When you have had a taste of excellence, you cannot return to mediocrity.
Perhaps the most accurate description of my evolution in life. And not just in the life of culinary, and especially in the frame of food festivals. Unlike the New York City Wine and Food Festival (NYCWFF) Grand Tasting of former years, this year relied less on a culinary exploration or a voyage of celebrity stalking. Owing to the fact that a certain Blood Mary inhalation made this boy a rather dazed character.
Nonetheless, I had a few morsels of sumptuous treats and engaging personalities.
Topping the list was a demonstration on pickling leftovers by the gorgeous southern belle and recently engaged Damaris Phillips. Introduced as quirky by Food Network bigwigs, she lived up to her whimsy by clearly taking the stage with her unintentional comic timing, effortless charm and ability to laugh at herself while pickling kale stems.
And she selfied with me!
Equally whimsical was Aarti Sequira of Aarti Party, who made all efforts to talk about her contribution to Oxfam, making it a sheer delight to talk to someone about their family, interests in life, culinary passions and commitment to the community.
Michael Symon was another engaging and entertaining demonstrator, who effortlessly showcased the need for sodium in our diets, bashing supermarket brands while at it. And pointed out a notion that I was particular passionate about: the idea of not excluding whole food groups from your diets and labeling them as allergies. Kudos to teaching overwhelmed food buyers on the rights about nutrition!
Of tastes, I stayed away from most wines, or perhaps their names and flavors pondered away from my Absolut scent, but I did notice some rather seductive packaging on the run.
Desserts being my penultimate love of life, I still had sugar from Dominique Ansel’s Alice themed dessert party in my veins. Nonetheless, I combed through the venue searching for the best sugar infused bites, and found plenty more than former years. Starting with Mike’s Hot Honey infused with chilies to balance out the cloying sweetness with a punch! An absolute heavenly combination with the acidity of balsamic vinegar and sweet pow of strawberry ice cream. And lets not even start with the coffee ginger ice cream combo that is made for marriage with this Mike.
Of toppings, Spoonable offered caramels in a delightful departure from the sumptuous but overdone salted caramel. From dreamy lavender to spicy and butterscotchy, these were the kinds I could not just top over sweets in restraint, but dunk my desserts into for liberal indulgence.
While not into mousses, the Mexico City CDMX mousse had an inviting velvety texture married with the punch of spice. And speaking of texture, the pillow like consistency and density acquired by Nutella brownies was remarkable.
Feeling spicy, I dipped some carbs into Cheeky Monkey’s garlic and tomato oils, a unique and rich alternative to artificially thickened sauces or unforgivably bland dipping oils.
But my true heart swam away with the extra virgin olive oil cookies swimming in a pool of salty dark chocolate ganache. It was truly my type of pool party, made possible by Colavita. And how I swam, relentlessly, effortlessly, and indulgently.