This Week’s NY Happenings: Taste Of The LES, Maison Premiere, Greenpoint Brunchtacular

THURSDAY: Taste Of The Lower East Side
As benefits with bites go, it’s hard to beat the Taste of the Lower East Side for both breadth and depth. Fifty top neighborhood joints will come together at 82MERCER for an all-you-can-eat extravaganza. Newer hands like Pig and Khao, Jeepney, and The Leadbelly rub shoulders with established pros like Alias and wd-50. There’s craft beer and wine to wash it down, and a danceable soundtrack from DJ AndrewAndrew. A silent auction will tempt you too, with everything from SoulCycle classes to a Rao’s reservation, all to benefit the Grand St. Settlement.

Taste of the Lower East Side starts at 7pm on Thursday, April 25th, at 82MERCER (82 Mercer St., Soho). General admission tickets are $195 ($125 is tax-deductible). To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

NOW: One More Trafalgar Julep
Spring has sprung at Williamsburg’s Maison Premiere. A new chef (Lisa Giffen, late of Daniel and Blue Hill) plies the kitchen, and the spring cocktail menu has been unveiled. Enjoy a full lineup of refreshing juleps like the Trafalgar (gin, sherry, crème de menthe, and lemon).

Spring cocktail menu now available at Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg). To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SATURDAY: Honeyed Brunch
To raise money for Sandy recovery, Greenpoint’s t.b.d. is hosting an epic brunch in the yard this Saturday. Neighbors as diverse as Anella, Action Burger, and Selamat Pagi will lay out a spread, accompanied by that most indispensible of brunch items—bottomless mimosas.

Rally Downtown’s Greenpoint Brunchtacular starts at noon on Saturday, April 27th, at t.b.d. (224 Franklin St., Greenpoint). Tickets are $30, or $50 for two. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

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Pig and Khao Launches Brunch: The Hit Dishes

It all started with the chocolate & bacon rice pudding at Pig and Khao: a multi-layered Filipino treat of sticky rice, coconut milk, whole milk, and chocolate, topped with bacon bits. One rice and pork-filled scoop, and I vowed to never let a silly thing like “healthfulness” or “but I’m going out later”  be a concern on the weekends. Why? Because the Thai and Filipino spot Pig and Khao has just launched their weekend brunch, and with a name that translates to “mountains of rice and pig” in Thai, there’s just no time for any thought besides "bring on the bacon."

About Pig and Khao; every forkful at this Lower East Side spot has been crafted by Top Chef contestant Leah Cohen, and everything else – from the décor to the management – is under the care of Fatty Crew Hospitality, the same group behind NY’s Fatty ‘Cue and Fatty Crab. You’re in good hands.

And good hands yield happy bellies at Pig and Khao, where the brunch menu includes hit dishes like a sizzling platter of braised pork head (pictured) with garlic and a just-cracked egg; corned beef hash with raw egg, Thai chili, and cilantro; and the king of the crop – a pan-seared French toast-inspired bread pudding (below) with caramelized bananas baked inside, topped with caramelized plantains and coconut whipped cream.  

And mimosas are bottomless. At $15, you get nonstop, express-delivered glasses of fresh lychee, mango, orange, and watermelon mimosa. And when you couple two hours of those drinks with the sobering effects of pork head and yellow curry noodles, you too can walk out of Pig and Khao a new person, ready to take on the day. Godspeed.

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Pig and Khao

Pork, Pork, Women, and Pork at Cochon 555

The only thing that makes pork better is when you can get a sustainably raised, heritage bred pig, which is exactly what Brady Lowe, founder of Cochon 555, thinks. “Buying into heritage pork is synonymous with putting your money directly into the farmer’s pocket and creating a diversified landscape of flavor for the future, and that feels good to me,” he said. “The best part, heritage pork is not super expensive, it just takes time to find a local farmer, butcher shop or restaurant buying from these farms.”

Cochon 555 takes place on February 10th at Chelsea Piers, and there, you can see chefs showing off their skills at taking down a whole pig, and preparing a menu of pork-centric dishes for the audience. This is the fifth year they are doing it, but this time, the butcher block is made entirely of women, including Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter, Elizabeth Falkner from Krescendo, Leah Cohen of Pig and Khao, Shanna Pacifico of Back Forty West, and A Voce’s Missy Robbins.

“Five years ago it was hard to find five chefs taking in whole animals, or would stand behind their teams while they prepare a whole pig in competition for their peers,” said Lowe. “Now, look how far we’ve come, in one of the best culinary food cities in the world, an all-female cast can stand behind family farms, with their teams and turn out 36 amazing dishes of heritage pig for a good cause.”

Lowe dubbed the event 555 for, five chefs, five pigs, and five winemakers, which this year showcases Scholium Project, Elk Cove Vineyards, Greg Linn Wines, Turley Wine Cellars, and Buty Winery. Also, in honor of their fifth year anniversary, they are adding five bourbons to the list including Templeton Rye, Breckenridge Bourbon, High West, Four Roses, and my favorite, Buffalo Trace. In between sips, watch a butchering demonstration by Sara Bigelow from the Meat Hook, sample artisan cheese at the cheese bar, or root for your favorite bartender at their inaugural Punch Kings competition.

Of course, the focus is the pig, and bringing awareness the heritage breeds, of which there are about 30 (Lowe’s favorite is the Large Black), and this is just one of the 10 cities Lowe brings his snout-to-tail event to. “My goal is to provide choices to chefs and to diversify the pig landscape so life is more interesting for those of us who care,” said Lowe. “It’s important to let family farms know that we care about the choice to buy a better, more flavorful product, even if cost is higher.”

Seven New York Restaurants Where Western Chefs Make Eastern Food

White folk can’t dance or jump, but they’re hard to beat when it comes to cultural appropriation. To the list of stuff white people like to do, you can add cooking Asian food. New York’s preference for authenticity once made it a rarity for western chefs to take on eastern cuisine, but more and more big names are trying their hand at the canon. It’s not just about obsessing over Thai food, either. New York palates are expanding, with Balinese, Yunnan, and Filipino flavors now in the mix. To see where the city’s top chefs are rocking the wok, click on over to our latest Top List and check out the city’s best western chef/eastern taste mashups.