As a West Sider via Harlem, I love all that goes on, on the left side of Central Park, from the scenic Central Park West to the water views of Riverside Park. I have been stomping around there since I can remember and even lived on West 83rd for a couple of years. So I am always honored to cover the New Taste of the Upper West Side (@newtasteuws).
The New Taste of the Upper West Side is the premier food event of the Upper West Side. Over the course of two days, chefs, eateries and restaurants converge under the tent on the playground on Columbus Avenue between 76th and 77th streets to support Wellness in Schools (@WITSinSchools) and beautification projects in the neighborhood.
This year, a new event was added to the roster. Soiree in the Park, a small gathering to open the New Taste, took place in Theodore Roosevelt Park, which surrounds the American Museum of Natural History. The event featured a smattering of chefs and restaurants like Greek chef Maria Loi of Loi restaurant. Charcuterie from Salumeria Rosi (@salumeriarosi) was devoured by the small set and chef John Fraser (@chefjfraser) of Dovetail (@dovetailny) really captured my heart with venison carpaccio with foie gras, peas and vadouvan curry.
The signature event, “Comfort Classics,” was hosted again by Travel Channel host Adam Richman. The area under the tent was made anew with a raised stage in the middle featuring DJ Phresh on the wheels and Richman as the master emcee. It was something between a rave and a carnival, with the sparkling trapeze artistes hanging upside-down on bands pouring Bottega Gold prosecco; you knew you were in for fun.
My “Comfort Classics” food favorites included the standards like shrimp rolls from Luke’s Lobster (@lukeslobster) and cookies and ice cream from Jacques Torres (@jacquestorres). My new faves included spicy gazpacho with shrimp cleverly served in a sphere chilled on ice by Vareli (@varelinyc), located on Broadway near Columbia (love their octopus salad) and flatbreads from Riposo 72. I also swooned at coriander and lemon-rubbed tuna loin with spring pea and parsley pesto orzo from Pappardella (@pappardellany).
The festival closed with Best of the West. “Top Chef” judge Gail Simmons (@gailsimmons) hosted a night to honor Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer (@dhmeyer) and Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti (@randygarutti) for their contributions to the Upper West Side. This is the night when the big guns come out to play. Chefs from Jean George and the Boulud restaurants showcased brilliance … that I always seem to miss for some reason.
There were some new food moments for me at “Best of the West.” I lived for the minted pea macaroon from Picholine (@picholinerest) and the toasted ricotta gnocchi with white truffle cream from the Smith (@thesmithnyc). Folks really showed out with their presentations too, like the Atlantic Grill’s (@atlanticgrill) raw bar with spicy hamachi maki rolls and oysters with watermelon salsa.
There you have it. The New Taste of the Upper Westside is always ever ripe with, ironically, a new taste. I look forward to next year. Congratulations and thank you!
Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.