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This Week’s Six Best Food and Drink Events

Shake off the snowy start to February and get out there — here are six great food and drink events happening in the city this week.

Guest Chef Dinner, All’onda, 22 East 13th Street, Monday, 6:30 p.m.

Kicking off a series of guest-chef dinners, Richard Kuo of Pearl & Ash is bringing a family-style barbecue feast to All’onda. Kuo and All’onda chef Chris Jaekle are collaborating on dishes like pulled pork shoulder, St. Louis ribs, and smoked cornbread; Nathan Rawlinson will pair that fare with buckets of beer, spicy vinegar drinks, and coffee-infused bourbon from the bar. Seatings take place every half-hour from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; reservations are $65 (beverages not included).

Brewskee-Ball Jamboree, Full Circle Bar, 318 Grand Street, Brooklyn, Monday, 7 p.m.

Interested in a new bicep workout? Consider lifting beer and skee-balls at this kickoff party, while partaking in a two-hour Genesee beer and Deep Eddy vodka open bar. Guests can also sign up for the 2015 season and receive drink deals at the bar. League games begin February 9. Register on the Brooklyn Brewskee-Ball website.

Cooks and Books, The Entrepreneur’s Space, 36-46 37th Street, Queens, Tuesday, 6 p.m.

Celebrating its fourth birthday, this Long Island City food and business incubator is inviting guests to network with like-minded food lovers. The event will feature 30 e-space vendors dishing out samples, including locally made breads, cakes, and wine. And look for guides to Queens, including Queens: A Culinary Passport by Andrea Lynn, who will be on hand to sign copies of her book.

Free Tea, David’s Tea, Multiple Locations, Wednesday, 10 a.m.

Come Wednesday, David’s Tea is offering a free cup of any tea (hot or iced) to anyone who has the Etsy app on their phone. Guests can also purchase an early Valentine’s Day gift, an original handmade ceramic mug, as part of the promotion.

Presentation Fight Night, Brooklyn Brewery, 79 North 11th Street, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

To be a meat-eater, or not to be — that is the question at this beer-filled symposium. The friendly debate-style discussion will center around questions such as whether anyone actually stays a vegetarian forever; the ethics of fish fillets; and the history of the human diet. The brewery will offer tokens for $5 drafts, and you might win one of several secret prizes. Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door.

Bitten: A Food Conversation, Scholastic Auditorium, 557 Broadway, Friday, 8:15 a.m.

This all-day event looks at food as it relates to trends, start-ups, and pop culture, with a lineup of special guests that includes food bloggers, stylists, and photographers sharing their thoughts. The event also includes Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) executive director Peter Kim, who will discuss why the world needs a food museum, and former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses, who will talk about the state of baking today. Tickets start at $160 for groups of three.


 

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This Week’s Five Best Food Events – 12/29/2014

It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which means productivity is on vacation. Treat yourself to these five food events as a great way to say goodbye to 2014 or to ring in 2015.

Food Trend Dinner at Nossa Mesa Supper Club, Louro, 142 West 10th Street, Monday, 7 p.m.

For the final episode of 2014’s Nossa Mesa Supper Club, chef David Santos is crafting a menu honoring this year’s food trends. The seven-course tasting menu pays homage to Thai food, Sichuan fare, tacos, and über-trendy vegetables like celery and arugula. Tickets are $55 and can be secured by contacting the restaurant.

Toddler Tuesdays, Lefrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park, 171 East Drive, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.

If your little one needs to skate off some steam after seeing what Santa brought, take advantage of this park’s early morning sessions. For $15, one child ages 2 to 5 and one adult receive a one-hour tutorial on how to fall with dignity, with snacks and juice included. There’s also a snack bar, which opens at 11 a.m. for those in need of hot chocolate, grilled cheese, or Sigmund’s Pretzels. Tickets purchased in advance can be redeemed on any Tuesday.

One Year Anniversary, All’Onda, 22 East 13th Street, Wednesday

In addition to New Year’s Eve, All’Onda is celebrating its one-year anniversary by offering 50 percent off all sparkling wines. Chef Chris Jaeckle is also offering a few holiday specials, such as a crudo platter, in addition to his à la carte menu featuring a variety of pastas and a short rib for two. The restaurant will celebrate its birthday with a cake at midnight. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant directly.

Coney Island Polar Dip After Party, Peggy O’Neill’s, Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, Thursday, 1 p.m.

Share a beer with strangers after jumping into frigid waters. For a suggested donation of $20, New Yorkers can prove their insanity by participating in the Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s annual New Year’s Day plunge and receive a free pint glass for their troubles. Afterwards, polar bears are invited to this nearby bar to fill up that pint glass while talking about just how refreshing the Atlantic Ocean is this time of year. The bar is also offering a $50 plunge special starting at 11:30 a.m., which includes a continental breakfast, lunch, select drinks, and a swim care package. Registration can be completed on the day of the event or in advance.

Stay Warm Winter Supper, Miette Culinary Studio, 109 MacDougal Street, Suite 2, Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Start the new year off by learning how to perfect winter staples like butternut squash and green apple soup, roasted pork tenderloin with celery root purée, and julienne vegetables. This class will also show you how to make a raspberry soufflé — something to keep in mind for Valentine’s Day, perhaps. Reservations are $95 and can be secured through the studio’s website.

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Recipe: Want a Little Hanky-Panky? Then Mix Gin and Vermouth

Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice.

Today’s call comes by way of Kate Nelson, bartender at All’onda (22 East 13th Street; 212-231-2236)

What’s your favorite drink to order when you go out?

The hanky-panky. Terrific name, even better drink!

What is it about this drink that you like so much?

I love gin, and I love vermouth, both spirits which feature prominently in the hanky-panky. If I’m going to a cocktail bar with friends on a rare night I’m not working, I’ll select this one, because it’s a drink that I know I’ll enjoy, and the bartenders will likely know it. I love that it’s a boozy cocktail in that all the elements are different liquors, but the relatively large vermouth quotient means that the cocktail doesn’t hit me like a sledgehammer. What I think really makes the drink stand out is the addition of Fernet Branca, an Italian amaro with a big, burly personality, which, in this case, acts as a gentle nuance. Especially now that the cooler months are approaching, this is a wintry gin cocktail at its finest.

Has it always been your favorite? How long did it take you to find it? What was that process like?

I learned about this cocktail several years ago when I bartended in D.C. I was struck by its simplicity (I tend to prefer simple, elegant cocktails) and that, by all accounts, it was a variation on another of my favorite classics, the martinez. Also, it’s a drink that Ada Coleman, the head bartender at the American Bar at the Savoy in London, created during the early 1900s, and it certainly made an impression on me that a woman had been at the helm of a major cocktail bar back in those days.

Could you name a few places around town that make your favorite drink?

I lived near The Richardson bar in Brooklyn this past year, and I was delighted to find the hanky-panky on the menu there. I ordered the drink off-menu at Death & Co. not too long ago. The hanky-panky is a real classic, and luckily, there are a lot of bars here in the city that make it their business to know classic cocktails. That means I can order the drink at many cocktail bars, even if it’s not on the menu, and know that it will be well made.

What’s the recipe, for those who want to make it at home?

1 1/2 ounces gin (Dorothy Parker gin from New York Distilling Co. works great)
1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth (Cocchi Vermouth di Torino is nice here)
Barspoon of Fernet Branca

Stir ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with an orange peel.

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An Early Taste of All’Onda, Which Opened Monday in the Village

Fierce buzz preceded the entrance of All’Onda (22 East 13th Street, 212-231-2236), a new restaurant near Union Square from chef Chris Jaeckle and restauranteur Chris Cannon.

As the story goes, Jaeckle and Cannon crossed paths years back when Jaeckle was the incoming chef at Ai Fiori and Cannon was the outgoing restaurateur at Altamarea Group. They re-connected on LinkedIn and met for lunch, bonded over their shared history with and departure from Altamarea, and when Jaeckle started planning a new project, he brought Cannon on board as a consultant.

Early rumors said it would be Italian. Then a risotto-forward restaurant with an emphasis on sparkling wines. Eventually, the pair settled on Northern Italian with Japanese undertones (don’t call it fusion!), which Cannon sees as a natural outgrowth of Jaeckle’s earlier time at Morimoto.

Cannon says he encouraged Jaeckle to bring Japanese emphasis on technique and plating to the Italian table, which was a struggle at first: “For awhile,” Cannon says, “[Jaeckle] was really afraid, like, ‘Oh no, they’re going to call it fusion.’ And I was like ‘Don’t worry about that…If the [resulting] food tastes Italian and feels Italian and you’ve used a couple Japanese products or techniques to make it more interesting and flavorful, that’s great, don’t worry about it.'”

Cannon, who has spent the last thirty years serving critically-acclaimed Italian food, says strict adherence to “authentic Italian” limits chefs and food alike: “If you deviated even slightly, everyone was like ‘Oh my god, you can’t do that,’ so no one [has been] willing to mess around with [Italian food], and that’s ridiculous.”

Other cuisines, Cannon says, aren’t boxed in by the same traditions: “If you go to eat at Le Bernadin or Jean Georges, three quarters of the menu is from South America or Asia. It was fine for a French chef to do that, but as soon as you get to the Italian vernacular, it’s like, “That’s not Italian — you can’t do that.”

We had a nice, long chat with Cannon, so check back for a longer interview in the next few days, but to whet your palate, we swung by opening night to see what all the fuss is about.

Click to the next page for an early taste.

On the ground floor is a sleek entry hall, an airy space with clean, modern design. This is a room made for drinking before dinner, a bar room with high tables and the kitchen at back. One imagines meeting friends for snacks and some pre-dinner sparklers before heading upstairs for a proper dinner in the dining room.

Upstairs, a long row of booths hug the wall, leading to a floor-to-ceiling window at the front of the room, which overlooks the NYU-driven bustle of 13th Street. From a story up, it’s not fishbowly at all. Long, chestnut-colored posts reach to the ceiling, harkening back to old-world wall-studs you’d expect in an Italian cottage but at clean, contemporary angles; there’s also plenty of whitewashed exposed brick. At the back of the room, there’s a banquette and more tables, which could be used for semi-private functions.

Dinner is properly Italian at the outset. Waiters deliver a bowl of fine, crusty bread and a pot of spicy, northern Italian olive oil.

The wine list is sparkler-heavy; Cannon’s list keeps to the Northern Italian theme, but you’ll find lots of esoteric, uncommon wines, and unless you’re a sommelier or a serious enthusiast, you probably won’t recognize most of them. Cannon has them clearly mapped out, and the list, an approachable 150 bottles, describes each wine in detail. Most of them ring in at under $60 per bottle, and Cannon says that’s because they’re too obscure to garner much demand. To us, that’s super exciting and fun.

We opted for a dry, non-vintage Villa di Corlo Lambrusco ($13), from Emiligia-Romana. It was a quiet, dark red sparkler with lots of blackberry and rhubarb, that was light enough to work with most of the dishes we tried, all of which arrived on gorgeous Japanese earthenware, beautiful complements to Jaeckle’s pretty but unfussy plates.

Pumpkin soup ($10) is but a bowl with nibbles of pacific prawn and bits of herb and the cooked squash, until a waiter pours in the savory, bright orange soup from a tiny teapot.

You’ll find fish spread across the menu, which is organized into bites, small plates, pastas, mains, and sides. In the bites section, look for monkfish liver crostino ($9) or a musky, jet-black squid ink arancini ($9) with slivers of uni.

Other small dishes include razor clams ($11) with sopressata; scallops ($17) with cauliflower, anchovy, and olive; and sweetbreads ($16) with celeriac and bonito.

Jaeckle is putting out some enviable pastas, which include pappardelle ($18) with duck ragout and a black risotto ($17) with radicchio. And airy, ricotta-stuffed tortellini ($15) bob in a bowl of parmesan dashi. Everything about the dish is clean, delicate, crystal clear, and balanced.

But the menu does strive to cover its bases. We tried the steak ($29) for good measure, and served in thin, red slices with tiny fingerlings and seared mustard greens, it’s a fine cut of meat and a safe bet if your date (like mine) is intimidated by more challenging seafaring options. But we’ll go back for the dorade ($28) with pickled chili and salsa verde, and the guinea hen ($27) with parsnip and fois gras sugo, a classic French dish we saw at Perla a while back.

We were stuffed by the time dessert rolled around, but couldn’t resist a scoop of Jaeckle’s soy sauce ice cream ($3), which reads a little like salted caramel ice cream: salty and sweet, but with a hint of soy.

We’re eager to try more of Cannon’s colorful sparkling selections and savor more of the menu.