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Eat and Drink

What you missed at Taste Talks this weekend

If you were anywhere near North Brooklyn this weekend, you likely saw the people loitering around Wythe Avenue and North 10th Street. They were gathered for Taste Talks, the second annual food lovers festival put on by Northside Media Group.

If you were there, you know what went down. If you weren't here's what you missed:

Sam Sifton thinks food journlism can save The New York Times

The NYT food editor was interviewed by Gabrielle
Photo Credit: Taste Talks/ Cara Howe

The NYT food editor was interviewed by Gabrielle Hamilton, writer and chef, on Saturday. Sifton quite candidly discussed how NYT Dining is shifting to NYT Food, as well as the new app that's being released on Thursday. He also made it very clear how seriously he takes food journalism.

"Restaurants are an artistic statement," and should be critiqued like any other work of art, Sifton said. "Food is a dominant cultural commodity."

"With food," he said, "you've got the chance to hit everybody."

When asked how he felt moving from his former lofty position of National Editor to Food Editor, Sifton said bluntly, "I could be part of the solution. I could help save the paper."

High/Low cooking with Danny Bowien and Christina Tosi

The Mission Chinese and Mission Cantina chef/ owner
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

The Mission Chinese and Mission Cantina chef/ owner and the Milk Bar owner appeared on a panel together to show the crowd how much they like each other. Well no, not exactly, though Bowien and Tosi are clearly good friends who think fondly of each others work.

Bowien, who also served as the curator of this year's Taste Talks, and Tosi wanted to show attendees how even top chefs could cook something great with dollar store ingredients. Tosi's ice box cake, made with CoolWhip, Welch's Grape Jelly and Ritz crackers was salty and sweet, but obviously crack pie and cereal milk soft serve from Milk Bar is infinitely better. Bowien made congee with pork, spices and scallions. It was tasty, but the pork was very fatty. (Can you really buy pork at the dollar store?

The All-Star BBQ featuring all the top chefs

Sunday's All-Star BBQ in East River State Park
Photo Credit: INSTAGRAM/ bluecat2112

Sunday's All-Star BBQ in East River State Park was a delicious free-for-all. (Well, it wasn't free, but once you paid $40 you got at least 14 small bites/ plates of food.) Top chefs from across the city were on hand - from Danny Bowien to Michael White to Ivan Orkin to Brooks Headley to Josh Russ Tupper and Niki Russ Federman. Everyone made something inspired by what they serve at their restaurants, but used charcoal grills to cook it. This dish pictured is the pig's head salad from chefs Dave Santos of Louro and Jonathan Wu of Fung Tu. If you don't mind waiting in lines for one or two bites of food, this event was great.


Rapper and mega food lover Action Bronson grilled
Photo Credit: Taste Talks/Cara Howe

Rapper and mega food lover Action Bronson grilled porchetta with chef Michael White on Sunday at the All-Star BBQ. ALL STAR INDEED!

Brooklyn is NOT the next Manhattan

If there was anything to glean from the
Photo Credit: GEORGIA KRAL

If there was anything to glean from the "Is Brooklyn the next Manhattan?" panel, it's the answer to that question: no.

The panel featured three Brooklyn-based restauranteurs: Andy Ricker of Pok Pok and Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo of Frankie's Spuntino (and Prime Meats, etc.) And then the sole Manhattan-only panelist was Gabe Stulman (Perla, Joseph Leonard, Chez Sardine).

The Franks and Ricker both said they chose Brooklyn because it was cheaper and they could take chances there, but that just being in Brooklyn did not make a restaurant different from a restaurant in Manhattan. It's not the borough, but the space itself and what you do with it, they said.

But Stulman made it very clear that while Ricker opened on Columbia Street, in a far-flung corner of Brooklyn that is a 15 minute walk from the subway, he was not interested in taking a chance like that.

"I believe very strongly the best thing I can do is put my restaurant where there's a lot of foot traffic," he said, later adding he hoped to one day "have the balls" to open in a transit-starved part of Brooklyn.

So what does a Brooklyn restaurant need to survive? Maybe just really great food. And if the crowds and what the critics are saying mean anything, then great food is certainly being made at both Pok Pok and Frankie's Spuntino.

5-courses and oysters at the Mother of Pearl dinner

Friday night's Mother of Pearl dinner at Villian

Friday night's Mother of Pearl dinner at Villian kicked off 2014's Taste Talks. The evening started with a cocktail hour featuring freshly shucked Island Creek Oysters paired with four Sud de France wines to accompany each oyster.

An elegant seated dinner in the Williamsburg warehouse started with fantastic bread imported from San Francisco's tartine topped with rich Cypress Grove Chevre. The five courses that followed were prepared by renowned local chefs, including a spicy crudo-style fluke with spicy coconut, pork sung and and cashews by chef Jamie Bisonnette of Toro & Coppa and homemade Maltagliati in a rich cream sauce by chef Camille Becerra of Navy.

Mother of Pearl introduced hundreds of food lovers to one another to discuss the upcoming Taste Talks, exchange Instagram handles and of course enjoy delicious food and drink. -MELISSA KRAVITZ


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