Thursday night saw the kick-off of the New York City Wine and Food Festival with a walk-around tasting event at Chelsea Market, hosted by "Good Eats" host Alton Brown. Food fans from all over lined up early to be first in the doors for dishes served by the market's gourmet purveyors—and a chance to shake hands with some of their favorite Food Network personalities, including a very merry Jacques Torres, Alex Guarnaschelli, Anne Burrell and Claire Robinson.
The crowd was almost unanimous in dubbing Dickson's Farmstand Meats pulled pork sliders the top dish. Owner-operator Jake Dickson reminded us to come and visit for the holiday season where he'll be concentrating more on charcuterie. "With whole animal butchery you can only have so many standing rib roasts," said Dickson between scoops of the steaming meat. We also liked the tuna tartare spring rolls from Buddakan; the cool tartare paired with a crispy fried shell (filled cannoli style) was a tasty textural surprise. East Hampton cheese specialists Lucy's Whey served up a simple and delicious prosciutto wrapped mozzarella, distinguished by excellent ingredients (LaQuercia prosciutto from Iowa).
For those who were in more of a tippling mood, there were wines and beers and spirits galore. Makers Mark created a bespoke cocktail for Brown. In the Good Eats Lounge bartenders served up pitchers of Alton's Kentucky Pirate, a concoction featuring Makers, lime juice, dark agave syrup and a hit of cayenne for a spicy kick to the throat. —Gabi Porter