Day: May 23rd, 2007

Dining — and drinking — downtown

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Events

The 9th annual Dine Around Downtown event, hosted by the Alliance for Downtown New York, is a celebration of lower Manhattan’s food and beverage. As in years past, the festival was held at Chase Manhattan Plaza, with live entertainment and food tents drawing lunchtime crowds in excess of 20,000. Food samples from over 50 downtown restaurants (including Harry and Peter Poulakakos‘ newest financial district venture, Gold St.) were available for purchase at $3-$6 apiece.

On this beautiful afternoon, the plaza was more crowded than I’d ever seen it. As the happy sounds of jazz floated in the air, CS, SYB and I wandered among the snaking lines, trying to narrow down our selections from among the vast variety of food before us.

Dine Around Downtown

I sampled Brasserie Les Halles‘ Mini Hamburger Rossini with Foie Gras Terrine, seared and juicy, and topped with a surprisingly generous slab of foie gras. (I know, I know… so un-PC.) Realistically, I probably won’t splurge on chef Daniel Boulud’s famed DB Burger any time soon, so this was a reasonable substitute. The DB Bistro Moderne version is comprised of 9 ounces of “ground sirloin with a filling of boned short ribs braised in red wine, foie gras, black truffle and a mirepoix of root vegetables” and accompanied by a silver cup of pommes soufflées. (Well yeah, for $32 fries had better come with that.)

Grills

Assorted pastries from another Poulakakos holding, Financier Patisserie:

Pastries

Dine Around Downtown

SYB picked up a quartet of Harry’s Café and Steak’s Mini Kobe Beef Hot Dogs with Poppy Seed Sauerkraut to share. (Yes, Poulakakos grub yet again! They’re everywhere!) Only beef from black-haired Wagyu cattle, which are raised in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture can carry the appellation “Kobe.” Wagyu beef from identical cattle raised elsewhere is technically not “Kobe” – just as sparkling wine made anywhere outside the Champagne wine-growing region of France may not be legally labeled “champagne.”

The cattle themselves are famously pampered and raised (at great expense) on a diet of organic grains, Japanese beer, and sometimes sake mash, all of which results in an intensely marbled flesh. Kobe beef is prized for its full, rich flavor, supreme tenderness and almost buttery mouth feel. The term “foie gras of beef” is employed a lot, which, given the extraordinarily high fat-to-lean ratio of the meat, is probably an apt analogy. I don’t know… maybe our palates could use some refining — and this probably isn’t the best way to show off Kobe beef’s luxurious qualities — but these tasted like regular hot dogs to us. Above average hot dogs, certainly, but regular just the same.

Kobe beef hot dogs

These Kobe beef dogs are cropping up all around the city. Last month, the meatpacking district’s Old Homestead Steakhouse rechristened its sidewalk seating area as Prime Burger Café with a $15 foot-long(!) Kobe beef hot dog – and New York’s Insatiable Critic Gael Greene’s new favorite burger — on the menu.

Later that night, SC had scored us invitations to West Chelsea’s Home for Maxim’s Trump Super Premium (Ultra Fantastic) Vodka launch party. Yup: buildings, resorts, casinos, a menswear collection, on to bottled water… and now it seems that The Donald has moved on to the hard stuff – at least in name, as Trump himself is known as a strict teetotaler. Is there anything this man won’t put his name on? (Actually, no.)

In the pimped out, mirrored, chandeliered den of banquettes, we sipped the evening’s specialty libations which included the “Trump & Tonic” and the “Trumptini” (Trump Vodka martini, garnished with a blue cheese-stuffed olive — not shredded money or prenups, as we had hoped), as a promotional video clip was looped on a projection screen behind us, touting the Trumptastic brand. “Success. Distilled.” Seriously.

Eventually, the man with the Hair arrived, making the obligatory rounds and looking oddly out of place among the Maxim crowd. The pounding, thumping 80’s/pop/dance/hip hop beats made group conversation all but impossible – and resulted in a persistent ear ringing that lasted hours after the evening ended — but CS and I still managed to share one special moment on the dance floor:

You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar
When I met you
I picked you out, I shook you up, and turned you around
Turned you into someone new

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