How can you not have fun trying 17 latkes?
I was thrilled to be a judge for the 5th annual latke festival put on my Great Performances. All the proceeds to go the Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm, a garden to table program inspiring children to eat well. I was in a great company of judges: Ben Leventhal (Eater, Kitchensurfing), Amanda Hesser (Food52), Lee Schrager (Food and Wine Festival), Elinor Tatum (New York Amsterdam News), Jonathan LaPook (CBS News), Jason Ackerman (Fresh Direct), Robert Lavalva (New Amsterdam Market), Alan Boss (Metropolitan Pavilion).
This year the venue was at Metropolitan Pavilion which was totally the call. Everyone had to bring their latkes already made because they did not want any cooking and frying on the premises.
I am just going to roll through these latkes...and yes I took a bite of every single one.
Kutshers Tribeca, the big megillah; peking duck, scallion and sesame hoisin latke. Dense latke with good toppings!
Garden Court Cafe at the Asian Society; sweet potato & kimchi latke with soy vinegar dipping sauce and perilla leaves. Very spicy.
Veselka; latke with braised pork and cherry compote
Mile End; butternut squash latke with fresh sage. Delicious.
Commerce; scallion latke with farmers cheese, smoked salmon and caviar. They had actually used a pan to crisp on the premises which was a no-no. Regardless, I loved this classic latke.
The Plaza Hotel; crispy duck fat yukon gold potato latke with hudson valley duck confit & kumquat-pomegranate gelee. Very heavy.
Delicatessen; sweet potato latke slider with ground brisket, roasted apple, black pepper creme fraiche and cranberry chutney. A lot to fit on a latke.
Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola; latke with gulf shrimp, fennel relish and creme fraiche. I liked this but shrimp and latkes just seem a bit sacrilegious
La Vara; latke canaria sweet potato chickpea latkes with taro and cadiz shrimp. Tasty but very delicate.
Blue Hill Yogurt; butternut squash latke with curried butternut yogurt. Light with this nice indian flavoring kick.
Sylvias Table with Great Performances; spaghetti squash latke with whipped feta, sumac and dehydrated olives.
Stone Park Cafe; braised short rib latke with smoked creme fraiche and sour cherry compote
The Vanderbilt; seaweed and potato latke with shellfish and lemon
Benchmark; caraway scented latke; short rib pastrami, truffled sauerkraut, mustard creme
Toloache: yucca latke with salmon pastrami & mojo de ajo salsa. Liked the mexican twist.
The Butterfly; aged beef basted latke with sliced prime rib, caramelized onions, horseradish cream & crispy rosemary
Mae Mae Cafe; potato pancake with maple mascarpone & cranberry bourbon sauce
Dough: not a latke but the most incredible donut. strawberry and passion fruit filled.
The winner? Well it appeared there was a consensus when it came to Commerce but they had a frying pan that was crisping the latkes which was not allowed so we had to take them out of the picture. The winner was Mae Mae Cafe with the savory/sweet combo. My other two faves were definitely Stone Barns Yogurt and Mile End.
Until next year...