Thursday, May 20, 2010

Queens: A Taste of the World

A little pitter patter of rain couldn't dampen the spirits (or the appetites) of the nearly 1,000 guests who descended upon Citi Field this past Wednesday, May 18th.  After checking my umbrella (never before have I seen such a hilarious Mary Poppins array of rain canopies), I joined a few WLA friends to sample my fill of the more than 30 restaurants & eateries offering tastes of their signature dishes.  Not only an impressive spread of international culinary creations, the event was also a battle for top taste honors awarded in 6 different categories.

Hosted by the Queens Economic Development Corporation (, the Tasting Team in charge of adjudicating included Food Network's Dave Lieberman, Anahad O'Connor (New York Times), Joe DiStefano (Edible Queens), author Suzanna Parker (Eating Like Queens), and and Beverage Media editor Alia Akkam.

Iconic Restaurant honors were awarded to Queens establishments in business for over 50 years.  This year's recipients were London Lennie's & Mama's of Corona (incidentally, probably my two personal favorite tastings of the evening).

The sampling at London Lennie's (Rego Park) included enormous fresh oysters & plump clams on the half shell, shrimp, and succulent crab claws.  I commented to a friend that I would have been quite content planted at this booth for the duration of the evening.

From Flushing, Mama's of Corona (also known as Leo's Latticini) deserved top honors for their particularly delicious sandwich of a heavenly-soft sesame hoagie with Italian meats, fresh mozzarella, and sweet red peppers.

Best appetizer was awarded to De Mole (Woodside) for their sea scallop ceviche.

Though Floresta (Sunnyside) won Best Entree for their skirt steak and arugula salad, I actually fell in love with their Argentine pork sausage with chimichurri sauce.

Best overall presentation was awarded to Cascon Baking Company for their CitiField cake.

Other top honors went to Dazie's tiramisu (Best Dessert), Fresh Ginger by Bruce Cost (Best non-alcoholic drink), and Domaine de Canton by Canton (Best drink with alcohol).

With an extremely diverse array of offerings, this year's Taste was considered a huge success.  Though I would certainly recommend attending next year's event, my one piece of advice is to arrive on time, or even early.  Though the event was scheduled from 6 - 9:00 p.m. several of the restaurants were already out of one or more of their plates as early as 6:45 p.m.  It was a little frustrating to be recommended a "delicious crab cake" only to find supplies depleted a third of the way into the event.

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