Sticks and Stones and Soup From Bones: Brothfest Recap

On a rainy, muggy Saturday, a crowd of NYC’s most enlightened eaters (or should I say slurpers?) journeyed to South Street Seaport for the Battle of the Broths, determined to find the one in seven that would warm their bones and their souls. Planned as a collaboration between FAME by Alex Mitow and Greg T. Spielberg’s Imagination in Space with additional backing from Yelp and the Howard Hughes Corporation, the event appears to have been a soupy success. The famous Katz’s Delicatessen offered a classic chicken-matzoh broth dating from the restaurant’s earlier days in 1888. It was a smooth, simplistic throwback with little artifice that carried a great deal of salty and umami flavor.

I had a chance to meet Jake Dell, Katz's current owner, and a proud legacy of a deli dynasty taking over for his father and grandfather.

I had a chance to meet Jake Dell, Katz’s current owner, and a proud legacy of a deli dynasty taking over for his father and grandfather.

Using their Magic Bullet (only like my favorite as-seen-on-TV product), Belle Reve whipped up a Blackened Butter Bone Broth splashed with a shot of Wild Turkey bourbon. It was intensely creamy and decadent with a harsh, smoky aftertaste, and one of my favorites.

Paula Deen would be proud of all the butter in this broth!

Paula Deen would be proud of all the butter in this broth!

FAME by Alex Mitow had the  “Sake to Me,” a concoction of Kobe Beef broth dressed up with lemongrass, herbs, dry sake, and chive oil. The ingredients were fresh and well-chosen, and they all noticeably popped, but I found this elixir too over-the-top for my appreciation. Baz Bagel prepared its own variation of a chicken matzoh ball soup that was salted nicely and came with an adorable baby matzoh. It was definitely the most recognizable broth in the bunch, and a safe choice. Bone Deep and Harmony gave out both beef and chicken broths, allowing visitors to choose their own spices and condiments to customize their cup. I tried mixing in some chimichurri, but turned out to be a poor judge of how much to mix in. Spur Tree brought in its “Fish Tea,” a fish-based broth with garlic, scallions, and even a little bit of tropical fruit. It managed to be fiery and sweet at the same time with very delectable bits of boneless fish that melded swimmingly with the broth. There were even some crispy wonton chips  for a crunch with my slurp.

The Fish Tea was well-stocked with fish, veggies, and flavor!

The Fish Tea was well-stocked with fish, veggies, and flavor!

Caracas Arepa Bar had a traditional Venezuelan San Cocho  with beef shanks on the bone. The heat and the spice were overpowering in contrast to the tender morsels of beef. It wasn’t really my cup of broth, but the beef was absolutely delicious and it slid right off.   Sancocho Spur Tree’s “Fish Tea” ended up scoring the most votes (including mine), followed by Belle Reve (my second choice), who was just four shy. I seldom think of my tastes as conventional, but my picks apparently were the consensus.

Spur Tree was the winner!

Spur Tree was the winner!

Between cups, there was plenty of beer, clothing boutiques, and live music provided by gypsy band Sylvana Joyce and the Moment and DJs Andrew Andrew. Alex Mitow even took the stage at one point to spin a few playlists of his own as DJ Mouthlove.

Oddly enough, I didn't hear any Bowling For Soup

Oddly enough, I didn’t hear any Bowling For Soup

With this year’s weather remaining as hostile and chilly as ever, it doesn’t look like the bone broth trend is ready to simmer down just yet (and neither is Shailene Woodley). Broth Fest was a fun way to fan the flames of this fad, and I’m excited to see what’s up next. Hopefully Spring!

Photo with Alex Mitow and fashionista Leo Gugu. Photo by James Miille.

Photo with Alex Mitow and fashionista Alotta McGriddles. Photo by James Miille.

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My Favorite Sandwich: Duck Confit Across the Pond

Living a minute away from the Brunswick Centre at Russell Square means I never go hungry for long. I have easy access to Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco, Prett, Apostrophe, Sainsbury’s, and Itsu, which are a pretty good representation of what one will find throughout London. However, what truly brings me back weekend after weekend isn’t my desire to fill my fridge. On Saturdays from 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM, an outdoor market takes residence at the Brunswick, offering fresh, often fried treats ranging from your usual baked goods to sweet beverages like hot chocolate and lemonade to more ethnic fare like Korean pancakes, Japanese takoyaki, chorizo, crepes, and Mediterranean paella. Out of these plentiful offerings, I have discovered a delicious duck confit sandwich that goes for only £5. Under a little stand with a banner that reads “Adi’s Duck Confit,” this sandwich’s home is one of the few places one might find more than a couple people waiting in a queue on the day of the market (that’s the British equivalent for line). Adi's Banner Made with tender, juicy bits of Polish duck meat, Adi’s confit is fried in a pan and bundled in toasted ciabatta bread.

They actually usually have two of these ready so there's rarely a shortage.

They actually usually have two of these ready so there’s rarely a shortage.

Additional toppings include red cabbage and wild rocket (pretty sure that’s arugula in America) along with your choice of sauce (my pick is the Chinese inspired plum). The sandwich manages to be crispy yet succulent, bursting with savory flavors and generous offerings of perfectly simmered duck meat.

The fork looks a little odd, but after you take your first bite, you'll be grateful for it. There's so much duck that the sandwich is liable to fall apart.

The fork looks a little odd, but after you take your first bite, you’ll be grateful for it. There’s so much duck that the sandwich is liable to fall apart.

It’s a simple setup with perfect execution and a guaranteed way to enhance your Saturday with some hearty, meaty comfort–my favorite sandwich since coming to London!