It's been a while since we returned to the Hester Street Fair, so we figured what better time to return than for Grub Street's Food Festival. We arrived by 11AM and the market was already crowded, but manageable (few lines, seats available for dining, ample time to try a lot of food). By the time we left at 12:30PM, we had to squeeze through the long lines just to escape. Despite the brisk weather, it seemed like every foodie in NYC was there - including Real Housewives of New York's Bethenny Frankel causing some walking traffic jams with her camera crew.
We're so excited for Ditch Plains to open on the UWS (in the old Bar Bao space) that we had to taste a preview. (The new location does not open until December) We chose the Ditch Dog ($5) which was a hot dog smothered with mac n' cheese. Like the mac n' cheese pizza I've had before, combining comfort foods is a winning recipe!
My husband saw Char No 4's sign for Smoked Short Rib and Pork Shoulder Chili with hominy ($6) and headed straight to that table. It was hot and hit the spot!
We've had Brooklyn's Pies 'n' Thighs on our "must-try" list for a while, so we eagerly lined up for their Chicken Biscuits ($3 each). The biscuits were flaky (though cold) and the sweet/spicy sauce on the chicken was tasty.
The longest lines were for Purple Yam's ribs and pork buns. I chatted with Chef KianLam Kho (who also writes the blog Red Cook, a great resource for cooking Chinese food). I told him how his pork for the pork buns reminded me of my grandmother's cooking. Chef Kho, who unfortunately does not have his own restaurant, is available for private catering.
My husband liked tasting the new Spicy Bacon Marmalade (one jar for $9). Smoky, meaty, and slightly spicy...forget the bread, he would just eat the whole jar with a spoon.
We love Mile End's smoked meats. For $5, we enjoyed all-natural Creekstone Farms black angus brisket that has been dry-cured for 11 days, smoked over oak, then steamed and sliced over orwasher's rye bread with mustard.
Despite following Kelvin Natural Slush Co. truck on Twitter, I had yet to track it down. So I was pleased to find it stationary at the fair. So even though it was so cold because of the wind (that was strong enough to knock down signs and food at the fair), I ordered a small slush ($3.50).
After thinking through all of the possible combinations, I chose a Citrus base with Caramelized Pineapple mixed into it. I liked how this slush was not syrupy sweet and did not taste artificial (given the natural ingredients).
We ended our lunch with a Panna Cotta topped with 10-year old aged balsamic vinegar ($1). Though I was tempted by Melt Bakery's Deep Fried Pumpkin Pie ($5), I was happy to choose this lighter, cheaper dessert.
Despite trying to keep warm, we had a good time trying a variety of eats from vendors. We're glad we went early because food was running out by the mid-afternoon (just as crowds and lines were swelling beyond the enclosed space).