My original plan for today was to hit several local food festivals today then go to a friend’s new house for a barbecue. However, between feeling under the weather and a dog-sitting commitment, I found that maybe I bit off more than I could chew (not literally, for once!).
If you were in NYC today, I hope you had the opportunity to enjoy at least one of the many food festivals: the Brooklyn Beer Festival, the Paella Parade, the Philippine Independence Day Festival, the International Immigrants Foundation Fest, the regular weekend festivities on Mulberry Street, or any of the other street fairs and celebrations happening around town. If you didn’t make it to one of the organized events, I hope you still got to enjoy the luscious warm sunny day with some tasty treats!
My friend and I were headed to the Paella Parade because it was the closest and because it was held at the new South Street Seaport Water Taxi Beach, but it was $25 per person to get in and it was sold out! We opted for the next closest venue – Madison Square Park (home of Shake Shack!) for the Philippine Independence Day Festival. Seems to be some kind of theme lately – unintentional I assure you, but a happy coincidence considering my love for the food!
The pungent smell of vinegar carried by the smoke from barbecuing pork wafted across the park as we approached. The bandstand area was nearly empty, but the food stalls were packed! We could barely get close to the tables to place an order and when we did, the lack of signs made it nearly impossible to the untrained eye to tell the difference between the wide variety of stewed meats, noodle dishes, lumpia, fish balls, and various grilled treats. Didn’t matter, we just pointed and tasted whatever everyone else was eating.
I tried the crispy pata (fried pig trotter) here and found that I like the flavor of mine better (thanks to one of my students for the secret ingredients!) but this trotter was much meatier than the ones I was working with – goes to show you, you need to start with the best ingredients. We also had budbud (cassava cooked in banana leaf – so tasty!), empanadas (nothing close to the ones I’ve come to love in the Philippines), banana fritters (ditto), banana and jackfruit lumpia, savory lumpia (both fresh and fried), and pork belly on a stick (love food on a stick, especially pig!).
From there, we opted to walk off all the pork products by walking from Chelsea down to Tribeca through Union Square, the East Village, and Soho. By the time we got to the East Village, the need for something sweet hit just as we were approaching Momofuku Ssam, and coincidentally, Momofuku Milk Bar. You cannot pass there without getting an ice cream, that would be tragic! Today’s assortment of flavors was based on favorite childhood candy: red licorice, sour gummies, chocolate mint (Junior Mints?), and fireballs (my choice). We tasted the red licorice, it was absolutely true to its name but not something I would want a whole cup of, so I went with the fireball… pure fireball flavor, including the burn, delivered in the form of creamy (and ever so slightly salty) soft-serve. Other flavor themes I’ve had the pleasure to try: old-fashioned donuts and kid cereals… this place will not disappoint!
Good thing we still had such a long walk ahead of us. The remainder of the walk was relatively uneventful, and the remainder of this evening has involved plenty of water, cold medicine, and the sounds of me coughing… time for my chamomile tea!