Thursday, March 31, 2011

Choice Eats 2011: Extreme Gluttony & the Resulting Bellyache, Part Two

In case you missed it, here's Part 1 of my recap of Choice Eats.  I was so stuffed and comatose Tuesday night that I couldn't finish writing up the full recap.  That's how bad the situation was.  But it seems that I wasn't the only one who went totally overboard, so I feel slightly less disgusting about my behavior.  Anyway, let's pick up where we left off, shall we.

After waiting in line for about 15 minutes for Del Posto's eggplant dessert (which wasn't really worth the wait), we got the remaining vegetarian savory items.

Lots of vegetarian Mediterranean dips from Kashkaval - beet skordalia, babaghanoush, tzatziki, olive tapenade, and muhammara.  We've never been there and it is now on our list of places at which we must eat in 2011.

I'm breaking from my format of brief captions for my favorite bites of the evening.  It was from a restaurant I've read about but have not yet been to: Patacon Pisao.  We got their cheese cachapas and tres leches cake and both Matt and I agreed that these were the best savory and sweet items of the entire evening. The cachapa was light, fluffy, sweet, and redolent of corn and it had a lot of - but the right amount of - cheese.  And that tres leches cake - it was soft but not mushy, tasted of condensed milk but wasn't painfully sweet, and it was soaked thoroughly but not to the detriment of the cake's texture.  The thin layer of whipped cream on top was light and barely sweetened and complemented rather than overwhelmed the cake.  Not only the best tres leches I've ever had, but really the best dessert of the night (yes, better than what we had at Choice Sweets!)
Cheese cachapa from Patacon Pisao

Tres leches cake from Patacon Pisao
At this point we officially declared ourselves done eating food.  We got some water, took a breather, then hit the desserts.  There were two areas: Choice Sweets in the lobby for everyone and VIP Choice Sweets in the vault.  We ventured into the lobby first and here's what we came upon.

Much needed coffee from Dallis Bros. Coffee - except they didn't have any available for people to drink
just yet so I got carried along by the massive crowd and stumbled upon...

Stroopwafels and chocolate chunk oat cookies from The Good Batch.
If the cookies weren't so salty they would've been great. 

Lots of cupcakes from Kumquat Cupcakery.  We shared the lemon-lavender (which had American buttercream
frosting - which I really dislike) and the ricotta-cherry port (which was far too sweet for our taste).
Kelvin slushes (which we love in part because of the name).  Matt got ginger with a mango swirl
(which I've gotten before) and I got the Arnold Palmer with a basil swirl.
The ginger was great - not as sweet as it was when I had it last summer - but the Arnold Palmer
(which is one of my favorite drinks ever) tasted slightly like powdered lemonade mix :(
We skipped Blue Marble because we were close to exploding and had yet to go downstairs to visit the VIP Choice Sweets room so we decided to save some room and instead visit Blue Marble on our own time - we live literally 1/2 block away from their Court Street location.

Are you still with me?  After some more water, we ventured downstairs to the VIP Choice Sweets room (not sure who thought it would be a good idea to put chocolate and buttercream in a hot, sweaty vault...) to have just a few more bites before making our (slow, plodding) escape back to Brooklyn.

Chocolate and olive oil bastoncino from Del Posto. I may have eaten more than one of these and possibly three.
I've been to Del Posto twice and have just loved these little bites so I got a little greedy with them the other night...
Fiesole cupcake from Robicelli's (polenta olive oil cake, gorgonzola buttercream, roasted hazelnuts, warm honey drizzle).
The cake was fine, but the frosting had no gorgonzola flavor and tasted like pure butter (I've had other cupcakes of theirs  in the past and always make this same comment...less butter in the frosting, guys!).  We did not eat the whole thing.
Caramel corn with honeycomb candy crumbs and dark chocolate from Liddabit Sweets.
I ate one kernel and pocketed the rest for later because I was just too full.
Sour cherry pie from Blue Stove Bakery.  This was a full slice.  Matt gasped when he saw how big it was.  We each had one bite and tossed the rest - it wasn't good enough to justify cramming it into our already-stuffed bellies. :(
"Mini" scones from Alice's Tea Cup - the word mini is in quotes because these were by no means mini.
They were normal size.  We skipped these altogether.
Chocolates from Fatty Crab: Fatty Dark Bars (dark chocolate, chilies, candied almonds, Maldon salt)
and Fatty Milk Bars (milk chocolate, puffed rice, candied ginger).  A few comments on these:
1. I was not aware the Fatty Crab was known for its desserts;  
2. These were one of the very few desserts that were an appropriate size for this type of event,
as the pieces were just two bites (in contrast to a full slice of pie and a huge scone!  Too much!);  
3. The dark one was way too spicy for a dessert and we couldn't taste the ginger
or discern any puffed rice in the milk one.
Chocolate-coated honey cake from Bee Desserts.
Very smart of them to have little take-home bags of full-size cakes (they're the size of
a hockey puck) in addition to tiny pieces for sampling. 

Salt and pepper cookies from Baked - I tasted the salt (you can see it on top of the cookies) but where was the pepper?  That's ok, because I standing behind these cookies was...
Eric Wolitzky!  He was my favorite competitor on Top Chef Just Desserts and he's just as nice in real life.
Vegan, gluten-free brownies from Babycakes.  I walked around with it for 10 minutes, then I realized that there was
no way I was going to eat it at present, wrapped it up, and put it in my purse.  I discovered it the next day at 9 am and it was the perfect size for breakfast (given I was still stuffed).  And it was good!  Soft, chocolatey, no odd flavors/textures that you might expect from vegan or GF, although texturally it was more like chocolate cake than a brownie.
And that's it for the food.  If you're thinking that we ate a lot, you're correct, although we actually didn't eat that much dessert - one bite of each and a second bite of a select few that warranted it.

Matt and I love good beer, and there was plenty of it on hand.  Among my favorites were Sixpoint's Sweet Action, which is sort of my go-to beer; Abita's Turbodog; Blue Point's Rasta Rye, which is not only really good but also local; Lagunitas' IPA; and Flying Dog's Raging Bitch, which I always feel stupid ordering.  I skipped over the wines but there were some interesting spirits, including Ramazzotti, which is my favorite Amaro.

Would I go back next year?   I'm on the fence.  Most of the food was heavy and rich (which makes sense given that people are pre-disposed to liking such foods, and I assume all the restaurants want to make a good impression and get new customers) and there was so much of it that after I while I stopped enjoying myself and felt like I was eating because I had to.  That's never good.  But we did get to sample foods from restaurants to which we've never been, which is part of the point of this event, isn't it?

And with that, I'm off to Montreal, where I promise I will not overindulge but I will have my fair share of poutine, St. Viateurbagels (but nothing beats an NYC bagel), and croissants.

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