10 Things We Learned at Bon Appétit Grub Crawl
This past Saturday Bon Appétit joined forces with some of Williamsburg's finest drinking and dining establishments to present the Bon Appétit Grub Crawl. A small group of hungry (and thirsty) New Yorkers had a chance to sample bites and drinks at Maison Premiere, Allswell, The Meatball Shop, Brooklyn Winery and Rye. On our tour (there were two additional tours on Friday and Sunday in Red Hook and Carroll Gardens, respectively) we tasted, we toasted and we also took away a lot of interesting information from the event. Here is what we learned.
1. Absinthe comes in both green and white: Frequently referred to as the "Green Fairy," absinthe was banned in Switzerland, France and the U.S. in the 20th century as it had many harmful side effects. During the ban, Swiss bootleggers continued to create the liquor but without its famous green tint making it unrecognizable. Today the colorless version remains popular post-ban and we enjoyed the milky colored La Clandestine at Maison Premiere.
2. Egg whites add a nice frothiness to cocktails. Usually associated Piscos, egg white added a nice texture to the Cure-All we sampled at Allswell. Other ingredients included Breukelen Glorious Gin, Green Chartreuse, honey syrup and chamomile syrup. Highly recommended.
3. Don't get in the way of people's meatballs. At the Meatball Shop we were treated to delicious beef, pork and chicken meatballs — when we managed to get our hands on them. Let's just say that people a. love meatballs b. will run toward the server zombie style to get a hold of them c. we never wished more that we had inspector gadget arms.
4. Who knew anyone in Brooklyn is making wine? Despite having no vineyards in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Winery makes some outstanding wine. They receive the grapes from Long Island, the Finger Lakes and Napa Valley and create signature small batch wines like rieslings, chardonnays and pinot noirs. We never knew that excellent wine is being produced a few L stops away.
5. Cucumber + Booze = Summer. We didn't think you could distill a season into a drink but Rye's Southside cocktail does just that. The mix of gin, lime juice, cucumber, mint, simple syrup and soda water is refreshing and delicious — we couldn't get enough.
6. The drink of the summer is in Williamsburg. Comprised of Belvedere Vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, seltzer, mint and strawberry halves, Meatball Shop's Strawberry Smash is incredibly refreshing drink. Take our word for it — we drank five.
7. Ben Crispin from Maison Premiere is the host with the most. With his wire frame glasses, sharp suits and big smile, Maison Premiere's service director/manager Ben Crispin is a class act all the way. He's one of the most hospitable people we've ever met in the hospitality industry, and we enjoyed his brief history of absinthe (see #1).
8. Conor McCormack is serious about wine. One of the more educational moments on the Crawl was the wine tasting at Brooklyn Winery. In a lovely, dimly lit room adjacent to their collection of barrels full of new vino, winemaker Conor McCormack schooled us about their array of wines and how they make the magic happen. This guy knows his stuff!
9. Good cocktails are universal. During the Bon Appétit Grub Crawl we met folks from New Zealand, Japan, Spain....and even exotic Arizona. Together we said cheers! kampai! and salud....a lot.
10. Even if you know Williamsburg restaurants there are always more to discover. Bon Appétit Grub Crawl reinforced our love for places in Williamsburg that we already love and introduced us to ones we can't believe we hadn't been to. Do yourself a favor, hop on the L train and meander up and down Bedford Avenue.
Words by Rana Good and Darren Ressler
Images by Darren Ressler