Picture of Zesty Z’s Za’atar spread at a Yelp Elite Event at Brooklyn Foodworks
I recently attended my first Yelp Elite event at Brooklyn Foodworks (630 Flushing Avenue), which is a kitchen incubator that aids and mentors food entrepreneurs in Brooklyn. At the event, I got to sample a bunch of original food that is coming out of Brooklyn. Most of them are only selling via online at this point. The setup of the event was logical. The various entrepreneurs were stationed on tables throughout the space. It was difficult to walk through parts of the floor but it is one way and there was a decent amount of guests. The businesses featured at the event were predominantly sweets and desserts. I have tried a lot of the top dessert spots in New York and throughout my travels to satisfy my sweet tooth so it is very difficult to blow me away with them. Accordingly, I did not sample anything that I consider a must try. It would been better if there was a more diverse lineup of food but I understand it was an event for available up and coming food at Foodworks at the time so they do not really have control of the variety. In a situation where there is so much of the same type of food [In this case, sweets], having seltzer water to cleanse the palette in between samples would help reset the taste buds. Nevertheless, there are definitely some delicious, new, and interesting food coming out of Brooklyn. One of the non-dessert businesses definitely stood out from the rest of the group. Below are my thoughts on what I sampled at the event.
Star of the Event
Zesty Z (https://zesty-z.com/home/)
Without a doubt, the most memorable vendor at the vent for me was Zesty Z. It is introducing its Za’atar spread and condiment to the US market. Za’atar is a very popular item in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The main ingredient is dried thyme, which is in the same herb family as oregano. It is mixed with sesame seeds, dried surmac [a type of fruit], and salt. Zesty Z’s Za’atar spread looked like a black paste. It tastes similar to olive oil and the sesame seeds add a little crunch. It was very good. You can put the spread on anything. I tried it on bread and cheese and it goes well on both. You can put it in or on anything (e.g. salads, sandwiches, etc.). In my opinion, it has a good chance to be a new trend with the health conscience (e.g. kale) crowd. It is vegan, gluten free, and all natural. Not surprisingly, it is sold in one of the local Wholefoods in Brooklyn. From my perspective, it is also an interesting, new thing to put out with a spread at a party to impress your friends.
Interesting, Novel Beverages
1. Sorrel – Crown Jewel Beverages (http://crownjewelbeverages.com/)/ Brooklyn Brewed Sorrel (https://nzingaknight.com/products/brooklyn-brewed-sorrel)
Sorrel is a Caribbean hibiscus drink with an infusion of ginger. It is a good drink if you are looking for something a tad sweet but clean and healthy. It reminded me of Honest tea. With the ginger mixed with the hibiscus, it almost tasted like peppermint. As such, it makes for a great holiday drink. In my opinion, it is really good for sharing at a party. Crown Jewel Beverages and Brooklyn Brewed Sorrel both had very good sorrel. The latter is stronger with a more distinct, powerful ginger taste.
- Metabrew (https://www.themetabrew.com/)
For anyone unfamiliar, bulletproof coffee is a trend. I heard about it last year. It uses a special type of grass fed butter that supposedly enhances weight loss and sharpens the mind. As such, it has been used as a meal substitute for some fitness focused individuals who are looking to lose weight. Metabrew is a similar product that is bottled. It is intended to be used before a workout. In addition to coffee, it I includes coconut based MCT oil, cashews, cacao, and monk fruit. I am very particular about coffee. I only drink specialty coffee and would never drink office coffee or Starbucks. In terms of taste, Metabrew was excellent. It utilizes Single Origin Coffee, which is also used by many of the top coffee shops I have been to. I have no idea if the benefits are real. A bottle of Metabrew is also not cheap. Personally, I think it targets a niche market: the same crowd that goes for fresh and healthy juices but also likes coffee.
- Bija Bhar (https://www.bijabhar.com/)
Bija Bhar works on developing organic and healthy food and beverages. At the event, I tried its Resilience blend. Its description of the blend is an “antioxidant rich, anti-inflammatory turmeric, ginger, and lemon elixir that can be mixed with hot or cold water, smoothies, teas, or even hangover reducing cocktails.” It was a good but not great taste. However, I was more interested in the benefits it claims, which include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. I have an inflamed tendon because I have flat feet. Accordingly, a natural blend, instead of a pill, definitely piqued my interest.
- Keepers Coffee Soda (http://keeperscoffeesoda.com/)
It is a fusion of a citrus juice with roasted coffee. It is the equivalent of one cup of coffee for caffeine. It was not exactly my taste but it was pretty good. It is an intriguing combination for anyone who likes orange juice and coffee.
Honey House (http://www.honeyhousetx.com/)
Honey House is bringing Texas sweets to Brooklyn. It was offering King Cake donuts at the event. King Cake is a French bread dough with sugar on top. It is a popular sweet treat in New Orleans, where a small plastic baby [representing Jesus] is hiding inside the cake. I did not like the first piece I tried because there was too much going on. There was frosting, gummy bears, etc. on top of the King Cake. Sometimes, there can be too many good things in one item. My friend has tried King Cake in New Orleans. He thought Honey House’s version could be better if they just kept it simpler because a King Cake is already awesome. I tried some of the piece he had, which had less going on, and I liked it more than the first piece I ate. I definitely think Honey House has a good chance to succeed in New York but I believe it should bring it into the market with its simplest form first.
Memorable Dessert I Would Try More Of
- The Key Patisserie (https://www.thekeypatisserie.com/)
The best dessert I ate at the event was The Key Patisserie’s signature mousse cake, Lemon Vanilla. The mousse was smooth, fluffy, and sweet. It was exactly how I like it. Their desserts tasted and looked amazing. I definitely want to try more in the future.
- Legally Addictive (http://legallyaddictivefoods.com/)
First, it has a great name. Next, it had the sweets to back up the name. The Peppermint Crunch Crack Cookies and chocolates were excellent. I definitely want to eat more of both.
- Malai (http://www.malai.co/)
Malai had some of the better new ice cream I have tried. I was really impressed that it uses sea salt to amplify the sweetness of the ice cream. Vanilla is a standard benchmark flavor for any ice cream. Malai’s Sea Salt Vanilla was excellent. I also tried the Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almond. It was delicious and had a perfect rosy pink color. I definitely want more Malai Ice Cream.
- A Cake Baked in Brooklyn (http://www.acakebakedinbrooklyn.com/)
I have yet to try a cupcake that blows me away. There were samples of red velvet at the event. The small piece of red velvet was solid. Of course, I need to try a full cupcake to test for moistness throughout and any cream that may be inside. The presentation of all the cupcakes were phenomenal. I meant to go back and buy a banana cream cupcake at the end of my sampling. However, I was completely sweetened out by then. At $2 per cupcake, it has the appropriate price point. I will definitely have to give one of its cupcakes the full test at some point.
- Too Cool Chix (http://toocoolchix.com/)
They offer all natural ice cream sandwiches. They are like the Healthy Choice or Skinny Cow 100 calorie ice cream sandwiches but a little sweeter. They are high quality but I am not sure if they have a competitive price point. I really like the healthy options at the supermarket so I am not sure I would really pay a premium for a similar product.
- Brigadeer Bakery (https://brigadeerbakery.com/)
I tried one of their mini truffles called Brigadeiros. The cheesecake was very good. I definitely want to try the other flavors.
- The Fat Cardinal (http://www.fatcardinalbakery.com/)
It offered samples of their malt cookies and brownie flights at the event. Both were very good. I especially liked the malt cookie. While the cookies were very large, they are $3.50. At that price, it is competing with Insomnia’s specialty cookies and Levain’s amazing cookies. The malt cookie was good but I am not sure it was that good. I would make them smaller and sell them at $1, maybe $2. When I go to a coffee shop, I see a lot of cookies $2 or less. I do not even look at anything more.