selfies printed onto whipped cream foam, to suppliers of locally sourced produce, FLT proved that the advances that are being made in the industry can and should be accessible to everyone.

Located on the waterfront of Sunset Park,Industry City’s innovative location, bringing together industrial architecture with chic, modern amenities, was a perfectly suited environment for the nature of the events.

Crowds of people gathered around the KabaQ 3D Food table in anticipation of seeing the augmented reality cookie come to life. It was hard to get a sample at the popular Oatly booth this year, serving oat based milk and quirky packaging. The genuine excitement and intrigue of both the vendors and the guest was overwhelming and intoxicating. Each table offered something new to learn and experience. With reluctance, I even tried cricket granola for the first time, from Seek Food, and it was delicious.

Not only did the expo provide an insight into the unimaginable capabilities of food, but it also emphasized a major theme: the basic fundamentals of food being apart of everyone’s future.

“[FLT] unites food and drink innovators,thought-leaders and enthusiasts to experience the future of food and drink,” (foodlovestech.com).

Oatly booth @FoodLovesTech. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

Standing alongside reputable companies like Gotham Greens, establishing urban farms since 2009, were first year businesses, ready to take localized produce and make worldly changes. A notable entrepreneur was 17-year-old Priya Mittal. Mittal’s business, GroGreen Tech, supplies unwanted or “ugly” produce, that is often wasted, to businesses and people who can repurpose them. Even her business card, which can be planted into a basil plant, doesn’t go to waste.

Packed crowd at FoodLovesTech. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

Normalizing modernized eating and farming are the primary goals for a lot of these businesses, especially for food delivery services, such as HelloFresh, and alternative greenhouses, like AeroFarms.

“I’m really excited about people adopting [HelloFresh] as a lifestyle change where they are able to learn from us… implementing it into their daily routine,” said HelloFresh’s Sales Manager, Andrew Lombardi.

Convenience is no longer the sole priority when it comes to the innovation aspect of the consumer. The future doesn’t inherently imply futuristic. The revolution, however, is a result of the habits being made from how we choose to take part in the food industry.

“[Here] we are able to tell our story. We are able to be very transparent with how we do things and why we believe it’s the right thing to do,” said Julie Qiu, Marketing Director for Australis BarramundiThe Sustainable Seabass. Aiming to enlightening their consumers, Australis Barramundi provides insight into the vast world of seafood and “climate-smart ocean farming.”

Priya Mittal, Founder and CEO of GroGreen Tech. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

A common word that came up for entrepreneurs, concerning products getting into the hands of the consumers, was transparency. What is old is in fact new again, and in the eyes of this years innovators, the “fad” of going organic and green isn’t just appealing; it is necessary.

It seems so painfully obvious, and perhaps even ironic that the food industry in America has gotten to the point of us needing to backtrack in order to make a better future. Food Loves Tech is not just an event establishing the compatibility between food and technology, however expansive and cohesive. FLT strives towards food and technology loving the environment and leaves everyone to question, if everyone made these changes, what would the future look like?

For more information on upcoming events, visit Food Loves Tech.

Review: Eurocircle Annual White Party at the Ganesvoort Park Rooftop, July 25, 2017

Cover image: © Mike Bas for Eurocircle

View from the rooftop of the Gansevoort Park Hotel. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

Meeting people in the city can be daunting, especially when options are often limited to an app or a poorly lit bar with a sticky flooring. But, if you’re new to the New York area or even to the country, that task can feel even more isolating in an already unfamiliar place.

Last Tuesday night, July 25th, the congested summer air of the city decided to take a break and cool the evening for Eurocircle’s Annual White Party on the rooftop of Gansevoort  Park Rooftop.

© Mike Das for Eurocircle

People gathered the venue dressed head-to-toe in all white attire, including a wide range of creative accessories. From fedoras, fascinators, and even fluorescent lights, partygoers sported some really outrageous  were decorated and fully committed to the festivities.

Eurocircle’s other events the Masquerade Ball at the Empire © WhereNYC

Eurocircle, founded in 1999, is a global community for individuals to network and meet up with Europeans, expats, and other travelers in their city. Groups currently reside in 48 major cities around the world, and their circle is continuously growing. Annual trips are organized for members, as well as wine tastings, concerts, and other exciting excursions. Currently, they are planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand later this year.

“It’s all about having fun…Come with us and mingle for a night with Europeans and Europhiles,” the Eurocircle website states. “Moving in the right circles!”

Dressed in whites © Mike Das for Eurocircle

Despite the allure of the evening, and the exclusivity of being apart of “a free for members only” event, there was a crowded sense of being constantly observed, of people guessing ethnicities and backgrounds. Even though Eurocircle offers an opportunity to meet people in a new environment, there is an apparent awareness that European people are the obsession amongst everyone’s narrative. If you aren’t European you love European people, is the understanding. Additionally, even though anyone can become a member of Eurocircle, there is a price tag for certain events.

Admittedly, I am neither European nor am I particular about associating within specific circles, so the recognition that this party was not meant for me, a 26-year-old graduate student from California, is very apparent. Both the bar and the outdoor spaces were overly compacted with people ranging from their late thirties and older, perhaps a bracket of people that is slightly out of reach in relatability to my preferred dollar beers and interpretive millennial dance moves. The ambience was hard to appreciate when trying to get past the poorly executed bar. The drink special for the night was $10 Absolute drinks, but these were difficult to acquire unless you were willing to wait.

Crowded bar at Eurocircle event. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

I took my $15 cocktail, in a deceiving four ounce glass, out to the terrace. I enjoyed the views of the lights overlooking Park Avenue and appreciated the structure of the evening, regardless of being squished up against a bench that already had too many people. I watched the newest members meandering to different countries around the bar until they found new friends they were comfortable connecting with.
Meeting people as an adult is difficult, and having outlets to do so is relieving in a city that can be overwhelming for anyone. If you are interested in connecting with Europeans all over the world and participating in the events that are available, check out Eurocircle, and become a member for free.

Review: The Rubin Museum of Art’s 2017 Block Party and Sound of the Street

Cover image: Crowd at Kirtan with the Bhakti Center. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

Inside The World of Sound. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

When first walking into The Rubin Museum of Art to enter the newest exhibition, The World Is Sound, visitors are immediately asked to take part in the imagination of sound. Before entering the elevator onto the sixth floor, one question establishes our expectations for the exhibit: What is the first sound you remember?

An odd sense of nostalgia overcame me as I tried to search for my own personal answer to that question, an answer that I wasn’t sure I could articulate as definite. How does one remember sound when they have no concept of what those sounds mean?

When thinking about my experience, it wasn’t something I instinctually heard, but rather something seen and felt. The soothing vibrations of my mother’s voice as I fell asleep on her chest, the light from under the doorframe flickering to the footsteps and muffled hums of voices outside, while I curiously listened from a crib in a dark room.

Tibetan Community of NY/NJ © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

The World Is Sound asks us to interact with sound as a universal, multisensory experience. Touching the walls of the gallery to listen to mantras sung by monks visitors got lost in the chanting of the collective Om in an immersive sound installation room. Tibetan culture colored the rituals of sound while a scientific explanation behind resonant sound in our universe, maintained a tangible understanding of it. The exhibit itself poses a new question when leaving: What is the lasting effect or sound of the universe’s creation?

The exhibit was the perfect foundation for entering the annual block party, Sounds of the Street, which took place in front of the museum last Sunday, July 16th.
From the tranquil submersion of the sounds inside the museum to the energetic vibe of the streets, a universal vibration carried over. Children made their own music with pots and pans while artists on the sidewalks drew the sounds they were making.

Learning new instruments.© Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

Visitors of all ages and backgrounds enjoyed both exhibit and block party, thanks to the interactive nature of the event including various craft tables, meant to appeal to both children and adults.

Participants made art pieces from bubbles and constructed their own instruments from ordinary appliances. That inclusiveness was even available at the food trucks, like Van Leeuwen artisan ice cream, serving both classic and vegan options. Various flavors of food were available like Korilla Korean BBQ as well as the museum’s Café Serai dishing up Himalayan specialties along with wine and beer.

Beef and kimchi tacos from Korilla.© Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

The day was full with plenty of food and constant entertainment. Performances by The Blue Angels Drumline and girls from the Tibetan Community of NY/NJ, kept the crowd actively listening during the event. Meditation spaces were available along with a silent disco booth, providing individuals with isolation amongst the street.

In the final unifying moments of the event, a kirtan concert with the Bhakti Center perfectly emphasized the purpose of participating in sound.
“A kirtan is never performed alone,” Bhakti Center told the crowd as they collectively reached towards the sky, thanking the street and New York City for the constant vibrations of the day.

Live art painting on stage © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

Regardless of belief or perspective in one’s awareness of listening, many understood that sounds are most certainly felt by all.

For more information on exhibits and upcoming events, please visit the Rubin Museum of Art.