Choice Eats 2013 Puts Foodies in a Coma

It was 9:40 P.M. as James (our Editor-at-Large) and I sat on the steps of the Armory at 69th. Though exhausted, both of us were already reliving the unapologetic gluttony we just committed (well, I knew I was at least). It was the bittersweet result of last night's Choice Eats, an annual food tasting event hosted by the Village Voice. The feast is best described with a line taken from Ron Burgundy, I don't know how to put this but it's kind of a big deal. Choice Eats 2013 featured 92 local restaurants, 13 beer companies, 11 wine & spirits companies and 20 sponsors. My jaw dropped after stepping into the historical building- where do I begin? I decided to start my foodie exploration at the right side of the armory where I picked up tasty goodies from: SCRATCHbread, Black Shack Burger, Dirt Candy, Max, Parish Hall, Spicy Bampa, Kaia Wine Bar, Jimmy's No.43, Brooklyn Brine, Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter, Le Midi Bistro, Mable's Smokehouse & Banquet Hall, Kuma Inn, Lucky 777 Chili, Chinese Mirch, Mexico Lindo, Pete Zaaz, Peppa's Jerk Chicken, Zenon's Taverna, 606 R&D, Juliette, No.7, Nom Wah Tea Parlor, Buka and Luke's Lobster.

I was especially delighted to see Kuma Inn, Dirt Candy, Black Shack Burger, Brooklyn Brine and Nom Wah Tea Parlor because I've been wanting to trek to each restaurant. Kuma Inn's lechon was a proud moment for a foodie like me, their crispy and delicate pork was a win for the Philippines. Despite the small containers it was served in, Lucky 777 Chili delivered big flavors and comfort. Dirt Candy's table was pretty in hot pink but the food was even prettier (and it tasted just as good). Spicy Bampa's spicy cod soup was surprisingly really pleasant (I'm more familiar with spicy beef broth soup). Another one of my favorites from that side was the shrimp sandwich from Luke's Lobster. The bread was crunchy yet soft and the shrimp was well cooked and seasoned well- a very simple dish but they nailed it. Mexico Lindo's tomatilos de rajas with mole poblano and butternut squash was also very impressive.

In a major food event like this, you bet the cameras were out and foodies snapped pics like it was the last time they'd eat (example: us). I asked the staff at Mexico Lindo if it's kind of awkward for them to watch people go to all lengths to take the perfect picture, "We don't think it's weird. We actually encourage it."

After stuffing my face with all that stuff, I made my way to the back, where I was able to satisfy my sweet tooth with treats from: La Morada, Allswell, Butter & Scotch, Carlo's Bakery, Ample Hills Creamery, Robicelli's, The Good Batch and Fay Da Bakery. I found this side to be consistently satisfying in the sense that I found myself coming back. It's difficult to pick just one favorite item because I really loved a lot of the things they served. However, I can say that The Good Batch's roasted meringue on top of a wafer cookie, Ample Hills Creamery's salted crack caramel ice cream, Robicelli's Brooklyn brown ale brownie, Butter & Scotch's whiskey caramel mini cupcake drenched in scotch topped with whipped cream and toffee crunch and La Morada's cold horchata were definitely my top picks.

I felt just a tad bit of regret when I turned around to head to the next aisle (aka the beer aisle) because it was when I began to feel kind of full. But I managed to keep going and sample from: Singha Beer, Smuttynose, Alphabet City Beer Co., Victory Brewing Company, Crabbie's, Brewery Ommegang and Bronx Brewery. Unlike James, I tend to like pale ales so I really enjoyed the Swing beer (a light, crisp beer that launched 2 weeks ago) from Victory Brewery Company. The thing was the "beer aisle" also featured more restaurants. I was determined to keep on going and try as many dishes I can (even if it meant taking only one bite of everything). I am a meatballer so I'm not a stranger to The Meatball Shop but of course I couldn't just walk away from the buffalo chicken meatball (which was tasty). I also got to try the bratwurst stew (amazing!) from Landbrot Bakery (check out our review of Landrot Bakery & Bar!).

I surprised myself when I moved to the next aisle (wine & spirits) and still had room for a couple of samples. I was able to try the bright cocktail from Prairie Organic Vodka (which was fruity and clean). I really liked the lovely fruit topped cocktails from bai (I was stopped a few times by fellow foodies asking me where I got the drinks from).

Across the wines and spirits were the last batch of restaurants I had yet to try. But at this point, I was extremely close to my limit. I really wanted to get in line for Red Hook Lobster Pound, Ovelia Psistaria and David's Brisket House but I knew that I would not be able to handle that amount of solid food. I couldn't do anything but watch and eat through my eyes. I didn't have time to sulk but I did have a little bit of time (and belly space) for a couple more dessert items. I made the bee line for The Good Batch and Ample Hills Creamery.

Hence the story of my food coma last night.