Last week, I attended the fifth annual New Taste of the Upper West Side under the big tent on 77th and Columbus Avenue. It was two glorious nights of food and drink from some of the best the Upper West Side has to offer. There were plenty of my favorites, my new favorites and favorites that aren’t even open yet. Truly a “new” taste!

Both nights I had friends in tow. Events like these are so much better when you can share great food–and the calories, for that matter–with other foodies. It gives another perspective and eyes on dishes you might have missed.

As we arrived, we huddled on the plan of attack. We decided to fill our wine glasses hanging around our necks by lanyards with some wine. I believe we started with a sauvignon blanc from the smorgasbord of Southern Wine & Spirits of New York selection. We then made our way around the perimeter, tasting first with our eyes and then systematically attacking our favorites.

First up was the line at Luke’s Lobster for what we thought was a lobster roll. Turns out it was a shrimp roll. A good shrimp roll, but a shrimp roll. Also learned not to wait in line; be respectful, but don’t wait in line.

Then we took a cocktail break at the Tito’s Handmade Vodka table.

Because who doesn’t love a little soup and sandwich, for our next tasting we combined the epic Sarabeth’s velvety cream of tomato soup–make a pilgrimage for it–with ‘wichcraft’s grilled cheese with slow roasted pork and pickled peppers. As my eating companion said, “I would be happy with this little portion normally if it was always this good!” I concur.

Along with her dreamy, creamy bread pudding, Ms. Sarabeth opened the floodgates to corndogs and olive oil cake ice cream from Shake Shack, pastrami from Artie’s, ribs from Virgil’s, wicked pickles from Jacob’s Pickles and a compelling vegetarian salad from Dovetail with wheat berries.

After finding our way across the long line to meet hosts Adam Richman and Andrew Zimmern, we moved on to desserts. For me, the sweet side was highlighted by the best damn banana pudding I’ve had from Magnolia Bakery and punctuated by a place called Baconery with its bacon confections: chocolate-covered bacon, bacon brownies and chocolate peanut butter bacon cookies. I wonder if that multitiered bacon cake was edible?

Night two was more of the same to honor the fabulous gourmet, food critic and founder of Citymeals-on-Wheels, Gael Greene. Both the raucous DJ and the big band provided the right soundtrack for an event to remember.

So mark your calendars now for next year’s New Taste of the Upper West Side. It’s sure to be new and delicious, too!

Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!

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Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! which is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Email