Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood returns

Guests at Taste of Gramercy

Guests at the Taste of Gramercy (Photos by Maya Rader)

By Maya Rader

On Saturday, September 24, about 400 people gathered on Irving Place between 17th and 18th Street for the Taste of Gramercy food festival. There were 22 vendors, most of them from neighborhood restaurants. Caitlin Azzolini, a worker at a stand for the Italian restaurant Paul & Jimmy’s, said the restaurant has had a stand at the event for the past four years. She said the event is a “really great opportunity to be supportive of the neighborhood.”

The Paul & Jimmy’s stand served homemade meatballs and sauce.

Julie Fox, an attendee of the event, commented, “It’s nice to get samples from all of the places.” Her friend, Jess Panos, continued, “I really liked them all, especially the lobster roll and the truffle gnocchi.”

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3 local organizations holding food festivals as fundraising events

At a previous Harvest in the Square, guests sit outside the tent. (Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

At a previous Harvest in the Square, guests sit outside the tent. (Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

By Sabina Mollot

Supporting neighborhood organizations is about to get very tasty.

This is because three local organizations are holding food tasting events this month bypassing more traditional kinds of fundraising events. The hosts are, respectively, the Union Square Partnership, hosting the 21st annual Harvest in the Square festival on September 22, Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, holding the fourth annual Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood on September 24, and Solar One, holding an Oktoberfest event on September 27.

Details for each event are as follows:

Harvest in the Square benefits its host’s efforts to maintain and beautify Union Square Park as well as fund summer programming. Over 50 local restaurants will participate at this event, held under a giant tent at the park’s North Plaza.

A handful of those include Croque Monsieur, Gramercy Tavern, Ngam, Rosa Mexicano, Strip House, Flats Fix, Black Barn, The Pavilion, The Poke Spot, Union Fare and Hill Country Chicken. There will also be tastings from a dozen regional wineries.

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GNA holds annual community exhibit at Arts Club

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By Sabina Mollot

The Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, which curates an exhibit at the National Arts Club each year featuring works by local artists, said that this year’s was the biggest show yet with around 100 works on display. This year’s show will also be the longest, having kicked off on March 15 and running through March 25 in three out of five of the club’s gallery spaces.

Sixty-six artists and photographers participated this year, mostly from Gramercy and Stuyvesant Town. (Full disclosure: One participant was the person writing this.)

On the night of the opening reception for the show on March 17, Alan Krevis, president of the GNA, figured there were about 300 people in attendance, as he peered over the sea of heads. This is normal for the GNA’s art openings.

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Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood returns

Staff with Florian, a participating restaurant; Beth Tominello from the Fireman’s Hospitality Group, the restaurant’s parent company; James King, general manager; Brando D’Oliveira, executive chef and Emil Holzwarth, cook, serving the restaurant’s Sunday meatballs (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Staff with Florian, a participating restaurant; Beth Tuminello from the Fireman’s Hospitality Group, the restaurant’s parent company; James King, general manager; Brando De Oliveira, executive chef and Emil Holzwarth, cook, serving the restaurant’s Sunday meatballs (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, the annual food tasting festival and fundraiser, took place under a sunny sky on Irving Place.

This year, 20 restaurants participated and the event’s organizer, the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, sold 325 tickets. GNA President Alan Krevis said it was the best year so far — this was the third time the event was held — though he declined to share how much money the event raised. Net proceeds will be going to two neighborhood schools, PS 40 and School of the Future.

Meanwhile, the crowd of mostly neighborhood residents sampled dishes like rabbit meatball sliders from Ichabod’s, lobster rolls from Burger & Lobster, house cured Tasmanian sea trout from Barbounia and yellow tomato gazpacho from Adalya.

At the event was Claude and Shelley Winfield, residents of East Midtown Plaza, who said they’re regulars at many Gramercy restaurants, like Ponty Bistro and Casa Mono, and always on the lookout for new ones to try.

“Shelley and I try to support the neighborhood restaurants, otherwise you lose them,” said Claude, also the second vice chair of Community Board 6.

“If you use places in your area, all your streets are lit,” added Shelley. “A lot of people don’t know that.”

At TOGN for the first time was another couple who live in a building on the block where the event was taking place, between 17th and 18th Streets.

After sitting down at one of the streetside tables, both Liz and Mark Mindlin said they were impressed with all the options.

“The food is delicious so far,” said Liz, who added that while they often go to restaurants in the neighborhood, the event was the first time they’d heard of The Stand, a nearby comedy club and restaurant. “The food was very good,” she added.

A few of this year’s participating eateries also said the festival has been helpful in getting the word out about their businesses.

A returning restaurant was Ichabod’s, where Courtney Oakley, the director of events, said the event sometimes attracts foodies visiting from out of town (the W Hotel is nearby) as well as people from other neighborhoods.

She added, “This is something Brooklyn has always done very well, different festivals with great food. It’s wonderful that we’re having more of them in Manhattan.”

Greg Azzollini, one of the owners at the family-run Paul & Jimmy’s, agreed. “Just a few minutes ago I met someone who said he’d been in the neighborhood for 10 years and never tried us and now they’re going to come for dinner,” he added. “Plus it’s a nice way to meet other restaurant owners.”

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Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood event to return on September 26

Paul & Jimmy’s, pictured at Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood in 2013, is one of 20 participating restaurants this year. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Paul & Jimmy’s, pictured at Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood in 2013, is one of 20 participating restaurants this year. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, an annual food festival/fundraiser organized by the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, is returning this year on September 26.

This is only the third time the event’s been held, but it’s already become a yearly event due to popular demand of both local foodies and neighborhood restaurants.

Ironically, when first presented with the idea for a food festival by a group member, Alan Krevis, president of the GNA, was against it, thinking it would be too big for the organization to pull off.

On the decision to go for it and then keep doing it, Krevis said, “Truthfully the neighbors like it. The restaurants like it. The restaurants would not come back if they didn’t feel it helped their business. And that’s what it’s about. Promoting our local businesses, promoting the GNA and our love of the neighborhood.”

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GNA and friends clean up Augustus St. Gaudens

On May 16, the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates and friends and supporters of PS40 held a Clean and Green event aimed at cleaning up Augustus St. Gaudens, the playground next to PS40 on Second Avenue. Numerous kids from the neighborhood were among the volunteer crew and there was also a caricature artist and balloon artist at the event. Additionally, a Latin music band who’d been busking on the subway played an impromptu concert.

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NAC gets packed for GNA art show

East Midtown Plaza residents Shelley and Claude Winfield stand by Claude’s portraits of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, which were made out of beads.

East Midtown Plaza residents Shelley and Claude Winfield stand by Claude’s portraits of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, which were made out of beads. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday night, the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates kicked off its annual community art show at the National Arts Club, featuring 85 works by nearly as many artists. The art included paintings, drawings, prints and photos as well as some multi-media pieces.

At a reception packed with over 300 people on Tuesday night, GNA President Alan Krevis said he was “thrilled by the turnout and the quality of work is amazing.”

Most of the artists were residents of Stuyvesant Town and Gramercy and many were members of local civic groups.

One artist, Claude Winfield, also a Community Board 6 and Tilden Club member, had created beaded portraits of John Coltrane and Duke Ellington.

Winfield, of East Midtown Plaza, said his beaded works take anywhere from 20-40 days “over a span of time” to create. He uses African seed beads, explaining that various colors have different meanings. “Like a teacher would wear beads that are yellow and green,” he said. Winfield discovered the art form when he worked as head docent at the Museum for African Art and became inspired by a show there.

“Before that I did lithographs,” he said.

Also in attendance was former GNA President Edith Charlton, who said she’d been the one to start the event, although she couldn’t quite remember when. She believes it’s been running for at least 10 years though. She recalled how the club’s president at the time when she pitched the idea, O. Aldon James, was very receptive to it.

“It worked well and they’re even selling pictures now,” said Charlton. “I’m pleased it’s continuing.”

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Crowds head out for Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood

Farm 2 Me

Farm 2 Me at Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, Gramercy residents and foodies got to sample dishes from over 20 local restaurants, which were all participating in the second Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood event.

The outdoor food tasting event and fundraiser for the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates took place along one block on Irving Place with plenty of foot traffic despite some rain later on.

Tickets ranged from $30-$80 in price with the proceeds going to two local schools: PS 40 and School of the Future.

Terry Dougherty, a longtime Gramercy resident, was one of those who’d gotten a ticket.

“It seemed successful last year and it’s something I look forward to,” he said. “I enjoy all kinds of things that promote businesses.”

Another guest was Larry Oberfeld, who lives on the Upper East Side.

“It’s a nice way to sample all the different restaurants in the neighborhood,” said Oberfeld. “It’s a different thing to do when the weather’s nice.”

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Gramercy food tasting festival to return

Paella is served at the Casa Mono table at the 2013 Taste of Gramercy event. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Paella is served at the Casa Mono table at the 2013 Taste of Gramercy event. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, a food festival and fundraiser that debuted last year by the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates (GNA), will soon return for a second helping on Irving Place.

The event, which was attended by over 400 people last year and had 20 restaurants participating, will be held this year on Saturday, September 13 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. This time, there are 22 restaurants that will be offering tastings of their signature dishes, including the new Indian restaurant A Spice Lane and Almayass, a Lebanese restaurant. Also involved for the first time is Farm to Me, an organization that distributes farm products to retailers and consumers. The name, too, is new. Originally, the event was just called Taste of Gramercy.

Like last year, Taste will take up one block, Irving Place between 17th and 18th Streets. How much the event costs depends on how much attendees want to eat. A $30 ticket will buy tastings from six booths. (This is the early bird price through August, though. Tickets go up to $40 in September and $50 on the day of. An $80 ticket on the day of the event entitles an attendee to have a tasting from every restaurant. Proceeds from the event will then go towards expanding the healthy lunch options at two neighborhood schools: PS40 and School of the Future. Any unserved food will be brought to the Bowery Mission.

Alan Krevis, president of the GNA, said he’s hoping that the event will appeal to foodies around the city as well as people living within walking distance. “I think there are already more than just local people,” he said. “What we saw a lot of last year, because it was such a beautiful day, people would just happen to walk by and say, ‘This looks great.’ They were primarily neighborhood people, but we also saw a lot of people staying at the W.”

Gramercy Neighborhood Associates volunteers at last year’s event including Gary Horowitz, GNA President Alan Krevis and Antonella Napolitano

Gramercy Neighborhood Associates volunteers at last year’s event including Gary Horowitz, GNA President Alan Krevis and Antonella Napolitano

The tasting menus have not yet been decided on by the participants, but last year popular dishes included the meatballs, gnocci and eggplant rollatini from Paul & Jimmy’s, tuna tartare cannoli from The Stand and shrimp paella from Casa Mono, all of whom are returning in September. A few other participants are Ichabod’s, Giorgio’s of Gramercy, Ainsworth Park, Jack’s Sliders and Sushi and ExKI NYC. Water will be provided by sponsors Watermelon Water, Fogo and Trader Joe’s and coffee will flow at the 71 Irving stand.

What there won’t be are alcoholic beverages, with GNA board member Ellaine Day explaining the permits were just too difficult to get.

“That’s a nightmare of permits,” she said. “It’s very expensive to sell alcohol.”

“We don’t want to grow too fast,” Krevis added. “That’s why we stayed at the one street level, because we want to keep a handle on it.”

Meanwhile, Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood almost didn’t happen at all. Last year, when a GNA board member first suggested the idea to Krevis, he initially shrugged it off, thinking it would be way too big for a small organization like his to handle. “Honestly, it is a lot of hours for us to put in,” he said, “so we’re just focused on this event right now.”

As a result, another fall event the GNA is known for putting on each year, the Canine Comedy Parade, has been put on hiatus. “It needed a rest,” said Krevis. Instead, the GNA will be organizing an event with Baruch High School and College in October.

For tickets to Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, visit gnaonline.org. 

Events in the community this week

The following community and entertainment events are taking place this week.

Gramercy quality of life forum on July 15

City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez

City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Manhattan Community Board Six and Gramercy Neighborhood Associates are co-hosting a community forum with representatives from NYC agencies, moderated by City Councilmember Rosie Mendez on July 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Agencies will include New York County District Attorney’s office, NYPD’s 13th and 17th Precincts, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Parks Department and Department of Homeless Services.
It will take place in the School of the Future at 127 East 22nd Street between Park Ave and Lexington Avenue. Panelists will address quality of life issues in the Gramercy neighborhood, including homelessness, safety, traffic and sanitation. Residents can submit questions prior to the forum or in written form during the event.
For more information, contact events@gnaonline.org or office@cbsix.org.

 

Lectures, dance lessons, kids’ events at Stuyvesant Square Park

Tango lesson at Stuyvesant Square Park (Photo by Ute Lechmig)

Tango lesson at Stuyvesant Square Park (Photo by Ute Lechmig)

The Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association presents the following upcoming events at Stuyvesant Square Park:
Lunch and Learn events take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wednesday events, from 12:15-1 p.m., are hosted by NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases Horticultural Therapy and Integrative Health Programs. July 16: Mind body movement (meditation), July 23: Herbal tea party.
Thursday events, from 1:15-2 p.m. are hosted by Cornell University Cooperative Extension’s Jannie Wolff. July 24: Health and the uses of herbs.
Chair yoga Tuesdays with Birgit Nagele take place on July 15, 22 and 29 from noon-1 p.m. on the northwest lawn.
Tango Sundays with Esmerelda take place from 6-9 p.m. (beginner lessons at 6 p.m.) at the west fountain.
The NYC Parks Department presents “Play Mobile” on July 15 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
For updates and additional event information, visit spnanyc.org.

Movies on the Oval

Movies on the Oval has returned with a double-feature most Wednesdays through August 13 for ST/PCV residents and their guests. On July 16, 5 p.m. “The Croods,” 7 p.m. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

 

Music Under the Stars

Kaissa

Kaissa

Waterside Plaza’s summer concert series, “Music Under the Stars,” has returned with Wednesday concerts at 7 p.m. each night. There will be a beer and wine bar, with snacks available at the concession stand or hardier fare at the Robbins Nest cafe. Seating is limited on the Plaza. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.
July 16, Kaissa will perform. Hailing from the Republic of Cameroon and its vibrant culture, singer Kaissa has become an unmistakable representative of African music. Rain date is July 17.

 

 

July10 David Hershey Webb 2013

David Hershey-Webb and Friends at Stuyvesant Cove Park last year

David Hershey-Webb and friends will return to Stuyvesant Cove Park to perform original folk, country rock and R&B music on Monday, July 14th at 6:30 p.m. The show is part of the free summer concert series presented by The Stuyvesant Cove Park Association. In the event of rain the performance will take place on Tuesday, July 15.

For even more events going on including outdoor concerts, theater, comedy, kids’ events and more see T&V’s Around & About section.

For free events happening throughout the city, see Cutting Corners.

For local fitness events like free yoga in Union Square and qi gong at Waterside, check out T&V’s Health & Fitness listings.

For the latest programming and special events at local houses of worship, there’s also the Religion in the Community listings.

Hundreds head to Taste of Gramercy

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By Sabina Mollot

Taste of Gramercy, the first food tasting event to be held in the neighborhood on Saturday, was a success, with organizers selling over 400 tickets.

While the nonprofit group that organized it, Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, wasn’t yet sure how much had been raised, since some tickets were $30 while others were $40 depending on if they were bought early or not, the event’s turnout exceeded expectations.

“People seemed to like that everything benefits local schools,” said GNA member Gary Horowitz.

Money raised from tickets will go to two local schools, PS 40 and School of the Future.

For the price of a ticket, guests got to try five tasting plates of food from any of the 20 participating restaurants, with the event held street fair style under an open sky. Anyone could walk into the blocked off area, which was on one block on Irving Place, though to try the foods, guests had to have a ticket.

Some of the culinary offerings included tuna tartare cannolis from The Stand, compressed apple with smoked tomato from Gramercy Tavern, paella with shrimp from Casa Mono, oyster shooters in a chilled coconut ginger soup from City Crab and raw macaroons and other desserts from Pure Food & Wine. Paul & Jimmy’s was a popular stop with guests getting their plates loaded up with helpings of meatballs, gnocci and eggplant rollatini.

The event was coordinated with the company PTG, which has also organized events like Taste of Sutton and Taste of Tribeca.

“I just love this one. This is cute,” said Jackie Palmer of PTG about Taste of Gramercy. “For their first year, it looks great and we’re already talking about next year.”

The vendors also seemed happy with the event, which they donated their food to.

Adele Carollo, general manager at The Stand, a comedy club and restaurant on Third Avenue, said the event was a good opportunity to showcase the club’s menu, since most people don’t think of comedy clubs when considering where to go eat.

“Most comedy clubs have a really bad reputation for food,” said Carollo, adding that at The Stand, a focus has always been the menu as well as the entertainment. “So when we heard about this (event), we were into it.”

Eric Sherman, owner of the new Irving Place restaurant Ichabod’s, said it was a good opportunity to market the business to area residents as well as for the restaurant community to network.

“You create a camaraderie with local businesses. It’s nice to know your neighbor,” he said. Sherman, who became a restaurateur with Ichabod’s, which features an American bistro menu, in February, added, “Your neighborhood is everything. You’ve got to do what your neighborhood calls for. I’m looking forward to doing this next year.”

GNA board member Antonella Napolitano said the only downside to ToG was that a couple of local restaurant owners ended up feeling slighted when they weren’t asked to participate. However, she said this was only because the organization was limited to one block for the event.

“We’re probably going to expand it next year,” she said.

Gramercy Neighborhood Associates holding ‘Taste of Gramercy’ event

Bedford Cheese will be one of the participating businesses at Taste of Gramercy. (Pictured) The store also participated in Tuesday's Harvest in the Square event in Union Square. Photo by Sabina Mollot

Bedford Cheese will be one of the participating businesses at Taste of Gramercy. (Pictured) The store also participated in Tuesday’s Harvest in the Square event in Union Square.
Photo by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

The Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, a group best known for its events such as the annual Canine Comedy Parade and historic preservation awards for beautifully maintained local buildings, will now also hold a food tasting festival.

In the tradition of other local food tasting festivals such as Harvest in the Square and Celebrate Flatiron Chefs, this event, Taste of Gramercy, will showcase dishes by chefs at restaurants in the Gramercy neighborhood. The first of what GNA is hoping will become an annual tradition, set for October 12, will also be a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization, which has a mission of historic preservation, collaborations with local schools and more recently, the promotion of local businesses.

Admittedly one of the group’s more ambitious projects to date, Taste of Gramercy was the idea of new GNA board member Mary Showstark.

Showstark, before joining the organization, had been to similar events such as Taste of Tribeca and then searched for something similar in her own neighborhood, only to find out there was none. After joining the GNA, she pitched the idea, later learning how much detail would have to go into planning it, such as the lengthy process of getting permits from the city.

“There are a lot of things to do, like tests for the Fire Department,” said Showstark.

GNA President Alan Krevis added that when he first heard the suggestion, he almost said no.

“I was a skeptic; I thought it was a lot for us to handle,” said Krevis.

However, the work has seemed to pay off due to the overwhelming interest from local eateries. So far there are around 25, including Gramercy Tavern, Barbounia, Wildwood BBQ, Paul & Jimmy’s, Pure Food & Wine, Ponty Bistro, City Crab, Big Daddy’s Diner and The Stand.

Other businesses such as Bedford Cheese, NYC Bike Share, Seamless, Nate’s Pharmacy, the Bowery Mission, Con Ed and Verizon FiOS have signed on as sponsors.

“It’s going to be fabulous,” said Krevis. “The response has been amazing.” So much though, he added, that some of the sponsors came by word of mouth after talking with other participating businesses. “It shows you the excitement of the merchants,” said Krevis.

Those who order tickets early (before October 10) will pay $30, a steep discount from the $50 admission fee the day of the event.

The day’s menu (though subject to change) will include such fare as an artisanal North African chicken dish from Ponty Bistro, cheese plates with cheeses that are especially ripe during the month of October from Bedford Cheese and meatballs, lasagna, and possibly a veal dish from Paul & Jimmy’s. Restaurant chef Greg Azzollini said he was happy to participate in an event that celebrates Gramercy.

Azzollini noted that when Paul & Jimmy’s opened in 1950, his grandfather worked there. Later his father did as well, and still works in the dining room.

“So we’re proud to be a part of the neighborhood for such a long time,” he said. “Aside from Pete’s Tavern, we’re the oldest establishment in Gramercy Park.”

The event will be held street-fair style, under the open sky with each exhibitor under a small tent and TOG will be held rain or shine.

Gramercy Neighborhood Associates board member Mary Showstark and Alan Krevis, president, in front of Irving Farm Coffee, a participating business in Taste of Gramercy Photo by Sabina Mollot

Gramercy Neighborhood Associates board member Mary Showstark and Alan Krevis, president, in front of Irving Farm Coffee, a participating business in Taste of Gramercy
Photo by Sabina Mollot

A portion of ticket sales will benefit local schools, including PS 40 and School of the Future. Any food that doesn’t get served will be donated to The Bowery Mission, an organization that helps the homeless.

The GNA has, in the past year, held a smaller tasting event, though it was in collaboration with one business, Bedford Cheese on Irving Place. The event was a hit though, attracting over 100 people.

Bedford marketing director Laura Archer said throughout the year the Gramercy location has been open (there’s an older shop in Brooklyn), locals have been extremely welcoming.

“The neighbors have really taken to it as a neighborhood shop,” said Archer. “So we’re really excited to be a part of Taste of Gramercy.”

For more information about GNA or to get tickets for Taste of Gramercy, visit gnaonline.org.