NYCWFF 2022: Where Food, Fun & Friends Collide

Every year I go to NYCWFF and basically just attend the Grand Tasting, which lets guests sample cuisines both common and exotic. This year I attended three events and had a blast at all of them. All of the NYCWFF Tasting events have a party atmosphere and the bigger ones are outdoors. The most commonly used locations for their larger events this year were Pier 76 at Hudson River Park and Pier 86 (home of the Intrepid).

On Friday night I did the Peroni’s Taste Of Italy event on Pier 86. I was expecting an endless line of traditional pizza, pasta and Italian baked goods, but it was a little different than that. All the food was elevated. For instance, raviolis were homemade and none were stuffed with ricotta. I devoured a fabulous batch that was filled with mushrooms and goat cheese. There were a few different kinds of pizza on hand and they were all grandma style slices but varied from “white” style to extra cheese with a bevy of different mushrooms. There was a dance floor with techno music as well as a live 70s cover band in the middle of the event. Half the booths were spirit based and there was a wonderful assortment of Italian and California wines. Of course, the Peroni beer flowed freely since this legendary Italian company was the sponsor. My favorite items are always the baked goods at any Italian event and above on the left you can see one of the super colorful peach shaped cookies filled with white cream by Dilena Dolcini. These peach cookies were such a novel item that they became the rock star item of the night! I literally waddled out of this event. I think I hit my all-time pizza slice record (it was something like seven). I also had no shame and took home a couple extra Dilena Dolcini peach shaped cookies! Whoopi Goldberg was one of the hosts of this event although I did not actually see her. I did see Rocco DiSpirito roaming around networking with some of the chefs from some of the more edgy restos representing Brooklyn at the event.

The Grand Tasting at Pier 76 was fun not just because of the diversity of grub but because any major and up-and-coming spirit brand was there, making the $185 for admission well worth it considering what drink prices are like now at restaurants and bars in the city. Everyone was showing off their latest products and I fell in love with Tito’s Lemonade because what goes better with lemons than smooth vodka? I found the greatest diversity of products at the Fairway Booth which was perfect for grazing fanatics. There were three long tables assembled in a U shape with all sorts of artisanal cheeses, spreads, crackers and charcuterie. I got a big charge out of the largest mortadella ever displayed in the Big Apple that was the showpiece at the Veroni stand. You can see the 661 pound wonder pictured above and when it got sliced by the staff, each piece was the size of a truck tire. Air France had a fun booth all the way at the back of Pier 76 where you could enter to win a trip to Paris, sip bubbly and enjoy fun giveaways by real flight attendants including adorable black berets and AF logo canvas wine bags. There was a large display of packaged St. Michel baked goods at another booth and guests could take all the samples they wanted. In case you don’t know, St. Michel’s butter cookies rock and taste really fresh and buttery! All in all, the Grand Tasting was a lively event. If you go next year, be sure to wear comfortable shoes because the lines are long for the most popular stands. I was happy to see my friends from the East Village Mexican resto The Black Ant serving their famous grasshopper items including a colorful salad. There were no ants, only grasshoppers–but grasshoppers are crunchier, LOL!

The Tacos And Tequila Event hosted by deejay Elvis Duran at Pier 86 featured about 15 taco booths and 15 alcohol booths. I was able to sample a smoky watermelon margarita for the first time and feel in love with it. I have to say that my favorite tacos were all and any of the pulled pork ones being served. The most exotic taco available featured Lionfish, which I have never heard of before. I did notice that all the tacos were soft, and that no filling served was super spicy. I was expecting to have some ultra hot Mexican peppers pop up here and there and they did not. This event had bands playing both authentic Mexican music and Top 40 classics from the 70s and 80s–and again off in the back was a large dance floor where guests danced to techno tunes. A few airlines and travel destinations were on board to offer spinning wheel games where guests won small prizes and of course, there were contests for trips. I noticed South Walton, Florida’s tourism crew was on hand to not only hand out literature and official merchandise but to serve several types of fish tacos as well. This event had a younger clientele than the other two I went to, just because I believe that tacos are one of the most popular foods of the hipster set. I would like to go back to Tacos And Tequila next year because I was so blown away by the quality and diversity of the tacos served. Most of the tacos were made by smaller Mexican establishments such as Street Tacos in East Harlem, but a big resto or two were on hand. (Rosa Mexicano served its world famous guacamole.) Several booths had sides of unique types of cheesy rice and sauces to accompany the tacos they were serving. It will be a challenge for these cooks and crews to outdo themselves at next year’s NYCWFF but I think that they are probably up for the challenge. For more info on this most coveted of NYC food festivals (that just happens to benefit God’s Love We Deliver), go to www.NYCWFF.com.

(Photos by Anne Raso and Gail Worley.)