[Free stuff by Wilfrid: March 16, 2015]
Last week, the Javits Center played host, as it does annually, to the people who sell restaurant equipment, gadgets, technology, and ideas, and the people who want to buy that stuff.
Fortunately (or not) some of the ideas come in comestible form: foods looking for love, beverages looking for distributors, that kind of thing.
It's a chaotic plunge, of course, back and forth across the conference floor, so all I have for you are glimpses of some of the products I liked (or which made me laugh). I did get a respite, though, sitting in on a discussion about restaurant reviewing, moderated by Emily Peterson of the Heritage Radio Network, and featuring the Observer's Joshua David Stein, and a tame restaurateur (oh, he'll like that), Keith Beavers.
Stein made one announcement I found startling. He's become a vegetarian, which means he'll be focusing on vegetable-first restaurants and dishes (although he'll eat meat for the job if necessary). He must have overlooked Grimod de La Reynière's dictum that a gourmand's first duty it to sample everything.
I spoke with Beavers afterwards. He's the owner of In Vino on East 4th Street, which I'd always thought of as an Italian wine bar; after some changes in partnership, he's driving it in a full-service restaurant direction. I duly put it back on my list.
Snacks? Yeah, much like last year, about the best thing to be eaten was a sliver of dark, velvety Mangalica ham, cut from the bone. Looks like I got there just in time.
A big hello to Davy Johnson of D'Artagnan, by the way. We started talking about wood pigeons, and through the magic of conversation discovered that Davy cooked the Fergus Henderson nose-to-tail dinner at Savoy which I attended a few years ago.
And there we sliders from Master Purveyors, and vast quantities of cheese everywhere. Not necessarily the greatest cheese, but cheese, although why people seem to be competing to make cheese as spicy as possible--using chilis or wasabi, for example--beats me. Maybe it's good for melting, for Juicy Lucys, or something.
In didn't get a photo of pizza logs (you can imagine), which seem like a good idea, but are just much drier than a slice. There were some cigar-sized rolled grape leaves which didn't do it for me either: filled with some pastes, as far as I could discover (tomato paste, eggplant paste, and the like).
Drinks? Cheers to Black Willow Winery, which is making a range of meads, a drink way too much overlooked by modernity. Yes, that would be honey wine, but do stick to the semi-dry original (Odin's Nectar) rather than the fruit-flavored versions. The same goes for the Maeloc ciders. Crabbie's alcoholic ginger beer sticks in my mind; a reason not to bother putting vodka into the Moscow Mule?
Kitchen ware, table ware, restaurant ware in general--both for indoors and outdoors (custom food trucks aplenty), and a few short cuts for the chef. It's easy!
As ever, the US Pastry Competition provided some spectacular sites, not least that of a collapsed contender. These fragments have I shored...Well, suffice to say that chocolate figure looks like I feel after a few hours at the Javits.