Sunday, June 12, 2011

Midtown Lunch Birthday Party: A Review

I've been doing a lot of food reviews on this blog lately.  A lot of reviews and a lot of eating.  I can't help it.  Summertime is here and the NY food trucks have come out in full force.  Even better, there are a ton of food events during which those food trucks get together and I can sample just about all of them at once.  Yes, please. I'm on it.

This week's food event?  The Midtown Lunch Birthday Party.  Midtown Lunch is a website dedicated to finding New Yorker's a decent lunch.  Originally, as you have probably guessed, the idea was to help find New Yorker's a decent (and cheap) lunch in the midtown area.  However, they've now expanded to include other areas of NY and a few other cities.  Obviously, you can also check out the site anytime of the day and not just for lunch.  So anyhow...did I mention the website turned 5?!  That's right.  The big 5.  So the Midtown Lunch crew decided to throw themselves a birthday party complete with all-you-can-eat food and all-you-can-drink beverages.  Because why not?  The ticket cost was $55 if purchased in advance and this included food and drinks for a full 3 hours.  Can't beat that.

Although Saturday's weather threatened to unleash a thunderstorm or two on us, the stars aligned to give us mostly dry weather.  The food trucks and tents were set up on City Winery's outdoor patio area, in the West Village part of town.  There were also extra tents available for us to stand under whenever the rain started spattering down a little to hard upon us. Unfortunately, the temperature also dropped dramatically so it was a pretty cool outside.  Still, that didn't stop me and my friend Katie from descending upon the food and drinks like it was our job.  Since I was planning on blogging about this experience, I guess I could say that it was my job.  Totally.  Yeah.

First stop, as always...booze.  Brooklyn Brewery lovingly provided alcoholic beverages at this event.  They had several varieties of their beer to dish out to willing drinkers: Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Pilsner, Pennant Ale, Summer Ale.  I always enjoy some good Brooklyn brews.  City Winery also had a tent where you could purchase a glass of red or white wine if you weren't a fan of beer.  And for the non-alcoholic drinkers, Gus Soda was on hand to provide additional beverage options.  I'm not exactly sure what flavors were available since I didn't actually make it over there...

The first place that I stopped for food was Certé, where they had lobster sausage.  Lobster. Sausage.  I had never heard of this before and after speaking to the gentleman doling out the food, he admitted that this was the first time they ever made lobster sausage.  After tasting it, I know that if they kept making this stuff I'll be at the restaurant every weekend.  Similar to sausage, the lobster was stuffed in a casing and when I bit into the roll, the meat was tender and juicy and slightly spicy..  To add even more to the flavor profile, a vanilla mustard was drizzled on top of the lobster sausage and then it was all dusted with a sprinkle of coarse lobster salt.  Truffled fingerling potatoes played the role of "side dish" here.  The delicious lobster salt was also added to these potatoes for another layer of flavor.  As much as I wanted a second helping, I was able to restrain myself so that I'd be able to munch on the other goodies around me.

The next stop was at Eddie's Pizza Cart.  The special of the day was Tomato Basil Pie.  It was pretty good but Katie and I agreed that it was pretty much a standard piece of pizza.  I did enjoy the appropriately portioned size of their slices, since I doubt I could have finished an entire slice with so many other options available.

After that, it was time for some serious spice.  Enter the Biryani Cart.  Their chicken kati roll was amazing.  The chicken was wrapped in a chapati and it was perfectly seasoned with curry, exotic spices and lots and lots of heat.  They did not hold back on the seasonings here. It was definitely a head-clearing experience, but I enjoyed every minute of huffing and puffing and hoping my mouth wouldn't have any permanent scars.  

I was so excited about this roll that I took a bite out of it before remembering to take a picture for the blog post.

Next up, I had to stop at what is swiftly becoming one of my favorite food trucks of the summer: Kelvin Slush.  I've blogged about them twice before, so I'll keep it short.  I ordered a Ginger slush with a mango mix-in.  Gotta love those mangoes.  And it was delicious, as expected.

Right next to Kelvin Slush's tent was Wafels & Dinges.  What are Wafels & Dinges?  Well, it's a food truck in which people make and sell various types of authentic Belgian waffles.  They also sell dinges ("things") to adorn these waffles.  At the birthday party, they were offering waffles (I'm not sure if they were their "brussels wafels" or "liege wafels", but they were quite tasty, all the same) covered in spekuloos spread and topped with a dollop of whipped cream.  Let's talk about this spekuloos spread, since this is my new favorite thing in the world.  The gentlemen at the Wafels & Dinges tent described spekuloos as a gingerbread cookie spread.  I describe it as deliciousness in a bottle.  Imagine spekuloos sandwiched in between a warm, fresh-off-the-iron waffle and cool, creamy whipped cream.  Yeah, it's pretty good.  Before the end of the day, Katie and I each purchased a bottle of spekuloos spread from them.  They weren't really for sale, but since the guys had a few bottles left over at the end of the event, we were able to purchase them.  It's time I find this truck out on the streets of New York so I can sample other items on the menu.

Spekuloos: "Shelf life is 3-4 months, but once opened, it usually lasts only 3-4 days." 
I'm slow.  I didn't get this joke right away.

As Katie and I wandered around digesting our waffles, we headed toward a tent for Momofuku's Milk Bar.  I had spotted these guys coming in but hadn't made it over there yet.  Since they were near the entrance of the event, I had almost forgotten about the cookies they were giving away.  As we approached the tent, we were informed that there were only two cookies left!  We eagerly picked up the cookies (which were Blueberry & Cream Cookies) as well as our complementary "green bag" courtesy of Seamless Web.  We actually ate the cookies after the event was over but they were sweet and chewy, with the blueberries providing periodic bursts of tartness.

One extra cookie was found duct-taped to the Milk Bar sign.

Our final stop of the day was Momofuku's Ma Peche tent.  Ma Peche is an Asian fusion restaurant in the midtown area.  At their tent, they were serving Beef & Pork Belly Banh Mi with crab mayo and cucumbers.  Banh Mi is actually the name of a Vietnamese baguette, but typically the sandwich which is made on this type of baguette is also referred to as Banh Mi.  It was my first banh mi experience and it was incredible.  I drizzled some sriracha (a type of Thai hot sauce) on the sandwich to add some spice as well.  The meat was tender and the cucumbers added a nice crunch to each bite.  I couldn't really taste the crab mayo, but I don't like mayo very much so I wasn't bothered by this.

So here's the verdict on the entire experience: totally worth the $55 dollars and an uncomfortably full stomach.  I got to sample food from several different places that I probably wouldn't have made it to otherwise and everyone in attendance, from the eaters to those manning tents and food trucks, were extremely nice and friendly.  There were a few places that I didn't get a chance to go, but there's always next year, right?  Can we please start planning Midtown Lunch's 6th Birthday Party?

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