Summer Guide: Eat And Drink
Chocolate Fest: A Walk-Around Tasting Have you been tempted every year to visit the Chocolate Show but ultimately turned off by the overwhelming scale and trade-show vibe? 92Y's Chocolate Fest is a kinder, gentler (and boozier) version, featuring local favorites like The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and Liddabit Sweets providing tastings alongside prestigious international chocolatiers like Guittard. The event also features a screening of the short film Radical Chocolate, about a tree-to-bar chocolate-making collective, wine and cocktail pairings and a sampling of chocolate-friendly cheeses. June 3, 7:30 p.m.; $29. 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., 92y.org. Big Apple BBQ Block Party In some parts of the country, BBQ competitions are an integral piece of the summer. While New York City is sadly lacking in this department, for the past 10 years, Danny Meyer, owner of Blue Smoke and the Shake Shack empire, among many others, has been trying to make it right. His Big Apple Block Party assembles pitmasters from around the country, including perennial rib champion Mike Mills and whole-hog maestro Ed Mitchell, allowing festival-goers to sample the breadth of this country's regional BBQ styles without ever leaving Midtown. Live music and seminars in the park provide a respite from all the smoke, should you need it. June 9-10, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; $8 per plate. Madison Square Park, babbq.com. Eat Drink Local Week Let's face it: Restaurant Week isn't what it used to be. These days, it's strictly for amateurs who don't mind the worst tables and prix-fixe menus made up of the cheapest, least creative dishes on a restaurant's roster. The tristate area's Edible publications, including Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens editions, have teamed up to fill the void, presenting this annual week of special, seasonal menus at participating restaurants, tasting events and discounts at food and wine shops. Each year they choose a number of local ingredients to highlight; this year it's spinach, eggs, goat, radishes, rosé wine, porgy, fava beans and hops. Not sure what you can make with all that, but it sounds pretty tasty. June 23-30. ediblemanhattan.com. Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest More a cautionary tale than anything else, this legendary contest, now in its 96th year, is worth a visit just to see the lengths to which some people will go for a free meal. Will Joey Chestnut take the prize again for the sixth year in a row? Will Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas still be impossibly skinny after another year on the eating circuit? Will former champ Takeru Kobayashi stage another rogue eat-off in protest of the organized event? You'll have to show up to find out, and maybe grab a hot dog yourself from the Coney Island institution (take your time eating it, though). July 4, 3 p.m. Corner of Surf & Stillwell Aves., nathansfamous.com. Foraging in Prospect Park Foraging, long the purview of the homeless and freegan hippies, has been surging in popularity thanks to locavore chefs like Rene Redzepi in Copenhagen. Join the elite by going on a foraging expedition with expert Leda Meredith, followed by a tasting at nearby restaurant Beer Table. Though you may not find enough to supplant your weekly Key Food run, it's sure to be more fruitful than your everyday walk in the park. July 15, 2 p.m.; $30 for Slow Food members, $40 for nonmembers. Prospect Park, meet at Grand Army Plaza entrance, slowfoodnyc.org. Parked! A Food Truck Festival Food trucks in the city are often harassed for parking in metered spots, which are off-limits to vendors. This summer, they'll get a free parking pass at the South Street Seaport, where over 30 of them will be Parked! all day long. Music, drinks and activities for kids will round out the day of fun; check the website to see just what they've got lined up this year. A VIP pass will get you a drink ticket, 10 free dishes from 10 of the trucks and a dedicated lineup at all of them so you don't have to wait around with all those regular jerks. Aug. 4, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; free, VIP passes $50. South Street Seaport, meanredproductions.com. Pig Island They take pigs (about 80 of 'em). They put them on an island. They get 20 of New York's top chefs to cook them, add liberal doses of NY state beer and wine and set you free to drink and eat all day long. If that doesn't sound like a wonderful dream you once had, well, you'd better be a vegetarian. Pig Island is your chance to enjoy hog-centric delights like maple-bacon sticky buns, Sriracha-glazed suckling pig and pork belly sliders all on the charmingly anachronistic Governors Island, while benefiting Food Systems NYC and City Harvest. Sept. 1. Governors Island, pigisland.com. 86th Annual Feast of San Gennaro Until two years ago, you went to the Feast of San Gennaro to drink luridly colored frozen daiquiris, buy T-shirts emblazoned with "Fuhgeddaboudit" and avoid getting into a fight with an extra from Jersey Shore. Then, Torrisi Italian Specialties, the restaurant that has singlehandedly elevated Italian-American cuisine, opened a stall there selling slyly Chinese-inflected mozzarella sticks and roast pork sandwiches, and chefs from downtown restaurants like WD-50, L'Artusi and The Spotted Pig followed suit. No word yet on this year's vendors, but it's sure to be worth the risk of a fistfight or two. Sept. 13-23. Mulberry St. betw. Canal & Houston Sts., sangennaro.org. Indonesian Food Bazaar One of the borough's best-kept secrets is slowly coming out of the shadows, but it hasn't outgrown its small-town feel just yet. This bazaar pops up in the parking lot of Masjid Al-Hikmah, a hub for the Queens Indonesian community, during the warmer months. All of the vendors are community members who arrive with foil trays of long-stewed rendang, charcoal grills for smoky satay skewers, fritters, dumplings and amazingly multicolored dessert drinks. Don't miss the gado gado, for which friendly church ladies grind the salad's sweet, garlicky peanut dressing in a mortar and pestle to order. Third Sunday of every month (roughly, check online), 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; free (donations to the mosque requested). Masjid Al-Hikmah, 48-01 31st Ave. (at 48th St.), Astoria, masjidalhikmahnewyork.org. Smorgasburg The organizers of the Brooklyn Flea realized the dirty secret of most street fairs: People only come for the food. In response, they created the now-monstrous Smorgasburg, a food-only version of their all-purpose artisanal marketplace. If you want to shop, you can buy pickles, olive oil or cutting boards, but the real reason to visit is for the one-of-a-kind eats. Favorites include Shorty Tang & Sons' cold sesame noodles, from the family that created the dish some 40 years ago, and Bon Chovie's fried anchovies, last season's unlikely snack hit. You'll never look at a mozzarepa at a tube-sock street fair again. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; free.Williamsburg waterfront betw. N. 6th & 7th Sts., brooklynflea.com.
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Summer in the City