BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Foodies from across the borough were given the chance to sample farm-fresh epicurean delights during The Catskills Comes to Queens, a tasting event celebrating the farm-to-table movement, held at Flushing Town Hall on Saturday.
The culinary event was created by New York Epicurean Events co-founders Chef David Noeth and Joe DiStefano, famed food writer behind Chopsticks and Marrow, the wildly popular guide to adventurous eating in Queens.
“As someone who’s been writing about food in Queens for years, it’s always been a dream of mine to do a food festival,” DiStefano explained. “In early 2015, I met Ellen Kodadek, the executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall, and she told me that they wanted to do more culinary programming. For months beforehand, I’d been having all sorts of wonderful meals made with Catskills-sourced ingredients—grass-feed beef, farm-fresh eggs, free-range chicken, locally foraged mushrooms—at my business partner David Noeth’s house.”
“At some point the idea hit us: Why don’t we go into business together and help showcase all these wonderful products, help the farmers and expose the people of Queens to some great food?” DiStefano added.
The Catskills Comes to Queens featured a delectable array of mountain-fresh fare from some of the borough’s best chefs. Chef David Noeth’s beef heart tartare was accompanied by cheese from Vulto Creamery in Noeth’s native Walton, New York.
Chef Nate Felder of The Astor Room in Astoria topped tender maple syrup-cured Berkshire pork belly with a red pepper marmalade and served them over a bed of sour cream grits. Lamb and goat tacos dressed in homemade queso fresco, crisp corn salsa and an earthy corn crema were on the menu at New World Home Cooking Co. courtesy of The Food Network’s 2010 “Chopped“ champion Chef Ric Orlando.
Smokehouse favorites were popular throughout the festival. Chef Alfonso Zhicay of Casa del Chef Bistro in Woodside featured succulent short ribs braised in an intoxicating blend of fruit chutney and Madeira wine served atop a briny bed of homemade pickled carrots and cabbage.
Chef Danny Brown, of Danny Brown’s Wine Bar and Kitchen in Forest Hills, crafted an exquisite torchon of La Belle Farms foie gras and guinea fowl accompanied by hazelnut oil and fresh microgreens. Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 7 runner-up and Sotto 13‘s Chef Ed Cotton offered a twist on traditional American fare with his mini rabbit and mortadella hot dogs served between toasted brioche buns topped with mustard and spicy kirby relish.
Smokey fare ruled the outdoor courtyard of Flushing Town Hall as well, where Chef Tyson Ho’s whole barbecued hog from Arrogant Swine took center stage, its head displayed on the table, presiding over the festivities. Guests were delighted by bite-sized treats, such as the lamb sliders from Chef Harry Hawk of Schnack and the Eagle Hollow Farms barbecue chicken sliders from Chef Lou Elrose of the soon-to-be-opened Charred smokehouse and bar in Middle Village.
Adventurous eaters enjoyed the warm, earthy smoked beef tongue sliders topped with birch bark-infused mayo and pickled heirloom tomatoes from Chef Will Horowitz of Harry and Ida’s Meat and Supply Co., while M. Wells Steakhouse Chef Hugue Dufour’s lamb tagine provided a flavorful feast for the senses.
Silk Cakes bakery’s Pandan cupcakes topped with coconut buttercream and white chocolate truffle nearly vanished in an instant. Delicate pastries by Rudolf Merlin at Creme French bakery and Leske’s Bakery’s peanut butter and Cotton Hill goat cheese donuts provided a sweet finish.
“We like to think that we’re bringing the best products in New York State to the New York’s best chefs at New York City’s best venue,” DiStefano added. “And what better place to do it than Flushing, which was once itself farmland.”
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