Categories
FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

Delicious Scenes From the 2016 Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party returned to Madison Square Park on June 11 and 12. People from all over the New York City area flooded the streets to try out dishes from over a dozen pit masters at the event. From smokey brisket and whole hogs to fried peach pies and crawfish boils, anyone who stopped by for a bite to eat was more than satisfied. 
Photos by Emily Tan for the Village Voice

Categories
FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

Here Are the Winners of Street Food’s Biggest Prize — the Vendy Award

The 11th Annual Vendy Awards, dubbed “the Oscars of street food” by none other than Mario Batali, took place on Governors Island on Sunday. The street food competition, which has spread to other cities such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles, showcases the results of a revolutionary movement that’s taken us from stale pretzels to organic tacos in a little under a decade.

For this year’s sellout ceremony, more than 2,000 people gathered to sample dishes from 25 food trucks. “We’re proud to bring together a diverse community of street food makers,” organizer and director Sean Basinski tells the Voice. “They make New York a more vibrant and delicious place every day.”

Smorgasburg stalwart Home Frite’s signature crispy fries won the Best Market Vendor prize. Renegade Lemonade took home Best Street Drink. Doughnuttery’s snack-size doughnuts nabbed them Best Dessert (surely the Paris Time lavender-pistachio-vanilla variety had something to do with that), and Lawrence Mach’s Southeast Asian–inspired Coney Shack Tacos claimed Rookie of the Year.

The winning Snowday team
The winning Snowday team

But the standout victors of the day, winning both the People’s Choice and the Vendy Cup, were farm-to-truck specialists Snowday, with their crowd-pleasing maple grilled cheese sandwiches and smoked pork ribs. It was a win not only for the comforting “Gourmet Lumberjack” fare but also for social enterprise: The trucks are run by Drive Change, a nonprofit that offers training and employment to young people coming home from jail and prison.

“I was a teacher at Rikers Island for three years,” founder Jordyn Lexton says, “so I saw firsthand the need to broaden opportunities for these young people. Every member of our team is trained and involved in every aspect of running our food truck, from sourcing the ingredients from local farms to menu development to prepping the food and selling it. We’re connecting communities through food, so to win these awards — especially People’s Choice — is unbelievable. We’re so happy. The whole team is just blown away!”

Learn more about Drive Change at DriveChangeNYC.org and on Twitter @snowdaytruck.

Categories
Calendar Datebook Events FOOD ARCHIVES Listings Neighborhoods NYC ARCHIVES

Modcup’s 1969 Citroen Brings Craft Cold Brew to Jersey City

Modcup Coffee is on the move. Partners Justin Hicks and Travas Clifton are relocating their roasting operation to Journal Square later this year, opposite the Mana Contemporary arts center, and their mobile roasting truck, a retrofitted 1969 Citroen H-Van, is now in residence weekdays at the Hyatt Regency (2 Exchange Place, 201-469-1234). “The Hyatt found us on social media and said, ‘We like your truck, we like your brand image’ and asked if we could work together,” recalls Hicks. “At the same time we needed a spot for the truck, and we wanted to stay in Jersey City.”

Unlike the Intelligentsia coffee truck parked in the courtyard of Chelsea’s High Line Hotel, Modcup’s Citroen isn’t stationary, even as it entered this country in pieces. “Two years ago, Clifton found it in Normandy, France. He had it torn apart, put in a shipping container, and shipped here,” says Hicks. After taking it to a Citroen specialist near Toms River, the truck was reassembled, its ceiling raised to accommodate Clifton’s six-two frame, and retrofitted with vintage lever-pulled espresso machines reminiscent of their first Hoboken coffee cart, a Marco Ecoboiler for temperature-controlled hot water, and nitro tanks and taps for their Ethiopian Adado cold brew.

There’s an ice machine too, and fridges under the counter for milk, but Hicks insists their nitro cold brew, poured at 34 degrees, requires neither. “Stumptown went the opposite spectrum. Theirs is more light, like tea, while ours is heavier, creamier,” says Hicks. “The goal with nitro is to have something heavy-bodied like you have milk in it but don’t need it. I don’t know what Stumptown is doing, but we’re using a lot of pressure to achieve that texture.”

Another way Modcup separates itself from its competition is by only selling its cold brew in concentrate. “It’s better than bottling just cold brew — it’s more flexible,” insists Hicks. “Instead of saying this is all you get, we’re offering an elixir. You can see it in cocktails, you can hit it with hot water for instant coffee, hit it with milk. The drink is as limited as you are as an individual.” They’ve also seen customers apply the concentrate to barbecue sauces and to beer, which has spawned Modcup’s latest collaboration, with South Jersey brewery Forgotten Boardwalk. “We took half our nitro and half a can of their vanilla beer, and it’s unbelievable — it was like root beer. So we’re moving forward, tailor-roasting for a cold-brew concentrate they can use in their beer.”

Modcup Coffee's Justin Hicks pours a glass of Ethiopian nitro cold brew off the truck's tap.
Modcup Coffee’s Justin Hicks pours a glass of Ethiopian nitro cold brew off the truck’s tap.

The truck’s biggest feature, literally, is a 2.5-kilo mobile roaster. “The idea is to bring fresh coffee to the general public so they can experience the sight, smell, taste, and feel of freshly roasted coffee,” says Hicks, who plans to demo their half-dozen daily brews and give out samples.

And while it’s not a proper production roaster, those are about to reach a wider audience as well. Modcup plans to relocate its roasting facilities this fall, and launch a new mobile initiative as well. “We’re moving our entire roasting operation to Journal Square, to a brand-new condo complex opposite the Mana Contemporary arts building, but we’re doing something really unusual,” says Clifton. “We had wanted to have a roastery and café under the same roof, but we didn’t want to force people from Mana to come across the road.” Instead they’ve developed self-contained espresso bars on wheels they can push across the street for arts events, and around the city as well, taking the temperature of neighborhoods ripe for expansion in a way their Ecoboiler can’t.

Adam Robb is a food and travel writer based in Jersey City.

Categories
FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

Announcing Our Final Lineup for Choice Streets

In less than one week, some of this city’s best food trucks will gather at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Pier 86 for our fourth annual Choice Streets tasting event, where they’ll dole out bites to hungry crowds. Have you purchased your ticket yet? Do it now — we’ve sold out of VIP fares, but we’ve just released more Early Entry tickets, which get you in the door half an hour early. Plus, we’re announcing our final lineup of trucks today.

Here’s who you’ll see serving food:
Andy’s Italian Ice
Big D’s Grub
Brooklyn Organic Coffee & Tea Truck
Carl’s Steaks
Domo Taco
Gorilla Cheese
King of Falafel and Shawarma
Korilla BBQ
Langos Truck
Mike ‘N Willie’s
Pizza Luca
Ponti Rossi
Snowday
Solber Pupusas
Sweet Chili
The Treats Truck
Valducci’s Pizza
The Vintage Ice Cream Guys
Yankee Doodle Dandy’s

No matter which ticket you purchase, you’ll get a sample from every truck plus unlimited wine, beer, and cocktails. You’ll also be able to check out the Intrepid museum, entry to which is included in your ticket, and take in the sounds of Mariachi Flor de Toloache, an all-female mariachi band. General Admission costs $55 and gets you in the door at 8 p.m.; Early Entry costs $65 and gets you access at 7:30 p.m. The event ends at 11 p.m.

For more information, check out our Choice Streets website. We hope to see you there.

Categories
FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

More Food Trucks Announced for Our Choice Streets Event

Our annual Choice Streets tasting event is quickly approaching: On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, more than twenty of the city’s best food trucks will descend on the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Pier 86 (West 46th Street and Twelfth Avenue, 212-245-0072), where they’ll dole out bites of their best dishes.

We’d previously announced that you can expect to find Korilla BBQ, Langos Truck, Solber Pupusas, Sweet Chili, Valducci’s Pizza, and Yankee Doodle Dandy’s.

Now we’re excited to tell that you can also expect six more participants:
Big D’s Grub
Domo Taco
Gorilla Cheese
Ponti Rossi
Snowday
The Treats Trucks

We’ve also enlisted mariachi band Mariachi Flor de Toloache, the first and only established all-female mariachi band in New York City, to provide entertainment for the evening, because it will be Cinco de Mayo, after all.

We’re selling three tiers of tickets this year. General Admission ($55) gets you in the door at 8 p.m., and you’ll be able to taste something from every truck and drink as much as you’d like. Early Entry ($65) comes with the same perks, though you’ll be able to get in the door at 7:30 p.m. Spring for the VIP fare ($85) and you’ll get all that plus access at 7 p.m., a special VIP gift bag, and a special VIP-only cocktail. Admission to the museum is included with every ticket. Head on over to the Choice Streets website to purchase.

We’ve also begun looking for volunteers for our event; assist us here, and you’ll receive a free general admission ticket to the Village Voice‘s fifth annual Brooklyn Pour Craft Beer Festival on September 26. You must be 21 or older, and you’ll need to fill out an application.

Some of the proceeds from this event will go to Slow Foods, our charitable partner. Find more information about the event on the Choice Streets website.

Categories
FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

Tickets for Our Choice Streets Tasting Event Go on Sale

On Tuesday, May 5, more than twenty of the city’s best food trucks will gather at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (Pier 86, West 46th Street and Twelfth Avenue, 212-245-0072) to dole out bites for our fourth annual Choice Streets tasting event. It’s time to purchase your tickets.

We’re announcing today that Big D’s Grub and Snowday will join our previously announced lineup of trucks, which includes Korilla BBQ, Langos Truck, Solber Pupusas, Sweet Chili, Valducci’s Pizza, and Yankee Doodle Dandy’s. We’ll tell you who else will be there soon. Food will be supplemented by beer, wine, and cocktails, and you’ll dine and drink on the pier beneath the museum — and then tour the museum, if you’d like, as your ticket includes entrance.

We’re selling three tiers of tickets this year. General Admission ($55) gets you in the door at 8 p.m., and you’ll be able to taste something from every truck and drink as much as you’d like. Early Entry ($65) comes with the same perks, though you’ll be able to get in the door at 7:30 p.m. Spring for the VIP fare ($85) and you’ll get all that plus access at 7 p.m., a special VIP gift bag, and a special VIP-only cocktail. Head on over to the Choice Streets website for tickets.

We’ve also begun looking for volunteers for our event; assist us here, and you’ll receive a free general admission ticket to the Village Voice‘s fifth annual Brooklyn Pour Craft Beer Festival on September 26. You must be 21 or older, and you’ll need to fill out an application.

Some of the proceeds from this event will go to Slow Foods, our charitable partner. Find more information about the event on the Choice Streets website.

Tickets go on sale at noon, Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

Categories
FOOD ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES

Get Presale Tickets to Our Choice Streets Food Truck Tasting Event

Can you feel it? The outdoor dining season is just around the corner. And in less than two months from today, you could spend an evening cruising around the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum (Pier 86, West 46th Street and Twelfth Avenue, 212-245-0072), sampling bites from this city’s best food trucks, sipping drinks, and taking in views of the Hudson. Our Choice Streets food truck event is back for a fourth year — and this is your chance to get presale tickets.

When all is said and done, we’ll have more than twenty trucks at this event. Here are six confirmed participants to whet your appetite:

Langos Truck
Korilla BBQ
Sweet Chili
Yankee Doodle Dandy’s
Valducci’s Pizza
Solber Pupusas

As always, we’ll be selling three levels of tickets. Every ticket level, including the $55 General Admission fare, gets you a bite from all participating food trucks, complimentary beverages, and access to the Intrepid (a $22 value). Early Entry admission ($65) gets you in the door a half an hour early. And the VIP fare ($85) gets you an hour of early access plus an exclusive VIP drink and a gift bag.

Each Choice Streets guest will receive an official Choice Streets passport to wear throughout the event; the passport will allow guests one sample from each food truck.

The party is on May 5, 2015, and runs from 8 to 11 p.m. (VIP ticketholders get access at 7, while Early Entry passes get in the door at 7:30.)

Tickets officially go on sale next week, but you can get yours right now if you head on over to our ticketing website and enter the code STREETSED.

See more information about the event on our Choice Streets website.


 

Categories
Calendar Datebook Events FOOD ARCHIVES Listings NYC ARCHIVES Technology THE FRONT ARCHIVES

Eco-Conscious Neapolitan Express Plots an Empire

When it comes to pizza, New Yorkers are fiercely loyal to their favorite parlor. In fact, mention the word franchise and you’re likely to be rebuffed faster than you can fill up a fountain cup. However, the first brick-and-mortar location of Neapolitan Express (232 East 111th Street; 888-828-8199) aims to redefine the perception of a pizza chain by flipping the script written by its predecessors. One major plot twist: The oven is unlike any you’ve probably seen; it follows in the same vein as the business’s eco-friendly food trucks.

]

Rather than use a classic wood- or coal-burning oven, owner Max Crespo is a fan of modern electricity to melt mozzarella — electric ovens can heat up a pie in 90 seconds. His restaurants — both mobile and now brick-and-mortar — use 100 percent clean energy, and his food truck was the first in NYC to be powered completely by alternative energy sources, drawing the praise of former mayor Michael Bloomberg. Crespo’s new East Harlem restaurant continues to build upon the foundation of his mobile fleet with a solar-paneled roof and a soon-to-debut community garden. The location acts as a hub for trucks to refuel, too.

Crespo’s innovative approach may become standard one day, as regulations are in place in New York to make wood- and coal-burning ovens more environmentally friendly through improved filtration systems. “Anybody who has ever stood in front of progress loses that fight,” says Crespo.

This environmentally conscious stance also connects with millennials. “When you talk to millennials, their drive for social good online has a lot to do with the environment,” says Crespo, adding that where food comes from and how it is prepared is a major component of this movement.

Neapolitan Express also partners with armed service organizations such as Wounded Warriors. Crespo says that any veteran interested in owning a franchise would have their fee waved. “They paid their franchise fee on the battlefield,” he says. “In fact, we owe them.”

But even as Crespo looks to build a franchise empire, all outlets of his company will use the same pizza recipes, which are time-tested and traditional, and come from pizzaiolo Giulio Adriani, the Forcella founder Crespo met through a mutual friend. Adriani uses ingredients such as Caputo flour and San Marzano tomatoes. The business is also transparent about its nutritional information — calorie counts can be viewed on its website. The current menu features seven varieties of pie, including pizzas covered in everything from mozzarella di bufala to Nutella.

The burgeoning enterprise also plans to open soon at 40 Wall Street and 805 Third Avenue, and plans are in place to expand nationwide.

Neapolitan Express's new East Harlem location will serve as a restaurant and refueling station.
Categories
Datebook Events FOOD ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES

U.S. Open’s Gourmet Food Truck Makes the Rounds in Manhattan Next Week

If you haven’t taken advantage of a trip to Queens for the annual U.S. Open, you might not realize you’re missing out on a major food event — and also some live tennis. Not to worry, as the folks from the United States Tennis Association (USTA) are offering an early taste of the food that awaits those interested in checking out this year’s tournament.

Beginning Monday, August 11, and continuing through Wednesday, August 13, a USTA food truck will stop at select locations throughout Manhattan to offer up complimentary items including lobster rolls, brisket from Hill Country, and Richard Sandoval’s steak tacos. Guests can also choose from David Burke’s filet sliders as well as chicken or meatball sandwiches.

Festivities kick off at Madison Square Park at noon. At noon on Tuesday, the truck will be on site at Union Square. The three-day tour wraps up at Bryant Park on Wednesday starting at 5 p.m.

All items are available on a first come, first served basis.

Tennis aficionados who seek out the truck will receive a special promotional code to receive select two-for-one tickets. During Monday’s event, fans get the opportunity to take a photo of the U.S. Open trophy.

“A lot of sporting events, people assume you just have hot dogs and hamburgers. The U.S. Open has always had those innovative food offerings. We wanted to bring those interesting options to a broader audience,” says Nicole Kamkam, managing director of marketing at the USTA whose team helped launch the new endeavor.

Though the truck won’t be making the rounds once Rafael Nadal and company start swinging their racquets, guests can expect to find a wide variety of food — and adult beverage — options beginning Saturday, August 23. You can peruse the full lineup of dining experiences available on the U.S. Open’s website.

Categories
FOOD ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES

Six Things From Chef That Would Never Happen in Real Life

Chef is a movie about restaurants and food trucks written and directed by Jon Favreau, who also plays the protagonist chef Carl Casper. He worked to accurately portray chefs’ lives via little details: His character has multiple forearm tattoos, wears a bandana, and lives in a messy apartment with a ridiculously nice kitchen. You can thank Roy Choi for the minutiae; he was a co-producer and consultant on the movie. But there are still plenty of things that happen in Chef that would never happen in real life, aside from the fact that it’s extremely unlikely Favreau would be able to attract Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson as love interests just by making some kick ass carne asada. Here are the top six things the movie got wrong.

6. The restaurant serves the same exact meal to a critic twice, and the team knew he was coming in both times.

Having Oliver Platt, brother of actual New York restaurant critic Adam Platt, star as Los Angeles’ most popular food blogger, Ramsey Michel, was a stroke of genius by the casting department. Perhaps Favreau should have consulted Adam, though, before writing the scene in which the kitchen serves the food blogger the same exact meal that he viciously berated in a review only a few days before. It’s hard to believe that a restaurant would invite a critic back in for a second chance only to drop the ball; it’s even harder to believe that the critic would actually agree to re-taste the dish.

5. The food truck has a permit ready to go in a matter of days.

Once Favreau’s life blows up over his Twitter jabs and dining room meltdown over the critic’s bad review, he gives up fine dining and picks up a food truck, which is magically ready to operate everywhere in the country almost instantaneously. We’ll give Favreau his artistic license here: In the real world, the amount of time it takes to file for and receive a permit to operate a food truck in multiple states would pretty much kill the rhythm of the film entirely.

You can't work a food truck if you're 10, even if you're just bonding with your father.
You can’t work a food truck if you’re 10, even if you’re just bonding with your father.

4. There’s a 10 year old working the line.

Fun fact from the U.S. Department of Labor: “Children under 14 years of age may not be employed in non-agricultural occupations covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including food service establishments.” That 10-year-old worked the (incredibly hot and probably extremely dangerous) line like a champ, though, and he refused to back down, even after burning his finger on a hot press.

El Jefe totally jacked that spot from a schwarma stand, which would get it a ticket in the real world.
El Jefe totally jacked that spot from a schwarma stand, which would get it a ticket in the real world.

3. The food truck pulls up wherever it wants, and there’s never any other competition.

El Jefe, Favreau’s truck, takes viewers on a cross-country road trip with stops in Miami, New Orleans, and Austin on its way to L.A. Thanks to its impressive child social media guru, it attracts a megacrowd, too, which flock to the truck when it parks wherever the crew feels like parking. Like right on South Beach. Or Frenchman Street. Or right outside an impromptu Gary Clark Jr. concert in Austin. Try that in real life, and you’ll soon be bleeding dollars to the local parking police.

2. The food truck is super profitable.

Turning a food truck or small restaurant into an empire is a real path to success — just ask Roy Choi, or Luke Holden, or any number of restaurateurs who started with a rolling kitchen and have continuously seen their influence grow. But the idea that Favreau turns one truck into a full-out restaurant in six months is…a bit ambitious, even if you ignore the lease and build-out time warp. Food trucks are expensive operations — and even with a legion of fans, making a chunk of change substantial enough to fund a brick-and-mortar takes a lot longer than a few month stretch.

1. The chef winds up becoming business partners…with the food critic that crushed him.

It’s not completely unheard of for a food writer to trade in the pen for a POS system, but the idea that Oliver Platt sold his food blog for tons of cash and purchased his own restaurant is laughable, beyond the fact that most bloggers (like me!) are broke. I’ve had some seriously transcendent plates of platanos, but none that’d make me give up my life’s work to go into business with a guy I’d previously crushed in a review.