Thursday, June 19, 2008

Food, Film and Bizarre Fun.

Pauline, a fellow Forest Park Road Runner and good friend sent me an email last week about something called the New York Food and Film Festival. I know a lot about this city, but I was pretty dumbstruck when I saw this, because I never knew this even existed, let alone that it was taking place in my own big backyard of Queens, New York.

The Second Annual New York Food & Film Festival is taking place at the Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City until today. It is a multi-sensory feast for the belly, the eyes and ears, featuring video vignettes from the very same people that are only too happy to let your try their cooking....and

Yes. Free. The only thing I had to show was my drivers ID to prove that I was over 21 years old, so that the little tiki bars could serve me alcohol. And no. Sadly, the high octane was not free. Beer was 6 dollars.

The Water Taxi Beach is a bizarre place. Backfilled a few feet deep in sand, this 40,000 square foot (Hey, that's about an acre!) lot is a temporary oasis from the hustle and bustle which completely surrounds its home. Right outside is Long Island City with it's Long Island Railroad, Citicorp Building and Jackson Avenue 7 train. Directly across, it the east river, and the city for which I call my home.

Despite the huge turnout, finding a seat was interestingly easy. Equally fascinating was that I was about the oldest person there. Average age could not have been more than 25, hence the reason for the "carding". Ileana mentioned that I looked old compared to everyone else too. Hey. Isn't that like the "pot calling the kettle black?" Again, another one of her "typical" remarks. Nice and sensitive and full of politically correct statements. I'm being sarcastic, of course.

One thing I regretted was not wearing sandals. I had comfortable slip on Born shoes so at least it wasn't too bad. The line for waiting for food was outrageous however, and at the time I was standing, the samples had all run out. Unaware of this at the time, I kept moving up the line until I passed the sample table and wound up by the cash register near the outdoor kitchen. They had food too, but it was not free. I ordered a cheeseburger with fries. They ran out of fries. "Good. I just saved 400 calories", I thought.

Near the main projection screeen were two colorful vinyl couches. They were for the VIPs only. The ones that either cooked the food or filmed it. Filmed in Technigrease!

Speaking of grease, that cheeseburger I ate was very undercooked, and extremely greasy. Also, while I was collecting my belly bomber, there were free samplings of goat cheese. Being a huge fan of goats and cheese, I brought my girlfriend a couple of samples. She tasted and liked.... and sent me back for more. Isn't there supposed to be a weight limit of goat cheese intake per person per day?

The music that was playing was trance music (electronica). And it was very good. And very loud. So loud, that I couldn't even hear what was playing on the filmscreen. What kind of film festival is this when the film being shown is being drowned by techno music behind it? LOL!

Anyway, the film festival didn't REALLY begin until about 8:30ish or so. The MC got on stage, and the techno music went bye-bye. He gave us a brief dissertation about the movies that we were about to see and the food that was going to continue coming out for us to sample. I had actually gotten back in line a second time, and finally got a nice taste of "Smokehouse Pork", a barbecue-sauce infused smoked, pulled pork, that just melted in my mouth. Mmmmm. Mmmm.

Here was the schedule:

Thursday, June 19th
8:30pm - Let Them Eat Cake
8:40pm - The Sloppiest Burger in Malaysia
8:45pm - Brooklyn Pizza (screening out of competition)
8:50pm - The Rise of Southern Cheese
9:10pm - Holy Smoke Over Birmingham

Funny Moment: The announcer had mentioned that everyone who wanted a sampling had to actually be in line. So Ileana, who had been securing the table whilst I waited in line for my Porky Pig sandwich, left to join me once I got close to the eats. On the way back, she got very upset.

"Somebody took the cheese!" She furiously yelled.

Apparently, she had left 2 samples of Goat Cheese, thinking they would not be taken. Are you kidding me? This is New York. She could have left two goats, and they would probably be next seen with their heads sticking out of an Escalade zooming down the BQE! Of course, I had to be an ass, because I told her she was needlessly stressing out over stolen free dairy products. I think my exact words were, "You need to stop stressing when somebody moved your cheese"

The films began. My favorite was "The Sloppiest Burger in Malaysia". It consisted of melting a stick of margarine on the grill, and breaking an egg yolk over it. Once it was nice and fried, the guy threw on a hamburger patty on top of that. Cow meets Egg. Then, he squirted a ring of brown sauce around the perimeter of the burger. He called it ketchup. Yah, right. I never seen brown ketchup before. A slice of cheese was thrown on top. After this was done, the chef took the overhang of the fried egg and folded it over the top of the patty, completely covering it. If that wasn't weird enough, he threw some spicy peppers, onions, pickles, and garlic on top of that. This was no longer a hamburger. This was a heart attack.

And speaking of cardiac arrest, it was now 9pm and my belly was bitching. The cheeseburger that was lodged inside my digestive system somewhere had converted (a la 'Transformers') itself into a monster and was reeking havoc around there. And in my subway system as well. Oh no. Yet, unfazed, I was back in line to try the chicken. That's me.

Well, I waited and waited. But the line did not move. I guess the chicken saw what was being played on the big screen and decided to high tail it out of Water Taxi Beach. Perhaps she jumped into the East River. Poultrynasia (suicide for chickens).

After about 15 minutes I see this big guy (who was the MC) furiously walk past me. He was pounding the sand as he walked. He got all the way to the front of the line, walked behind the kitchenette, and without warning starting point at one of the cooks there. I swear what happened next could have been straight out of an episode of Hell's Kitchen, when I tell you that he began to berate this cook. The gutteral growls coming from this dude could be heard from the top floor of the Citicorp building nearby. Wow. I don't think I've remembered seeing such a public flogging since Ms. Schifano when she yanked me out of an 8th grade desk by my tie, virtually dragging me across to the other class where Mr. Moks was, yelling that she did "not want me in her class anymore!" But that's a long story.

Anyway, I really felt for this bro. He took his apron off, but his backpack on, and sheepishly, with head down, walked past us. He looked baffled and like he was ready to cry. Between "Belly Disruptus" and "Hollerin' Chef Gordon", I knew it was time to pack it in. Besides how many different ways can you view the process by which goats made cheese anyway, right?

As we made our way to the exit, I snapped off this picture of the restrooms. Classy isn't it? LOL.

Actually, I am very jealous. Their port-o-sans are much larger than ours at the races.

Overall, I will say that I had a good time. If you are looking for formal service, older crowds, and a distinguished atmosphere, this is not the place. Other than that, it's zany and full of youngbloods and a great way to inject some bizarre fun.


Laura said...

That sounds kind of chaotic, but cool - wish I had been in town for it!

Josh said...

Looks like tons of fun (except the undercooked burger...)!

Josh said...

PS - nice to "meet" a local runner/blogger.