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A row of white tents on a drizzly Saturday afternoon is where I found myself last weekend for the 19th annual Taste of TriBeCa tasting event.  A general admission ticket granted me six tastings from the 70+ participating local restaurants and vendors, which spanned Hudson and Duane St from 11:30am until 3:00pm.  As per usual, there was no lack of variation in terms of cuisine at this festival, which made the unfamiliar challenge of being highly selective all the more difficult.

Perusing each stand’s offerings was key before narrowing down my hit list to half a dozen, so I took several laps around to scope out ingredients and portion sizes.  Only then did I commit to my first bite: the Cosmopolitan Cafe’s ricotta-filled, honey, cherry, and almond-covered crepe.  Given the time, I figured a breakfast-type food would be best to kick off the day and couldn’t have been happier with my selection.  The harmony of the light cheese and the fruity accents was just right and worthy of relinquishing my first of six punches.

I quickly moved on to lunch, enjoying every bite of Ecco’s penne alla vodka, a personal favorite, followed by a couple yummy bites of my friend’s eel hand roll from Takahachi.  My friends and I posted up at one of the several scattered hightop tables and contemplated our strategy.  We pooled our tickets together in order to maximize what we could try, which allowed me to sample two different kinds of equally-delicious porcini pastas (from Max and Acappella) and Maxwell’s sadly average mac n cheese.  I also tasted all three pizzas featured: American Flatbread, Dean’s, Grandaisy Bakery–all were good, but none were particularly special.  Duane Park Patisseries’ warm molten chocolate cake was so rich that it too lent itself well to being shared, even though it left me wanting more.  I oscillated between sweet and savory with every dish, opting for Mehtaaphor’s vegetable dumpling chaat next; pleased with their generous and tasty portion.


On that note–portion size varied tremendously, making a handful of booths considerably more desirable.  Some dishes were more suitable for sharing than others: three friends and I instantly devoured Bubby’s large Rhubarb Apple Brown Betty.  City Hall Restaurant was also commendably liberal with their scoops of ice cream (lemon rosemary was very refreshing!).  In stark contrast, Tribeca Canvas’ hamachi taco and Bouley’s offering (ominously marked “chef’s surprise” on the website) were bite size, if that.  Nonetheless, I left with a laundry list of new restaurants to try in the previously unfamiliar TriBeCa neighborhood–I won’t write off those with measly offerings just yet.

Lines moved quickly, and the midday rain didn’t cut festivities short.  The large display of t-shirts for sale made me laugh because one offering was a mesh crop top…really?  I appreciated that TOT catered to families, which sets it apart from similar, primarily 21+ food and drink events.  The kids running around made the gathering truly feel like a block party, where everyone (attendees, restaurant owners, etc) knows one another.  I look forward to bringing my children there someday to solidify their appreciation for food at a young age!

By: Emily Giove