Wednesday, May 24, 2017

9th Ave Food Festival 2017 Part I

Last weekend was the annual 9th Avenue International Food Festival in Hell's Kitchen. We've missed it the past couple of years because of scheduling issues, but made it on both days this year. The first day of the festival was on the cooler side (low 60s following days of summery weather) and a little bit cloudy so even though it was plenty crowded, it wasn't as packed as it could have been which was more pleasant for walking. We walked the entire length of the fair both ways, but most of the food we got on the first day came from the southern part of the festival. After we got to the end and took a short detour to pick some stuff up at Whole Foods, we realized that we weren't really that hungry anymore and that it would be best to leave the other stuff that caught our eye for the next day.

Part of the reason we were probably so full was because our first stop was Daisy May's for BBQ. We've had Daisy May's BBQ several times before (and even went for the World Cup challenge in 2014), so the pulled chicken and mac and cheese weren't anything new but they were quite tasty. We had debated between the pulled chicken and the pulled pork, and in the end chose the chicken. It was drier than the pulled pork usually is, but it wasn't that bad. The sauce, as always with Daisy May's, was very good. It had an excellent balance of sweetness and tanginess to pair with the chicken. The mac and cheese was rich and creamy, and the parts with the crusty, cheese-infused breadcrumb topping were the best. Unfortunately they didn't give us much of it, but we enjoyed what they did give us.

Our next stop as we made our way up the avenue was the Spam house (aka the "Spam Tiny House of Sizzle") which was offering free samples. There was no way we were skipping free stuff, so we got on line not knowing or caring what the samples were. By the time we got to the front, there were three options - Spam fries (which we thought might have been fries topped with Spam but were just griddled Spam cut up into fries), Spam sliders, and Spam musubi. We got one of each of the latter two and split them.

The Spam slider had a thin slice of Spam on a King's Hawaiian roll with some wasabi mayo. The Spam itself was most likely griddled, and it produced a nice caramalization on the meat. Paired with the sweetness of the King's Hawaiian roll and the spicy creaminess of the wasabi mayo, it was our favorite of the two options. The Spam musubi was exactly what we expected it to be. A took the first bite, and he had a little trouble biting through the seaweed wrapper. He thought there wasn't a ton of Spam flavor to this despite the rather large slice of Spam. Also, a lot of the rice seemed undercooked to A, but M didn't seem to have that same issue as it seemed fine to her. She also tasted more Spam flavor but that could be because she ate some of the rice on its own first before eating the entire Spam-rice-seaweed combination together.

Next up we stopped at A-Pou's Taste, a street cart we've visited before on the Upper West Side but hadn't seen in a while. They specialize in Taiwanese-style potstickers, and we had always found them tasty in the past. This time we got an order of five pork potstickers which were covered in hot sauce and soy sauce. We really liked these potstickers, and they were just as good as we remembered them being before. This wasn't too surprising as they basically brought their regular cart out to the event.

By far, the busiest block of the entire festival was the one taken up by the Big Bite Tour. A bunch of promotional tents giving out samples, and obviously there was going to be a crowd. Free stuff! There were samples of Mentos gum, Nestea iced tea, Blue Diamond almonds, Wholey Cheese crackers (which we were so excited to see as we had recently tried them for the first time, but that's for another post), Allegra (also extremely exciting and money-saving for us), and Turkey Hill ice cream, which ended up being the last thing we ate from the festival.

Without planning it, we got two different flavors of ice cream - vanilla bean and salted caramel. The vanilla ice cream was good. You could see the vanilla beans mixed into the ice cream itself, and that always makes a huge difference when comparing vanilla ice creams. A thought the salted caramel was just okay. It seemed more caramel and less salted, but in the end the overwhelming flavor in his mind was just sweet. M's not a huge fan of salted caramel, so she didn't feel like trying it, especially if A wasn't raving about how good it was.

We enjoyed our time at the festival other than having to dodge oblivious and/or inconsiderate people in the crowds. The one thing we did notice on the walk though was the absence of one of the vendors we had always looked forward to - Millie's Pierogi. No idea when they stopped coming since we've missed the festival for a couple of years, but we always stopped by their stand. Guess we'll have to look for them in Massachusetts to get our fix.

1 comment:

  1. The executive chef here was a genuinely nice person and never made us feel like we were just "business" for him. He was extremely competent and organized. Because of the natural beauty of the venue New York, we were able to get away with very minimal decorations.