Monday, June 28, 2010
Not only did I procure a press pass for the 4th Annual NYC Food Film Festival on Saturday, June 26th, I actually made it to Brooklyn 2 hrs before the event opened! I will be late for my own funeral, so I always throw myself a mental party when I actually arrive anywhere on time and a bigger party when I'm early!
With time to kill, I called my friends that live in Brooklyn Heights - The ones from the Amada post (click link to read). I knew they would be surprised by my being in town; but in turn, I was the one who got surprised by the news of their engagement! The question had been popped just the night before and I got to witness them still in the glow of it. Congrats again HH & FC!
The NYC Food Film Fest (Festival Director, George Motz/ Harry Hawk, Festival Executive Chef) was hosted by and benefits Food Bank for New York City, in association with The James Beard Foundation. This year's festival featured 40 food films, 33 screened in competition, and 13 of the films were World Premieres. The screenings and food events took place in 5 locations over 5 days: Opening Wednesday, June 23rd with The Great New York City Shuck 'N Suck (Oyster theme) at South Street Seaport; Thursday's fare, Southeast Asian Street Food Market in Astor Center and Florent: Queen of the Meat Market in The Altman Building; Friday took the festival out to Long Island City for the Edible Adventure of Smokes, Ears and Ice Cream; Sunday had an afternoon and an evening event at The Tobacco Warehouse: It's Grits and Brooklyn Burger 'N Beer Garden.
Saturday's event - The World's First Food Truck Drive-In Movie, featured Catering Food Trucks and assorted vendors with delicacies, set up on Water Street under the Brooklyn Bridge. Although an actual "Drive-In Movie" would have been fun, this was a good set up as well, with the food part of things taking place like a fair, it also made me think of being on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. And the films were screened in a very large tent, draped with black curtains. A sun dial would have been needed to schedule the screenings, as even with the curtains, the crew had to dismantle the screen, staging area and seating to move everything a quarter clockwise, so the sun wouldn't diminish the viewing of the films.
Pictured is just a small sample of the participating vendors. More vendor shots can be found on Tinsel & Tine facebook page.
Believe it or not, for a change, I wasn't really hungry. The day was so hot all I really felt like doing was drinking beer. Especially after tasting a brew by Jever called Weihenstephan, beautiful reddish hues, tasting of strong cloves and perhaps anise, ice cold from the tap, the kind of beer I'll find myself forever hoping to see on many a restaurant's beer menu. - 4 Tines! * Excellent - 4 Tines * Great - 3 Tines * Good - 2 Tines * Fair - 1 Tine * Poor - Tarnished
The Krave Korean BBQ food truck had the longest line, so I decided that would be my first choice. I got two sliders, one pork, one chicken. The meat was chopped into nice bite sized chunks, flavorful, but a little fatty, the sauces on each were identical, and topped with mozzarella cheese. The rolls were horrible. I decided just to eat the meat out of the sandwiches with a fork. - 1 Tines
During some of the films we'd get the opportunity to taste what we saw on the screen, this was genius!
The first film was The Bread Maverick (Director Annette Maser/45mins) The film was made in a small village in Austria called Rauris, where bread making is an art-form, a staple and a favorite pastime. The town has many adorable little outhouses that look like tiny chapels; which are actually brick ovens or bakehouses. The documentary follows one particularly zealous bread maker named Roswitha Huber (pictured) she explains to us the nuances of bread making, the perfecting of the flavor, color and texture of the crust. She takes us through the town, introducing us to bread making neighbors and competitions and talks in general about the vitality and energy of the food we consume, in terms of where the animals are raised and the spirit of the person preparing the food. "When I haven't had dough between my fingers in a while, I miss something essential", says Huber. The bread we got to sample was too crusty for my tastes - 2 Tines. I felt the film production was very good and Roswitha was charming, but 45min of bread talk is not kneaded - 2 Tines
A spot from vendr.TV with host Dan Delaney came next. This featured a short profile on a creperie truck located on 33rd and Market in Philadelphia, called La Dominique. This is a very hot spot for the University City students, the menu consists of both savory and sweet crepes. I absolutely have to go and try the Thai Coconut Chicken, Veggie crepe featured in the piece. Unfortunately, no samples were served during this film. - 3 Tines
Eating Right (Director Alison Perelman/ 5:39min) Explores the ways in which political campaigns use food to connect with voters. Food reaches people on a deeply personal level and yet remains a safe topic. That's why it's always such a great photo opt to see a candidate hoist a beer or visit the local diner. The film also discusses the naming of Democrats as Latte Liberals vs. Republican, Joe Six-Packs and the impact of these labels on each side. It's a good idea for a documentary, hopefully, Perelman will flesh it out and do a longer piece. - 2 Tines
In De Keuken TV Show from Belgium (Director Erwin Bruyninckx/33mins) Master Chef, David Martin, gives two amateur chefs his recipes which they recreate with differing results. The first recipe was for Ham Mousse, which we in the audience got to sample. It's a little like ham jello, with whipped cream. Not bad, it's to be served like a pate. The flavor and consistency is very light - 2 Tines. The second dish was a Lemon Meringue Tart. We were served cute, miniature versions of the desert, round, light, soft, buttery short bread, topped with refreshing semi-sweet lemon mousse, topped again with a dollop of meringue. - 4 Tines. However, one of the amateur chefs on the TV show, did a dismal job of recreating this recipe. The French Culinary Institute of NY, headed by chef Jeffrey Butler, prepared the dishes for our sampling at the festival. Overall rating for the episode of In De Keuken - 3 Tines
Cater-Waiter (Director Eric Lane (pictured)/14min) This was the only narrative film shown in this block of screenings. Two gay aspiring actors, one a performance artist with a show called "Healing the Oprah Within" The other has a callback audition for a traveling musical, both pay the bills by being cater-waiters. The blond one has a crush on the dark-haired one and the dark-haired one is dating the head cater-waiter. The film is set in the gay culture of the 1980's, so needless to say, someone dies. The plot has potential, but that's the problem, it doesn't feel like it should be a short. A short should have a beginning, middle and end that fits neatly inside its time frame . It shouldn't leave you saying, that might have been good if it were longer- 2 Tines
Flowers, Fruit, Sugar and Spices (Director(s) Valeria Cavagnetto and Teresa Rocco (pictured)/ 24min) A profile of the Pietro Romanego Company, the oldest continuously operating confectioner in Europe. Generations of Romanego's have been making candied fruits, chocolates etc... for over 200 years.
I was getting a bit too overheated in the tent by this time to read subtitles; so I just let pictures of beautiful candies wash over me on the screen. The directors were present, they flew in from Genova, Italy to attend the festival, along with members of the Romanego family. And I did perk up when they brought out the sample candied confections, also flown all the way from Italy. 3 Tines for the candy.
Lastly, A Look Inside La Frieda Meats (Director(s) Jeff Zalaznick & Jamie Meyer/7:15min) you can be a staunch vegetarian and still know the rock stars of the meat industry - La Frieda wholesale meat company. Why? Because purveyor Pat LaFrieda is passionate about meat! Disappointed there were no ribs or steak samples - 2 Tines
The journalist in me should have tried to find out what the attendance numbers were like during the entire festival. Saturday was pretty good, considering how hot it was outside. Still, they should not have marked the event sold-out on the website; the area could easily have accommodated another 100 people or more. Not that you want to stand in long lines or be unable to get a seat; but HH & FC (mentioned above) live 5 min from where the festival was taking place, they're big foodies and film buffs and they didn't know anything about it. My sister and her husband are two savvy people living in Tribeca, and they too said, they weren't aware this festival was taking place. I spoke with some of the truck vendors who said they really weren't doing as much business as they'd hoped, even though most people stayed in the food areas. I would say only perhaps 50 -75 people attended the films. Or at least the first block of films. I didn't stay for the second block to begin at 8:45pm.
It's such a great event and benefits an important cause (NY Food Bank), so hopefully, next year's 5th annual will get a little more exposure.
As I said before, this event is really what Tinsel & Tine is all about! So I was happy to be there for even one day. My dream is to go around the world attending film events, film festival, food events and famous restaurants, with particular attention to tying the two together, so let's see what the universe has in store next!
Film/Food post addition: John Farr blogger for Huffington's Post list of Best Food Movies!