The one thing you’re going to hear about this year’s Meatopia is that people waited in long lines and the food ran out. Pish posh. For the record, the people making these protestations didn’t get there until after 1:00.
I learned this lesson at the Taste of Williamsburg. I figured that I could play stickball in the morning and get to the Taste a few hours before it officially closed and I’d be fine. This is not the case. You can’t expect there to be food when you wake up at noon after getting in at 5AM the night before. You especially can’t expect the food that you saw on the program and were totally pumped about to be there, because the rest of the people saw the same shit and headed for that tent first.
Here are the things that were different about my experience.
* I was there at 10:30, an hour before it opened.
* I was slinging my business card and schmoozing like crazy (I didn’t get any special line-cutting freebies, FYI).
* I had food starting at 11:15, still before they were officially open.
* I was past full before I ever had to wait in a line.
* I left to watch the World Cup on the 2:00 ferry
The people whining about the event just don’t know how to rock food events. If you want my food festival tips, scroll down to the bottom of the post.
When we got there, we started having conversations with everyone. The people we (me and @josespiano – thank you for the pictures, Jose!) hung out with the longest were Amanda and Robert from The Harrison. They were awesome.
The bone is in my mouth in the first pic. You can tell how much I was enjoying it by how carelessly I devoured that shit. This was the biggest hunk of meat you could get today. Here’s a better shot of Amanda and the lamb:
And here’s the MLT (mutton, lettuce, and tomato) from Resto:
This was the first bite of the day. I wasn’t wowed, but it was good. I probably could have done this Atkins-style and enjoyed it more … maybe a crispy mutton with some fried onions and blue cheese a la steak salad? Think about it and get back to me, Resto.
Here’s the lamb that won (the Whole Roasted Lamb from Boqueria). I didn’t try it because I was all sheeped out:
Looks solid, though. I missed out big time. I should have remembered how awesome it looked when I was filming.
This was my favorite bite of the day:
Country Style Pork Ribs with Tomatillo Salsa from Abe and Arthur’s. I could have had another five of these. I don’t know why Jose and I split this – it was amazing. They deservedly won the pork showdown.
Next up, Joey Campanaro of The Little Owl and the Rosemary Ribeye on Focaccia (my name, not his):
Lurved it. Joey invited me around for a smell of the warming roast before the show started. Simple and intoxicating. Doesn’t take too much to understand why Joey is on the verge of running this town.
Next was the Grilled Skirt Steak Hoagies, Chimichurri & Roasted Corn from Michael Lomanaco and Porter House New York.
It’s on the bar menu. I don’t have a shot that shows how well this was cooked to temperature, but it was just about perfect. Michael’s a prince.
One thing I forgot to get was a meatball from The Meatball Shop. We talked to the guys for ten minutes before the event, but I was on a food break when I swung down to their end again (they got stuck in the far corner).
I’ve met Noah from Mile End four times and I’m not convinced he remembers who I am. The one thing I was most excited about trying was their Smoked Meat. I got up to the table and said “OK … Is it as good as Schwartz’s?” When they started saying things like “it’s different … we’re not trying to be Schwartz’s … it’s a whole different animal,” I got ready to be underwhelmed.
Jose said that it wasn’t their strongest performance. I haven’t had it in their location, but I was disappointed with it. I might have unrealistic expectations of a place that opened within the last year trying to stack up to a Montreal institution, and it was also competing with my fond memories of the experience, so I am going to reserve final judgment for when I try it in the store.
I heard from multiple sources that the chef from Smokin’ Joe’s was doing everything himself at the table. I waited in line for a few minutes until I came to the conclusion that this was BS and the line was artificial. I never tried it, but the guy at Fuggedaboutit (I just said tit) right next to him had no line, his sandwich looked way better, and he won an award. I didn’t get a bite of that one. Stupid.
On the other hand, The Honey-Glazed Baby Back Ribs from The Hurricane Club were the sexiest looking thing on the menu that day:
They were great, but they looked better than they tasted (look at the fried lotus – that’s sexy). It’s a nice coming-out party for this resto. Definitely going to have to try it soon. And that was my last bite before the World Cup.
And now for The Wandering Foodie’s Tips for Successful Food Event-Going:
1. Get there early – I’m going to the Flatiron Chefs event tonight. It’s supposed to be fucking pouring. I’m going to get there at 4:30, and the event starts at 5:30. I’ll talk to all the chefs, figure out what’s going to be good, what I can miss if I don’t have the stomach for it, and what I must have. I probably won’t have any problem getting food because of the weather, but if it was a beautiful summer night, it might be different
2. Get in before the crowds get in – Every single food event I’ve been to starts before Joe Schmo wants to arrive. Meatopia started at 11:30 on an island no one lives on. To get there when it started, you had to be in the Financial District (another place no one lives) by 11:00, which meant you had to be awake by 10 at the latest to roll out of bed, get ready, and train or cab down to Pier 11. I can’t name five brunch spots in Manhattan that open before 10.
3. The good food is going to run out, so be there before it does – See a pattern here? Seriously, food will run out at every food event ever, unless it’s outside and the weather sucks.
The bottom line is that if you care about food, make sure you’re there before it’s gone or you have to wait an eon to get it.
New York, NY