Now in its 9th year, the Taste of LIC, an annual benefit party for local experimental theater, The Chocolate Factory, would not be dampened by a little wet weather. The Tate of LIC, which started in 2005 with 12 vendors set up inside The Chocolate Factory’s theater space, now boasts a huge waterfront tent, food and beverage tastings from 50 local restaurants, raffle prizes from 100 local businesses, and a thronging, hungry crowd.
A Taste of LIC, which happened last night on Tuesday, June 3rd, is one of my favorite events of the year, in part because so many of the vendors hail from the part of Western Queens I am most familiar with – Astoria and Long Island City. Choosing favorite tastes of the night amid so many great offerings is no easy task, but what follows are my top five bites of the night at this year’s Taste of LIC.
My absolute favorite bite of the night came from Bear in Astoria, which was offering barrel cured herring, mixed with parsley, vidalia onion, lemon and topped with caviar. Served alongside herb roasted potatoes and fresh tomatoes, which Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky said were a must as an accompaniment, this was the perfect, refreshing dish for a humid spring evening.
One of my favorite things about the Taste of LIC event, is the chance to try out some of the newer places in the neighborhood that I haven’t had the chance to visit yet. One of those places was Hibino LIC, a relatively new Queens outpost of a well loved Japanese Restaurant in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Their artful sushi balls caught my eye, and were as delicious as they were beautiful. I opted for the shrimp and the seared spicy scallop pairing, but smoked salmon and pickled eel sushi balls were available as well.
Neighborhood favorite LIC Market did not disappoint in this year’s Taste of LIC offering, a rich, oily roasted garlic and duck fat crostini served alongside a refreshingly cool, mildly spicy gazpacho. There was spirited debate on how to eat this – as two separate dishes or as one. In the end I chose to dunk and will go to my grave swearing that it was the better of the two options.
The team from M.Wells was offering some magnificent oysters, however I was most enamored of their clever “dessert” option, a pureed beet tartare, topped with whipped goat cheese and served in a mini sugar cone. For some M.Wells fans, this might stir memories of last summer’s LIC Flea offering, Ceviche Ice Cream, and high hopes that they will continue to offer the Queens community unexpected, awesome stuff served in ice cream cones.
While the Beet Tartare was a great dessert primer, my favorite true sweet of the evening came from local favorite Sweetleaf. I’ve been an avid fan of their Cinnamon Puffs for years, and welcome the opportunity to write them up today. These soft, sugar and cinammon rolled pastries are everything the Dunkin Donuts Munchkin would be if we lived in a world where all doughnuts and doughnut holes were wonderful. But since we do not, get thee to Sweetleaf and have a truly great one.