How often do you get to go to a culinary festival? Now, how often do you get to traverse the steel halls of a battleship that’s been transformed into a food stand extravaganza? Yeah, there was no way we could pass up on this offer.
The Village Voice has been running the oft seen “Choice Eats” food festival for nearly a decade now, always selling out and bringing in the hungriest New Yorkers en masse. This new spin tackles the city’s most important meal of the day, brunch, to the night time crowd. If eating pancakes and bacon and eggs in the evening wasn’t enough, the Village Voice has managed to book the ENTIRE Intrepid for this flashy gala.
Any denizen on the West side of Manhattan has seen the somewhat gloomy behemoth floating in the Hudson. “A museum in there, you say? Perchance I shall take a gander,” says every millenial, but who actually has checked it out? Such a historic relic – what better way to celebrate its colonial, imperialist history in the Pacific than throwing an all-you-can-eat breakfast party?
Once we managed to collect our Press passes and cool tasting glasses, we headed into the aircraft carrier. Unlike many of the other tasting events we had gone to, the Village Voice’s party did two things right: 1. they booked a space that was appropriately large enough to house the massive crowd, and 2. they provided brown boxes to hoard all your tastings. Seriously, that last item is important because, you know, if Trump was there his sausage fingers wouldn’t be able to hold mini-blt sliders, blueberry oatmeal, ceviche, AND a glass of beer.
As for the food offerings, the large space that was a boon for the quantity of people was also a detriment as it made the layout confusing. The drinks, snacks, car rental people, and restaurants were all interspersed without larger signs that made it obvious what we were waiting in line for. I found myself at one point in line for 10 minutes for something that I ultimately did not want (I think it was a spicy jalapeno hot sauce? I can’t do spicy). At the very least, the fantastically talented jazz band playing in the foreground helped give a tune to the madness.(Mini Underwest Donuts and Dough Donuts)
A few of the dishes we tried were underwhelming, and others like Edi & the Wolf’s Kaiserschmarrn, were missing some elements (in this case, some more sweetness as the syrup had dried out). Some of our favorites throughout the night were the fan favorite donuts from Underwest and Dough, as well as Nha Minh’s Green Duck Eggs and Vietnamese Ham in a Crepe Pinwheel (it was a tiny, tiny bite, but packed a massive flavor punch). There was also a FANTASTIC bread pudding with chunky bacon bits, but alas I have lost the name of the restaurant that produced it. But the newly crowned brunch champion had to be The Black Ant’s Duck Tortas, hands down.
Their dish was a corn bun torta filled with duck carnitas, crispy potatoes, and negro modelo morita salsa. Now that last item on the ingredients list I have no idea what it translates to, but the vibrant colors and overwhelming freshness of the salsa gave life to the juicy duck bun. Regrettably, I was only able to try one of these delicious bombshells.
We enjoyed checking out the flight deck under the moonlight, spinning the raffle wheel at Frames Bowling (and winning $25!), taking pictures of defunct helicopters, and conversing with the Coconut Water lady. There were hits and misses at the food stands, but overall was an incredibly fascinating, incomparable experience. Hope to see you there next year!