After attending Dish du Jour Magazine’s foodie event The Cuisine of Queens and Beyond last Tuesday night. I can say that Queens sure knows how to throw a party. Held at the Astoria Manor, an over-the-top, straight out of a Greek wedding movie, venue on Astoria Boulevard, the event featured restaurants and bakeries from all over the borough sampling their finest eats and drinks.

[The view of the dining room in the Astoria Manor upon entering.]

My guest and I entered the room, filled with cooking smoke and the aroma of grilled lamb, with the ambition to sample at least one thing from every table. From Mexican to Indian, Greek to Italian, and sushi to Spanish, we definitely had our work cut out for us. Wine and beer purveyors were also on hand to offer pairings for our full plates.

[ChickenFlauta from El Coyote]
[Garlic Shrimp from Cafe Ole]
[Vat of carmelized onions for the burgers at 5 Napkin Burger]

My favorite savory dishes were the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pancetta, Onion and Sage from Manetta’s and the Garlic Shrimp from Café Ole Restaurant. As for sweets, I have to go with the entire selection from Lulu’s Bakery. In the drinks category, I was highly surprised to find one of the smoothest beers I’ve ever tasted (and I’m a vino girl usually) at the Innis & Gunn table. Tommy Bahama was also promoting its Ultra Premiums Rums in a drink with orange juice and ground nutmeg on top.

[Me with a chef from Dino's Bar and Restaurant]

[Dessert selection from Lulu's Bakery]

One of the highlights of the event was watching the Five Ingredient Cooking Challenge. The cook off featured Rocco Sacramone of Trattoria L’incontro and Andrea Beaman, a former contestant on Top Chef and a healthy living and eating counselor. A VIP ticket holder was also chosen from the crowd to compete in a half hour competition where the contestants had to use the following five ingredients to great a complete dish: kangaroo, mushrooms, chestnuts, espresso coffee and Asian pears. Merely upon the announcement of those ingredients, I was perplexed, but the chefs managed to whip up some amazing entrees. Ultimately, the judges chose Andrea as the big winner, but the chef chosen from the crowd went home with several gift baskets, free meal coupons and signed cookbooks.

[Guest contestant sets up for the challenge]

[Contestants put finishing touches on their dishes]

[Judges discussing the dishes]

[Awarding the prizes to the winner]

[Me and Andrea Beaman]

Some might say the Manhattan culinary scene can steal the spotlight from ever shining on the other-borough epicurious community, but this event showed me that passion and skill is hard at work in Queens. I’m looking forward to next year’s event already!


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