It was a spread that food lovers usually only dream of.From tacos to chicken tikka masala to steaming chowder, the array of food at the annual A Taste of Fifth simultaneously tantalized and satisfied the huge crowd that descended on Grand Prospect Hall, just off Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, on the evening of Wednesday, April 9. In total, 40 of the approximately 150 restaurants in the mile and a half long portion of Fifth Avenue that comprises the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District were on hand dishing up their characteristic dishes to the appreciative crowd.Across the venue, foodies could be seen juggling numerous dishes as they nibbled a bit of this and a soupçon of that from classic comfort food with a twist to ethnic specialties to fusion cuisine, Brooklyn style.The plates were small but the flavors were big.The pulled barbecued pulled pork from Bonnies Grill was piled on a soft roll, hot and sweet and meltingly good.The Quinoa Salad from Coco Roco Peruvian Restaurant was light and zesty, thanks to the addition of mint, garlic and tomato chunks.The Monro had a selection of savory pies, little soft pillows of filling (chicken and mushrooms in one, cheese and onion in another, steak and kidneys in a third) nestled in a crispy, light crustall intended to be washed down by one of the watering holes brews (Strongbow is one they served up for attendees).One standout was the Mushroom Mac and Cheese from Chip Shop, which was dense, rich and filling with a slightly smoky flavor.Another was Stracciatella, house-made soft cheese from Al Di La that was intensely buttery and creamy, thickly spread on an oval of crisp toasted Italian bread and garnished with a single grilled cherry tomato.Also amazing were the Arepas little corn pancakes from Bogota Latin Bistro. We sampled one piled high with kale, black beans, corn, pico de gallo and feta cheese and were wowed by the flavor combination, and the contrast between the raw salad and the crispy arepa.Steaming hot and intensely satisfying, the scrumptious Garlic Cheese Grits from the Backyard were quintessential comfort food, with a kick, thanks to the inclusion of a dash of jalapeño.Also outstanding were the Potato and Seitan Empanadas from V Spot, which stands out as a vegan Latino restaurant the only one in the borough, as a matter of fact. These were so flavorful that even the most devoted carnivore wouldnt miss the meat, especially topped with the eaterys spicy salsa.Then there were the desserts , which ranged from White Truffle Gelato from LAlbero Dei Gelati sweet and savory at once to mini cupcakes topped with micro cupcakes nestled in a froth of icing from Blue Sky Bakery.The event had a sweet ending, too, for the 14 local charities sharing in a portion of the proceeds. BID Director Mark Caserta said that over $13,000 in total had been raised for the schools, arts and advocacy organizations chosen as recipients, at what he called the strips annual spring coming-out party, and which, this year, sold out before the doors opened.
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