$10 dollars for a night of all-you-can-eat (and drink) goodies from New York's finest food purveyors is a young and hungry girl's dream. Wednesday night, Edible Manhattan threw a launch party that was everything I hoped for and more—it was an NYC foodie paradise, a glorified street fair chock full of the city's best. Bringing together well-known and anonymous serious eaters alike and stuffing them with smoked salmon, fresh bufala mozzarella, oysters, donuts, chocolate, pulled pork, charcuterie, wine, and more—Edible Manhattan sure knows how to throw a party.
Downtown at the Fulton Stalls and cobbled streets of the South Street Seaport, it was one of the first nights that felt like autumn had truly arrived. The air was a bit nippy, the scarves were out, and the sidewalk was lined with what I'd like to call "Gotham's urban bounty". At the entrance, where ten dollars got you a yellow tie around your wrist and admission to the night's spread, the first stop was fresh mozzarella from Hoboken Farms. The generous serve-yourself stand was the first sign that eaters would not be going home hungry. With seemingly endless platters of mozzarella slabs and Balthazar baguettes, I could have stood there all night.
Though my empty stomach wanted me to stay and make Hoboken Farms my dinner for the evening, I soon meandered onto quick cup of cider from Stone Ridge Orchards and even more little cups at Downtown Kitchen, where fruity salsa, guacamole, tabouli, and chickpeas were served up with pita chips and a gigantic basket of fried plantain chips. Even when I looped back around at the end of the night, the basket, magically, still seemed brimming.
From plantain to potato chips, next up was Katchkie Farms with their tomato basil soup, pickles, basil peppermint iced tea, and spicy ketchup with chips. Coming from upstate, I always feel little pings of happiness at farmer's markets when my non-city roots are representing.
Edible wouldn't feed us all that food without giving us something to wash it all down with too, so there were also many wineries represented along with some fizzy options like Fizzy Lizzy's sodas and Kelso's brews (a sponsor of the Great Hot Dog Cookoff, I'm a big Kelso fan). Rounding the corner at Beekman Street brings you to the "Moveable Feast Central" where the real stomach-expansion challenge began. Vere Chocolate, the "official chocolate of Edible Manhattan" was not only serving plates of chocolate goodies, like chocolate covered mint+nibs brownies, sweet-tooths even got bars to bring home.
If I had to make a list of my top three stops of the night, Murray's Cheese was an undeniable contender. Nothing excites me more than a bounty of cheese and charcuterie. It was almost overwhelming trying to navigate the array of cheeses, from the gooey and ripe to the blue and veiny—but, maybe my biggest problem was trying to fit it all on my tiny cocktail napkin while juggling the prosciutto and the cheese straws, too.
Unabashedly wiping my donut crumbed and rib sauced hands on my work clothes, I walked under a banner that read "Oysters & Manhattans" and through doors that led to a decidedly fancier niche of the epicurean street fair. A trio of young string musicians served as background music to Manhattans from the Woodford Reserve and rapid-fire oyster shucking out back. Though some of the oysters may have had some shell bits stuck to them, the shuckers were working as fast as possible to keep up with the quickly growing line, which was no easy feat when your work is lit by dim Christmas lights.
The legendary Russ & Daughters had a beautiful spread of smoked salmon and mini bagels, each one dotted with exactly two caper berries. At this point, staring at the pink rounds that filled the table, I could barely contain my glee. My roommate, Joe, who came with me and patiently held the food while I took photos (he now has a budding career in food-hand modeling), must have heard me blabber "this is the best thing ever" too many times to count.
I may have uttered those words the most when I got to the pork hub of my heart at Heritage Foods U.S.A. I stood there happily with a rib in my palm, the meat falling apart all over the flimsy napkin that could barely contain its contents.
Yet, maybe even better was the spoonful of pulled pork topped with horseradish cream. The spoon was a tease—after that one bite I realized this world needs bigger spoons. Much bigger. It's times like these, seduced by pork butt, when I realize again and again why I could never go vegetarian.
Sure, there was a ton of food there that night. There were seriously delicious donuts from the Doughnut Plant, olive oil tastings down the block at Stonehouse Olive Oil, seafood risotto from Il Brigante, and even Vinny Vincenz showed up in a mobile pizza truck. I had a fun time spotting food lovers and advocates like Josh Ozersky and Marion Nestle, and even running into Serious Eats' own Erin Zimmer and another Williams grad who knew just about everyone who was in attendance. But what made the night truly great was being surrounded by people who are as passionate about food as you are. From the purveyors to the eaters, they are people who understand that food has a way of defining and enriching our lives and relationships with each other and the earth in only the best of ways. Serious eaters, this was New York at its best.
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