Food For Thought — June 26, 2014 at 10:55 am

Saveur Savors the Best in Summer Food

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Gourmands, their clients and guests, gathered earlier this week at the 79th Street Boat Basin for the fifth annual Saveur magazine Summer BBQ – a food and tasting show of epic proportions.

Editor-in-chief James Oseland hosted a bevy of top chefs from Manhattan to New Orleans and guests shelled out $93 for tickets to gain access to unlimited original dishes, creative cocktails, banging tunes and, of course, the ubiquitous photo booth.

The best dish on the menu was the Seafood Boudin Blanc from Sean Rembold of Reynard at the Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn. The savory bites of sausage were accompanied by crisp bacon and salmon caviar on a brioche bun. The combination was perfect.

Joey Campanaro and Mike Price of New York’s The Little Owl and The Clam restaurants served up another winner with an outstanding clambake, piled high with mussels, clams, corn on the cob and new potatoes under a savory jus.

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Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery, New Orleans served up moreish (in the I-want-more sense) chargrilled pork with fried peanuts, pickled veg and fish sauce, while the hotdogs with firey jalapeno slaw from Brent Young and Sara Bigelow of The Meat Hook, Brooklyn were equally devour-worthy (like bring on the hotdog eating contest; I could have eaten 10).

The final food standout was the simplicity of Roberto Caporuscio’s margherita pizza cooked with a Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet oven. There was nothing particularly different about this dish, but the perfectly chewy and crispy crust, accompanied by a sweet sauce and good mozzarella, meant I wouldn’t have said no to seconds.

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Drinks were summery and a delicious accompaniment to the flavor-filled onslaught of the BBQ menu. My favorite beverage was the Pallini Strawberry Fields, a sip-inducing combo of Pallini Limoncello, lemon juice, Boiron strawberry puree, orange flower water, Gosling’s Ginger Beer and fresh basil that was reminiscent of why we love June in the first place. Not usually a fan of Pinot Grigio, I was quick to change my mind with Channing Daughters Winery’s take on the grape, with aromas of pears and citrus and a clean, cooling feel on the tongue.

The evening was a great way to ring in the summer season. With around 600 guests at the sold-out event, the Boat Basin felt like a tight squeeze, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the mag opted for a bigger venue in future. While the sheer amount of food and drink you got for the price of admission was well worth the return on investment (there were also deals to be had pre-event on Gilt), for almost $100 a head, I want to be luxuriating over a multi-course dinner and a bottle of wine. But this event was not for relaxing into good food – this was for driven foodie folks with an insatiable desire for the best. And, of course, those with clients to impress.

Twisted Talk: Do you like food-tasting events? Will you be trying any of the Saveur BBQ’s best chefs? Discuss below. 

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