Though I’m sad that this past weekend was my last weekend in New York, I was thrilled that I got to say farewell by participating in one of my favorite neighborhood events: the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival. I stumbled upon it accidentally last year and had a great time. This year, I was so busy on Saturday tying up loose ends for my move and getting ready to head out to a bachelorette party that I thought that I had missed the festival. However, on my way home from church on Sunday, the cab driver informed me that we would have to take an alternate route because Ninth Avenue was closed again. Could it be that the festival was actually two days long? Could it be that I still had a chance to get in on the goodness? As it turns out, yes. Obviously, as soon as I got home, I grabbed my sunglasses, camera, and extra cash and jumped into the fray.
While this is a “food” festival, there is so much more than just food available. In fact, my first stops at the festival were various jewelry booths where I tried on, and ended up buying, some beautiful pieces. (My favorites were the earrings that I got from the KTCollection booth–I bought a lot of stuff there, so I’m glad that they took credit cards!) There were also booths for sunglasses, plants, prints, bed sheets, clothes, bags, and every other kind of tchotchke that you could possibly imagine. In addition, there were instrumental and vocal musicians (not to mention the music blaring from the speakers of several booths and restaurants) as well as a family pavilion with games to keep kids entertained. The festival definitely offered something for every member of the community.
That being said. there IS a reason that this is called a “food” festival–there was a ton of it. Barbecue and arepas seemed to be the most represented, but there was also paella, biryani, gyros, blooming onions, cotton candy, seafood, corn on the cob–the list goes on and on. Because there was so much, I tried to be strategic in my food purchases. As I walked along, I sampled for the first time Kyotofu‘s molten chocolate cupcake, which was voted best in the city. As you might imagine, the cupcake was fantastic! Plus, the workers at the booth were incredibly friendly–double bonus. (**NYC visitors, please take note. If you want a good cupcake, Kyotofu is a great bet. Also wonderful is Baked by Melissa, whose mini-cupcakes have a special place in my heart. For the love of all that is good and holy, though, PLEASE do not go to Magnolia Bakery. I don’t care what you saw on Sex and the City, those cupcakes are not good, and they should NOT represent the NYC cupcake experience. Seriously. Don’t do it. Please.)
As I continued to stroll in the hot sun, I got a hankering for something cool and refreshing. As tempting as the offers seemed, I decided to pass on the various alcoholic beverages for sale. I wanted to stay focused, and, besides, I wouldn’t be able to walk around with my alcohol in hand, and I didn’t want to sit down until I finished. Fortunately, there were a couple of smoothie stands, so I was able to get my fix by getting a generously-sized watermelon smoothie. Yeah, yummy taste of summer!
After walking up and down the 15-block street fair twice, I settled on the booth from which I would buy my entrée: The Delta Grill. I had spied it early in my wanderings, but I wanted to check out my other options first. Finally, though, the food on offer and the overwhelming crowds at the booth convinced me that this would be the best choice. By the time I got back there, the line had fortunately settled down a bit, so I didn’t have to wait very long. I decided to try something completely new and go for the crawfish bowl. The dish was intimidating, so I decided to take it home and eat there. After consulting the Internet to find out the best way to eat crawfish, I got down to business. Let me just say, crawfish+wine=a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Ahhhh.
All in all, my time at the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival was a great way to spend my last weekend in my neighborhood. Want to see more pictures? Check out the slideshow above!