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Madison Square Eats Fall Report

Full report + photos here: http://smithratliff.com/2011/09/24/fa...

While taking a walk up Fifth Avenue last Friday night, we found ourselves experiencing a bit of déjà vu. A very delicious déjà vu.

It seems like the last installment of Madison Square Eats—the month-long food fair in Worth Square, next to Madison Square Park—was just yesterday. (It was, in fact, in May.

)

We were greeted by some familiar old faces—our friends at Roberta’s, the Calexico taco truck, and Momofuku Milk Bar, to name a few—but also some exciting new ones.

From housemade pastrami sandwiches, to Belgian “wafels,” to curry, every taste was represented.

First, we sampled a barbecue pork bun from one of the newcomers, Fatty Snack.

The crew behind Fatty ‘Cue and Fatty Crab have opened a chain of snack bars in a few different locations around the city. Each features a slightly different menu, but all of the items have the same feisty flavor combinations that the Fatty Crew is known for.

Our pork bun was no exception. Tangy barbecue sauce mixed with pickled slaw on a steamed bun, similar to what you might find at Momofuku.

After devouring our pork bun, we moved on to Roberta’s for one of their now-famed pizzas.

The Brussel Mania, made with mozzarella, pecorino, caramelized onions and brussels sprouts, created a terrific balance with the sweetness of the onions and the bitterness of the sprouts, while playing nicely with the mozzarella and pecorino. We could eat these pies all day.

We also tried a shrimp roll from Eats newcomer but neighborhood mainstay Red Hook Lobster Pound.

The roll was a decadent blend of zesty tarragon mayo and roasted garlic with sweet Maine shrimp. The shrimp were tender and the roll had just enough mayo as to not become soggy.

Upon finishing our “meal,” we headed over to the sweeter side of the square.

After a short disagreement, which is easy to get into here with such an array of options, we decided on a pumpkin spice latte cupcake from Robicelli’s. The cupcake was made from pumpkin cake and topped with espresso mascarpone buttercream and fall-spiced chocolate-covered espresso beans. The mascarpone made the buttercream light and smooth, with not a touch of graininess.

We left with a malted ball milkshake from the Milk Truck. The shake blended crushed malted milk balls in a vanilla ice cream, which, after melting, had us fighting over who got to eat the delicious candies crushed at the bottom of the cup.

As we made our way back down the avenue, we watched a spectacular sunset. Even though the first day of fall was just yesterday, we could already feel just a bit of its crispness in the air.

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Fatty Crab
643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

Momofuku Milk Bar
251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

Madison Square Eats
5th Ave E 26th St, New York, NY 10010

Fatty 'Cue
50 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

Calexico
W 24th St Broadway, New York, NY 10010

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  1. We stopped by Madison Square Park Eats briefly on Sunday. Took home sweets from Macaron Parlour and from Stuffed Artisan Connolis. We've never had anything from either before. So far, we've had the Candied Bacon with Maple Cream macaron. Fantastic! Looking forward to tasting the other flavors we selected. Tonight, since I'm serving lasagna for dinner, we'll have the connolis.

    We're planning to go back in a few days to check out some of the other offerings, especially Roberta's pizza (had the special tasting dinner in Brooklyn, which included a terrific pizza) and the Lobster Pound's lobster roll.

    Madison Square Park Eats photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

    4 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      That candied bacon and maple macaron has been tempting me since I first saw it at the Hester Street Fair. Glad it was everything it sounds like!

      There was one vendor on the east side who had the most amazing sandwiches—housemade pastrami, meatballs, you name it. Can't remember who it was, but I definitely want to grab one of those before this run is up.

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      Hester Street Fair
      Essex St Hester St, New York, NY 10002

      1. re: RGR

        We did return and had a Margherita pizza from Roberta's and the Lobster Pound's Maine-style lobster roll. The pizza was very good but not as fabulous as the one we had at the restaurant. The lobster roll was superb, one of the best we've had in NYC.

        I've added those photos to the Madison Square Park Eats set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

        1. re: RGR

          I went back, too, recently and had another pizza. Again it was very good, but not great. The crust was slightly over-charred this time, but the main problem was that it was still rather soft and floppy. It was the bee sting (or whatever). The soppresata on it was superb, and the combination of a faint honeyed note with chilli-oil bite very appealing. I still found the mozzarella rather tasteless.

          I had three cannolis, again, but found the crusts soggy this time and the fillings stale. How were the cannolis you took home your first time?

          The Indian food stall there no longer flies the Junoon banner, but the food looked the same as before. Oh, the burden of carrying a Michelin star.

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          Junoon
          27 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010

          1. re: FoodDabbler

            I didn't get around to eating any of the cannolis until a couple of days after we bought them, so I can't make a really fair judgment about the crusts. Although they didn't become soggy, they weren't very crisp. The fillings were fine. Definitely not stale. Overall, I liked the plain cannolis but did not care much for the chocolate crust and filling of the mudslide.

            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

        2. loratliff, thanks much for the rundown - and great, mouthwatering photos to boot!

          1. I went to the Brewer's Choice event last week where Sigmund's pretzel shop was providing a pretzel paired with one of the beers, but by the time I got to their table they were out. They did tell me they'd be at Madison Square Eats this time around though, so I definitely wanted to come check it out. After reading your reviews I have got to go try the Fatty Cue, Roberta's and Lobster Pound options too!

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            Madison Square Eats
            5th Ave E 26th St, New York, NY 10010

            1. Your meal sounds perfect! Fatty Cue, Roberta's, Red Hook Lobster Pound, all great choices. Man, I've been really craving malted milkshake lately - I gotta get myself one of those before it gets too cold to enjoy milkshakes.

              1. I sampled several things here today, and came away slightly disappointed. The pork buns from the fatty guys had some very wet meat on rather dry, stiff buns. The moistness of these steamed buns is critical, in my opinion, to the success of this style of sandwich. Worse, the meat was quite bland. It had no zest, no fire. The tastiest thing in the sandwich was the pickle. I tried a duck bun from the Hong Kong cart for comparison. The bun was much better, but the filling was wanting in its own way. The piece of duck in it looked invitingly fatty, but was very dry. None of the scallion threads, etc., in which it was enrobed could rescue it.

                I sampled a bit of a samosa from Junoon. It was ghastly. There are generally two styles of samosa in India. Big, puffy, tetrahedral ones (usually filled with potatoes and other vegetables), often called Punjabi, and flatter, thinner triangles often filled with meat. Punjabi samosas are encased in a thick layer of short pastry dough. The thin ones in thin sheets of pastry, folded over a few times, as you might with phyllo. The Junoon samosa couldn't decide which camp it was in. It was flat, but the pastry was coarse, thick, and unforgivably soggy. The vegetable filling had bite, but little other flavor. It was the worst thing I had there.

                I tried one of Roberta's pizzas. This was the main reason I went there today, not having been able yet to make the pilgrimage to Brooklyn. It was OK, but not really outstanding. The crust was charred and blistered in places, but was still on the underdone side. The mozzarella was close to tasteless. In the last two months I've had better pizza in New York at Co. and a truly sublime one in Naples that you can't even begin to compare my lunchtime pizza to.

                I finished with a taste of three mini cannolis: pistachio, dulce de leche, and "traditional". They were fairly good, but I thought the first two a little lower on flavor than they need have been. I enjoyed the "traditional" one the best. I was nervous that the cannolis were prefilled, but at 1:30 the pastry hadn't had a chance to get soggy yet. The cannolis faced the question that all miniaturizations do: which dimensions do you scale down? If you reduce the length and width of the cannoli by a factor of about 2 do you also roll out the dough for the shell twice as thin? You run the risk of making it too thin to support the filling. These cannolis had pastry that was a little on the too-thick side.

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                Junoon
                27 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010

                2 Replies
                1. re: FoodDabbler

                  Last night the fatty crew's pork buns were awful. Dried out ropes of flavorless meat sitting in a dried out bun. I really liked the bee sting pizza from Roberta's. But those pork buns. Unredeemably awful.

                  1. re: rose water

                    I wish i had read this thread earlier, as I also stumbled upon the MSE tents today and suffered the same fate as FoodDabbler and rose water. I would detail my Fatty Snack experience, but FoodDabbler captured my complaints perfectly, save one point - i didn't get the pickle!

                    unfortunately, the pork buns present well. i heard several people oohhing and awwwing as I walked through the crowd. there should be some disappointed eaters out there today, folks.

                2. On my way to my dinner at La Mar, I stopped by the Macaron Parlour booth and bought some of their macarons. Loved the maple-bacon, lemon and caramel. The s'mores was too "cakey" in texture. Red velvet didn't have a distinct flavor. No, their macarons aren't in the same league as Laduree or Bisous Ciao, but their flavors were more unique. I hope to find them again.

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                  Bisous Ciao
                  101 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002

                  La Mar
                  11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

                  Laduree
                  864 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021

                  Macaron Parlour
                  , New York, NY 10002