There's just no pretending anymore. When the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival gears up, you have to just admit that fall is here and take comfort in all the fun that the festival brings. Events, chefs, tastes, and way too much bubbly and booze (in a good way, of course). This marks the fifth year of the festival and it's gotten off to a grand start (the opening party at DBGB featured a boatful of Island Creek Oysters, passed burgers, Boulud dogs, and even escargot pizza).
And that's just the beginning. Meatball Madness, Shake & Bake, seminars, and celebrity chef appearances, it's going to be four days of good food — a dizzying array of gloating and gorging. And team Daily Meal (proud to be one of the proud sponsors contributing to the success of the festival) and its contributors will be on the scene. Check out past years' coverage, and check in regularly for updates. Attending this year's festival? We want to hear from you. Tips, observations, gossip, opinions about the food? Share them with The Daily Meal's editors on Twitter (or just @TheDailyMeal), or join the community and contribute your own festival coverage posts!
THURSDAY (10/11/2012) It's a big night. Fried chicken's moment is crystallizing. Last year's Shake and Bake has move from Hill Country Chicken to Yotel, where Whoopi Goldberg and DJ Questlove will be sampling fried chicken with festival-goers from many New York spots including The Brooklyn Star, Seersucker, WONG, Red Rooster Harlem, just to name a few. Then of course, Meatball Madness returns to 82 Mercer, where at least 37 different chefs (37, can that really be true?), some by event vets like The Meatball Shop, Pulino's, Donatella, Rubirosa, Hearth, and new participants like Alison EIghteen, Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, and Carmine's (welcome). It's go, go, go time. Which brings to mind the question: How do you tackle attending an event where there are more than 30 meatballs being served? Regardless of who you're handicapping as this year's winner, there are 10 truisms to follow:
FRIDAY (10/12/2012) L'Apicio Wins Best Meatball in New York 9:55 AM While popular contenders for the best meatballs in New York may be Meatball Shop’s Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow, Gramercy Tavern, and Marco Canora, last night’s Meatball Madness at the New York City Wine & Food Festival crowned a new and unsuspecting winner: Gabe Thompson of L’Apicio. As for the winning meatball among the judges (Giada De Laurentiis, who spend most of the night taking photos with fans, Anne Burrell, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Alex Guarnaschelli), Gabe Thompson served up a classic pork meatball with Amatriciana sauce over polenta. Thompson, wearing what may now be his lucky Budweiser hat, gave the shortest speech ever after winning a competition, ending with "All right I’m gonna go now." Afterward, he told us, "I didn’t know that there was a contest, I knew there was a voting thing and all that but I was just like, oh People’s Choice, whatever, you know. But then they walked around and you send one up, and they’re like, 'Oh we need three more for the judges,' and someone told me that meant there was a chance for us to win." — Jess Chou
THURSDAY (10/11/2012) During the night of sampling Southern fare from hot spots like Seersucker, Hill Country, Red Rooster, and JoeDoe, the hosts took a moment to remind us why we were all really there. "Isn't it amazing that by us eating all of this fried chicken, we are feeding a ton of people?" Goldberg said when she addressed the crowd. After Smith thanked the sponsors and the attendees, Goldberg went on to stress the fact that the NYCWFF's main mission is to raise awareness and money for the fight against hunger, as all proceeds from all of the events go to the cause. — Francesca Borgognone
FRIDAY (10/12/2012) More Meatball Observations: Last night while Michael Chernow was kissing girls on the cheek for votes, we chatted with Daniel Holzman about when exactly their third Meatball Shop will open. "You know what, we’ve had a hard time with permits and getting through everyhting," Holzman said, dashing our hopes of Meatball Shop lunches in Chelsea. "We’re also really excited about the shop; this is the first time we think we can make it right from the very start so we’re taking our time." At least there's more to look forward to. Next up on the Meatball Shop plate: "Upper East Side," Holzman confirmed. — Jess Chou
FRIDAY (10/12/2012) Astor Hours Cocktails at the Public Theater 12:52 PM The Public Theater roared with excitement during last night’s liquor-soaked New York City Wine & Food Festival Astor Hours Cocktails event. As Andrew Carmellini is the chef at The Library — the new bar and restaurant on the upper level of the theater — it was only appropriate that he hosted the party, and true-to-form could be seen roaming between the lobby, Joe’s Pub on the first floor, and his new digs upstairs. Of the food offered, Marco Canora’s meat salad sandwich seemed to be the most popular, prompting some partiers to double-fist breadrather than booze. Food & Wine's effervescent Kate Krader waded through the crowd at the pub, bubbling with excitement while talking about the upcoming Korean barbecue dinner thrown by Roy Choi. Speaking of food trucks, Krader cited Andrew Zimmern’s Trucks & Train — an evolution of last year’s Carts in the Parc event — as the must-attend event. Seamus Mullen, however, just wants to see Morimoto sing at tonight’s Rock & Roll event. Thanks to the videos of the crooning Iron Chef that have circulated in the past, that’s where we’re headed as well. — Zachary Feldman
SATURDAY (10/13/2012) Why Chefs Love to Cook Barbecue 2:06 AM What exactly drives many chefs' obsession with cooking meat? That's what The Daily Meal set out to discover at Thrillist's BBQ and The Blues event last night, part of the 2012 New York City Wine & Food Festival. The answers centered mostly around pork, people, and brisket, and roughly in that order in terms of popularity. Rocco DiSpirito, who hosted the event, and 14 other chefs set up tasting tables, helping to raise $50,000 to help end hunger in New York City through Food Bank NYC and also for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign. On the first floor, which admittedly was a bit of a boiler room, meat lovers crowded around Dinosaur Bar-B-Que's stand for Pulled Pork Minis with Sweet and Sour Slaw, conveniently located right next to Rocco DiSpirito's highly coveted Tomato and Balsamic Barbecue Beef Brisket Sandwich. On the second floor, things really opened up — probably owing to the fact that the second floor was a bit hidden away. That was too bad for the kind folks from Wildwood Barbecue, whose Smoked Short Ribs with Sharp Cheddar Grits, Red Currant Barbecue Sauce, and Radish Sprouts were easily the best item of the night. — Will Budiaman