4/6: Taste of 5th

Next Wednesday, Taste of 5th returns to Park Slope with over 30 local businesses representing the best food and drinks in the neighborhood. The event will be taking place from 6:30-9:30 pm at The Grand Prospect Hall, and tickets are available online now. Tickets are $55, with $20 from each purchase going to the charity of your choice.

Vendors this year include Artichoke Pizza, Gorilla Coffee, Oyster Bar Brooklyn, Stone Park Cafe and The Chocolate Room, among many others. There are 16 participating charities to choose from, so you can indulge in the best food in Brooklyn all for a good cause.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

4/2: Smorgasburg is Back

JvP_092714_1132_print.jpgWith the return of Spring comes the return of outdoor markets, and April 2nd/3rd is the first weekend you can catch Smorgasburg and the Brooklyn Flea, now in Fort Greene, Dumbo, Williamsburg and Prospect Park. Smorgasburg, which began as a spin-off of the Brooklyn Flea and now includes 100+ local and regional food vendors, is open Saturdays in East River State Park at Kent Ave. and N. 7 St., and Sundays in Prospect Park at Breeze Hill (both days from 11 to 6). Brooklyn Flea itself has two additional locations. The markets will be open rain or shine, but fingers are crossed that April showers bring May flowers (and sunny days) soon.

Vendors can still apply to be part of both markets for the season. For more information, click here.


5/3: Queens Taste 2016

Mark your calendars! Early bird tickets are on sale through March 31st only for Queens Taste 2016, taking place on May 3rd. Queens Taste is a showcase of the restaurants, food makers, drink purveyors, and other Queens-based businesses that make the borough so vibrant. This year, the cost of a ticket gets you all-you-can-eat-and-drink samples from over 60 local vendors, as well as free admission to the New York Hall of Science.

Vendors include Bareburger, The Astor Room, Bayside Brewery, Coffeed, and many more. Proceeds benefit the Queens Economic Development Corporation.

To read more or purchase tickets, click here.



The Vanilla Shortage on the Horizon

vanilla-shutterstock_281680811.jpgVanilla often gets a bad rap as the most boring flavor, but ice cream connoisseurs know that it’s still an irreplaceable necessity in the vast majority of varieties. This makes the news even more troubling that a vanilla shortage is driving supply down and prices up just in time for the warm weather.

The shortage has been caused by a particularly bad harvest months ago in Madagascar, the world’s largest producer of the beans. Since harvesting and curing vanilla pods is a process that takes several months, this shortage has been on the horizon for awhile, and prices have been climbing steadily. They’re now at near-record highs of $205 per kilogram, up from $85 last year and $20 in 2011. Apparently the process has become circular, with farmers picking beans earlier and lowering the overall quality of the supply.

These price fluctuations in crops are not new, and so far the 2016 crop looks to be doing better (so it’s unlikely we’ll have to hunker down for several vanilla-free years). The larger long term problems may be in coffee and cocoa, which are so far affected more negatively by climate change. The vanilla shortage of 2015 will hopefully just serve as an important reminder that ice cream’s most-maligned flavor is also one of the most important.

4/18: Submit Your Bids for a Mobile Food Stand in the Battery

The NYC Parks Department has put out a request for bids for the operation of six mobile food concessions in the Battery in Manhattan. Details are below!

In accordance with Section 1-12 of the Concession Rules of the City of New York, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (“NYCDPR”) is issuing, as of the date of this notice, a Request for Bids (RFB) for the operation of six (6) mobile food concessions within the Battery, Manhattan.
Hard copies of the RFB can be obtained, at no cost, commencing Monday, March 28, 2016 through Monday, April 18, 2016 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and Holidays, at the Revenue Division of NYCDPR, which is located at 830 Fifth Avenue, Room 407, New York, NY 10065.   All bids submitted in response to this RFB must be submitted by no later than Monday, April 18, 2016 at 11:00 a.m.
The RFB is also available for download, commencing on Monday, March 28, 2016 through Monday, April 18, 2016 on Parks’ website.  To download the RFB, visit www.nyc.gov/parks/businessopportunities, click on the link for “Concessions Opportunities at Parks” and, after logging in, click on the “download” link that appears adjacent to the RFB’s description.
For more information, contact Glenn Kaalund at (212) 360-1397or VIA email at Glenn.Kaalund@parks.nyc.gov. Thank you.

Food52’s New App Wants Us to Move Beyond The Recipe

d515f71c-7b45-46cd-b072-faab5fbfdd36--2015-0609_enchilada_assembly_bobbi-lin_1344.jpgIn today’s interconnected world, there are more and more ways to decide what’s for dinner (or lunch, or breakfast, or brunch, or a midnight snack, or…you get the idea). There are brick-and-mortar bookstores riddled with cookbooks from seemingly every popular restaurant or bakery, not to mention every food network star and popular blogger. It’s also easier than ever to Google a dish and find countless recipes for it, each with a rating, time estimate, detailed instructions and lengthy comments section. Or you can subscribe to one of the many meal kit companies like Blue Apron, and have the ingredients delivered to your door along with the recipe.

While we love the exchange of ideas and inspiration that happens across all these channels, there are times it can be a bit overwhelming – and doesn’t necessarily reflect the way we cook on a daily basis. The app (Not)Recipes, released by Food52 last week, acknowledges this divide, and aims to bring us a new way of sharing food inspiration. (Not)Recipes is a sharing platform for images and short descriptions dishes, of the sort that you might email to a friend to let her know how to make those cookies you’ve been whipping up forever. The pictures themselves are beautiful, with filters inspired by famous chefs from different eras, and a simple hashtag system makes them all easy to search. Just don’t call it the “Instagram of” anything – users can’t follow their friends or favorite chefs, and that’s by design. Cofounder Amanda Hesser explains that they “wanted to get the message [out] that this really is about the cooking, and the social element will follow. It’s not a popularity contest.”

We still recommend hanging on to all your favorite cookbooks (we certainly will be), but consider adding (Not)Recipes to your rotation for some easy weekday inspiration. To read more, click here.

4/6: CHiPS Spring Fundraising Gala

On Wednesday, April 7th, CHiPS will be hosting a Gala in honor of NYC Councilmember Brad Lander, for his work in securing a generous grant for CHiPS to own and operate a soup kitchen and shelter serving Park Slope, Gowns and the surrounding neighborhoods. Attendees will enjoy live jazz, cocktails, wine, beer and delicious bites from neighborhood restaurants.

CHiPS is a wonderful organization providing as many as 250 meals daily through their soup kitchen to, as well as shelter and support to women in need through their Frances Residency Program. This Gala will be their first annual, and proceeds will go directly to helping the organization with their work.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

5/11 – 5/14: Seeds and Chips International Summit

Food and Technology are two of the hottest bedfellows these days, and there’s no better time for the 2016 Seeds and Chips International Conference on Food and Tech. This year, you can join hundreds of startups, companies in food and tech, investors, thought leaders and policymakers in Milan for 4 days of in-depth discussion about the future of food.

The speaker list is already long and growing; it includes names like Michiel Bakker, Director of Google Food, Mitchell Davis, Vice President of the James Beard Foundation, and Andrea Casalini, CEO of Eataly Net. They are currently seeking Exhibitors, and offering free transportation for select disruptive startups in the food system.

For more information, click here.

(In)Boxed Lunch


Their Success… Whatever your feelings about the trend, there’s no doubt that the desk lunch – that is, the practice of eating lunch at one’s computer, often while checking emails or finishing up work – is gaining popularity in offices everywhere. More and more office workers are either bringing lunch or taking advantage of the growing number of delivery options to get some grub and clean out their inboxes at the same time. Against this backdrop, Maple has an important goal: to bring some hospitality back to weekday lunch.

Unlike competitors like Plated, Caviar and Grubhub, Maple is a delivery service that is not associated with any brick-and-mortar restaurant. Maple’s food, which includes a daily rotating menu of healthy lunch and dinner options, is only available as delivery to those living or working in midtown or lower Manhattan. Without a central location for guests to visit, Maple has built their guest relationship on beautiful graphic design and playful emails announcing specials like pie for pi day (3/14) and Shamrock ice cream for St. Patrick’s. These extra surprises are made possible because the ordering process itself is as streamlined and user-friendly as possible.

Before their first order, users begin by creating an online account with their name, phone number, email address and location. By collecting your home or office address at registration, Maple can check that you fall in their delivery zone – and avoid disappointment later for those who don’t. Once you have an account, it’s easy to scroll through their menu each day, see the ingredients in each dish, and order a meal for yourself or your whole office. For those with slightly more mobile jobs, there is a Maple app for Android and iOS which features all the same gorgeous pictures of the food (usually arranged on welcoming wood tables, with cloth napkins and stoneware that would be appropriate to the best restaurants in the city).

Dishes come to $12-$15 with tax, and delivery is included so there’s no fumbling with cash when the food arrives. Instead, a smiling (and speedy) delivery person hands over the food and any extras – all neatly packaged in their signature minimalist brown and yellow packaging. Since Maple is often billed as David Chang’s brain-child, it’s appropriate that the delivery service should be gratuity-free, just like Chang’s Momofuku Nishi and an increasing number of sit-in restaurants in NYC.  With a streamlined payment system and simple, transparent pricing, it’s easy to add the whole office to the lunch order – making it just a little easier take a break and eat together.

The food itself is curated and limited to about 5 options each for lunch and dinner, which helps avoid the pitfalls of decision-fatigue in a city with endless options. Although any meals must be easy to transport, the recipes are ambitious in their use of spices and flavor – like a coriander vinaigrette on tamarind glazed tofu, or spicy jerk shrimp with sweet potatoes. The selection is well balanced, and each option includes at least one side (usually vegetable-based), an important touch that makes ordering from Maple feel more like eating a home cooked meal. Cold brew coffee, vegetable juice,  and Ample Hills ice cream can all be added at the end, although every dish comes with one sugar shack cookie – the kind of extra surprise that reminds you to take a minute to yourself in between all those emails.

Take Aways… Maple’s winning recipe combines hospitality and simplicity to bring a little more joy to working lunch every day.

Maple delivery is available to homes and offices below 14th street, or below 42nd street and between 8th Ave and Park.


The New Bubble Tea Trend Plays Nicely With Others


Photo via Boba Guys/NPR.org

Whatever name you know it by, it’s likely you’ve seen Bubble (or Boba) tea offered in your major metropolitan area before. The Taiwanese beverage, which originated as a sweetened, milky tea with chewy balls of tapioca drunk through a wide straw, became popular in the United States in the early 2000s on college campuses and in Asian neighborhoods. That trend largely died down until recently, but seems to be coming back – and this time, it’s picking up steam by joining forces with other trends, from speakeasy bars to horchata (the sweetened Mexican beverage made from steeped rice or barley).

As Andrew Chau, co-founder of the popular chain Boba Guys explains, “If we’re going to bridge cultures, we want to bring the best of the West and the best of the East.” Boba Guys aims to win over coffee lovers and adventurous foodies with combinations like coffee mik tea, horchata boba tea, and Indian Chai.

For a more a adult version, there is Boba 7 – the “Boba Speakeasy” behind Los Angeles restaurant Soi 7. There, owner Elton Keung makes cocktails like the “bobagasm” with Irish Cream, Kahlua and honey boba, along with a number of nonalcoholic versions. It seems clear that it’s only a matter of time before the East Coast gets their own bubbly bar.

It can be hard to build long term success on a single trend, but flexibility and reinvention allow those trends to go farther – and expand some palates along the way.

To read more, click here.