I confess, I have been a staunch Manhattan-er for the worse part of my life in the city, which, well, is a long one. Yes, I say 'worse' because really I missed out on so much! Call it lethargy, call it reluctance, call it bedazzled, the truth is until two years ago, I sniffled crossing the borders of the microcosm I live in and even when I did huddled back to my UES cul-de-sac with alacrity!
I do sound rather stiff, don't I? Oh well! I make no bones about it. That was then. In the past... Phew! I am a
butterfly now flitting away towards the sun
....Thanks to dedicated efforts of friends, I have managed to shrug off that silly cape and molted into an adventurous soul
seeking pleasure wherever it is on offer without geographic discrimination
So, anyway, I have been making rather frequent trips across to the different parts of Brooklyn! It really is not all hip or hippie, but it does have something for everyone and every mood. There are the European strongholds in Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, the younger neighbor Cobble Hill that is slowly becoming a Williamsburg II and there is, of course, Williamsburg. When the arty party bug hits, it's the latter you head to. There is art, there is adventure and there is a revolution. Many woe the yester days of casual artistic gatherings giving in to orchestrated elitism and superlative rents. But, hey, that is the story of New York, isn't it?
One of my favorite places in Williamsburg is the Wythe Hotel. It is a boutique hotel that hosts many food related events and itself has quite a good offering in its restaurant. Plus, it has a rooftop bar with a stunning view of Manhattan. That is the advantage of height-controlled Brooklyn - panoramic views all around. Last week, I was invited to
celebratory event marking 50 great years
indulging in the perfectly cured leg of ham, organized by
Parma Ham USA
as part of the Parma Palooza. Since 1963, the
has ensured that every ham branded with the Parma crown meets the highest standards of quality and taste!
The company joined hands with 10 brilliant New York city chefs and restaurants to create an evening of pure dining pleasure. There were new concepts and new chefs as well as established favorites. The tasting event was a wonderful exploration of how beautifully prosciutto marries and enhances flavors from simple to elegant. Chef's creations included simply wrapping it with fruits or bread and cheese to pairing the crispy ham with seafood to inducing Asian flavors to churning it into a rich, savory ice cream. Every bite and they were conveniently bite sized was perfectly cooked and it was a great opportunity to meet the brains and talent behind some of the best places to eat in the city.
There are not too many times in one's life that you get these see chefs cooking for you in front of you and everyone present made the most of it. What made the event more interesting and engaging, was the ability for diners to provide instant feedback by voting for the best bite they had tasted during the evening. Ryan Hardy of Charlie Bird needs no introduction. He walked away as the Prince of Parma Ham having been adjudged to have the best small plate. His Octopus Saltimboca with Proscuitto di Parma sitting on a bed of braised chickpeas was indeed a brilliant creation.
Some others I loved were eternal favorite Elizabeth Faulkner's scallop and crispy ham, prosciutto ice cream by Odd Fellows Ice Cream & Co., Sea Urchin and prosciuttopaired by Mission Chinese, Autumn Squash saltimboca by Reynard. The surprise of the evening was the sourdough crust pizza made by Wild Rise NYC in the engineering genius of an oven that takes a mere 90 seconds to bake an incredibly flavorful Roman style pizza! The parma ham event was organized on a Thursday and I told everyone I spoke to since about this pizza and promptly visited their pop-up joint in Dumbo last Sunday. I can't get enough of it and I not a pizza person!
The event was very well attended and made even more entertaining by a giveaway of whole cured legs of ham to anyone who was brave enough to get the parma crown tattoed on their skin. On last count I heard atleast seven legs had been spoken for and I had a couple of amusing conversations with those who got them done! Entirely fascinating indeed!
On the whole, the event was very well put together and even if you had not been a fan of prosciutto going in, they definitely made it very hard to not be one coming out. I had not such qualms already being a die hard fan of that particular cut of the pig meat and
absolutely reveled in the opportunity to sample such varied creations
. Kudos to the firms organizing the event for bringing together such an eclectic cast in perfect harmony and making it so much fun.