Best Weekend Food Events: Chile Pepper Festival, Beer Circus, Pig & Goat Roast

Chile Pepper Festival
Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn)
Saturday, 10 a.m.

Sample chile peppers and sauces from around the world and pick up unique spices at this festival celebrating all things hot and spicy. Tickets are $20 for general admission. Get yours here.

Lagunitas Beer Circus
MCU Park (1904 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn)
Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Show up in costume at this circus-themed party featuring Lagunitas alongside local craft beers. Sip on brews while watching burlesque performances, aerialists, carnival rides, and sideshow acts. Get access to two stages of circus entertainment, one pint, and souvenirs with a $40 ticket. Score yours here. (Note: Must be 21 or older; no children or pets.)

Field: Seeds and Grains for the Future

Greenbelt Native Plant Center/Mid Atlantic Regional Seed Bank (700 Rockland Avenue, Staten Island)
October 1, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Go behind the scenes with forager and James Beard-nominated author Tama Matsuoka Wong at the Greenbelt Native Plant Center. Discover tips for recognizing edible plants in the wild and how to use whole seeds and grains at home. Feast on lunch by Agern’s chef de cuisine, Joe Yardley, and get some samples of flour milled from local grains. “Early risers” can also join in on a walking tour at 11 a.m. with the Natural Areas Conservancy’s senior ecologist. Reserve your ticket ($135) here.

Pig & Goat Roast
Sycamore Flower Shop & Bar (1118 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn)
Saturday, 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. seatings

Insa Korean BBQ and Fleishers Craft Butchery are teaming up for an all-day pig and goat roast. For $30, you can feast on a plate of both roasted meats, side dishes, and a pint of beer. You’ll also get to try your hand with some raffle tickets; prizes including butchery classes, karaoke at Insa, and other culinary gifts. Get your ticket here.

Final Oktoberfest Celebration
Watermark Bar on Pier 15 (78 South Street)
Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Celebrate the final weekend of Okotberfest and fill up on beer, brats, and pretzels. The party includes two-hour unlimited beer tastings with food from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Guests are advised to register (for free) in advance here. Food and beverage tickets can be purchased at ticket stations during the event with prices ranging from $8 to $16.


This Week in Food: Oktoberfest, Milkshake Party, Guest Pitmaster at Pig Beach

Saxon + Parole Oktoberfest Party
Saxon + Parole (316 Bowery)
Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Celebrate Oktoberfest with Brad Farmerie’s special menu which includes sausages, German potato salad, and pretzel rolls in addition to a traditional pig feast. Among the beers from Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu are a special Oktoberfest/Märzen and Munich Helles lager. Pint glasses — including a book-shaped glass from Spaten — will be awarded to a few lucky guests. Dinner is $75 per person and includes beer. Guests can make a reservation through the restaurant’s website. Update: The dinner has been moved to the evening of September 27.

Aldea’s Lucky #7 Bar Menu
Aldea (31 West 17th Street)

In honor of Aldea’s seventh anniversary, chef George Mendes is serving up his “Seven Signature Bites” bar menu, which includes a flight of the restaurant’s classic dishes in small-plate form. Guests can order three bites for $21, five for $35, or all seven for $49.

Black Tap and David Burke Boozy Milkshake Party

David Burke Kitchen (23 Grand Street)
Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

David Burke Kitchen and Black Tap are throwing a party to show off their boozy doughnut shake. The sweet concoction will be a Breckenridge Bourbon caramel shake rimmed with brownie batter and cookie dough, and garnished with whipped cream, toffee bits, and a caramel-glazed toffee-nut doughnut. The party will also feature Black Tap’s all-American burger, cocktails,  grilled corn, lobster rolls, and baked East Coast oysters on the half shell with bone marrow butter. Tickets are $65. Reserve yours here.

Pig Beach’s Final Guest Pitmaster Takeover
Pig Beach (480 Union Street, Brooklyn)
Wednesday and Thursday, 3 p.m. until close

Pig Beach’s final guest pitmaster will be Pat Martin of Nashville’s Martin’s BBQ. Known for cooking over a live fire, Martin will build a cinder block pit in the middle of the restaurant to cook the hog.


Visit an Underground Pig Feast, Learn About Lobster, and Enjoy a Taste of Haiti

Black Chef Summer Series, Blujeen, 2143 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Monday, 6 p.m.

This weekly Monday-night series, which runs through September 7, highlights the culinary talents of African-American chefs from across the country. Each dinner focuses on a different aspect of the guest chef’s culinary inspirations, with a portion of each dinner going to that chef’s charity of choice. Tickets are $65 and include a multiple-course dinner as well as signature cocktail; secure your seat here.

Underground Pig Feast, Saxon + Parole, 316 Bowery, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Enjoy unlimited beer and roasted pig at this newly launched monthly series, which plans to feature additional animal-focused feasts at future installments. Tickets are $65 per person and include all the trips to the keg and carving table you can handle; reserve them here.

Free Hot Dogs, Gansevoort Plaza, Little West 12th Street and Ninth Avenue, Tuesday through Thursday, 7 p.m. through 9 a.m.

Help Tyler Florence try and set a new Guinness world record for the “Longest Team Barbecue Marathon” by coming out and grabbing a free Ball Park hot dog. The celebrity chef will also lead recipe and grilling demonstrations during the attempt. Register for the event here.

Sustainable Lobster Workshop with Luke’s Lobster,  Brooklyn Grange Navy Yard Farm, 63 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Luke’s Lobster co-founder Ben Conniff will lead a rooftop discussion on environmentally friendly fishing practices as well as touch upon the best methods to cook and break down fresh lobster. Afterwards, guests will have their chance to put their newfound knowledge to the test and enjoy their own lobster dinner; copies of Luke’s latest cookbook, Real Maine Food, will also be available at a discounted price. Tickets are $65 and the event will be held rain or shine; secure your RSVP here.

Taste of Haiti, New York Vintners, 21 Warren Street, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

Taste a selection of Haitian dishes for a good cause and end the night with Blue Marble Ice Cream at this charity event, with proceeds going to support the launch of an “ice cream social enterprise” in Port-au-Prince. The evening also includes a selection of red and white wine tastings, with some surprises in store too. Tickets are $75; secure your opportunity to help a good cause here.


This Week’s Five Best Food Events – 8/18/2014

Have the end of summer sads? Make the most of the remainder of the warm months. This week’s best food events include a conversation about pig heads and Chilean wine.

Meet Top Chef Just Desserts Winner Yigit Pura, Williams-Sonoma Columbus Circle, 10 Columbus Circle, Tuesday, 6 p.m.

If you’re looking for a new read, consider picking a copy of Yigit Pura’s ode to sugary treats, Sweet Alchemy: Dessert Magic. The author and Top Chef winner, who is launching a chain of pastry shops called Tout Sweet Pâtisserie, will be on hand to briefly discuss the book and drop a few tips on baking. Reservations, which are just under $40, include a copy of the book.

Afterwork Tuesdays, LES Sports Bar, 141 Chrystie Street, Tuesday, 6 p.m.

Grab a seat at the bar and watch the Mets and Yankees battle over $3 sliders and $7 drink specials. This spot’s line-up of mini-sandwiches includes beef, chicken parm, and brisket, and you’ll find additional specials on wings and calamari. Best of all, happy hour extends until 8 p.m.

Taste Talks with April Bloomfield, A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories, Bryant Park Reading Room, 5 Sixth Avenue, Wednesday, 12:30 p.m.

Take an extended lunch break on Wednesday and hear what acclaimed chef April Bloomfield has to say about a few emerging food and drink trends. The Spotted Pig chef will also share a few recipes and stories from her latest work, and attendees are sure to pick up a few tips on what to look out for the next time they choose to dine out or cook at home.

Wines of Chile: Wine Bar War, Villain, 50 North 3rd Street, Brooklyn, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

At this odd event, four teams of New York sommeliers will compete against one another by building a pop-up Chilean wine bar in a single day, and guests will have the chance to taste a wide variety of the country’s wines throughout the evening. The winning team receives a trip to Chile so that they can back some killer bottles to their cellars. Tickets are $75.

The Pig Roast, Rose Water, 787 Union Street, Brooklyn, Thursday, 7 p.m.

Don’t let your summer in the city end without at least one pig roast. You’ll get plenty of pork at this party, in addition to sides like coleslaw, corn on the cob, and heirloom tomatoes, and accompanying beer and pink wine. Tickets are $85 and are inclusive of all food, tax, and gratuity.


What’s Happening This Weekend: Free Beer, Mutzfest, Cochon 555, and ChiliFest

Next weekend is all about getting comfy on the couch if you’re a sports fan (or a Super Bowl commercials fan/nachos fan/party fan), which means you have all the more reason to get out and explore this weekend. Here’s a look at what’s happening around the city.


Free Bronx Brewery Tasting, Nolita Mart & Espresso Bar, 155 Mott Street, Saturday, 4 p.m.

If you haven’t checked out the Bronx Brewery yet, it’s worth signing up for a tour. If a trek up to the Bronx isn’t in the cards in the near future, though, you may want to stop by this free tasting first, where you’ll be able to supplement your beer with cheese and pickles. The brewery will offer up a few of its trademark concoctions, and those of us with growlers can take advantage of the mart’s craft beer selection.

Mutzfest, Hoboken Elk’s Club, 1005 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ, Sunday, 2 p.m.

The battle for local deli supremacy comes to an end as one sandwich scion will take home Hoboken bragging rights for best “mutz”. Homemade mozzarella and, perhaps, meatballs will fly as the crowd is serenaded by Frank Sinatra wannabes via karaoke. There’s also a cannoli eating contest as well as actual musicians performing — though watching someone you know butcher old blue eyes might be worth the price of admission. Tickets are $20 and a full list of delis where you can purchase them can be found on the mutzfest website.

Cochon 555, The Ritz Carlton New York, Battery Park, 2 West Street, Sunday, 4 p.m.

Raising awareness about heritage bred pigs — and why we should all be eating them — is the focus of this friendly competition pitting chefs against one another. Participants — including Market Table’s David Standridge and Tertulia’s Seamus Mullen — will craft six courses from a 200 pound pig in an attempt to win over the crowd and judges. In addition to food, there will be wine and beer stations throughout the event and a butchering demo in case you want to try this at home. Tickets start at $130.95 for general admission and can be purchased through the festival’s website.

NYChiliFest 2014, Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue, Sunday, 7 p.m.

If you haven’t tried chili as a remedy for winter weather woes, give it a shot this weekend. A line-up of Chelsea Market vendors along with entrants from Mile End and La Esquina will dole out bowls of piping hot chili to determine which chef is cooking up the best batch. Representatives from Sam Adams will be on hand for those looking to cool down with a brew, and celebrity judges in attendance include Chopped judge Amanda Freitag and Umami Burger founder Adam Fleishman. Tickets start at $50 for the all-you-can-eat affair.



Pig Roast Sundays Return to the Crown Victoria in Williamsburg for Second Season

Late afternoon on summer Sundays last year, a crowd packed in to the Crown Victoria‘s expansive, sun-drenched Williamsburg backyard. Friends nursed beers at picnic tables and, perhaps, partook in a game of bocce ball. But first they grabbed something to eat, forming a long line in front of a table where pork-scented smoke rose and hung invitingly in the air. There, two guys and a gal carved up a whole pig into succulent, tender cuts, sliding them onto paper plates with sautéed greens and banana cream pudding one week, Vietnamese noodles and ice cream another.

The weekly collaboration between chef Jose Ramirez-Ruiz (formerly of Isa and Per Se) and John Ratliff, owner of Greenpoint-based charcutier Ends Meats, was casually dubbed Pig Roast Sundays, and it was so popular that it’s returning for a second season this Sunday, May 5. Like last year, Ramirez-Ruiz’s girlfriend, pastry chef Pam Yung (also of Isa as well as the ParmTorrisi/Carbone group and Roberta’s), will often join the crew to dole out her finely crafted desserts.

Other aspects of the event have changed a bit, and part of that is catering to a growing crowd. “We’ll roast two 100-pound Berkshire pigs per Sunday,” says Ramirez-Ruiz, adding that he still expects the certain prime parts of the animal to run out not long after the 4 p.m. start time. “Come early for choice cuts,” he warns. “Last year, there were nights when all the food would be gone by 7:30.”

Jose and Pam at last year's Whirlybird Café pop-up
Jose and Pam at last year’s Whirlybird Café pop-up

Still, by offering two hogs, the pair hopes to enhance the individualized service they were able to offer last year by allowing diners a chance to select their cuts. “We tried to make it a little more personal,” says the chef. “Some people would come up and ask for the cheek, butt, or ribs; others wouldn’t know what they wanted, so we’d try to walk them through whether they’d want a fattier cut and what else they liked in pork to get them something they’d really like.”

He even plans to extend that service mindset to people who’d rather not eat pork. “We’re going to grill fish à la minute when we have it,” he explains, noting that they should have this ability most Sundays, as Ratliff makes weekly trips to Cape Cod for deliveries.

The real change, though, comes in the menu: “Every Sunday will have a different theme,” says Ramirez-Ruiz. “This Sunday, we’ll do Mexican. And then we’ll do Puerto Rican, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The pork is always spit-roasted, but we’ll do it slightly differently for each theme.”

Ramirez-Ruiz, who frequently challenges himself to take on new flavors and techniques, says this will compare with last year’s Vietnamese night, when he brushed the pig with coconut water and served noodles, foie gras, and whole fish on the side. For Mexican night, in addition to Mexican sides, “we’ll have fresh fish to do fish tacos,” he says.

The new focus also gives Ramirez-Ruiz another outlet to continue his flirtation with expanding the boundaries of cuisines, a pursuit he first undertook at his Chez Jose pop-up dinners at the Whirlybird Café, which he runs with the help of Yung. Those intimate, vegetable-forward affairs navigate a broad culinary map, and they’ve proved so popular, Ramirez-Ruiz recently had to add a second night to his schedule. “We’re open Tuesdays and Thursdays now,” he says. “And we open reservations the first of every month for the following month.” (That means he just started taking June reservations.)

As the couple looks for other ways to make a splash in the pop-up and underground food scene, you can taste what they’ve already accomplished at the Crown Vic. Ramirez-Ruiz’s delicious porky collaboration with Ratliff runs every Sunday from this weekend until the end of summer starting at 4 p.m.; check out the Pig Roast Sunday Facebook page for updates.