Sunday, May 19, 2013

Noshing at the 9th Avenue Street Fair

I've lived in my same location for 25 years, 15 years shorter than the 9th avenue street fair has been around (officially, this year was called the 40th Annual Night Avenue International Food Festival.)  It's one of the largest street fairs in Manhattan, and runs for two days from 42nd to 57th streets. It's clogged with people strolling to shop, eat, drink and play games. Traffic is, well, NYC traffic -- congested, at a standstill, loud with honking -- you get the picture.

I've dreaded this weekend in the past, because it always seemed to be more about cheap towels and trinkets than about doing something for the neighborhood. But something changed in the past few years, and the Festival has become more about the community -- local restaurants set up their own tents, rather than being overwhelmed by transplanted food kiosks, a bandshell this year sported live music, and tables and chairs were set up near the Food Truck Park so people could actually sit and eat.

This year we planned ahead, and checked out the website in advance so we'd know where to go.  My children had a couple of favorite food stations they remembered from our "progressive lunch" through the festival last year.  Lizzmonade was the first stop on our food tour -- we like the palate-cleansing cucumber lemonade. We skipped the gyro stations and grilled corn on the cob, and went straight for the Food Truck Park.  We knew we couldn't go wrong there, and that each of us was sure to find something yummy to eat.  Kate went for the WhizSteak from Phil's Steak truck.  A simple sandwich with chopped steak and fried onions, served on a soft Amaroso roll -- and smothered with cheese whiz. Kate said "yum" before she rushed off to a friend's birthday party, leaving the rest of us to continue without her.

Dash found a burger truck, and went straight for a juicy bacon-cheeseburger from Trusty Burgers and Bites.  From the amount of juices dripping off his chin, I can safely say that tell it was a hit.

Glen went for something more adventurous -- the Korean Barbecue platter from Seoul Food NYC. He had the "bibimbap" meal, which came with a variety of vegetables as well as short ribs.  The spicy sauces that made his eyes water also added some great flavor.  But the highlight of the meal was an order of dumplings that were light and airy, and delicious dipped in a light vinaigrette.

That left me to try the Hibachi Heaven mystery truck. We called it the mystery truck because all of the other trucks had big pictures of the foods they were serving, but this one seemed to prefer to be discreet. A simple sign on the side listed a couple of different kinds of meats and some assorted vegetables.  The appeal for me was the "heavenly ginger sauce", although the "wasabi infused mayo" came in a close second. I ended up with simple but delicious meal of cubed chicken, stir-fried vegetables and rice, and that sauce.  Loved it!

While we dined on our various meals, we watched the line at the Cool Haus ice cream truck next to us. When we finished our meals, we couldn't resist trying a couple of ice cream sandwiches.  The fun thing about the menu is that you get to choose from several different cookies, then select the ice cream you want to go with it.  Dash selected a combination of salted caramel ice cream sandwiched between two red velvet cookies, and I picked out a dirty mint ice cream with chocolate-chocolate chip cookies. The surprise was the real mint leaves - no extracts used.  Wow!  It's amazing what natural flavors will do! I couldn't quite order the fried chicken and waffles ice cream, but Dash did taste something with bacon.  There were so many other fun and funky flavors that I think we'll have to see where else Cool Haus is going to be this summer, and maybe make a surprise visit! 

Although Dash didn't find the fried oreo station he passed last year, he declared the ice cream sandwiches a better find.

I wonder what the 41st annual festival will bring next year. I can't wait!



  1. Hey Macia, This is lizz from lizzmoade! Thanks for trying our Coolcumber lizzmonade we hope it added some sunshine to your day!