Saturday, May 7, 2011

Madison Square Park Eats 2011 ! Calexico, Roberta's and Stuffed Artisan Cannoli

This weekend will be one of daily street food fairs for me, beginning with Madison Square Park Eats, a monthlong gathering of several fun New York eateries.  I went last year and enjoyed it, and am glad to see it back bursting with more eateries.  Warning: This is a picture heavy post to help show the restaurants and menus they are offering this year to help you plan your visit! (Click on the pictures to see a larger version.)  Items I sampled are gathered towards the end of the post. :)

Piccolo Cafe offers various paninis, gnocchi and gelato.

It's best to go to this event earlier in the day; by 7:30p, most vendors had very limited menu offerings left (above: sad remainder of gelato left).
Ilili is a Mediterranean restaurant offering pita sandwiches, falafel, pressed chicken, and on weekends, whole roasted lamb shawarma (Saturday) and chicken shawarma (Sundays).

Milk Bar seems to be everywhere lately (e.g., Brooklyn Flea), including the MadSqPk Eats event.  Their limited offering included ice milk, crack pie and cookies. (previous Handi-eats coverage here)

Sigmund's Pretzel Shop was fairly sold out of their few pretzel flavors: salted, truffle cheddar, feta olive, and cinnamon raisin.  Despite being disappointed by their pretzel in the past, I still remain intrigued by their Wancko cookie which has peanut butter, chocolate chunks and pretzel bits in it.  I overheard some girl trying to convince her boyfriend/lover that it was the absolute best cookie she's ever had.  He remained unconvinced.  One day I will take the Wancko plunge.

Nunu Chocolates's giant chalkboard focused on their craft beer selection in addition to their wine and chocolate pairings, frozen hot chocolate, frozen chocolate chai and frozen mocha menu.

People's Pops showcased their blueberry mint, rhubarb ginger, blackberry + sour cherry handmade popsicles and bartlett pear and organic lemon handshaved slushes. (previous coverage here)

AsiaDog was in the Madison Park house dishing up their usual hot dogs topped with Asian ingredients.

The hotdogs are $4.50; the added apathetic service is free of charge. (previous coverage here)

I forget this restaurant's name (sorry).  But - it is important to note because they offer pate sandwiches, which is Thanan's absolute favorite thing in life.  Once he's back from Asia, I bet he's gonna try this sucker.

P&H Soda served up handmade sodas all naturally flavored with cream, grapefruit, lime, ginger or hibiscus. (sampled previously here)

Cookie Panache had some wonderful looking brownies but this one customer ahead of me was taking his sweet ol' time, so I lost patience and left.  The cookies appear to be primarily shortbread based: Mexican wedding cookie-types, cookie sandwiches, etc.

Hong Kong Food Cart featured cheaper snacks including shrimp chips, and both vegetarian and meat-filled buns.  I love myself a freshly fried shrimp chip, so will have to grab these next time.

Stuffed Artisan Cannolis.  Usually I dismiss cannolis immediately; it's something I've tried once or twice but had never really adored, but upon closer inspection, SAC offers up some unique flavors like Key Lime Pie, Banana Cream, Cookie Dough instead of the plain ricotta + chocolate chips to which I am accustomed.  I was definitely intrigued enough to buy 3.

Resto's restaurant website is titled 'bringing fat back' which you gotta love.  Their MadSqPk offering focuses on ham, beef and tuna sandwiches.

Breezy Hill Orchard served up tamales alongside chilled apple cider.  

Bar Suzette offered both savory and sweet crepes in addition to grass-fed burgers and frites that were sold out.

Although the event takes place steps away from Eataly's storefront, the namesake empire was offering a handful of their wares including lightly fried ribs that were meaty and popular among eaters, fish skewer/spiedini and salted caramel tiramisu.

Roberta's Pizza returned this year with three pizza options: margherita (tomato/mozzarella/basil), the bee sting (pepperoni/chile/mozzarella/honey) and the speckenwolf (oregano/mozzarella/mushroom/speck/onions).  

The operation was quite efficient; your order is taken with an estimated time of completion.  Pizzas are handmade and fired on the spot.  My pie was made within 3 minutes of the estimated time. Nice!

I was most excited to see Calexico here.  I finally got to try their cart when J came in town last year (but my lazy self never blogged it, so I am going to blog it now and give it the love it deserves!).  Anyway, I am excited because 1) I am never in town during the week to make it to their cart and 2) I am somehow too lazy to go to their storefront in Brooklyn, so 3) thank goodness it's here!  The line was a bit long and they sadly were out of most items by that time in the eve - only chicken and carne asada tacos were available.  Must. Go. Back. Earlier.

So that's the rundown of restaurants available in the Park from May 6 through June 3rd!  The vendors will be there from 11a-9p everyday, but do try to go earlier as the vendors seem to sell out quite a bit earlier than 9p.

Here's the rundown of what I ate tonight!

Calexico's carne asada taco - beautifully dressed with all the fixins, it was full of citrusy lime that brightened up the marinated meat flavor.  At first glance, I scoffed at a taco ("definitely an appetizer") as a meal, but it is pretty hearty with the thick cuts of beef inside and double layered tortilla.  Still, I stuck with the original plan and called it an app.

I plan to come back and relive my first experience with the rolled quesadilla which is an amazing concoction which involves rolling the quesadilla and flattening it onto the griddle to create a buttery, crispy and overly gooey cheesy quesadilla mess.  Here's a pic from J's visit last year:

I'm not gonna lie.  I'm gonna eat this tomorrow.  I need it.
For my main entree, I ordered the Bee Sting from Roberta's.  It came out so hot and crisp and melty.

You could taste every flavor with each bite: the crisp but amazingly thin crust, the gooey cheese, the florally honey, the salty crunch of the pepperoni and the spice from the red chili pepper flakes.  I rather liked the subtlety from the honey: sweet, spicy, salty - it all worked well together.

For dessert, I tackled the three cannolis from Stuffed Artisan Cannolis.

From top to bottom: banana cream, Girl Scout Cookie (samoa-inspired) and key lime pie.

Am I lame to jump on the cannoli bandwagon now?  I really liked these!  I think plain ricotta with chocolate chips is just too dull for me, but add in hints of banana or key lime, and I am a sucker!  My favorite was the Samoa: the cannoli was coated in chocolate, piped with creamy filling and toasted coconut and tasted remarkably like my favorite Girl Scout cookie.  They were all light and not too rich, enabling you to eat multiple if one is so inclined (and you might be so inclined!).

The best part about Madison Square Park Eats is the location; you can easily scuttle your food over to the park and catch the gorgeous new sculpture, Echo, and marvel at the size of the squirrels in the park fattened by Shake Shack fries.  Enjoy!

May 6-June 3


  1. honey on a pizza?!?! geeeenius. also, that taco is lookin' mighty fine!!

  2. That pizza. Those cannolis! I wish I lived in a place where food events like this were the norm. Looks like a lot of fun!

  3. i know sara! it's street fairs like these that make it so tough to leave this city !

  4. come back and try a brownie, they're as good as they look (maybe better)!

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