Monday, June 15, 2009
I volunteered at the Street & Savory event for Citymeals-on-wheels. Street & Savory was a global street festival. Top chefs around the country came together and created their own favorite street food from dumplings to satay; sandwiches to tacos. The goal was to raise money for Citymeals-on-wheels. I was in awe of the creativity and the talent of all the participating chefs. It was truly a wonderful charity event, and I was so thrill to be a part of it.
The event took place at Rockefeller Center. I was assigned to work with Ed Brown, owner/chef of 81. His restaurant was recently awarded a Michelin Star. I met the chef and he introduced me to his staff. He grew up on the Jersey shore so he decide to set up his booth with a beach theme. There were sand, sea shells, salt water taffy, sand buckets with candles inside. It was a fun theme. His dish was a crispy clam roll with toasted hot dog bun top with a homemade tartar sauce. It was simple and delicious, something he grew up eating. As you know since I'm a big fan of fried food, this was right up my ally. I couldn't wait to get my hands on one of those rolls. It turned out I wouldn't be able to taste anything until the very end as we were one of the busiest stands at the event.
Words quickly spread and people were telling us they heard about these clam rolls and they want to know what the buzz was about. I was working with the Executive Sous Chef and putting the sandwiches together. The line was getting very long and we were working at a feverish pace. We served a lot of people and hours later, we finally ran out of food. Luckily I managed to get my hands on one of the last sandwiches. The crunchiness of the fried clam strips along with the toasted bun were just perfect, no wonder why everyone wanted one.
After we ran out of food, I was free to join the festivities so I wasted no time to visit some of the booths and tasted a few dishes. The kimchi quesadilla by Kogi Korean BBQ. The kimchi was not too spicy, it was definitely an interesting concept. Braised beef with carrot jam, brown butter couscous by Aziza. The beef was so tender, and well seasoned. So delicious, the beef just melted in your mouth. Next, roasted pork shoulder gyro with pickled cucumber & yogurt from Anthos. The pickled cucumber and yogurt sauce complimented so well with the pork shoulder. The texture and sourness of the pickled cucumber combined with the tendered pork gyro was outstanding. This is one of those perfect sandwiches that you can eat throughout the summer. The most creative was probably by Park Avenue Summer. Park Avenue restaurant is located on Park Avenue and 63rd Street. They change the restaurant's decor as well as its menu every season. Currently they are serving a summer menu. At the event they were serving a 5 course 3 minute picnic. They have a picnic table that seats eight people. In the center of the table there was a huge basket of waffle fries. First up, grape and cheeze-its, then smoked salmon and egg salad finger sandwiches, third was Dr. Pepper pulled pork, watermelon feta skewers and finally blueberry pie serves in a shot glass. Each course was a little bite of great flavors coming together and so much fun to eat.
Those were some of the dishes I tasted and wish I had room and time to taste more. I was grateful to given the opportunity to volunteer at this event. I was thrilled to learn that Always Hungry in New York voted the clam rolls as one of their favorites. I had such a wonderful experience. It also brought back fond memories of some of my favorite street food I had when I was growing up.