September 17, 2012


Wow.  We've had almost a week to process, talk about, and look back on the events of last Wednesday night, and we're still in awe.  FEASTIVAL 2012 was unlike any event we've ever been to- and probably unlike anything we'll ever see again.  Three hours of unlimited access to almost one hundred of the city's finest restaurants- how did we get so lucky?  For those of you who don't know, the event is a (very successful) fundraiser for the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe-- the once-a-year currently ongoing conglomeration of shows of every sort (a special shout out to Awesome Alliteration: A Magical Musical, one of the Fringe shows that we hold dear).

We were very blessed to win a free pair of tickets to the event via a Foobooz-sponsored food photography contest.  There were several hundred great photos, so we were very surprised (and extra excited) when we learned we won.  Another special thanks to the guys at Foobooz-- you rock.

Since this event ranks up there with our night at COOK in terms of "Best Food Events of Our Lives," we figured we'd piece together photos of the night with just a bit of text, the same way we did for our review of COOK.  So here goes:

What we learned at FEASTIVAL 2012:

1. Pier 9 is a great space for this event: more than enough room for everyone, interesting acoustics, a view out on the water, and ceiling heights that allow dancers and acrobats to either hang suspended from various objects or perform on extremely elevated surfaces.  I have no idea what it's used for during the other 364 days of the year-- perhaps we just need more FEASTIVAL's?

2. A greeting from two super athletic dancers performing in nothing more than silver body paint is one interesting way to welcome your guests.

3. Most of the portions were perfect- either a one-bite deal that we could each sample or a 2-3 bite plate that we could split and/or toss.

L: Rittenhouse Tavern's Rabbit and Foie Gras Croustillant with Concord Grape and Cocoa
M: Fond's Pork and Foie Gras Pate with caramelized onion and date jam
R: Nectar's Hamachi Tuna Canape with pickled carrots and asparagus
4. I will never look at grape jam the same again after trying Rittenhouse Tavern's dish (see above).  The dark purple sweetness was a perfect complement to the foie.

5.  There was a lot of foie.  Which only reaffirmed our love of it.

L: Stateside's Vodka Cured Skuna Bay Salmon with melon, pickled shishito pepper and crispy horseradish
M: Zahav's Kibbe Naya- raw lamb, walnuts, and sumac shallots
R: R2L's house made pretzel, smoked salmon, shaved red onion, mustard cream cheese
6. There was also a LOT of smoked/cured salmon.  Very telling of the fluidity of both foie and cured salmon- they both can be paired in so many different ways that each dish was unlike any other.

7. Raw lamb is delicious.  Each restaurant had a "station"- a table with a banner presenting the restaurant name and a sign explaining the dish.  As we read Zahav's description, J commented, "You had me at raw lamb."  One of the best dishes of the night-- spicy, and served in a perfect cup of lettuce.

Oyster House's Oysters & Clams on the half-shell
8. All-you-can-eat oysters are less appealing when it's also all-you-can-eat EVERYTHING.  We had two or three each from Oyster House's station-- fun but also very.. expected.

9. Any dish with fresh corn is phenomenal at the end of summer.  Fountain's dish exemplified this- a wonderfully soft, fluffy, and sweet corn terrine paired with smooth foie and a piece of popcorn- one of the most interesting and thoughtful presentations and executions of the night.

L: Fountain's Foie Gras Corn Terrine, Popcorn Cracked Coriander
M: Revolution House's Lasagna Cupcake with Ricotta Icing
R: In Riva's Tomato Soda

10. Lasagna cupcakes are way cuter in presentation than when they're all over your face.  Revolution House was offering a standard base of cheese, pasta and sauce topped with a number of freshly applied creams- we chose the Truffle, Parmesan, & Ricotta version.  Fun, but oh-so-hard to eat.

11. Holy tomato soda.  In Riva, you guys are geniuses.  Very savory with a hit of salt and fresh herbs, but fizzy and cool to keep it refreshing.

L: Brauhaus Schmitz's Foie Gras Liverwurst
M: Tashan's Malai Kafta Lollipop
R: Supper's Country Ham, Pea and Grits Fritters with Pimento Cheese
12. We're confused about the hype behind Brauhaus Schmitz's Foie Liverwurst.  Perhaps it's because we're German and therefore fine with liverwurst, but it wasn't mindblowing (only as mindblowing as foie always is!).  Next time, toast the toast, mmmkay?

13.  The "eco" serving dishes of the night aren't so ecofriendly when 900 attendees are using thirty each.  We applauded Supper for serving their delicious ham and grit fritters on a single tray for participants to grab and go (plus pimento cheese and pickles win us over every time).

L: Matyson's Cured Verlasso Salmon with quinoa, pistachios, and caramelized yogurt
M: Healthy Bites' Roasted Vegetable Chip
R: Miss Rachel's Pantry Vegan Lobster Mac N' Cheese
14. Another "huh?" over the talk of Matyson's Cured Salmon with quinoa.  A solid dish, but no better than the other smoked/cured salmon contenders (well, actually, I found the quinoa a bit boring).

15. Healthy Bite's healthy dish was rockin'- way more flavor than I expected after gorging on dozens of not-so-healthy plates.  A good dash of harissa did the trick on their roasted vegetables.

Parc's Cheese Plate
16.  The Stephen Starr restaurants had their own special row (he is a co-founder of the event!), and many had extra special dishes.  Parc's cheese board was an adorable presentation- if not a bit difficult to navigate with the beginning of a mob forming around you.

L: Talula's Garden Kale &Lamb Meatballs
M: Route 6's Crab Deviled Eggs
R: Butcher & Singer's Truffled Steak Tartare with squash blossoms and creamy horseradish
17.  Butcher & Singer's dish has me re-interested in the steak house concept (I've stayed away for a couple years).  Another one of the top dishes of the night-- steak tartare with squash blossoms (a new-to-me preparation, as I've never had them without a huge stuffing of cheese) and horseradish on a thinly sliced baguette.  Please give this to me for lunch, every day.

POD's Sushi Station
18.  As excited as we were about POD's sushi station, it went about the same way as all-you-can-eat oysters.  It also suffered the same problem as Parc- how to grab chopsticks, a plate, choose your sushi, and hold your drink all at the same time.  Near impossible, and don't even get me started on the wasabi and soy sauce issue.

L: Morimoto's Sweet Corn Miso, Scallop & Bonito Bacon
R: Monsu's Spicy Shrimp, Prosciutto, and Sicilian Tomato Marmalata on a Chestnut Pancake
19. Second best-corn-dish-of-the-night-slash-ever: Morimoto's Scallop on a sea of sweet corn miso.  Chunks of fresh corn remained in the thick, syrupy, sweet summer sauce.

20. Peter McAndrews is our chef BFF.  We chatted with him for a few minutes- one of our few extended chef interactions, and we are so glad we did.  His musings on being married to an identical twin were hilarious and very relatable.

L: Blackfish's Cinnamon Sugar Beignet with Raspberry Dipping Sauce
R: Pumpkin's Coffee and Cardamom Custard with Walnut Streusel
21.  After two dozen "entrees," dessert is still desirable.  We made our rounds the first time passing over desserts, and then went back to snag those that were still available.  J loved the Beignet from Blackfish, while I was obsessed with the Coffee Custard from Pumpkin (they do no wrong, in my eyes!).  Le Bec Fin also had some lovely dessert options (macarons, mini tarts, and the like).

22.  That said, we passed up a majority of the restaurants/dishes available.  We knew we couldn't try everything, so we stuck to things that really got us excited, used interesting ingredients, had fun presentations, or were from restaurants we loved/want to try.

23. If you're trying to roll yourself out the door and you're presented with a parting gift of a fresh Federal Donuts donut and a sultry dark iced coffee from La Colombe, a space will magically appear in your stomach.  A perfect ending to a perfect night (plus a macaron or two from our new friends at Sugar Philly!).

24.  Don't try to argue with professional coffee guru's about the benefits of decaf coffee.  They will laugh at you and present you with a fully caffeinated beverage- and you will forget that you have to be in bed in an hour, it will be that delicious.
La Colombe's Black Iced Coffee & Federal Donut's Hot N' Fresh
25.  We want nothing more than to attend FEASTIVAL 2013- here's to hoping Foobooz has another generous contest we can enter!

1 comment:

  1. This looks like so much fun! And it appears to be the perfect event for you two! Glad you got to attend :)