For the past 3 years, Mike and I have had a tradition of going to the Grand Tasting event at the Food Network Wine & Food Festival in NYC. I get Early Access passes as a treat for Mike’s birthday and it’s a tradition we very much look forward to each year.
Today, we went to the first day of the Grand Tasting (they do it all again tomorrow). We went with our plan that worked well in the past, arrive early, collect the goodie bag, and make a beeline right to the back and then move forward. It leaves the back half of the (large) space nearly empty for us to peruse (and nibble) for about the first 30 minutes. It works out well. We went up the one side and noticed that at least 3/4 of the booths were various kinds of alcohols (mostly wines, but also liquor, sake, mixers, etc). We decided to start our trip down the other side, figuring that must be where most of the food was.
Well… it wasn’t.
Same story: barely 1/4 food. Most of the food there was the packaged goods found in ShopRite. While having this food is typical for this food festival (and kind of cool to see what new packaged goods are out there), this is usually complimented by many restaurants (including some famous ones in New York and Celebrity Chefs). This time, there were hardly any restaurants. I’m not sure what happened, but it left us kind of disappointed! It’s the first time we left there not feeling like we got our money’s worth. I mean, don’t get me wrong, sampling all that wine was great, but we can do that (for a lot less money) at the Wine Show. We go to this Grand Tasting specifically to try some of the best restaurants in the city. These just weren’t there today.
And then we had another disappointment… most of the places ran out of food by 4pm. The event goes until 6, and while we saw many run out of food in the past, it wasn’t every single restaurant and it was more around 5/5:30. Something just went downhill this year.
Here are the noms we had (any time I remembered, I took a picture of the sign and description of the dish, then that is followed by the dish.
Only one real stand out: the short ribs from Monkey Bar. And while it was VERY good, we were hoping to have some bites that would make us say “Wow! We really need to try that restaurant!”
Not this year.