By Ernest Barteldes
Though the weather forecast was a bit iffy last weekend, things looked nice enough outside our window for us to head to the 9th Avenue International Food Festival, an annual two-day event that takes place on the third weekend in May featuring cuisines from around the globe that Renata and I have enjoyed going to for a few years.
What makes this particular fair interesting is that in addition to the usual fare found in events like these (mozareppas, $ 1.00 Thai food and Italian sausage trucks) you do get a chance to sample some kids of foods that you don’t see every day – for instance, there was a stand that belonged to Bali Nusa Indah, one of the few Indonesian restaurants in Manhattan (I haven’t heard of many more anywhere in town, really), and Brazil was represented by Rice & Beans, a very small restaurant with an energetic kitchen staff that kept bringing out finger foods like coxinha and pastel alongside traditional dishes like feijoada. They also served up a mean caipirinha, offered in lemon or passion fruit flavors.
Our first stop was a stand selling Thai beer for $ 3.00 – I was surprised that the sellers no longer required patrons to consume alcoholic beverages on site, as has been since 2001 in response to the assaults that took place during the Puerto Rican parade the previous year. I spotted a good number of people calmly walking with their brews in hand with no apparent reaction from police officers patrolling the event – I guess that as long as you don’t act like an idiot, the NYPD might be willing to allow folks to have a good time, even though I have seen no official announcements about that.
Across the street was Millie’s Polish food truck, which for the first time had some competition from another larger stand from the same nation. I was sad to see that Delta Grill was really gone (I had read about it somewhere, but only saw it with my own unbelieving eyes as I walked by) , so my tradition of having my alligator sausage with a side of Abita beer will no longer happen. I guess it was another victim of escalating rent prices in the area, which has enjoyed growing popularity in recent years.
Further up the street was a stage where some performances were held – as we walked by, a group of belly dancers was doing individual and group presentations – some of them very good while others left us wondering why they even bothered to get on stage. We stayed for a while watching the dance, and then headed over to a promoted event where several brands were giving away free samples of Mentos, Snyder’s Pretzels and some other goodies.
We left the fair at about 4:30 PM – Renata had something to do and then I decided to stop by a couple of wine tastings in Greenwich Village – a great way to cap what had been a very enjoyable afternoon.