I’m a huge proponent of food-centered events and food festivals. I love that they give you the opportunity to try different offerings from a wide array of restaurants in your city. Many you may not have tried or even heard of before. Even after living in New York for little more than a year, I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what our restaurant scene has to offer.
So when Village Voice invited us to attend their 9th Annual Choice Eats Tasting Event, I was thrilled! The sold-out event was definitely one for the books, and featured the best dishes from 50+ handpicked restaurants that were beloved by the Village Voice’s resident food critics.
There were tacos, pizzas, ceviche, spiced goat neck, doughnuts, and ice cream—almost every type of food under the sun. Some of my favorites included a smoked mussel taco from The Black Ant, a lobster ceviche from Swine, and an old favorite I’d had once before during our brunch at Quality Eats.
I had been wanting to try The Black Ant since reading about Ally’s amazing brunch experience, but I just hadn’t found the time to make it. As soon as I saw they were serving at Choice Eats, I made a beeline for their table.
The smoked mussel taco was very tasty, and also quite interesting. The smokiness was definitely apparent, but the guacamole on top helped to balance it out.
Swine was another place on my list of must-trys for the night. The lobster ceviche was served with blood oranges, blackberries, and a few other different fruits. The citrus fruit juices paired very nicely with the richness of the seafood.
With a name like Swine, my fellow patrons were a bit surprised as to why they hadn’t served a pork dish, but I was really happy that lobster was the main protein.
Towards the end of the night, I ventured upstairs and discovered that Quality Eats was there serving one of the best brunch dishes I’ve tried so far this year: the Grilled Nueske’s Bacon! I fawned over this dish when I tried it originally, and my reaction this time was no different. The thick-cut, juicy bacon paired surprisingly well with the homemade peanut butter and minced jalapeño jelly. I just can’t get enough of this dish!
Of course, I couldn’t end the night without treating myself to a few sweet treats and adult beverages. Dough absolutely stole the show with their presentation, laying their perfectly glazed doughnuts out on the table for all to see.
We tried the mocha almond crunch, which with topped with a mocha icing and what tasted like bits of almond toffee. It was absolutely divine!
We also sampled some ice cream from Ample Hills Creamery. My friend Ali tried the Snap, Mallow, Pop, which was essentially a deconstructed Rice Krispie treat. Rice Krispie clusters were mixed into the marshmallow ice cream, adding a slight crunch. She really liked this unique take on a well-known dessert.
I tried the Sweet as Honey, which was sweet cream ice cream with pieces of honeycomb candy. I kid you not—this is some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. I definitely plan on venturing to Ample Hills Creamery’s shop to get a second helping of this delicious concoction.
There were also various beer, wine, and liquor companies at the event, each offering product samples and specialty drinks. Stella Artois was a main sponsor of Choice Eats, so they had a 360-degree bar in the middle of the room, where they served Stella, Hoegaarden, and Leffe Blond.
My drink of choice was the absolutely adorable mini margarita from Herradura Tequila. Dubbed The Horseshoe Margarita, these cocktails were served in miniature bottles and paired quite nicely with the various tacos I sampled throughout the evening.
Village Voice definitely succeeded at highlighting the best of the best from New York City’s diverse culinary landscape. I’m already counting down the days until Choice Eats 2017!
For more information about Village Voice Choice Eats 2016, and to learn more about next year’s event, click here.