I’d never been to Village Voice’s Choice Eats. On a whim, after coming across a promotion online about the event, I registered. Entry was at 6:30 for those of us (yes, like me) who didn’t spring for VIP tickets, which would have had us stepping in the door an hour earlier. No worries. I figured, I’d arrive at the venue a little early — the 69th Regiment Armory (Wikipedia) — walk to the entrance and wait about 30 minutes and then, that would be it. Right?
Wrong. The line to get into the Armory was ridiculous. I never expected what I saw. The first person on line stood at the foot of the entrance staircase. The line then stretched to the end of that block, curved around to the next street, stretched to the end of that block, curved around to the next street, stretched to the end of that block, curved around to the next street (where I stood about 20 feet from the corner), and then stretched down the block. Get the picture? Yes, it was almost an entire circle. But, somehow, in just over 30 minutes after the doors officially opened at 6:30, I was inside. Shocking. Big brownie points to Choice Eats. BIG.
You probably didn’t know the 69th Armory, a National Historic Landmark, is located on the east side of Manhattan on bustling Lexington Avenue. The Armory is so connected to September 11, 2001 for me. In the hours, days, weeks and months after the terrorist attacks, the Armory’s outer walls and anywhere that was in close proximity with a bare wall, were covered with missing persons photos, posters, family notes, letters and flowers — you name it. It is truly a unique, hulking structure of bricks — not a slick-looking skyscraper most people think of when they think “New York City”.
I walked in. Welcome to Choice Eats. I was overwhelmed. It was crowded and people seemingly walked aimlessly, almost as if they were in a trance. (I would be in this “trance-like state” myself not too long after.) I needed a few minutes to take it all in. I could go right, left or down the middle. I elected to go to the right. “I have to start somewhere,” I thought.
Note: I neglected to read, “5 Tidbits of Advice for Choice Eats 2013 Attendees” until 10 minutes before getting inside. So much for that. But, I now know what not to do next year.
The first food sample table was the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE). I passed on the sample (they had a meat item), but I signed up for a chance to win the opportunity for cooking classes — or something or other (can’t remember). Whatever it was, I wanted it.
Between chowing down, I tried snapping photos — not an easy feat when you have people bumping into you from all sides. I stopped at Whole Foods. They were handing out swag. Inside, food snacks. And then I walked by SCRATCHbread…
…and after, stopped at Dirty Candy.
Just to get it out the way: This was hands down, the absolute, best stop of my entire night. OUTSTANDING. They had one tasting item…one…a tomato, cheese nosh that had the sweetest, most smokey flavor. It. was. freakin’. bananas. *drops mic*
For the almost two hours, I grazed — in a haze. Snapping photos of my food, photos of other people’s food. (There are a lot of hungry hipsters in Nueva York. Who knew?)
You know what? I’m done writing. Just dream and drool on what follows below…(and yes, I’ll be there next year…mark my words)…