Thursday, September 23, 2010

Basis Good Food Festival

Late update... blame it on work! I went market hopping last weekend- well, more accurately, market and festival hopping- and noshed all day long. Admittedly, snacking is the fun part of food blogging- after all, someone has to report back on these goodies!

My pal and I started off at the Hester Street Market, a relative newcomer to the city's weekend street markets. You'll find handmade jewelry, clothing, kids toys, and of course, belly-fillers. I enjoyed a tasty cuppa joe from Dora's, also a relative newcomer to the Chinatown/Lower East Side gourmet scene.

Maybe it was the hot coffee, but I then found myself seduced by the spicy scent of chai ice cream from Guerrilla Ice Cream. If you've never heard of Guerrilla Ice Cream or their sweet lemon-poppy or strong chai tea flavors, I'll give you one important reason why you should know about them- 100% of their profits go to marginalized populations in New York and around the world. That, and their chai ice cream was low on sugar, but big on cinnamon and clove flavor. Less sweet, more spicy- my kinda dessert!

Guerrilla Ice Cream was a clear hit... but a clear miss was the flavorless veggie empanada from La Sonrisa. I give them credit for offering a veggie option amidst chicken, beef, and pork empanadas, and you could probably do worse with frozen veggies (seriously, I know frozen mixed veggies when I see 'em!), but with no seasonings or flavor, this was one bland veggie empanada.

Ah well, probably a sign it was time to leave anyway. Hester Street Market has a lot of potential, so I'll be sure to check back there in a few Saturdays!

From Hester Street, we walked up to the Basis Good Food Festival in the Meatpacking District, where I found "fashionably late" can work for you and against you at a food tasting. Case in point: the Basis Festival offered up tastings from a variety of restaurants touting locally based ingredients from noon to 4pm... but having arrived at 3pm (okay, maybe this is a bit beyond "fashionably late"), many of the participants' stalls, like Colicchio & Sons, Ample Hills Creamery, and Minetta Tavern, were packing up for the day.

But, on the positive side, the vendors still standing were trying to get rid of the last of their samples, and so arriving at the end of the day resulted in free food! Yes, this is mooching, but really, paying $25 for 5 small tastes of food (and not all stalls offered veggie options) seemed silly at 3pm... but since it does go to a good cause, I can always donate online.

Though none of my samples were particularly creative, I sure was satisfied! (maybe this goes hand-in-hand with free food?) My first sample was a tasty salad of marinated beets with fresh goat cheese... and surprisingly, it wasn't from a farm stand, but from the Dirty Bird To-Go stand. I knew participant Dinosaur BBQ would bring something non-vegetarian, but for a chicken place to bring beets as a sampler? Kudos!

Next up with something veggie to eat was Counter- as to be expected! I enjoyed black eggplant caponata crostini- juicy, hearty, and delicious! I still have not eaten at Counter, and the crostini was a gentle reminder that I needed to change that fact. The Farm on Adderley also offered an eggplant crostini, with charred eggplant... and you know my feelings for grilled veggies. Yum!

I needed a break from eggplant, and I was disappointed that I missed the Mushroom Shepherd's pie from Scottish gastropub The Highlands- I had assumed there would not be anything veggie there either, but in these situations, I love being proven wrong. To all participants at the Good Food Festival- keep the veggie options coming!

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