Spring is in the air. If you’re anything like me, that means you’re amped to crawl out from your stale winter hibernation hovel to skip through the streets on a joyous, sunny quest for food. That’s why I’ve put together this list of the best food and booze festivals of NYC this spring. So put on your cutest muumuu and partake in the rapture of day drinking, artisanal markets, night drinking, and famous chef sightings with this definitive guide.
The outdoor market season is starting early this year! On April 4th and 5th The Brooklyn Flea Food Market will open its tender, loving arms to all of us food fiends looking to score from nearly one hundred local and regional vendors. You can gorge on a variety of high-quality tasties from artisanal ice cream to gourmet french fries to dazzling sandwiches.
East River State Parck
90 Kent Ave at N. 7 St.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5
304 Furman St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Candy jars of traditional Thai ingredients like chiles, dried shrimp, and herbs line the bar at Somtum Der.
I lived in Thailand for 8 months, and the best part of my experience was arguably the food. I was stoked on my vision of what I’d be eating in Thailand because it’s always been a favorite cuisine of mine. What I didn’t realize was that Thai food is much different than what I’d been eating and loving all my life.
Thai cuisine is far more expansive than we know it here in the States. Once you grow accustomed to the heat of “Thai spicy” and open your eyes to the magical meats, salads, rice, and noodles of the streets of Bangkok, it’s tough to settle for the gloppy pad thai and cashew chicken from Mrs. Mee’s World Famous Thai-Japanese-Chinese-Latin Fusion Restaurant or whatever the hell these definitely-not-really Thai imposters call themselves. There is no shortage of inauthentic “Thai” restaurants to choose from in NYC, and I wasn’t certain I’d ever get to taste the mind-blowing miracle of true Thai food again without returning to Thailand to get it. Until I found Somtum Der, that is.
Somtum Der was first established in Bangkok in 2012 and then in New York City not long after. Bangkok and New York face a common problem when it comes to Thai food: the majority of what’s available is dumbed down for a milder, sweeter consumer palate. With traditional ingredients like fermented fish sauce and Bird’s-Eye chiles, Somtum Der brings the bold flavors and intense heat of Northeastern Thailand’s Isan region to Bangkok and NYC alike.
First, for the somtum, or green papaya salad. Somtum Der serves up 8 different varieties of the dish, many of which you won’t find in most Thai restaurants in the City. Tum Ploo-Plara is the most authentic (and funky) of the salads, exhibiting an ultra-fishy flavor from the fermented fish sauce and salted field crabs. This is an option to try only if you’re feeling especially adventurous, as this flavor may be disagreeable to the average American palate. Instead, opt for the Tum Thai Kai Kem, made with green papaya, tomato, limes, chiles, palm sugar, and salted boiled eggs, which provide a creamy relief from the vengeful capsaicin fire in your mouth.
Whatever somtum you choose, order a side of the Khao Niaow, or sticky rice, to sop up the juices left behind. You’ll more than likely want to order some more of the rice to repeat this finger-licking ritual throughout your meal. Just sayin’.
Get some larb plates. These spicy chopped meat (or mushroom) salads are chock-full o’ crunchy toasted rice flour, fresh herbs, sweet shallots, salty fish sauce, and–you guessed it–chiles. A beautiful balance of flavors and textures in the meatiest salad you’ll ever lay eyes on. You’ll be on the winning team no matter which dish you choose, so have fun and order a couple. My favorites are the Larb Moo (pork) or Nam Tok Nue (grilled beef), Larb Pla Dook Yang (grilled catfish), and Larb Hed Kao Kuo (mushroom), but you do you.
Next up are deep fried goods. Sa Poak Kai Tod (the fried chicken). Order it, eat it, and thank me later. Also order the Sai Krok Isan (fermented Isan sausages). These tangy little gems are unlike any other sausage with which you’re familiar. You’re going to want to utilize the condiments that come along with the sausages, too. The peanuts, lime, chiles, ginger, and herbs all contribute a piece to the complete flavor puzzle. And you’re going to want in on that puzzle.
Go for the grilled. Eat all of these things. Yes to the Moo Ping Kati Sod(grilled coconut milk marinated pork skewers), yes to the Nue Rong Hai Der & Khao Ji (grilled marinated beef), and yes to the Moo Rong Hai Der & Khao Ji (grilled marinated pork). Yes, yes, yes.
Wash it all down with some malty Beer Lao. It’s not Thai, but be glad. Beer is not the thing Thailand does best.
If you have the capacity to stuff any more food into your face, make that food the Thai Tea Panna Cotta.
Gather your mates, head to Somtum Der for a no-holds-barred Thai foodcation, and eat according to the Feast Breakdown. You will be pleased.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone! Celebrate the holiday with these boozy Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes! You can simplify the recipe by using a boxed dark chocolate cake mix and replacing the water with Guinness. You’re welcome.
BOOZY IRISH CAR BOMB CUPCAKES
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes:
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
2 cups cake flour (9-1/4 ounces)
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1 cup light brown sugar (7-3/4 ounces)
1 (12 oz.) bottle Guinness
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Jameson Chocolate Ganache Filling:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1 tablespoon melted butter
3 tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey
Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Chocolate Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 1-dozen cupcake tins with cupcake papers. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave. Set aside and allow to cool for 15 minutes. While chocolate is cooling, mix together the flour and baking soda in a small bowl. In another small bowl, Guinness and vanilla. Set both bowls aside.
Using a hand mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together. Add the chocolate and the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. In three additions, add the flour and Guinness mixtures alternately until just combined. Divide between the cupcake tins and bake 20 to 25 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
Whiskey Ganache Filling: Using a double boiler, heat chocolate chips until melted and smooth, stirring and scraping bowl with silicone spatula. Remove from heat. Add butter and whiskey, and stir until combined.
Bailey’s Cream Cheese Frosting: Add cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla bean paste to a mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat until light and fluffy. Slowly pour in Bailey’s as you continue to beat the mixture until well incorporated.
Assembly: Fill piping bag with whiskey ganache filling. Stick the tip into the center of the cooled cupcake and stuff with ganache. Simple! Pipe Bailey’s frosting in swirls over the tops of the cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles or whatever fun toppings you like (I used pretty gold sugar crystals).