Governor's Island is a great place for a picnic, and a cookout. This past weekend CookOut NYC was held at Governor's Island and provided lots of food, drink, and music for attendees after the July 4th holiday. Like 5 Boro Picnyc, CookOut NYC was publicized by Food Karma Projects and had many vendors available like Jimmy's No. 43, Alobar, and Madria Sangria along with various types of beer including Six Point Brewery and Blind Tiger Ale House to name a few.
The ferry unloaded patrons of seeking to get in some NYC history, a nice bike ride without the worry of traffic (namely cabbies), take families to enjoy the graphic design museum and do workshops, or just lay back and enjoy the sights surrounding the Hudson River.
What I've enjoyed about the environment at the Food Karma events has been the laid back atmosphere. No pushing or shoving. People standing quietly in line for food. A nice camaraderie with the crowd and vendors, learning more about local vendors, and good eats all around.
Upon entering you'll be greeted by staff offering you a Whole Food's monikered beer coozy. KIND Bars and Popchips (two snacks I relish, no pun intended) gave away free goods to patrons. I was excited to see new flavors from both including the Sweet Potato Popchip and the Madagascar Vanilla Almond and Cashew & Ginger Spice KIND Bars.
On Saturday there was a kimchi eating contest for Mama O's Premium Kimchi. And Mama O's remained smack dab in the center of the green on Sunday offering samples of his goods along with spicy tacos including his spicy kimchi. For the man who won the competition (having eaten over 2 jars of the spicy blend) I hope he has health insurance. Tasting just a tad of this kimchi (containing the ghost pepper, the hottest pepper known to man) I am pretty sure it burned a hole through my esophagus to the point I couldn't properly enjoy the bulgogi within the taco. Spraying the lime didn't help. But I'm sure it's good nonetheless. There were varieties of kimchi laid out for the crowd and I think I found a new favorite with the Oi version.
Having learned some of Kheedim's secrets of making Mama O's Premium Kimchi (his mom was also at CookOut NYC!) there's a nice balance and variety in the kimchi he offers and a dedication in the way he makes it wanting to spread more knowledge about it and share his Korean heritage.
Sunday had a best burger and best hot dog contest going on between booths. Attendees could vote by writing their support on the booth's oaktag what they thought of their hot dogs and/or burgers.
Spicy was the theme of CookOut NYC it seemed. Spicy mustard at the My Friend's Mustard booth. Bison burger with caramelized onions and spicy mayo from Alobar. The spicy kimchi eating competition and tacos I mentioned earlier (which you could also have gotten extra spicy, wowza). There was also a race to the finish for the best spicy hot dog using Sabrett's Hot & Spicy hot dogs with jalapeno (spicy but not overly so that my mouth couldn't enjoy the merge of flavors). My personal fave was Rich Pinto's Catering which also happened to be the first I tried. They also offered some cold and tangy potato salad that was a great contrast to the hot hot dog. I do hope they won a nice prize.
"Wanna slap my cajun ass?" a high-spirited man at The Penthouse Boys booth asked me.
"Sure!" I responded. I received a dollop of sauce atop a piece of chicken and sausage, both seared and blackened Cajun style.
"Wanna slap my cajun ass?" he asked another patron.
The man behind me looked cautious and confused at first, after deciphering the message he agreed taking a sample of what they had to offer.
Slap My Cajun Ass sauce is noted as being "blissfully hot." But even for a wimp like me it was pretty tame. Tasty, but tame.
Of course there were pallet cleansers and items available once you were done (or at least taking a break) from meat. Brooklyn Grange was welcome with fresh from the rooftop farm with greens and vinaigarette. Meal KU (homemade meal cooperative) also had freshly made ingredients for their watermelon cucumber salad. Meal KU allows for members to post pictures of food for others to order.
On the dessert end I was very happy to see Melt Bakery there! I was introduced to Melt Bakery a couple of years ago at the Hester Street Fair. Their staple is ice cream sandwiches, but I tried their deep fried pumpkin pie made me a convert and it was the first thing I asked when I saw Julian Plyter. He said that they'll have the deep fried apple pie once a year (sad) but also informed me Melt Bakery's storefront recently opened and that they are also available at the Highline (super happy).
My friend Lesley had the classic (chocolate chip walnut cookie and vanilla ice cream) and was in love. It's a good portion for an ice cream sandwich and very tasty. Even after a few burgers and hot dogs Lesley considered getting another one. After setting my mouth on fire with spicy kimchi I was glad to enjoy the lovelet (red velvet cookie with cream cheese ice cream) to soothe my mouth and enjoy on a hot and humid day.
CookOut NYC isn't just about lounging in the sun, but also learning about local businesses and where their items (namely condiments) are available in the NYC area. Every business wants to make a name for itself and fairs like this are the best place to start providing attendees the opportunity to try something new and potentially gain a new favorite food and restaurant in the process. I'm always glad for the chance to get to know more about the eateries in NYC and to try what they have to offer and spread the word.
Many thanks to Food Karma Projects, and Sebastian Cervantes for connecting the food blogger community with the CookOut NYC event; to Food Karma Projects founder Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy's No. 43 for hosting the press party for this event; to Jackie Gordon for keeping the tri-state food bloggers in the loop; and to Kheedim Oh for teaching us food bloggers the secrets (well, some of them) of his kimchi at the CookOut NYC press party.