Tag Archives: events

The Grand Tasting, NYC Wine & Food Festival – Pier 94, Manhattan

The Grand Tasting, NYC Wine & Food Festival – Pier 94, Manhattan – October 17, 2015

Inset Photos Clockwise from Top Left: Thai Taco and Pork Belly Slider from Barcade, Pralines from Bernard's Pralines of New Orleans, Eggplant and Pepper Puree from Between the Bread, Lamb Slider from Pergola, and Shrimp Ceviche with Cricket Salt from Ofrenda Background: Grand Tasting Banner with Shop Rite Logo

Inset Photos Clockwise from Top Left: Thai Taco and Pork Belly Slider from Barcade, Pralines from Bernard’s Pralines of New Orleans, Eggplant and Pepper Puree from Between the Bread, Lamb Slider from Pergola, and Shrimp Ceviche with Cricket Salt from Ofrenda      Background: Grand Tasting Banner

Today was a very exciting day for me, and I got out of bed with a great deal of enthusiasm! My husband and I were fortunate enough to attend The Grand Tasting at the New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF). This was our first time attending the NYCWFF. The NYCWFF website described this event best:

NYCWFF invites you to spend the day exploring our signature Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite – our 130,000-square-foot culinary wonderland and the centerpiece of our Culinary Campus.

Nowhere else can you meet the greatest food stars in the country, sample food from local NYC restaurants representing cuisines from around the world, taste the most sought-after wines and spirits alongside up-and-coming labels from the Southern Wine & Spirits of New York portfolio and take part in exciting interactive experiences with your favorite brands and foodie products – it is truly a food and wine lover’s dream!” (http://nycwff.org/mcgtsat, 2015)

(To view more videos and photos of the NYCWFF beyond those featured here, including two short videos of chefs Aarón Sánchez and John Besh cooking together, visit my Instagram.)

The event had a plethora of food and drink to try, and try we did. We ate everything from lamb sliders to quinoa salad to grasshopper cotton candy. Yes, grasshopper as in the insect. Since we sampled so many things, I will feature the highlights here.

Barcade offered two phenomenal samples: Thai Tacos and Pork Belly Sliders with Beer Cheese. The tacos (seen in the photo below) were on tiny flour tortillas. The standout flavor was the nutty peanut sauce which made these a great departure from traditional tacos. I removed the cilantro before eating the taco. The sliders were so rich and unctuous from the pork belly and beer cheese, that the flavors filled my mouth instantly. These sliders would be a hit at any event.

Thai Tacos from Barcade

Thai Tacos from Barcade

Magnolia’s booth offered their Southern Sundae, and this was a decadent masterpiece. It consisted of dark chocolate buttermilk cake, pecan pie ice cream, bittersweet fudge sauce, salted caramel sauce, bourbon brown sugar chantilly cream, and pecan brittle. This sundae had salty, sweet, and bitter flavors along with a mixture of textures: creamy, smooth, crunchy, fluffy, and crispy. It did live up to its name by bringing southern flavors to the forefront: pecan, bourbon, and buttermilk.

Magnolia's Southern Sundae

Magnolia’s Southern Sundae

Hank’s Oyster Bar offered a magnificent smoked oyster spoonbread. The buttery spoonbread melted instantly on the tongue giving up the briny, smoky flavor from the oysters. While I am not one who loves raw oysters, I could eat this dish for days.

Main: Hank's Oyster Bar Logo Inset: Smoked Oyster Spoonbread

Main: Hank’s Oyster Bar Logo      Inset: Smoked Oyster Spoonbread

Chopin Vodka gave samples of Dorda Double Chocolate Liquer. They infused their Chopin rye vodka with dark chocolate to produce this luscious liquer. To me, it tasted like I was drinking a perfectly rich chocolate pudding. Completely delightful and indulgent!

Dorda Chocolate Liquer Bottles

Dorda Double Chocolate Liquer

We had to sample the grasshopper cotton candy from Black Ant. The cotton candy was sweet, as expected. The whole grasshopper inside the cotton candy was crunchy, similar to eating soft crab shells. While many describe the flavor as nutty, I found it to be more acidic. I can now say that I have tried it, but it was not a flavor I would seek out again.

Grasshopper Cotton Candy from Black Ant

Grasshopper Cotton Candy from Black Ant

As my regular readers know, I have a huge sweet tooth. So coming across the MarieBelle Chocolates table made me happy. Their packaging was colorful and gorgeous! They gave us samples of their chocolate chips, truffles, caramels, and ganaches. The chips packed a chocolate punch. While it was the simplest thing they gave out as a sample, it really was wonderful! When a chocolatier is able to make their simplest thing great, you know all of their other products will be fantastic! This was the case for the truffle, the caramel, and the ganache. Each succeeded in balancing the sweet notes with the chocolate’s bitter flavor.

Left: MarieBelle's Chocolates and Ganaches Right: MarieBelle's Chocolate Bars

Left: MarieBelle’s Chocolates and Ganaches      Right: MarieBelle’s Chocolate Bars

Finally, who knew that chocolates from Japan could be mind blowing? Royce’ Chocolate from Hokkaido, Japan makes exceptional chocolates. Their ganaches melt smoothly in your mouth, coating it with indulgent chocolate flavor. I adored their green tea ganache. The white chocolate base is blended with grassy green tea to produce a vibrant and creamy ganache that is decadent. I cannot wait to visit one of their stores here in New York City.

Left: Royce's Nama Chocolate Ganache Right: Royce's Green Tea Ganache

Left: Royce’s Nama Chocolate Ganache      Right: Royce’s Green Tea Ganache

I left the Grand Tasting stuffed and satisfied. Thank you to Shop Rite, Food Network, Cooking Channel, and all of the other sponsors for putting on such a marvelous event.

Accessibility Rating for The Grand Tasting, NYC Wine & Food Festival

I used my wheelchair to visit The Grand Tasting, NYCWFF.

  • Entryway – 3: First, I must apologize that I did not get a better photograph of the entrance. In my excitement, it completely escaped me. The entrance and exit doors were wide. There were no stairs. The only problem I encountered was that the transition upon exiting was so bumpy that it actually jostled my wheelchair wheel out of proper alignment to the point where it would not work correctly. We had to remove the wheel, and put it back into proper alignment.

    Pier 94 Pavillion

    Pier 94 Pavilion

  • Bathroom – 4 (Men’s): There are two grab bars around the toilet. I was able to get close to the sink. The faucet was tall, and it had an automatic sensor. The accessible stall was quite dark due to the overhead bulb being out. I was able to make a 180º turn within the space while in my wheelchair.
  • Walkways/Space – 4: The space is enormous. I was able to navigate quite easily, with the exception of the crowds which were to be expected at an event like this. Almost every booth had tables that I was able to easily reach over. The event space was brightly lit. It was very noisy due to loud background music and a great deal of talking.

    Scenes from The Grand Tasting (Clockwise from Top Left): Wine Gems Room, Mexico Booth, Walkways through Grand Tasting, and Colorful Mural with NYC Street Scenesat the North Stage

    Scenes from The Grand Tasting (Clockwise from Top Left): Wine Gems Room, Mexico Booth, Walkways through Grand Tasting, and Mural at the North Stage

  • Staff – 3: Upon our arrival, a staff member was very kind. He escorted us to the front of the line so we could enter before it became too crowded. He left us to the side of the front of the line, and instructed a volunteer to make sure we got in ahead of the crowd. The volunteer appeared to have forgotten about us as they began to let people in. We spoke up to another staff member, and we were immediately allowed inside. Beyond this experience, we had no interactions with staff from the group running the event. People at most tables were nice enough to me, but no one went out of their way to help me or ask if there was a way to improve my experience or assist me.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


The Disabled Foodie and Words I Wheel By’s Wafels & Dinges Factory Tour Event & Ample Hills Creamery (Gowanus, Brooklyn)

The Disabled Foodie and Words I Wheel By’s Wafels & Dinges Factory Tour Event & Ample Hills Creamery (Gowanus, Brooklyn) – September 19, 2015

September’s exciting event involved teaming up with Emily Ladau from the popular blog, Words I Wheel By, to tour the Wafels & Dinges factory in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Wafels & Dinges are the popular food trucks around New York City that serve phenomenal authentic waffles in true Belgian style. I want to thank Emily for co-planning this event with me. I also want to thank everyone who attended. It was great to finally meet Ron from the drool-worthy food blog, Gratuitous Foodity, and Taylor from Zomato, a restaurant review website. I appreciate Stephanie from Wafels & Dinges for arranging everything for our tour. Thank you to Tyler for taking us on the tour of Wafels & Dinges, and for making the delectable Liège (pronounced lee-ehzh) waffles for us.

David and Emily

David and Emily

Prior to hearing an episode on The Sporkful about Belgian waffles, I, like most Americans, did not know that there is no true Belgian waffle, as each town in Belgium has its own waffle made in its own way. Wafels & Dinges (W&D) makes Brussels waffles (made from batter) and Liège waffles (made from dough filled with pearl sugar). After listening to that episode, I immediately visited the W&D website, and I learned that for $10.00 a person you can tour the factory and enjoy a freshly made waffle with unlimited toppings.

The W&D factory is in their food truck garage. In the rear of the garage is the kitchen where employees make both Brussels waffle batter and Liège waffle dough. Check out videos (including Liège waffle dough being made and Tyler making Liège waffles) from the tour on my Instagram (Click here to visit Instagram).

After the tour, Tyler made each member of the group a Liège waffle. I topped my waffle with spekuloos (pronounced speck-you-lohs) spread on one half of the waffle. This is a spread made from caramelized gingerbread cookies. Emily described the spekuloos spread accurately when she said, “It tastes like magic!” It’s spicy and sweet, and is exactly what it sounds like, spreadable gingerbread cookies. On the other half of my waffle, I asked for their seasonal pumpkin pie topping, walnuts, strawberries, whipped cream, and crumbled spekuloos cookies. The waffle itself was light, fluffy, and sweet from the pearl sugar in the dough, which caramelized beautifully. The entire thing was a decadent treat and the perfect indulgence.

Liege Waffle with Spekuloos Spread on Front and Pumpkin Pie Spread, Walnuts, Strawberries, Whipped Cream, and Spekuloos Cookie Crumble on Back

Liege Waffle with Spekuloos Spread on the Front Half and Pumpkin Pie Spread, Walnuts, Strawberries, Whipped Cream, and Spekuloos Cookie Crumble on the Back Half

Accessibility Rating for Wafels & Dinges Factory

I used my wheelchair to visit the Wafels & Dinges Factory.

  • Entryway – 5: There is one large garage door, which was open while we were there. There are no stairs at the entrance.  The transition from the sidewalk to the inside of the factory is smooth.

    Entrance to Wafels & Dinges Factory

    Entrance to Wafels & Dinges Factory

  • Bathroom – 2: The doorway to the bathroom is narrow. It took some maneuvering on my part to get inside. The toilet does not have any grab bars around it. I was unable to get close to the sink in my wheelchair as the sink had a cabinet underneath it. The faucet has short handles. I was able to make a 180º turn while in my wheelchair inside the bathroom. The bathroom is well lit with outside light from windows. I was unable to find the light switch while inside, but the ambient light was adequate for me, but I could imagine this being difficult for a person with a visual impairment.
  • Walkways/Space – 4: The interior is spacious and passable, with the exception of the bathroom door and some cracks and divots in the floor. The space is moderately lit, with the kitchen being the most brightly lit part. Most of the noise came from vehicles passing outside since the garage door was open.

    Interior Photos from Wafels & Dinges Factory (Clockwise from Top Left): Pearl Sugar, Entrance to Kitchen, Wafels & Dinges Cart, Waffle Making Station, Breakfast Special Sign, and Tyler, Our Tour Guide Center: Wafels & Dinges Guiding Principles (We Aspire, We Take Pride in our craftsmanship, we own our actions through integrity, responsibility, & accountability)

    Interior Photos from Wafels & Dinges Factory (Clockwise from Top Left): Pearl Sugar, Entrance to Kitchen, Wafels & Dinges Cart, Waffle Making Station, Breakfast Special Sign, and Tyler, Our Tour Guide      Center: Wafels & Dinges Guiding Principles

  • Staff – 4: Upon our arrival, the staff that was there was unaware that we had a tour scheduled for that afternoon. After describing that I had spoken with Stephanie to arrange the tour, everything was sorted out. Our tour was scheduled for 1:00 PM, but Tyler did not show up until almost 1:30 PM. This made our time schedule tighter, as I had Access-a-Ride scheduled for our return trip at a specific time from the Ample Hills Creamery Gowanus location. This made the experience feel a little more rushed, but it all worked out in the end. The staff did not react to the users of mobility assistive devices at all, which is great to be treated equally, but we also were not asked if there was any way to meet our needs to make for the best visit possible.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus at the factory, but Tyler described everything in detail to the entire group.

Following our visit to the Wafels & Dinges factory, I could not resist visiting the nearby location of Ample Hills Creamery in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Having been to their Prospect Heights location (Click here to read the review of that location), I am a huge fan of their ice cream. I, personally, believe it is some of the best ice cream that I have had in New York City. I had not been to this location before, but my husband had ordered and picked up a cake for my birthday (It was divine!) from this location last year. Ron joined us on this part of our visit to Gowanus.

I ordered one scoop in a cup of a flavor they only offer at this location: It Came From Gowanus. It is a salty dark chocolate ice cream with hazelnut crack cookies, white chocolate pearls, and orange-scented brownies. Naturally, I had to have rainbow sprinkles on top. After all, I am an overgrown five year old when it comes to ice cream. The flavor was deep and complex with bitter and salty flavors from the ice cream itself. The other components added chewy texture and the flavors of nuts and oranges. It was a unique flavor experience that I completely enjoyed.

Cup of It Came From Gowanus with Rainbow Sprinkles

Cup of It Came From Gowanus with Rainbow Sprinkles

 

Accessibility Rating for Ample Hills Creamery (Gowanus)

I used my wheelchair to visit Ample Hills Creamery (Gowanus).

  • Entryway – 5: There are two wide doors at the entrance. There is a ramp that goes up to the doors. There are stairs at the entrance.  The transition from the ramp to the inside of the ice cream parlor is smooth.

    Foreground: Top Right - Entrance Doors, Bottom Right- Entrance Ramp Background: Ample Hills Creamery Building

    Foreground: Top Right – Entrance Doors, Bottom Right- Entrance Ramp      Background: Ample Hills Creamery Building

  • Bathroom – 3: There are two grab bars around the toilet. I was able to get underneath the sink with ease. There are short handles on the faucet. The bathroom is dimly lit. I was able to make a 180º turn while in my wheelchair inside the bathroom.
  • Walkways/Space – 3: The interior space is largely passable, but the area at the ice cream case where orders are placed was quite crowded while we were there. The space is brightly lit. There was loud music playing while we ate. The table area is tight for someone using a wheelchair because there is no convenient area where I would have been able to sit at a table (They were all banquettes) and not have been sitting in the middle of people walking past.

    Interior of Ample Hills Creamery (Clockwise from Top Left): Ice Cream Case, Kitchen Where Ice Cream is Made, Ice Cream Case, and Interior Seating Area

    Interior of Ample Hills Creamery (Clockwise from Top Left): Ice Cream Case, Kitchen Where Ice Cream is Made, Ice Cream Case, and Interior Seating Area

  • Staff – 1: The staff did not acknowledge me at all. There was no offer of help, nor was there anyone who asked how they could accommodate me to make my visit better.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Ample Hills Creamery-Gowanus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Disabled Foodie and Words I Wheel By September 2015 Event

The Disabled Foodie and Words I Wheel By September 2015 Event

This event is a collaboration with Words I Wheel By, a blog I admire. It features a visit to the Wafels & Dinges factory. Wafels & Dinges food trucks sell Belgian waffles around NYC. On the tour, we will tour the factory and eat fresh waffles afterwards. The tour and waffle cost $10 (Paid in cash at the factory on the day of the tour).

Wafels & Dinges Event Digital Flyer with Illustrated Waffles & logos from The Disabled Foodie & Words I Wheel By

When: Saturday, September 19, 2015 from 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM (2:30 to allow enough time for Access-a-Ride users to schedule)

Where: 264 Butler Street, Brooklyn, NY

RSVP to thedisabledfoodie@gmail.com with “W&D RSVP” in the Subject Line by Wednesday, September 16, 2015Please note in your email if there are any accommodations you require, and include a phone number should the event be canceled. Make sure to RSVP so we do not start without you.

 

Time Out NY Battle of the Burger – South Street Seaport, Manhattan

Time Out NY Battle of the Burger – South Street Seaport, Manhattan – August 19, 2015

Sign at Entrance to BotB and Voting Token in Upper Right Corner, Sign says, "Come on in! Burger Shop is now open!"

Sign at Entrance to BotB and Voting Token (Upper Right)

Twenty burgers! How was I going to be able to eat twenty burgers? That was my thought as I headed to Time Out NY’s Battle of the Burger 2015 (BotB) presented by Amstel Light at the South Street Seaport. The event pitted 20 burger makers against each other to win the title of top burger in NYC. It was not a cheap event to attend, but I paid extra for VIP admission, so I could enter early and have a little more space and time to get around. After sampling the burgers, I was supposed to pick my favorite, and use a token to vote for that burger. The event did not go as planned for me, as you will read in the accessibility rating.

I arrived early, and ended up being the first person on line for the 5:30 PM VIP Group. This was good because for about the first 10 – 15 minutes I was able to move around the event somewhat well (with the exception of the cobblestones, which I will detail later). The cooks served either miniature burgers/sliders or burgers cut into halves or quarters. In the half hour that I was there, I sampled about 10 of them, but I do not recall many of them. This was due in part to my high stress from the crowd and the cobblestones, and from several of the burgers being unremarkable.

There were burgers with bacon, burgers slathered with various spices and sauces, and burgers topped with macaroni and cheese. But, the one burger that stood out was made by Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer. The burger was made with Kobe beef (as described to me by one of their workers), and it was topped with house buttermilk-dill sauce, blue cheese and arugula. The beef was really rich, and I loved the salty, funky bleu cheese against the peppery arugula. (For a video of the preparations being made for BotB click here.)

Various Burgers Including (Top Right) a Kobe beef burger with bleu cheese and arugula and (Lower Left) a burger topped with macaroni and cheese

Various Burgers Including (Top Right) Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer’s Kobe beef burger with bleu cheese and arugula and (Lower Left) a burger topped with macaroni and cheese

I only drank one-half of a cup of Strongbow Hard Cider, due to the difficult bathroom situation, as described in the accessibility rating below. The cider was mediocre, slightly sweet and slightly crisp. I have had other ciders that I prefer to this one.

What made this event even more unfortunate was that while I did not overeat, I ended up getting sick overnight. (No worries. I am all better now.)

Accessibility Rating for Battle of the Burger 2015

I used my wheelchair to visit BotB. (This is an annual event.)

Before I get into the formal accessibility rating, I need to let you know about the research I conducted about the event before choosing to attend. I contacted the staff at Time Out NY numerous times via both phone and email to find out if the venue is wheelchair accessible. I was reassured via both phone and email that the venue is wheelchair accessible. The mistake I made was thinking that the event would be held indoors. I thought this because all the media for the event listed it as taking place at 19 Fulton Street. I know that this is a building in the South Street Seaport. I should have been more specific in my questioning, but the event ended up being outside on the cobblestones. Additionally, Time Out’s staff should be more informed about what makes for true accessibility. (Yet again, a running theme on The Disabled Foodie, I find that educating staff as to what true accessibility is is crucial, but it does not seem to be happening.)

As any user of a mobility-assistive device knows, cobblestones are horrific to negotiate and move around on. This was surely the case for me. I had to negotiate a huge crowd that frequently would not move for me (which I expected and was prepared for from attending other large events), but this was made even more difficult by adding in the cobblestones. I know that the outdoor area of the Seaport is paved with cobblestones. I would have not attended had I asked for/been provided with the correct information I needed to make an informed decision. Namely, that it would be held outside on the cobblestones. I admit my role in not asking the right questions, and I should have thought about how all of the burgers would be cooked if the event was indoors.

The Americans with Disabilities Act states the following about cobblestones:

“A4.5 Ground and Floor Surfaces.

A4.5.1 General. People who have difficulty walking or maintaining balance or who use crutches, canes, or walkers, and those with restricted gaits are particularly sensitive to slipping and tripping hazards. For such people, a stable and regular surface is necessary for safe walking, particularly on stairs. Wheelchairs can be propelled most easily on surfaces that are hard, stable, and regular. Soft loose surfaces such as shag carpet, loose sand or gravel, wet clay, and irregular surfaces such as cobblestones can significantly impede wheelchair movement.” (http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html, 2015)

The stress of negotiating the crowd and the cobblestones upset me so much, that a staff member helped me leave early. I paid for a ticket that would have allowed me to stay until 8:00 PM, but I was so stressed that he helped me leave at 6:00 PM. I was only there for 30 minutes. I did not even get to use my token to vote for my favorite burger.

I regret choosing to attend what was a very expensive event where I ended up leaving very early due to the aforementioned difficult and upsetting circumstances.

  • Entryway – 1: The stanchions for the entryway aisles were placed too closely together to allow my wheelchair to get through easily. Staff had to move them further apart to allow me to pass through. It seemed to me that there may not have been any forethought about how to make the entryway accessible until it was necessary to make it so. Additionally, the cobblestones made passing through even more difficult.

    Outdoor Venue for BotB with caption inserted indicating cobblestones

    Outdoor Venue for BotB

  • Bathroom 1: There were no bathrooms within the enclosed event area. The nearest accessible bathroom was one accessible port-a-potty a little over one block away. It had two grab bars inside, and outside there was a foot-pump operated sink. Since it was foot-pump operated, I was unable to use it. I am sure this bathroom situation was not part of Time Out New York’s doing, but I would have appreciated an accessible bathroom within the event. It would have alleviated one of the concerns I had on my mind while attending the event.
  • Walkways/Space – 1: The aisles, once crowded, were very difficult to negotiate. I knew this would be the case no matter where the event was held. The reason for my low rating, yet again, was due to the cobblestones. Additionally, the lighting was good due to the event being held outdoors. The noise level was high due to the combination of people speaking loudly because they were competing with the loud music being played throughout the event.

    Various Scenes from BotB Including (Left) One of the twenty burger stands (Center) Cook prepping burgers(Right) crowd before it became even more jam packed

    Various Scenes from BotB Including (Right) crowd before it became even more jam-packed

  • Staff – 3: Some staff were quite helpful. The security personnel moved the entryway stanchions out of my way so I could get into the event. As described earlier, a staff member helped move the crowd out of my way when I needed to leave. The score is lower due to the fact that it seems to me that some education may be necessary for those staff members I communicated with who seemed to believe that the venue was easily accessible/negotiated when it was not.
  • Braille Menus: They did not have any material printed in Braille for blind patrons.


The Disabled Foodie’s First Anniversary Celebration at the Queens Night Market

The Disabled Foodie’s First Anniversary Celebration at the Queens Night Market – August 15, 2015

The Disabled Foodie is one year old! Thank you for a great first year and your unflagging support. To celebrate, I went with my husband and our friend, Matthew, to the Queens Night Market (QNM). The market is New York’s first Asian-style night market featuring vendors selling food from around the world, art, and merchandise.

I have to thank John, the founder of the QNM, for working with me to make this a successful celebration. He was kind enough to allow us to skip the line to enter the event earlier than the rest of the crowd. I also need to thank Karl and Tammy, from Karl’s Balls, for their hospitality, and taking some of their valuable preparation time to speak to me about their food.

Karl, from Karl's Balls, with David, The Disabled Foodie     Photo Taken by Tammy from Karl's Balls

Karl, from Karl’s Balls, with David, The Disabled Foodie      Photo Taken by Tammy from Karl’s Balls

Additionally, I want to thank my friend Matthew for joining my husband and I at this incredible event. Finally, thank you to my husband for his never ending support on this amazing journey through food and disability.

I must begin by stating that QNM quickly became one of my favorite food venues because it is highly accessible, and the variety of food from around the world is a foodie’s dream come true. John, the founder of QNM, has curated an incredible selection of foods from around the world to rival the selection found at Smorgasburg. John told us that he hopes the QNM serves as a place where the community comes together, and it showed last night through the hundreds of people, including entire families, who came out. John and his team provide activities at the QNM for all ages: music and dance performances for adults, and games and temporary tattoo artists for children. Furthermore, there is no entrance fee, and most food items that we tried cost between $2.00 and $5.00 each. We shared almost everything we ate.

Karl’s Balls makes takoyaki.

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus (tako), tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion. Takoyaki are brushed with takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce) and mayonnaise, and then sprinkled with green laver (aonori) and shavings of dried bonito (katsuobushi). (Wikipedia, 2015)

Karl prepares all of the octopi himself to be “sashimi-ready”. He and his team prepare all of the ingredients by hand, and the takoyaki are served in Karl’s “Man Mayo” and his “Ball Sauce,” which is smoky, fruity, spicy, and sweet. Forget any thoughts of rubbery octopus. Karl’s octopi are tender. The takoyaki were vibrant in flavor, wonderfully gooey on the inside, and were a fun way to start a great evening.

Takoyaki from Karl's Balls

Takoyaki from Karl’s Balls

Our next stop was the Burmese Bites booth where we tried the Burmese shaved ice dessert. This was another completely new experience for me! The shaved ice was combined with grass jelly, palm seeds, agar agar (gelatin made from seaweed), crushed peanuts, sweet syrup, and condensed milk. My friend, Matthew, said it best when he described the dessert as tasting, “like a frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Not only did it taste delicious, but it was visually impressive.

Burmese Shaved Ice Dessert

Burmese Shaved Ice Dessert

The eating just kept going, as there were so many great things to try. At the Pancake Rolls booth, we tried both braised beef and honey pork pancake rolls. Both came on a freshly made scallion pancake with scallions, cucumber, cilantro (I asked for that to be left out of the honey pork roll), hoisin mayo, and pickled carrots. The pancake was perfectly flaky and had a great toothsome bite! There is a video on my Instagram account of the pancakes being prepared. (Click here to view that video.) I preferred the beef roll to the pork. While the sweetness of the pork was nice, the beef’s savory notes against the vegetables provided a satisfying contrast.

Inset: Pancake Roll with Beef Background: Pancake Roll Booth

Inset: Pancake Roll with Beef      Background: Pancake Roll Booth

At the Chiflez (pronounced Chee-flayz) booth, we had roasted, grilled corn with Peruvian sauce and seasonings. The corn was sweet and smoky from being charred on the grilled, The sauce was piquant and just slightly spicy. Finally, it was sprinkled with cheese and salt to add savory and salty notes. It was the best corn I have had so far this summer.

Inset: Chiflez Booth Background: Peruvian Corn from Chiflez

Inset: Chiflez Booth      Background: Peruvian Corn from Chiflez

And it just kept coming. At the Flauteria (pronounced Flau-teh-ree-ah) booth, they prepare Mexican food and drink. I had a cup of tart, sweet hibiscus tea, and we shared flautas (pronounced flau-tahs) filled with chicken. Flautas are similar to tacos, but they are formed into  cigar-like rolls. The chicken was so tasty and moist!

Top Inset: Jar of Hisbiscus Tea at Flauteria Bottom Inset: Chicken Flautas at Flauteria Background: Flauteria Booth

Top Inset: Jar of Hisbiscus Tea      Bottom Inset: Chicken Flautas      Background: Flauteria Booth

I am a huge fan of duck, and CBao did not disappoint with their mind-blowing Peking Duck Bao.

A baozi or simply known as bao, bau, humbow, nunu, bakpao (Hokkien), bausak, pow, pau or pao (Hakka) is a type of steamed, filled, bun or bread-like (i.e. made with yeast) item in various Chinese cuisines, as there is much variation as to the fillings and the preparations. In its bun-like aspect it is very similar to the traditional Chinese mantou. It can be filled with meat and/or vegetarian fillings. (Wikipedia, 2015)

The bao was fluffy and light. This worked beautifully with the tender, gamy duck that was carved at CBao’s booth right in front of me. The scallions and cucumbers added crunch, and the house sauce added a touch of umami flavor.

Inset: Peking Duck Bao Background: Cook at CBao Carving Duck

Inset: Peking Duck Bao      Background: Cook at CBao Carving Duck

The savory duck bao was followed up with a delectable Portuguese treat, Pastel de Nata (pronounced pah-stehl day nah-tah) from the MoNata booth. This small egg custard filled puff pastry tart packed luscious, creamy, sweet flavor into a bite-sized dessert. My friend, Matthew, who has been to Portugal twice, told us that he was able to find these all over his travels there.

Inset: Pastel de Nata Background: Sign at MoNata Booth

Inset: Pastel de Nata      Background: Sign at MoNata Booth

Finally, we tried a mango and raspberry crêpe from T-Swirl Crêpe. These rice flour crêpes are served with fruit and pastry creme. The fruit was fresh and juicy, and they did not overload the crêpe with the creme. (Click here to watch a short video of crêpes being made.)

Mango and Raspberry T-Swirl Crepe

Mango and Raspberry T-Swirl Crepe

Accessibility Rating for Queens Night Market

I used my wheelchair to visit QNM. This was the QNM’s last night at this location near the New York Hall of Science in Corona, Queens. QNM will be moving to Jamaica, Queens starting on September 5 for the remainder of this season.

  • Entryway – 5: The QNM is held in a parking lot. Since this is the case, the entry is smooth, and there are no stairs. It is the most accessible entrance a person with a disability could desire.

    Inset: QNM Welcome Banner Background: Aisle with Booths at QNM

    Inset: QNM Welcome Banner      Background: Aisle with Booths at QNM

  • Bathroom 4: There are wheelchair accessible port-a-potties in two locations at the QNM. There is a grab bar that wraps around the toilet. QNM provides stand-alone sinks with faucets that operate by using a foot pump. The foot pump is difficult for those who have limited or no use of their feet, but the fact that there are sinks at an outdoor venue is great! I was fortunate enough to have my husband help me with the sink.
  • Walkways/Space – 5: The aisles are wide and spacious. Even with hundreds of people all around, I had plenty of room to move around. During the daylight hours, the QNM was well lit, and due to humongous flood lamps, the same could be said for the night hours. The closer we were to the musicians and performers, the louder it was. But, overall, the noise level was not loud considering the size of the event and the number of attendees. (For a short video of the QNM click here.)

    Views of Booths and Aisles at QNM

    Views of Booths and Aisles at QNM

  • Staff – 5: The staff was welcoming and I encountered no issues. John was kind enough to allow us to enter the QNM a few minutes early to explore and meet with Karl and Tammy. Staff and security were available throughout the event to help people with any questions or concerns they might have.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


The Disabled Foodie’s Port Morris Distillery Event

The Disabled Foodie’s Port Morris Distillery Event – July 18, 2015

Group Photo

Group Photo

Pitorro (pronounced pee-torr-oh)? What’s pitorro? Well, today was the day to find out. For July’s monthly food and drink event, The Disabled Foodie and friends took part in a tour and tasting at Port Morris Distillery (PMD). I am grateful to my event attendees, Ralph (one of the co-owners), and his PMD family for making today’s event fun and successful.

“Pitorro is a distilled spirit from Puerto Rico, referred to as “moonshine rum.” Pitorro is usually much stronger than commercial rum. At times, its alcohol content surpasses 100 proof. It is often homemade, and a part of traditional Puerto Rican holiday celebrations…Pitorro is an integral part of Puerto Rican culture, and musical odes to it or its production are part of local folklore.” (Wikipedia, 2015)

While I have been fortunate enough to sample fantastic pitorro made by my husband’s family while we visited them in Puerto Rico, PMD is the first and only licensed pitorro distillery in the United States. As per PMD’s website:

“Originally from Manhattan’s upper Westside and residents of the Douglass Housing Project, childhood friends Ralph Barbosa & Billy Valentin decided to take a plunge into the moonshine business. What better way was there to do it but legally and with the help of a one time moonshiner and now the master distiller behind PMD, their uncle “Tio” Rafael, from Guayama, Puerto Rico. Without a business plan or any idea on how to get started they decided the first piece of the plan was to convince Tio to make the move from Puerto Rico to NYC.” (http://www.portmorrisdistillery.com/about.html, 2015)

Ralph thoroughly explained the entire process involved in making pitorro at PMD. He proudly informed us that they use New York State apples and honey to make their pitorro. We were shown their original distillation machine and their new copper machine. The room has oak barrels where PMD is aging pitorro añejo (pronounced ahn-yay-ho), which means aged pitorro.

Left: New Copper Distillation Machine Right: Original Distillation Machine

Left: New Copper Distillation Machine      Right: Original Distillation Machine (Near the Window)

We sampled three types of pitorro: Shine, Añejo, and Coquito (pronounced coh-key-toh). All three were delicious and smooth. The Shine is their clear, 92-proof liquor with a sweet and pleasant flavor. The Añejo had an oak-infused flavor due to the liquor being aged for one year in oak barrels. The Coquito, like the namesake holiday Puerto Rican eggnog-type drink, was infused with cinnamon and coconut flavors, and it was absolutely delectable.

Many people stopped in for a drink and to purchase bottles in the tasting room while we were there. We stayed for a drink after the tour and tasting. I enjoyed an “I Love Coco,” which was made with Coquito and pineapple juice. It was a taste of Puerto Rico in the Bronx. I could definitely write a lot more about the tour and the process of making pitorro, but if you are in the New York City area you should go visit PMD for your own tour and tasting. It was a fun and enriching experience.

Left: I Love Coco Drink Center: PMD NY Logo Right: Bottles of Coquito

Left: I Love Coco Drink      Center: PMD NY Logo      Right: Bottles of Coquito

Accessibility Rating for Port Morris Distillery

I used my wheelchair to visit PMD.

  • Entryway – 4: The entrance has one wide door. There are no stairs, and while there is a ramp at the door, the transition from the sidewalk onto the ramp is rough. I needed help getting my chair onto the ramp from the sidewalk.

    Entrance with Photographer inserted text indicating lip at the base of the ramp to the entrance

    Entrance

  • Bathroom 5: The bathroom was very spacious. Ralph informed me that they purposely made it 7 feet by 7 feet, instead of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) size of 6 feet by 6 feet. I was able to turn my wheelchair around in it without bumping into anything. There are two grab bars around the toilet. The sink has a long faucet handle, and I was able to get close to the sink while in my wheelchair due to all of the space in the room. It is a brightly lit room.
  • Walkways/Space – 3: The distillery is spacious, and there is plenty of room to move around in no matter what kind of mobility assistive device one uses. All but one door is wide enough to fit a wheelchair through, but Ralph immediately acknowledged this, and he told us how they will be widening that door. The tasting area space is dimly lit, and there was loud background music to help create a celebratory atmosphere. I imagine they would adjust the music, if requested. The distillation room is brightly lit. The bar itself is standard bar height, so I was able to reach it being that I use a higher wheelchair. Those in lower wheelchairs might find this to be difficult. There are other seating areas in the tasting room.

    Clockwise from Top Left: Tasting Room Wall Done to Resemble Color Buildings in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, Entrance to Distillation and Bottling Room, Bar in Tasting Room, and Oak Barrels for Aging PMD Pitorro Anejo     Center: Bottle of PMD Pitorro Shine

    Clockwise from Top Left: Tasting Room Wall Done to Resemble Colorful Buildings in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, Entrance to Distillation and Bottling Room, Bar in Tasting Room, and Oak Barrels for Aging PMD Pitorro Anejo Center: Bottle of PMD Pitorro Shine

  • Staff – 5: The staff was incredibly considerate and helpful. They were welcoming, and what was very positive was Ralph’s aforementioned proactive attitude toward making sure the space is not only ADA compliant, but comfortable for people with disabilities. This attitude is to be commended because I have not come across it often.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus, but Ralph was open to having a conversation about possibly getting one.


Pitorro? What’s Pitorro?

The Disabled Foodie’s July 2015 Event

The Disabled Foodie logo of man in a wheelchair eating a sandwich in front of colorful building in Old San Juan

This event features a tour and tasting at the Port Morris Distillery (PMD) in the Bronx. PMD makes pitorro. Pitorro is the Puerto Rican version of moonshine. The tour and tasting are free. Afterwards, cocktails and bottles of pitorro will be available for purchase.

When: Saturday, July 18, 2015 from 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Where: Port Morris Distillery, 780 East 133rd St.,  Bronx, NY 10454

RSVP to thedisabledfoodie@gmail.com with “PMD RSVP” in the Subject Line by Thursday, July 16, 2015Please note in your email if there are any accommodations you require, and include a phone number should the event be canceled. Make sure to RSVP so we do not start without you.

 

Big Apple BBQ Block Party Event

The Disabled Foodie logo (man in a wheelchair eating a sandwich) with information as per text about events in May and June 2015

The Disabled Foodie Events May and June 2015

June 2015 – Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

This barbecue event features pitmasters from across the country. Sample barbecue while enjoying beautiful Madison Square Park. Attending the event is free. You pay for any food and/or drinks you choose to purchase.

When: Saturday, June 13, 2015 from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM (The Disabled Foodie event may be canceled in the event of inclement weather.)

Where: Madison Square Park, Manhattan – We will meet at the Northeast corner of Broadway and East 23rd Street.

RSVP to thedisabledfoodie@gmail.com with “BBQ RSVP” in the Subject Line by Saturday, June 6, 2015Please note in your email if there are any accommodations you require, and include a phone number should the weather be inclement that day. Make sure to RSVP so we do not start without you.