NEW YORK CITY FOOD

FIRST COURSE
City Winery's Farm to Table

Tomorrow at 5:30 pm,, City Winery is hosting Farm to Table, an interactive tasting event that will be held at the Courtyard in Hudson Square. The tasting stations will be prepared by Great Performances, and there will also be a selection of City Winery’s own handcrafted wines. All food is from within a 100-mile radius of New York City with a menu committed to celebrating local produce. Some menu highlights: Hudson Valley Duck Feast, Stuffed Peppers, Family Style Toasts, Ratatouille, and Fennel and Artichoke salad.

FIRST COURSE
The Food that Brought Tears to Our Eyes

Hundreds of hungry food lovers gathered at the 69th Armory to sample the city’s finest fare at the Village Voice’s 4th annual Choice Eats event. Joonbug was lucky enough to attend this veritable food rave. Food enthusiasts and the restaurants they love came together and, in a matter of minutes, we were in a food coma. Here are some of the evening’s highlights.

  • We met Cathy Erway, food blogger and author of The Art of Eating In. We sampled her wild dandelion pesto with crostini. And get this. She has just picked the dandelions herself fresh that day!
  • Eddie Huang (BaoHaus) created his own version of kung pao chicken, laced with tons of lemongrass.
  • Bark Hot Dogs from Brooklyn was featuring their signature Bark Dog, made in-house using pork shoulder, pork shank and beef shoulder.
  • The sexy duo behind The Meatball Shop, Daniel Holzman & Michael Chernow, created a mini Reuben meatball served with sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.
  • Luke’s Lobster… There was a huge line to get a taste of the buttery and juicy lobster rolls. We’ll just hit one of the three locations to get our lobster fix.
  • For pork lovers, there was a tomato-y pork ragu brought to you by Porchetta. The fabulous Sara Jenkins was on hand and gave Joonbug the secret to her famous roast pork. “The recipe is on the website,” she said. Click here for “the secret.”
FIRST COURSE
Doughnuts, Ramen Noodles and an Experimental Restaurant

Here are our picks for some of the best food articles this week...

Did you know that a tub of movie theater popcorn can have as many calories as three Big Macs? Read this article on the new law taking effect March 23 that mandates chain restaurants to display calorie counts of menu items.

The folks at Serious Eats have released their picks for Best Doughnuts in New York. Make sure you have a steaming cup of coffee before watching the slideshow.

FIRST COURSE
A Unique Food and Wine Festival

Last Thursday, hundreds gathered in Times Square to taste and sip the best food and wine coming out of Italy at the Gala Italia hosted by the Italian Wine and Food Institute. Joonbug had the opportunity to sample dozens of wines, cheeses, pastas and many other tasty treats. We tried a lovely 2007 Chianti Classico from the Fattoria di Montecchio house. Lcoated in the village of San Donato in Tuscany, Fattoria di Montecchio also makes grappa with their Chianti grapes. From the Piedmont region comes the refreshing Tutidi Brachetto. This light and fruity red is bursting with raspberry and cherry flavors. Served chilled, it's the perfect wine to serve as an aperitivo or with dessert.

FIRST COURSE Chef Dirk Flanigan
New York Gets a Taste of the Windy City

The day starts early for Chef Dirk Flanigan and his team. It’s not every day one gets invited to cook at the prestigious James Bead House in New York City. Flawless organization and impeccable execution are requirements for this event and Chef Dirk has everything under control, moving seamlessly from one task to the next with a quiet confidence. Saturday night's dinner was already gearing up to be spectacular.

Chef Dirk is executive chef at Chicago’s wildly successful The Gage and Henri restaurants, but his path into the culinary world began in Naples, Florida. “I was 13 years old and wanted to buy a surfboard,” he says. He knew a friend that worked in a restaurant and Chef Dirk began helping out in the kitchen, slowly saving up his money. Not long after, he started working in the kitchen at the Ritz-Carlton and he eventually made his way to Chicago where he’s been cooking since the late ‘80s.

FIRST COURSE
Red, White and...Green

The Italian Food and Wine Institute brings you the 26th edition of Gala Italia, a celebration of the best food, wine, art and fashion that Italy has to offer. Spend the day sipping wine and sampling gourmet Italian specialties. Some participating restaurants include Da Silvano, Barolo Ristorante, Giano and Epoca. Catch a glimpse of spring-summer fashions during the fashion show, highlighting Italian designers, such as Eredi Pisano'. You'll also love the Piaggio Scooter exhibit and be impressed with the paintings of Lisa Borgiani and Massimo Nadini.

Gala Italia, Thursday February 10 3:00-8:00 p.m., Broadway Ballroom at the New York Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway (at 45th Street), New York, NY 212-867-4111. Tickets and Information

FIRST COURSE
Pour, Sip, Taste

This past weekend, New Yorkers spent a few hours sipping and tasting the best beers and bourbon available today. The Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival brought together small and large breweries and distilleries at this sold out event.

Some stand-outs included High West Distilleries from Park City Utah. The un-aged Silver Whiskey is incredibly smooth so it's ideal for the uninitiated. High West also had their Vodka 7000 on display. It is the only vodka in the world made from oats, which is no longer used because of its high cost. This crisp vodka was a refreshing break from the spicy bourbons.

FIRST COURSE
Two Sticks of Gum, Some Lint and a Library Card

If two sticks of gum, some lint and a library card reads like an inventory of your wallet then you might be wondering how to get some time with the owner of last weekend's phone number. Do not despair, for you live in the city of dreams. There are a plethora of options that will spare the embarrassment of a McDate. Few however are as good as Caracas, the Venezuelan style arepa bar.

Caracas is certainly no secret, but in case you haven't tasted its glory just yet ,allow me to lay some enlightenment on you. Imagine deep hearty stews with exciting Latin flavors and sharp cheeses and other delicious accoutrements stuffed into what I describe as the love child of an English muffin and a pita. The huge variety of stuffings have only one thing in common, which is how amazingly well they taste with an ice cold beer.

FIRST COURSE
Cocktail Time Italian Style

The Italians tend to do everything with a little more style than the rest of us, especially when it comes to food and drink. Take for example the concept of "happy hour." In the US, bars will serve discounted drinks usually between 5:00-7:00 p.m. There may be a few bar nuts involved in the mix, but it's mostly about the beer, wine, vodka and gin.

In Italy, the concept of having an aperitivo, or a drink which opens the appetite, before dinner is quite different. Imagine you say to your friend, "Prendiamo un aperitivo." You would go to a bar and order a drink, but you'll notice that it won't be at a discounted price. In fact, it's even more expensive during aperitivo hours (roughly between 7:00-9:00 p.m.). Why the surcharge? Your aperitivo is served with small plates of snacks like small sandwiches, olives, cheese and cured meats. Another difference is the drinks don't fall into the "sticky sweet" category. No apple or chocolate-peanut butter martinis here. Check out how to re-create some of the classic Italian cocktails.

FIRST COURSE
Man vs. Brew

Coffeeaholics, novice baristas, foodies etc. be advised. RBC is hosting their first Manual Brew Down, a throwdown-style competition for baristas to show their manual brewing skills.


Choose your favorite coffee and brew method and their panel of judges (Katie Cargulio of Counter Culture, Chris Van Schyndel of Barismo and Mike Jones from Third Rail) will evaluate each cup based on flavor, clarity, balance, body and finish. Sign up is at 7:15 p.m. tonight.

Free beer will be offered along with prizes from a group of cool sponsors - Barismo, Coava, Counter Culture, MadCap and Ritual. Walk away with some cutting-edge coffee equipment, or just hang out, sip and spectate!

Manual Brew Down, RBC NYC, 71 Worth Street (212) 226-1111