The rain and chill did not deter the roughly 600 foodies who descended upon the New York Hall of Science on 3 May to sample the celestial offerings of more than 50 restaurants, beverage purveyors, and dessert makers at Queens Taste 2016. The Queens Economic Development Corporation and the Queens Tourism Council celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of their gustatory showcase—a yearly event in which to meet and eat, as well as schmooze and booze.
The saporific samples of New York's most diverse borough ranged from creamy to crunchy, fiery to flaky, and savory to sweet. Below is Queens Taste 2016 through the lens and so-called senses of Comestiblog:
The Appetizers and Entrées:
My initial experiment in the Hall of Science's Central Pavilion included a couple of sweet-and-sour savories from Kristin Quattrone's Q Events, a catering and events concern. The flavor contrasts of the Coconut-Pineapple Fried Rice Ball (encapsulating crispy pancetta), and the Ginger Chicken Pineapple Cup yielded successful results.
Another caterer, DelishNY, also served a sweet-and-savory combination: Seared Tuna with a Sesame Soy Glaze, presented on an edible spoon. In addition to his appealing tuna, Chef Joseph Marchisotta prepared a Truffle Herb Risotto.
Chef Gus of Hilton New York JFK Airport in Jamaica prepared a beautiful Shrimp-and-Cashew Cabbage Slaw in a phyllo cup, topped with a soy-balsamic glaze.
Thai Rock of Rockaway Beach rocked it with steamed Thai Dumplings, filled with peanuts and turnip.
Chef Greg Profeta of LIC's Alobar elevated a humble Polish staple into something nearly lofty with his homemade Potato Pierogies with Scallion Crème Fraîche.
Who doesn't love bacon? What about sweets? The Astor Room at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria married bacon with sugar-in-the-raw and added Cajun seasoning to spice up the Candied Bacon honeymoon.
Bareburger's organic Birkshire Beer-Braised Bacon Slider with Stout Onions and Spicy Mustard on a Pretzel Bun was a mouthful in both name and flavor.
As usual, the sliders from Woodside's F. Ottomanelli Burger & Belgian Fries were top-notch.
Neir's Tavern of Woodhaven, "the most famous bar you've never heard of," returned with their popular pub grub: Cotton Candy Wings, BBQ Jack Wings, Pulled-Pork Sliders, and Swedish Meatballs. Consumed quite by accident, the cotton candy-flavored wings were a rather pleasant surprise.
After filing an application with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) last August, Neir's owner Loycent Gordon held a rally on 7 May to have the historic 1829 building declared a New York City landmark. I wish him Godspeed.
Zenon Taverna, a Greco-Cypriot restaurant in Astoria, returned with a couple of new dishes along with an old favorite. I navigated the meze by trying all three. Their homemade Hummus was garnished with sliced Kalamatas and served in a phyllo cup. Its fresh flavors were augmented nicely by the slight saltiness of the olives. The Halloumi Sandwich—char-grilled Cypriot goat-sheep cheese, sliced cucumber and tomato on pita bread—was uncomplicated yet delicious.
Seasoned with oregano, pepper, bay leaves, and drizzled with olive oil, vinegar, and lemon, Zenon's Grilled Octopus continues to be a perennial favorite. (Eight is not enough.)
The Kabobs from Pa-Nash, a Eurosoul (Mediterranean, Caribbean, and soul food fusion) eatery in Rosedale, were among the highlights of this year's Queens Taste. Chef Henry Lopez seasoned the skewered chicken, pork, and goat beautifully to impart robust flavors and plenty of heat.
The flautists at Woodside's La Adelita flaunted their popular Mexican flutes along with guacamole, and a tasty Cactus Salad.
Also from Woodside, and also serving cactus, De Mole rolled out Pork and Grilled Cactus Tacos.
Chef Carlos Valez of Astoria's Sabor De Cuba offered an authentic taste of Cuban vintage clothing with his Ropa Vieja.
At the next table, Nest of Richmond Hill served four samples of their homestyle Indo-Caribbean and Chinese cooking: Bunjal Chicken Liver, Jerk BBQ Boneless Chicken, Boneless Curry/Bunjal Chicken, and Seafood Fried Rice.
There were also a few kosher offerings. The first, from the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network, was Chulent, a traditional Jewish stew of meat, beans, and potatoes. Masbia provides a restaurant-style environment to afford a sense of dignity to those in need, because "a hot meal always needs a touch of warmth."
Rego Park's Marani Glatt Kosher Georgian Restaurant, a newcomer to Queens Taste, served a couple of tasty dishes: Ostri, a beef stew with pickles and onions, as well as Chahohbili, a traditional chicken stew.
There was no shortage of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Cider, beer, and wine flowed freely.
The Wine Room of Forest Hills, in association with Verity Wine Partners, poured an interesting variety of reds, whites, and a rosé. The tastes comprised Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige, Italy), Montinore Estate Borealis 2014 (Willamette Valley, Oregon), Dio Fili Xynomavro Rosé 2015 (Macedonia, Greece), Ktima Mitravelas Red on Black 2014 (Nemea, Greece), Altovinum Evodia Old Vine Garnachia (Calatayud, Spain), and Michael Gassier Nostre Païs Rouge 2013 (Costières de Nîmes, France).
Bundts NYC, another vendor from the E-Space, returned with more miniature bundt-style pound cakes. CEO and Bundtmeister Randall Grant bakes his wares to order and for specific events.
Caterer EJ Sydell served gluten-free, fresh-fruit Bucklecakes, yummy coffee cakes from Esta-Joy's Kitchen.
The desserts from Rudy's Bakery & Café gave little indication of having come from a German bakery that opened in 1934. Pastry Chef Cristina Nastasi bakes a wide assortment of contemporary desserts at one of the few remaining German holdouts in Ridgewood. The confectioner exhibited her variety with delicious sweets comprising Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp, Alfajores, and Espresso Cheesecake.
It seems fitting somehow that The Paleo Factory engaged in Mud-slinging amid this election year. After his Taste debut last year, Sam Friedman (whose name is mud—in a good sense), returned with Chocolate (flavored with raw organic cacao powder), Vanilla (flavored with Madagascar beans and pure vanilla extract) and Coffee (flavored with organic arabica) Mud he makes from "ingredients that come from the earth." To wit, he blends the flavor elements with coconut milk, cashews, and dates to yield tasty cold treats that are not too sweet.
DF Mavens dished up a couple of their marvelous dairy-free frozen desserts: Madagascar Vanilla Bean (coconut milk) and New Orleans Salted Praline (soy milk).
Another frozen Madagascar Vanilla Bean offering, this one a gelato, was served by Astoria's Desserts That Matter. The "boutique ice cream manufacturer" also scooped out samples of Dulce de Leche.
Once again, Queens Taste was a stellar event for noshing and networking at the New York Hall of Science. As ever, my most profound thanks to Seth Bornstein and Rob MacKay.
Queens Taste 2016
Tuesday, 3 May 2016, 6:00 P.M. till 9:00 P.M.
Proceeds support the Queens Economic Development Corporation's ongoing efforts to attract, create, and maintain jobs in the borough through business services, neighborhood development, the Entrepreneur Space (food-and-business incubator), and marketing attractions through the Queens Tourism Council and the It’s in Queens and Discover Queens brands.