Get Ready to Eat Up!
The third annual Harlem EatUp! festival is less than one month away! We are preparing our stomachs, ears, eyes and souls for all of the food, music, art and culture Harlem has to offer.
This year the weeklong celebration begins Tuesday, May 16, at the world famous Apollo Theater with a concert paying homage to Billie Holiday. A collection of artists will perform her songbook through dance and music, including Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Lizz Wright, Bettye LaVette, Deva Mahal, William Bell, Southside Johnny and more. It is a one-night-only event not to be missed.
Friday, May 19, begins the feasting at the annual Dine In series during which Harlem restaurants welcome guest chefs from across the city to collaborate on the largest dinner party in Harlem. Last year’s favorites, Vinateria and East Harlem’s Tastings Presents Mountain Bird, have some serious chefs on their hands this year. Chef Bill Telepan and chef Laurent Tourondel, respectively, will be collaborating on seasonal, local and classic French cuisine.
This year, Dine In newcomers LoLo’s Seafood Shack and Chai Wali are welcoming chefs of two NYC fast casual haunts—Talde Brooklyn and The Meatball Shop. A meal created by chef Raymond Mohan and chef Dale Talde is sure to be a spirited Caribbean-Maine-Asian-American dream of an evening. And see who rubs off on who when Anita Trehan and Daniel Holtzman create what is sure to be a unique dining experience.
Finally, the Harlem food family reunion returns Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21, at The Harlem Stroll in Morningside Park. Return to the Marketplace to enjoy a collection of food and non-food vendors, the Bordeaux wine and beer garden, the Kids Zone and the convivial EatUp! Main Stage with performances and live culinary demos by Harlem and guest chefs.
For the athletic eaters, the Ultimate Grand Tasting continues the obsession from last year with a walkaround tasting of some favorite Harlem restaurants and food makers plus beer, wine and spirits. There are plenty of newbies too such as BO’s Bagels, Belle Harlem, Harlem Burger Co, The Edge Harlem and, the first Citi Challenge winner, Tsion Café who will be sampling throughout the Harlem Stroll.
Now there is no excuse not to join the party. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.HarlemEatUp.com. See you there!
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
by Kysha Harris | @SCHOPgirl
No, nothing salacious to read here. Just some media folks checking out the upper Harlem restaurants participating in the Ultimate Grand Tasting of the third annual Harlem EatUp! festival, culminating in live jazz and even more food at Ginny’s Supper Club. That is all…
Our home-grown public relations talent, Valerie Wilson, invited me and some food bloggers for a night out in upper Harlem, crawling between three restaurants appearing in the Harlem EatUp! festival. As the night progressed, we became more amped (read: drunk) for this weekend’s activities.
Our first stop was the first Citi Market Challenge winner, Tsion Café (@CafeTsion, 763 St. Nicholas Ave., 212-234-2070, www.tsioncafe.com). Owner Beejhy Barhany greeted us with her winning dish, doro tibs tacos, honey wine and her killer honey butter coconut bread for dessert.
As the winner of the contest, Tsion Café will be in both the Marketplace and the Ultimate Grand Tasting the entire weekend. You have no excuse not to come out and taste this dish.
The crawl crew began our migration downtown to our next stop, Oso Harlem (1618 Amsterdam Ave., 646-858-3139, www.osoharlem.com), for Mexican street food. Owner Mathew Trebek has created a gorgeous, rich and rustic space with outstanding food to boot.
Trebek welcomed us to a communal table and started us off with signature cucumber margaritas with chili salt. We were off! He hit us with the most delicious elote (Mexican street corn) I have ever eaten. Sweet grilled corn meets the right amount of toppings. Then blue corn quesadillas and shrimp tostadas. Those tostadas were packed with ingredients and the perfect combination of sweet-savory-crunchy business. Oso will be in Saturday’s Ultimate Grand Tasting.
Next stop moved us over the edge to The Edge (@TheEdgeHarlem, 101 Edgecombe Ave., 212-939-9688, www.edgecafeharlem.com). There, we nestled into a farmhouse table in the corner adorned with a motley crew of antique plates. Owner Juliet Masters greeted us and told us about her and her sister’s, Justine, creation of their Jamaica meets England in New York eatery.
One of my favorite dishes The Edge presented us was their light and generous fish and chips. I will be doing a rinse-and-repeat on that for a minute. The Edge will be participating in Sunday’s Ultimate Grand Tasting serving their cod fritters. Yes, please!
I am looking forward to the crawl crew reunion at the festival. See you there.
Eating up at The James Beard House!
By Kysha Harris | @SCHOPgirl
For the second year, I was honored to attend the James Beard Foundation Harlem EatUp! dinner at the James Beard House. This year brought together another awesome collection and representation of Harlem’s culturally diverse community.
Walking in, as per usual, through the infamous kitchen gauntlet, I peeped chef Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster Harlem) and the staffs of Melba’s and Chaiwali prepping their courses and readying the passed hors d’oeuvres. Chaiwali prepared green plantain chaat with pomegranate and spicy yogurt dressing, and garam masala tuna cakes with habanero cream. Melba’s reinvented their fried Gullah catfish into tacos with tomato-mango salsa plus jerk chicken spring rolls with Thai chili sauce.
The dinner bell called guests upstairs to the dining room of dressed tables with a sea of wineglasses, all for the wines of Germany pairings. Salutations, introductions and some words about the Harlem EatUp! Festival, and we were off to food coma land.
Our first course, Skuna Bay salmon ceviche with pomelo, soursop granita, masala oil, chives and chervil, from LoLo’s Seafood Shack chef, Raymond Mohan, was the perfect start. Bright, tart and sweet, complex with the added texture of fried salmon skin, it was outstanding and highlighted Mohan’s Guyanese roots. My table ate the whole bowl.
Vinateria proprietor Yvette Leeper-Bueno must have known I would be there that night because my favorite dish on their home menu was put before me—black spaghetti with octopus and breadcrumbs. First I vibrated, then the rest of my table and soon the whole room was eating every bite, be damned the courses to follow.
BLVD Bistro served their jumbo shrimp and grits with applewood-smoked bacon and jalapeños and buttermilk biscuit with organic cane syrup butter for course three. Then Red Rooster dropped the last course of the most tender jerk lamb with black-eyed peas, seasonal ramp pesto and peppercress. Didn’t even need a knife!
Finally, Make My Cake flew a hummingbird cake with mango cream cheese frosting and praline ice cream straight to all of our hearts. The dried caramelized pineapple slices certainly made me want to spread my wings and fly. Brava!
Another stupendous Harlem EatUp! memory was made at the James Beard House. Cheers to all!
New kids on the Harlem EatUp! Block
Thankfully every year the Harlem EatUp! festival goes down is another opportunity for new participants to come into the fold and showcase their foods and menus in the Ultimate Grand Tasting. Some of these new participants have just opened, and some have been open and it is their first time participating. Here are just a couple to look out for.
Opened since 2014 on the corner of 139th Street and Edgecomb Avenue is The Edge (@TheEdgeHarlem, www.edgecafeharlem.com). Sisters Juliet and Justine Masters opened The Edge Harlem as an ode to the community where they have lived for 17 years. The mashup of British meets Jamaican meets New York food reflects the siblings’ heritage and flavors born from it. Stop in for lunch, brunch or dinner, and definitely get the fish and chips.
The Edge will be sampling in the Ultimate Grand Tasting at The Harlem Stroll.
Next on tap is Harlem’s first chef’s-table restaurant opened by husband and wife team, chef Darryl and Melissa Burnette. Belle Harlem (@Belle_Harlem, 2363 Seventh Ave., www.belleharlem.com) seats 12 guests at one intimate communal table within earshot of the chef preparing a seasonal, regularly changing menu. It’s like being at home with a seasoned personal chef.
Belle Harlem will be sampling and selling at The Harlem Stroll and on the EatUp! Main Stage as well.
Another newly opened restaurant participating in the festival is Oso (1618 Amsterdam Ave., www.osoharlem.com), offering high quality Mexican street food in a modern rustic space. Owners Matthew Trebek and Nodar Mosiashvili are taking patrons to their favorite locales in Mexico through thoughtful, simple and flavorful dishes like shrimp tostadas and exceptional elote (street corn). Plus, their cocktail program is right on par with the booming trend in Harlem.
Oso will be sampling in the Ultimate Grand Tasting at The Harlem Stroll.
New Harlem EatUp! Dine In restaurants
(Pictured: LoLo's Seafood Shack)
Somehow I wish I could be at every Harlem EatUp! Dine In. There are too many amazing chefs both in Harlem and beyond participating—it would be a shame to miss any of them.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorite New York chefs collaborating with one of my favorite Harlem restaurants. Chef Bill Telepan (@BillTelepan) and Vinateria (@VinateriaNYC) proprietor Yvette Leeper-Bueno are really going to hurt someone’s feelings. If you have a deep, deep appreciation for celebrating food, get your ticket now.
Other pairings to note: Chef Kenichi Tajima of Harlem’s celebrated Tastings Social presents Mountain Bird poultry-forward food and guest chef Laurent Tourondel, a master of French cuisine; and at Streetbird, guest chefs Jimmy Bradley (The Red Cat), Joey Campanaro (The Little Owl) and Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto) will be throwing down with chef Leo Marino and Harlem mixologist Karl Franz Williams (Solomon & Kuff Rum Hall).
As for the Dine In newbies, LoLo’s Seafood Shack and Chaiwali, they have both been paired with two of the hottest chefs in NYC. Both Dine Ins will be a mashup of flavors perhaps never to be seen again and surely not to be missed at the festival.
LoLo’s will be adding Asian to their Maine-meets-Caribbean eatery on 116th Street with guest chef Dale Talde of Talde in Brooklyn. This dude is famous for some truly outstanding pretzel dumplings and his whimsical way of celebrating his Asian-American upbringing. Together with LoLo’s executive chef Raymond Mohan, this Dine In is going to bring the raucous!
Now for the most bizarre pairing, which is sure to gather the unique
eaters, Harlem Indian restaurant, Chaiwali, and guest chef Daniel Holzman of the ever-expanding Meatball Shop. What exactly will happen when Chaiwali chef and owner, Anita Trehan, gets on a roll with the meatball kingpin? You will not know unless you are there.
There are still tickets available. Visit www.HarlemEatUp.com to get more information and to purchase tickets.
Tsion Cafe wins first Citi Challenge
Last week I had the honor of being one of the judges at East Harlem’s Hot Bread Kitchen (@HotBreadKitchen) for the first Harlem Market Challenge, created and sponsored by Citi (@Citi) in partnership with the Harlem EatUp! Festival (@HarlemEatUp). Three Harlem restauraunts, new to the community and to participation in Harlem EatUp!, competed to showcase their food inside the Citi tent during the festival.
At host Bevy Smith’s direction, and with the distinguished and diverse panel of judges, helmed by Marcus Samuelsson, co-founder of the Harlem EatUp! Festival, at the ready, the competition began. Restaurants Belle Harlem (@BelleHarlemNYC), Tsion Café (@CafeTsion) and Harlem Pizza Co. (@HarlemPizzaCo) hit the burners, cutting boards and plates with no more than 45-minutes to spare.
We judges were able to walk around and talk with the contestants in the throes of battle. My first stop was to talk with chef Jonathan Shepard of Harlem Pizza Co. I am in love with their pizza, specifically the Lexington. However, they were presenting another facet of their menu. His team was making the most tender meatballs and the most delicious Nutella tiramisu I have ever eaten.
I saw fellow judges Maile Carpenter, founding editor of Food Network Magazine, and my former music business colleague and now chef, Jarobi White, A Tribe Called Quest member, hovering over chef Darryl Burnette of Belle Harlem. This new, small 12-seater chef’s table restaurant was doing big things. He hit us three-ways-to-Sunday with smoked Gouda mac-n-cheese spring rolls and spicy sweet bacon jam, a dessert trifle and a ginger sorrel cocktail. Ouch!
Judge Melba Wilson, owner of Melba’s, and I sidled up to chef Beejhy Barhany of Tsion Café while she was sautéing the greens as part of her winning Ethiopian style taco with yellow lentil puree, stewed chicken and housemade ricotta on that famous injera bread. Blew us away! Congratulations!
Look out for Tsion Café’s winning dish and all of the contestants at The Harlem Stroll in Morningside Park as part of the third annual Harlem EatUp! Festival, May 15-21, 2017. Visit www.harlemeatup.com for information and to purchase tickets.
Sampling at The Harlem Stroll
If you are like me and love a good authentic New York City bagel but not the travel to get it, the former street vendor, now brick-and-mortar BO’s Bagels (@BOsBagels, 235 W. 116 St., 917-902-8345, www.bosbagels.com) has you covered. Although owners Ashley Dikos and Andrew Martinez will officially open their doors Saturday, March 25, I stepped into their roomy nosh-and-schmear locale for a try.
By an 11 a.m. arrival, BO’s was packed and the selection slightly limited, but Andrew was steadily making more. Ashley recommended my favorite, an everything bagel, with a schmear of scallion cream cheese. I could not resist getting a blueberry and BO’s signature cinnamon raisin for future consumption. I am awaiting Ashley’s secret technique for freezing and reheating their bagels.
BO’s bagels are small for the $1.25 price tag, but you cannot beat a fresh properly handmade NYC bagel—now made in Harlem! How does one judge? A good crust and a tender interior from the Eastern European technique introduced in the early 20th century of boiling the bagels before baking them. The ratio between crust and interior produces the perfect chew. BO’s has that covered.
Looking forward to hot breakfast and deli sandwiches soon! Thank you for your commitment and congratulations!
I'm So AmNewsFOOD 2017 winners
(Pictured: Joann Poe of NYC's Best Dressed Cupcakes)
What a response this year to our third annual I’m So AmNewsFOOD Harlem EatUp! contest. A big thank you to all that entered, and for those not selected, we hope you will try again next year and tell a friend.
Our first winner, Nana’s Homestyle Poundcake (@NanasPoundcake, www.nanashomestylepoundcake.com), has been adorning my family’s cake dishes for years. Sure, we might have claimed it as our own once or twice, but it truly is the creation of owners Tracey Washington Bagley and Sherri “The Cake Chemist” Mitchell.
Based on Bagley’s 100-year-old Martinsville, Va. family recipe for almond pound cake, and Mitchell’s Trinidadian food roots, the pair opened Nana’s Homestyle Pouncake in 2013. Together they have expanded the expression of what this simple cake can be with flavors that give you a hug from home, no matter where that may be.
Saturday, May 20, Nana’s will be sampling their signature almond plus lemon and strawberry and debuting Banana Bliss!
Our second winner brings us back to a simple savory note of olives in tapenade form. Prepare those taste buds for Spread-mmms (@Spreadmmms, www.spread-mmms.com). Owner Rebecca Montero created this product as love note to her friends and family on her return from Paraguay while in the Peace Corps. OK, so it was a demand. Everyone loved it so much she had to sell it.
Spread-mmms is a small batch, artisanal olive tapenade that is proudly hand crafted in Harlem. It is a savory spread made with oil-cured Moroccan black olives, garlic, rosemary and a splash of organic lemon juice. It can be used as a flavorful appetizer or a delicious addition to your favorite recipes.
Sunday, May 21, Spread-mmms will be sampling the signature Beldi olive tapenade with garlic and rosemary and showcasing her Capricious Cannellini spread.
Our final winner sampled last year as part of the Food Pathways Program. Created by Harlem home baker Joann Poe in 2010, NYC’s Best Dressed Cupcakes (@JoannCakes, www.nycsbestdressedcupcakes.com) has expanded their line of baked goods to cakes, cake pops, cookies and more.
“Being a vendor at Harlem EatUp! is the perfect platform that I need to introduce my business and the products that I sell and give me the opportunity to reach a larger audience,” said Poe of this opportunity. We are excited to have her participate and looking forward to her sweets.
Sunday, May 21, NYC’s Best Dressed Cupcakes will be sampling minicaramel and new, seasonal, peach cobbler cupcakes!
Harlem Cuisine Map
Follow AmNewsFOOD on social media to see what's happening during the festival and beyond on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD. Tell us what your favorite Harlem foods are with #SoAmNewsFOOD. Let’s eat up Harlem together!
About the Editor
Kysha Harris, AmNewsFOOD Editor
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Follow AmNewsFOOD on Twitter @NYAmNewsFOOD.