Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meatopia: A Celebration of Meat at Brooklyn Bridge Park (and one very special Chef)

On a sweltering hot Saturday in July the crowds showed up to Pier 5 at Brooklyn Bridge Park for Meatopia to devour tastings of meat provided by restaurants in New York City and from across the country. The annual celebration was having its first year at Pier 5, moving from their location last year on Governor's Island. The new location, in addition to an adjusted ratio of chefs to attendees, worked out very well. The normally bare Pier 5 made for a stage ready to be set with grills, fire pits and smokers. All the Chefs were set up with stands, clearly marked with large red signs with their name, restaurant, and a shadow of the animal they were serving with the company who provided their meat. The maps that were given out included a full list of chefs and their menus, making it easy to find just who and what you wanted. 

To start off my meat eating I headed with my lamby friends to try The Meatball Shop's Sloppy Joes, Lamb Belly Sliders from 42, Lamb Ribs from ilili, and Lamb Breast and rice from Sip Sak. Every single one of these lamb dishes was cooked to perfection, spiced with a balanced hand, and the portion was more than just a taste. My favorites were the lamb belly sliders and the lamb breast. The sliders were served on soft little buns with a pickle layered on the bottom. With streaks of lamb fat and crispy edges, the belly was tender and chewy. Sip Sak's lamb breast was served with fluffy rice and homemade bread. None of these dishes had the gamey flavor that sometimes comes with lamb. The sloppy joes were indeed sloppy, served piping hot, that made you want to take a fork to scoop up all the tangy meat that fell off your bun. ilili's ribs were crisp and chewy, a little hard to eat, but worth getting your fingers dirty for (served next to a basket of wet naps). 

Next up I stopped off to visit my friends at the D'Artagnan booth and have my first duck of the day. Ariane Daugin was serving up duck "tenders," made from duck tenderloin served with a foie gras sauce and .... duck testicles! By handing out little blue stickers that said "I got balls at D'Artagnan!" they encouraged the Meatopia attendees to at least try the duck balls. I decided to be brave and dig in- they were surprisingly tender, creamy and tasty! I would recommend them.
Fortunately at these events, there's always a top chef or two around. Top Chef Master's contestant Chef Naomi Pomery (who I loved on the show!) of Beast restaurant in Portland, OR was serving up succulent Glazed Beef Cheeks that were fall apart tender served with half crunchy, half juice-soaked croutons. The combinations of textures was fun and satisfying. 
Later on I went to visit this year's Top Chef Masters winner Chef Floyd Cardoz. I didn't bother to try to ask for a photo with the chef, but I thoroughly enjoyed the roasted kid goat he was serving up with an arugula and sweet onion salad. This was my first time trying goat and I was happily surprised to see how delicious it was! Served topped with flecks of sea salt, the little slices of goat were tender with a rich, but not overpowering flavor. A full-grown goat probably has a less mild flavor, but if I ever see baby goat on a menu in the future I may just order it! 
Chef Cardoz was also giving out tastes of goat brain which I admit I was not brave enough to try. A woman in front of me who had a taste said "The best stuff is always in the head!" Maybe next time...
Now the good stuff... Meatopia was really an important event and day for me. For the past year and a half I have been enthusiastically following one particular "celebrity" chef who I learned about by way of Top Chef Master's inception. For those of you who have been with me from the beginning you already know who that is... for those of you who haven't... it is the one and only Chef Ludo Lefebvre

Chef Ludo and his wife Krissy had been on the east coast all week. They were here promoting their new show on Ludo Bites America, eating at NYC restaurants (with a special spot for three of David Chang's places) and ending the week serving at Meatopia. When I finally found out for sure I'd be attending the event I was extra excited. Finally all my time spend tweeting with Chef Ludo and Krissy would lead to not only meeting them both but I would get to try Ludo's food. I'm happy to report neither his food nor his real-life self disappointed. The Korean-style hanger steak he served with goat cheese chantilly and cauliflower paper was cooked to a ruby-red rare that paired exceptionally well with the creamy herbed cheese (in my excitement I failed to take a photo of the dish together, but here is the meat).
Chef Ludo's station may have been at the far end of the pier and the farthest booth from the entrance but he needed that extra space because whenever I came by there was a long line of guests happy to wait to try his food and tell him how much they like his new show or his style. He also had the best views of the New York Skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and the biggest perk of all- the breezes from the waterfront! 
The line for Chef Ludo and his FCI student crew
All in all it was a fabulous day spend chowing down on perfectly cooked meat, cold beer, many little bottles of water and to finish it all of a gorgeous sunset over lower Manhattan and New Jersey. I have plenty more photos so be sure to check out the Meatopia album on Facebook.

Photo Album: Meatopia 2011

To learn more about Meatopia follow them on Twitter: @Meatopia


parisbreakfast said...

I used to love eating lamb...but then I went plant-based.
Awfully tempting samples here though

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Anonymous said...

Amazing post! Now i am highly motivated to go for online degree in culinary so that i can master my culinary skills and end up on my dream job.