While Royal Wine Corp. may have wanted the evening to be about the alcohol, it was the tables of food that garnered the long lines, crowds and elbowing at the Kosher Food and Wine Experience last week.
More than 1,200 people attended the sixth annual event, which was held at Chelsea Piers and sold out in advance for the second year in a row.
In addition to the selection of 200 wines, eager diners chowed down on offerings from dozens of restaurants and caterers, enjoying everything from upscale fare to heaping plates of cholent.
Attendees, who paid $100 for the all-you-can-eat evening, seemed just as eager to sample the braised oxtail with crushed red potatoes from Etc. Steakhouse in Teaneck, N.J., as they did the Texas smokehouse cholent from Gemstone Catering. The evening was characterized by a strong duality between the fanciest, edgiest food and classic, Ashkenazic cooking.
Some restaurants seemed to be in a competition to put the strangest things on their plates — like a piece of spiced popcorn accompanying seared prime beef from The Reserve in Lakewood, N.J., Rice Krispies atop the smoked ribeye tartare from Pardes in Brooklyn or pickled watermelon rind alongside brisket from Gemstone.
Arguably the most casual and upscale offerings shared a table — Silverleaf caterers and My Brother Bobby’s Salsa. Silverleaf enticed diners with a duck confit meatball over wild mushroom ragout accompanied by a garlic demi pipette — that had to be squeezed in to your mouth before eating the rest of the dish, something many attendees had difficulty accomplishing while toting their wine glass as well. Just next door, of course, were plates of salsa and nachos, which would be right at home at any tailgate party.
The Pomegranate supermarket in Brooklyn was serving a variety of dips alongside a spread of cholent, kugel, kishke and chopped liver, while Gemstone, and its sister company, Got Cholent, offered six different types of the traditional Shabbat stew, from Irish Schlepper’s Pie to Bubby’s Polish Cholent.
Some offerings were casual without hearkening back to traditional Eastern European fare, like chicken fingers and mini sandwiches from Subsational in Brooklyn, or burritos and BBQ beef sliders from the popular chain Carlos and Gabby’s.
The dairy restaurants, like Basil in Brooklyn and Noi Due and My Most Favorite Food in Manhattan, had the hardest time showcasing their wares, since the event was meat only, and instead they offered drinks and mostly disappointing pareve desserts.
But whether fully sated with food or glad that their wine glasses were drained multiple times — just about everyone seemed to leave happy at the end of the evening.