The refrigerated case at Bali Kitchen in the East Village is the size of a casino slot machine and bears virtually as many exciting fruity combinations. Under fluorescent lights, usual-suspect American sodas sit alongside custom-bottled soft drinks flavored with pineapple and ginger, juice box cartons of jasmine or cinnamon-tinged Indonesian teas, and what look like more sodas but are actually cans of “milk peanut soup,” a sugary legume potage. Better still are the sealed plastic cups of house-made fruit drinks ($3-$7): floral lychee and magenta-hued rambutan iced teas crowded with pulpy flesh and whole fruit; creamy avocado stained with swirls of chocolate syrup; and a frothy durian juice, equal parts stinky and sweet.
Cendol ($6) blurs the lines between drink and dessert. If you like the gummi worm concoction known as dirt pudding, you’ll no doubt enjoy digging through this refreshing mess of coconut milk zapped with palm sugar and brimming with strands of rice-flour jelly tinted green from vanilla-like pandan leaf. Other chilled sweets ($4-$5) peek out from disposable ramekins, like multicolored, mildly tart jackfruit custards (vegan and non-) topped with cubes of coconut jelly. Klappertaart, a gooey, raisin-studded coconut cake that harks back to Indonesia’s Dutch colonial past, is a mainstay. And if you’re so inclined, it’s recently been joined by a similar cake that swaps out coconut for durian, the pungent fruit mellowing as it bakes. There are prepared tofu salads ($7.95) in the cold case, too, mosh pits of firm bean curd with diced long beans and shredded coconut or a swarm of pineapple, hard-boiled eggs, and crunchy, slightly bitter emping — deep-fried chips made from the seeds of the melinjo plant — waiting to be tossed with jalapeño and peanut dressings.
Hungrier folk will want to seek out the sprawling picture menu that stretches across half of the wall, or consult with the smaller chalkboard menu next to it that lists the full rundown plus a few seasonal specials, like sayur lodeh ($4.95), a heavenly coconut milk and root vegetable stew suffused with lemongrass, lime leaves, candlenuts, and the maritime funk of dried shrimp. It can be ordered with chunks of tempeh, though chopped sweet shrimp more soulfully speak to the soup’s already briny, citrusy punch.
The eight-seat restaurant, which takes up a whitewashed sliver of a storefront on East Fourth Street, comes from spouses David Prettyman, an erstwhile aid worker who coordinates City Harvest’s Greenmarket food rescues, and Jazz P. Souisay, an artist and fashion designer from eastern Java who is also the head chef here. They opened Bali Kitchen just shy of a year ago with an eye toward takeout and delivery. Everything is served in compostable containers and with eco-friendly flatware. Vegetarian alternatives abound. It’s a boon not only to the neighborhood, but to a city that, despite its wide-ranging dining options, only has about a dozen or so restaurants devoted to Indonesian cuisine.
While Bali is where the couple met more than two decades ago, Souisay’s menu hopscotches around the Indonesian archipelago, paying tribute to the diverse cooking traditions spread throughout the country’s 13,000-plus islands. Soto ayam Ambengan ($11.95) hails from Surabaya, the city where he grew up. The turmeric-spiked chicken noodle soup is as comforting a bowl as you could hope for, full of rice cakes, fragrant fried garlic, half a boiled egg, and the plump, Dutch-influenced potato fritter called perkedel. A squeeze of lime bolsters the gently sour lemongrass broth.
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Two kinds of Indonesia’s staggering number of regional grilled sate skewers are offered. Both are excellent. Served as an entrée with chewy coconut rice cakes and spicy pickled mango, sate Makassar ($13.95), named for a city on the southern coast of Sulawesi, finds lightly charred chicken reveling in a glaze of peanut dressing and a tart sauce made with bilimbi, a cousin of the starfruit. Balinese sate lilit ($6.95), meanwhile, is a ginger-and-turmeric–packed appetizer of chicken, swai fish, or mushrooms ground with shredded coconut and formed around pronged sticks like oblong meatballs. Dip them into Bali’s sambal matah, a raw shallot-lemongrass relish that delivers a feisty kick.
Noodle and rice dishes make up the heartiest meals. Souisay’s beef rendang ($13.95) is worth the trip alone. The glorious flood of saucy brisket is cooked down for six to eight hours in coconut milk fortified with, among other things, galangal, star anise, and makrut lime, until the sauce thickens and the meat relaxes in a fork-tender heap. Ladled next to sautéed greens and a spoonful of sambal, it’s sensationally aromatic and filling. There are also fried egg and garlic cracker-topped stir fries of wheat or cellophane noodles ($10.95) and dabu dabu ($14.95), chicken or fish smothered in a vibrant mango-pineapple salsa that feels summer appropriate. Bali Kitchen’s nasi goreng ($10.95), a nationally beloved fried rice, is liberally laced with the Indonesian sweet soy sauce kecap manis, though the condiment fades into the background in nasi goreng kampung ($11.95), which adds shrimp paste, bitter beans, and an abundance of dried krill and baby anchovies to the equation for an eye-opening rush of concentrated fermented oceanic salinity. Sate lilit reappears in the nasi campur bali ($14.95), joining gingery simmered chicken breast, tempeh strips, diced long beans, and sambal-covered hard-boiled eggs, all placed around a mound of jasmine rice. For nasi kuning ($12.95), a vegetarian version, the rice is turmeric and stewed mushrooms are the star.
One of the cooks, David Silva, is in charge of all of the desserts. His greatest achievement isn’t found in the refrigerated case, but instead hangs out by the register among the assorted fried snacks under glass domes. Called lapis legit ($4.50) or spekkoek in Dutch, the dense and buttery layer cake is another vestige of colonialism. With more than twenty layers, it takes hours to make. The end result is as precious as a piece of jewelry, redolent of pandan and cinnamon and doled out in diminutive striped slices. Like Bali Kitchen, it’s a brief taste of Indonesia that speaks volumes.
Everyone comes to New York to gape slack-jawed at beauty — unless, of course, you’re beautiful, in which case you’ve come here to be adored, or you’re already here, in which case, having been surrounded by both beauty and ugliness in profusion, you are insensate to it.
As a young man — not even eighteen years old — I arrived in New York in the summer of ’99, unbeautiful, suburban, and sponge-like. I was ready to be impressed. I lived in an NYU dormitory on Union Square with a flip phone, a laptop full of Napster-nabbed tunes, and a kid named Jason who snored so loudly that I at first took his wall-shaking snorts to be the subway below. We lived a few doors down from the Coffee Shop, a shimmering 24-hour disco ball of a restaurant and bar, full of stunningly beautiful, arctically cool, actually glamorous gods and demigods for whom Manhattan was Olympus and the herbed french fries they served there ambrosia. But heaven doesn’t last forever. As was announced this month, the Coffee Shop will close its doors in October.
Twenty years ago, the Coffee Shop beckoned like a shiny object does a crow. Opened in 1990 by a trio of Wilhelmina models — Charles Milite, Eric Petterson, and Carolyn Benitez — the Coffee Shop trafficked in physical, some might say superficial, beauty. The pleasingly retro dining room and bar operates under a Byzantine system of seating, no less codified than such tony redoubts as the Four Seasons, Michael’s, and Elaine’s. But unlike in those restaurants, where power was determined by wealth, position, or publishing numbers, at the Coffee Shop, beauty was the only salient metric. For an unsure nube like me, the appeal was evident. One didn’t just receive a Sesame Chicken Salad. The order of the world and your place in it was revealed. The maître d’ was God, and how we trembled waiting for judgment.
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Alas, being all of seventeen and looking like I was twelve, I was routinely barred entrance, or else allowed passage only to the To Go podium, where I’d order a milkshake and a side of ambrosial fries, then return to my bedroom, to read of Odysseus and Nausicaa all the while fantasizing about what hedonistic fun the real-life nymphs were having but a few feet away. It turns out all my jizzy fantasies were true, as were other fantasies too nuanced and mature for my vulgar mind to concoct at the time.
When I heard of the closing, I reached out to Courtney Yates, who worked at the Coffee Shop for six years between 2004 and 2010. Yates is, as one might expect from a Coffee Shop alumna, a bona fide BP. She is not the most famous Coffee Shop employee — having only appeared on Survivor, twice — but, due to a 2007 Grub Street article, the most Googleable. Other notable alumni include Laverne Cox and — this made me flip my wig — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she was just Sandy from the Bronx. Now, Yates lives in Sugar Hill, Harlem, USA. She works as an astrologer, massage therapist, and yoga teacher, but for six years of the Coffee Shop’s prime, she was both arbiter of beauty and its prime embodiment. She agreed to meet me for dinner recently at 8:30 p.m., a time I had assumed would be peak people-watching.
A little after we were supposed to meet: “I’m on my way but, as you know the MTA is trash,” she texted. So I entered through the Coffee Shop’s glass doors alone. At once, the feelings of existential uncertainty flooded back again, after so many years. If you’ve ever walked into a cafeteria as a new student, tray in hand and lump in throat, you know the feeling. I hadn’t come to the Coffee Shop in a decade; neither — apparently — had many others, thus the restaurant’s impending closure. And yet, so ingrained was the sensation of judgment, of stepping up to receive one’s sentence from on high, that I quailed at the host stand. The gentleman — handsome, forty, flirty, fab — led me back to a two-top behind the bar, where I sat wondering what it all meant.
When she finally arrived, Yates said, a little apologetically, “Ah, #34. You’re a normal.” When I was younger, I would have been crushed. Middle-aged now, I realize, yes, I am a normal. Normal is OK. Normal is normal. Yates, on the other hand, was and is beautiful, and I wondered, as I browsed the sort of wonderfully normcore menu, how she felt seeing the world from #34.
Though we were separated only by a small table, the delta between Courtney and I was vast. For me, the Coffee Shop was a terrifying adjudication of self-worth. For Yates, and the thousands of other model/waiters who worked there, it was the start of a glorious life in New York. “When I came here,” she said, “I didn’t know anyone.” She was a twenty-two-year-old model from Boston hired by Benitez, who was in charge of all staffing, and soon initiated into the Club of Beautiful People, a counterintuitively inclusive demographic. “Since we were all beautiful,” explains Yates, “no one was jealous or judgmental. We were like a Benetton ad.” She recounts with glee the hijinks and camaraderie of Coffee Shop survivors, who braved groping, grabbing, gooing, and gawing from the “Perve Curve,” a section of the undulating bar from which lascivious barflies cheesed on spindly waiters picking up their cocktails. She recalls the joy of the $2 staff menu and buying meals for assholes for the sole purpose of being able to tell them to go fuck themselves. “And I never got in trouble for it,” she says, still amazed after all these years.
Yates remembers the best section was the normals in the back, because it was always full, whereas the tables reserved for the beautiful and the famous — tables 6, 7, 8, and 9 — frequently sat empty. She recalls Nelly and Ashanti cuddling at table 101 in the back-back room, and David LaChapelle stopping by for brunch, like, all the time. She remembers how much she hated Susan Sarandon, a friend of the owner’s, for insisting that milkshakes stay on the menu — an item that, as any waiter anywhere will tell you, is a pain in the ass to make. “I can forgive her for coming out against Hillary,” says Yates, “but not the milkshakes.” She not only remembers her friends from the Coffee Shop, but still is friends with her friends from the Coffee Shop.
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For Yates, everything flowed from here. It was here — exactly here at table #34 — where, after telling off a drunk d-bag, she was approached by a producer from CBS to appear on Survivor, which she did, twice, once in China and once as a villain on the Heroes vs. Villains season. It was here and, more precisely, around the corner where she’d repair after her shift to drink at the Park Bar until morning. It was here where she formed the sorts of friendships that do not decay with time. Friendships with guys like Ted, another waiter, older now, who still cat-sits for her. Ted isn’t hot. He’s awesome. He’s a school teacher who lives in the Bronx, teaches English to ESL students, and, hustling, has worked nights at the Coffee Shop since time immemorial. It’s Ted, Guardian Angel of Coffee Shop waiters, who is one of those quietly necessary people who cohere bonds of friendship and bonhomie, who keep things together when everything else falls apart.
The food comes. The best that can be said about it is that it is, indeed, food. The cheeseburger is, in fact, a cheeseburger. If I had ordered a grilled cheese, I’m sure it would be that. I imagine the calamari fritto would be either fried squid rings or fried bleached pig anuses. I would eat it either way and care little. Food was always the beard at the Coffee Shop. The real feast was for the eyes. Was.
As she looked around the half-full dining room, Yates seemed nonplussed. “What I tell my friends is that death is a part of life. The space and energy of the Coffee Shop will dissipate, to pop up in other aspects of your life.” Though she hasn’t worked there for years, Yates knew almost all the bussers and food runners and kitchen staff. “They’re here for years,” she says, “but the servers aren’t. Beauty turns over fast.”
Today there’s something noble, tragic, and just about the Coffee Shop. Its avowed insistence on physical beauty seems awkwardly out of step in today’s culture. But like a silent movie star who refuses talkies, the Coffee Shop is too proud or has too much integrity to adapt. Tables 6, 7, 8, and 9 are still reserved for the beautiful and famous patrons who will most likely never come again. Normals, like me, are still tucked, lonely, out of sight. The order of the world is preserved, even as that world disappears.
On the way out, Yates and I ran into Charles Milite, one of the owners. He’s in his fifties now, and, as with any older model, the sharpness of his features had been blotted by time. He was just passing by. He doesn’t go in much at all now. But he seemed to take the end of the Coffee Shop with a measure of equanimity and humor. “It’s going to make a great Chase Bank,” he said, flashing a sad smile that twinkled fetchingly in the hot night of a much changed city, one no longer with room for the Coffee Shop and all its beauties.
Lupe Gonzalo covers her face with her hands, leaving only her eyes visible. She’s miming the handkerchiefs young women would wear on the tomato fieldsto disguise their youth and protect themselves from men on the job site.
“When you’re harvesting tomatoes, you’re leaning down and bending,” Gonzalo explains. “There were people who would come by while you were leaning down and doing unwanted physical contact, touching you in ways that you didn’t want to be touched. These were crew leaders, supervisors, even fellow workers.”
Gonzalo moved alone to America in 2000 from Guatemala, at the age of 20. “We are people of the fields,” she says in her native Spanish. “Since I was very little I’ve been working in agriculture.” She did not know what she would find in her new home, only that she wanted something more than the unceasing poverty she’d endured in Guatemala.
For the last twelve years, Gonzalo has harvested tomatoes in Florida, Virginia, and North and South Carolina, a story she wants the public to hear again and again. “We had to work in silence and put our heads down, in order to deflect and not feel the harassment that was coming our way,” she says.
Gonzalo would often observe women returning sad and silent after having taken a ride with crew leaders. These leaders would lure women into their trucks by telling them they’d drive them to a different spot on the farm, and then instead would drive them to a deserted area, where they would sexually coerce, grope, or sexually assault the women. There was no one the women could report the behavior to. “Sometimes when you did that, it would make the problem even worse, which was why people were discouraged from reporting,” Gonzalo says.
Along with Julia de la Cruz, Nely Rodriguez, and Silvia Perez, three other women in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Gonzalo is trying to bring attention to the sexual harassment and assault female farmworkers who harvest America’s crops regularly endure. On February 28, these four women penned an open letter to the Time’s Up movement that beseeched the women of Hollywood to share their platform with the farmworker women of the South who have endured low wages, rampant sexual harassment and abuse, and some of the worst working conditions in the country.
Their goal is to encourage food retailers to join the Fair Food Program, a seventeen-year-old worker-driven social responsibility model set up by CIW that has succeeded in getting many fast food and supermarket companies to commit to improving working conditions among the employees of its food suppliers, thereby ensuring better working environments on many farms. Many major chains, including McDonald’s and Taco Bell, have since signed on. But Wendy’s has been a prominent holdout, claiming it has its own internal code of conduct and that it prefers tomatoes harvested outside of the U.S.
In response, the women staged a five-day fast last week outside the Manhattan offices of Nelson Peltz, Wendy’s largest shareholder and chair of its board of directors, which culminated in a march last Thursday beginning outside of midtown’s One Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza.
“Women agricultural laborers have for decades said, ‘Me Too,’ ” says Gonzalo. “It’s important that the media focus not just on the stories of actresses and models and high-profile figures, but also on the day-to-day struggles of workers everywhere, of women everywhere.”
Near the southern end of Florida is a swampy, muggy area called Immokalee, which means “my home” in the Mikasuki language. There’s a regional airport a mile from the central business district, a Seminole tribe reservation and casino, a swamp sanctuary, and not much else: 23 square miles of land, 384 acres of water, and about 24,000 people. But chances are, if you’ve ever bought or consumed a tomato, it has come from Immokalee.
Women working on the farms rise every day at five in the morning; those with children, like Gonzalo, must be up to wake their children at 3:30 a.m., preparing their breakfast and readying them for school before dawn, she shares. At 6 a.m., the women are at the bus stop, and by 7 a.m. they are at the farms.
And then, they arm themselves with buckets to await the exact moment the heat dries the tomato plant. Finally, after 10 a.m. they march forward and begin picking. This is merely the start of a workday that many times will last another twelve hours, one where farms keep workers at the ready from early morning, even if they’re simply waiting.
This is not easy work. The swamps that used to thrive here before agriculture took over the land still haunt these fields with their sticky heat. The Florida sun is not kind to naked skin. The women have to fight the plants for the fruits and vegetables. The bugs are as omnipresent as air.
If the work itself — bend, pick, stand, fill, repeat — is not easy, the working conditions are even worse. Many times, there are no bathroom breaks and no access to clean drinking water; CIW has recorded instances of workers being beaten for taking breaks.
Julia de la Cruz moved to Florida twelve years ago from Guerrero, Mexico, at the age of 22. She left behind her entire family to support them with her wages, she says in Spanish. She has worked as a migrant farmworker, chasing harvest seasons from Tennessee to Michigan to Florida and back. There’s no type of plant she hasn’t picked with her hands, including squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and rice.
For her fellow farmworkers, she says, even Spanish is often a second language, as indigenous languages are their native tongues. Lacking fluency in a common language, as well as unfamiliarity with labor laws, makes them an easy mark for wage theft, as farms pay them in cash with no record of what they were owed.
Some supervisors would summon farmworkers to work around the clock without pay. Others visited the female farmworkers in the dead of night.
De la Cruz says she was lucky: She was able to ask for help from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who persuaded the grower to fire the farm supervisor who had subjected her to inappropriate and uninvited touching.
“I learned that the same person had raped someone before, in that same farm,” she says. “Two young women, but they were fired instead.” Though she never met them, she says, “what I told myself was that I will never let that happen to me. I will find a way out if it ever escalates beyond that, but it never did.”
Gonzalo first met the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in 2010 when it visited the farm she worked at; she had previously only heard of it on the radio. The CIW was launched in 1993 by farmworkers in Florida, largely women from Mexico, Guatemala, and Haiti. It describes itself as a “worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for its achievements in the fields of social responsibility, human trafficking, and gender-based violence at work.”
In 2011, the CIW officially inaugurated the Fair Food Program (FFP), which now covers farms in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey. It includes such buyers as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, McDonald’s, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Whole Foods Market. Participating growers represent 90 percent of the tomato industry in Florida, and now include Florida pepper and strawberry farms too.
The FFP model developed after years of failed attempts to pressure the farm growers for better wages and a more protected environment. By convincing food corporations to buy tomatoes only from farms engaged in fair food practices, the CIW could force farms to join. The participating companies also pay farmworkers a penny-a-pound premium, which, according to a New York Times article from 2014, resulted in a 20 to 35 percent pay increase for the farmworkers from what they earned before and from what non-participating farms still pay their farmworkers.
“That’s where [companies’] market power comes in,” says de la Cruz. “If they can say, ‘We are not gonna buy from these farms,’ then that will trigger change down the supply chain.”
A third-party monitoring system spot-checks farms to ensure they’re in compliance with FFP standards; if they fall short, retailers immediately stop purchasing from that farm. Farmworkers also have access to a 24-hour hotline where they can report instances of abuse and have a human rights investigator come in to the farm.
Once the FFP was launched at her farm, Gonzalo says, change was swift, something that’s reflected in the yearly reports by the Fair Food Standards Council. Water and shaded breaks were suddenly a given. Reports of abuse were met with action rather than with escalation or termination. And minimum wages were implemented when the payment per bucket was not enough. But most of all, workers did not have to walk into an abusive workplace every day.
De la Cruz speaks of a moment early in the days of the CIW, in 1996, when a farmworker in Immokalee was brutally beaten by a crew leader after pausing to take a drink of water. “The community responded to that instance of violence and they organized a march directly to the house of the crew leader who had beaten this worker,” she says. “And that became a point of unity for all of us and strengthened our struggle.”
The Fair Food Program was not adopted without a fight. In 2001, the CIW boycotted Taco Bell, which had been pressuring suppliers for discounts, a practice that trickled down to the farmworkers in the form of low wages and a poorly regulated work environment. The company eventually agreed to join what would eventually become FFP in 2006; Chipotle followed suit in 2012, after the CIW supporters began picketing the company’s headquarters in Denver following six years of “talks.”
When pressure began mounting from CIW and its allies five years ago, Wendy’s claimed its own internal set of fair practices meant it didn’t need the FFP. Soon after, the company decided to pull its business out of Florida altogether and move it to Mexico, where abuse of workers is rampant, says de la Cruz.
“The FFP hasn’t expanded to Mexico yet, and these workers who are laboring in the fields have no access to the kinds of protections that we do,” says Gonzalo. “They don’t have a government that is vying for their human rights. There is a culture of abuse, a culture of fear. Workers cannot speak out when they face abuse and have to continue to work silently, suffering through these exploitative conditions.”
Wendy’s spokesperson Heidi Schauer tells the Voice the CIW has been “spreading false and misleading information about the Wendy’s brand in their continuing effort to extract a financial commitment from us.” The company vowed never to join the FFP — which Schauer said forces companies to pay fees directly to their suppliers’ workers — and Schauer invites readers to learn more about its position on the Wendy’s blog. (The CIW’s own response to the Wendy’s blog post can be read on its website.)
“Wendy’s is currently not buying tomatoes in Florida where the FFP operates and collects its fees,” continues Schauer. “We instead buy higher-quality, vine-ripened tomatoes in the winter months, which were not available to us in Florida. That is at the heart of the CIW’s campaign against us — we buy a lot of tomatoes for which they directly or indirectly receive no money.”
Both Gonzalo and de la Cruz are hopeful that they’ll find support from powerful women in the movement against sexual harassment. When she first heard of the Time’s Up movement, says de la Cruz, “I immediately thought of the FFP, and the model of worker-driven social responsibility as a way to put an end to these abuses, and what it would look like for a program like the FFP to exist in other industries like Hollywood. Could it eradicate this type of abuse there too?”
This week, CIW activists flooded Peltz’s office lines with messages of support for FFP, culminating in the march on Wendy’s. Gonzalo’s two boys, 17 and 14, joined her in New York, and in the fast last week. It haunts her that she was a mentally absent mother sometimes, her mind always back in the fields thinking about the harassment she’d have to go through again the next day.
The farmworker activists say that Wendy’s reliance on Mexican suppliers to avoid accountability for worker mistreatment is unacceptable, especially for a company that uses the image of a young girl on its logo.
“Many people go to a supermarket, or a restaurant, and they don’t think twice about the hands who picked the food, who that person was and under what conditions they were working to make that happen,” says de la Cruz.
“We are saying, ‘No more,’ ” adds Gonzalo. “Let’s create this solution so that workers don’t have to say ‘Me Too’ anymore. It’s time to say ‘no’ to abuse, and when we say ‘no,’ we mean ‘no.’ ”
Chili Cook-Off for Charity The Brooklyn Kitchen (100 Frost Street, Brooklyn)
Monday, 3 p.m.
The Brooklyn Kitchen is hosting a chili cook-off, with proceeds going to benefit the Greenpoint Reform Church Food Relief Program. For $5, guests can sample a variety of home made chilis, with amateur chefs invited to participate too. Score a ticket here.
Valrhona Hot Chocolate Festival Kickoff Party Ladurée Soho (398 West Broadway)
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Valrhona is hosting a kickoff party for its upcoming hot chocolate week (January 21 – February 5) where guests can get an early look at the unique hot chocolates that will be available. This year’s participating bakeries include La Maison du Chocolate, Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, and Dominique Ansel Kitchen. Tickets are $35 and include unlimited hot chocolate and bites; rsvp here.
Kreung Cambodian Food Pop Up The Diamond (43 Franklin Street, Brooklyn)
Thursday, 6 p.m.
Chef Chakria Un is hosting a Cambodian food pop up featuring dishes like corn with coconut milk and birds eye chili, a peanut and shrimp tamale, and noodle stir fry. Drinks are available for purchase.
Roots of Southern Cooking Dinner Series Root and Bone (200 East Third Street)
Thursday, 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. seatings
Root and Bone is hosting a series of three dinners beginning this Thursday that focus on historical Southern cooking. Dinners – $100 per person – will focus on a specific year and location with this week’s dinner based on The Virginia Housewife and The Unrivaled Cookbook and Housekeeper’s Guide. The menu includes fried chicken and chicken pudding, rice waffles, and huckleberry pie. Additional dinners are scheduled for February 28 and March 29; rsvp here.
Talk and Tasting Honeybrains (372 Lafayette Street)
Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Beginning this Thursday, Honeybrains will host one hour weekly presentations focused on food and wellness. This week’s discussion will feature Honeybrains co-founder and neurologist Dr. Alon Seifan and his family. A reception will follow. Additional guest speakers include nutritionist and author Amy von Sydow Green as well as Dr. Richard Isaacson of Weill Cornell Medicine.
MOFAD at Night MOFAD (62 Bayard Street, Brooklyn)
Friday, 6:45 p.m.
MOFAD’s Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant will extend its viewing hours and is inviting guests to enjoy bites from local restaurants and two beers from Brooklyn Brewery. Tickets are $20 and can be reserved here.
Dominique Ansel X Jeremiah Stone & Fabian Von Hauske Collaboration Dominique Ansel Kitchen (137 7th Ave S)
Saturday, 12 p.m. to Monday until sold out
Dominique Ansel and Wildair chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske teamed up to create an apple pie corn dog, which will be available this weekend only. The treat is made of roasted parsnip ice cream and caramelized apple coated in an almond biscuit and cornmeal batter. The dessert dogs – $7 each – comes topped with apple cider caramel and crispy sweet potato chips flakes.
The Art of Roti Making Big Belly Roti Shop (1290 Amsterdam Avenue)
Sunday, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Learn how to make authentic roti at this hands on workshop, which includes lunch and a beverage of choice (wine, beer, or soft drink). Tickets are $20 per person; rsvp here.
Sunday Jazz Brunch Delilah (155 Rivington Street)
Sunday, 12 p.m.
Delilah debuts a jazz brunch this Sunday highlighted by endless bloody marys or mimosas with a choice of entree. The menu offers scrambled eggs with chorizo, scallion and manchego, penne rigate carbonaro with peppered beef bacon, and lamb sliders. Brunch is $35 per person.
Cassoulet Cookoff Jimmy’s No. 43 (43 East 7th Street)
Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Warm up with a selection of unlimited cassoulets (French bean and meat stews) or try your hand at pleasing the crowd with your own recipe. Drinks will be available for additional purchase and those interested in participating can email email@example.com to register; reserve a $20 ticket in advance here.
Becoming a Food Entrepreneur Brooklyn FoodWorks (630 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn)
Tuesday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Terry Frishman of culinary consultancy firm Culinest is leading a class on ways to help create your own food start up. The class will cover everything from legal requirements to production and sales. Reservations are $40; secure a spot here.
Run and Drink Shake Shack (1 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Shake Shack’s DUMBO location is offering free community runs on the second Tuesday of every month, with runners of all ages invited to grab a free drink at that Shake Shack location afterwards.
A Square Meal in 1930’s America NYU Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health (411 Lafayette St., 5th Fl.)
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Examine the cuisine of the Great Depression and sample recipes from the era at this talk and tasting from the Culinary Historians of New York. Reservations are $40 for general admission; rsvp here.
The Food Funny QED (27-16 23rd Avenue, Queens)
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Comedy and cooking mix at this live show which features select chefs performing stand up comedy while comedians try their hands at making a few dishes. Tickets are $7 and can be reserved here.
Beer Trolley 3.0 Gun Hill Tavern (780 E 133rd Street, Bronx)
Thursday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Beer industry veterans Chris Cuzme and Kelly Taylor are touring four Bronx based breweries in a trolley and inviting guests to hop aboard. The tour includes drinks on the trolley, a bottle share, and two half pours of beer or a pint at each brewery; food is available for cash purchase at select stops. Tickets are $40 and include drinks; rsvp here.
New Year’s Eve Party Porchlight (271 Eleventh Avenue) Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Porchlight is hosting a summer camp themed New Year’s Eve party. The party includes live bluegrass and country music along with cocktails like hot chocolate with bourbon and a vodka based “bug juice.” There will also be camp themed food including fondue, packed lunches, and grilled items served on a stick. Tickets are $170 and include all food, drink, gifts, and live entertainment; reservations here.
New Years Eve Beach Bash Surf Bar (139 North 6th Street, Brooklyn) Sunday, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Feast on an all you can eat taco bar or drink up in beach attire during this New Years Eve bash. Tickets — $75 per person — can be reserved here.
’80s Retro Open Bar New Years Eve Party Action Burger (292 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn) Saturday, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Break out some ’80s attire and enjoy a three hour open bar and unlimited arcade games starting at $35. The bar also features a selection of board games and is offering food and drink packages for groups of two or more; RSVP for the ticket of your choice here.
Steeplechase Beer Garden is offering a hot breakfast and cold beer for guests planning to take the traditional New Years Day plunge. Reservations are $40 and are inclusive of unlimited food, beer, and Bloody Mary cocktails; RSVP here.
Kanpai to 2017 Webster Hall (125 East 11 Street) Sunday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Begin 2017 with a sake ceremony, sushi, and live entertainment. The party includes bites like mochi, golden curry udon, and over twenty different kinds of sake; reserve a $25 ticket here.
Carnegie Deli Final Week Carnegie Deli (854 Seventh Avenue)
Tuesday through Saturday
Grab a pastrami sandwich or slice of strawberry-topped cheesecake during Carnegie Deli’s final week. The beloved New York institution will close after service on December 31.
Heineken Holiday Trading Post Park Avenue Tavern (99 Park Avenue)
Tuesday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The Heineken Holiday Trading Post pop-up will offer up a free beer for guests with gifts. The event also includes the chance to win prizes — including a trip to Amsterdam to visit the Heineken brewery.
Holiday Menu Machiavelli (519 Columbus Avenue)
Tuesday through Friday
Machiavelli is offering a special holiday menu through December 30. The menu features Italian dishes like a Venetian crabmeat salad, tortellini in broth, and fried Italian donuts stuffed with ricotta.
Russian New Year Five-Course Dinner Little Choc Apothecary (141 Havermeyer Street, Brooklyn)
Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Celebrate Russian New Year with a five-course vegan meal that includes complimentary wine. Dishes include traditional Russian salad, latkes with caviar, and a quinoa-stuffed cabbage roll with horseradish mashed potatoes. Tickets are $85 per person.
Learn about the different styles of bubbly at this casual tasting event. Guests can enjoy a complimentary sample of over 15 different champagnes including Moët & Chandon. Staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide tasting notes.
Acme Smoked Fish and Greenpoint Beer and Ale are teaming up for a smoked fish and beer tasting. Feast on four different types of smoked fish, each paired with one of the brewery’s beers. Tickets are $30. Reserve yours here.
Maker’s Mark Holiday Tour Crosby between Spring & Broome; Vesey Street between West & North End Avenue; East 8th Street & Astor Place
Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Maker’s Mark will stop at three spots in New York City this week, offering complimentary brownies and biscuits from Butter & Scotch along with spiced cider. While the goodies are free, a suggested donation ($5 or more) is encouraged. Proceeds will benefit Share Our Strength, an organization which aims to end child hunger in America.
Taco and Tequila Tuesdays El Toro Blanco (257 Sixth Avenue)
Tuesday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
El Toro Blanco is now offering a tequila and taco tasting experience on Tuesdays. Each week, guest speakers from tequila companies will stop by the restaurant guide guests through the tasting process. Get a load of poached lobster with corn avocado tacos or try pork with roasted pineapple. Wash it all down with tequila — offered as a tasting flight, specialty cocktail, or by the glass.
Chefs Jonathan Wu (Fung Tu) and Mario Carbone (Carbone) will chat with food historian Sarah Lohman to talk about under-the-radar recipes that have shaped American cuisine. Reserve your $10 ticket.
Mario Batali Book Signing Williams-Sonoma Columbus Circle (10 Columbus Circle)
Wednesday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Mario Batali will be appearing live to sign copies of his most recent work, Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA. A signed copy of each book is included in the price of a ticket.
Holiday Celebration Gansevoort Market (353 West 14th Street)
Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Gansevoort Market vendors are offering complimentary bites at this mid-week holiday celebration, with events throughout the evening like a graffiti art show and Christmas carolers. Guests are encouraged to donate toys.
An Evening with Michael Twitty MOFAD Lab (62 Bayard Street, Brooklyn)
Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Culinary historian and author Michael Twitty will lead a talk and tasting on the history of African-American food and its impact on food culture in the American south. Tickets are $32 for general admission.