Taste of Tennis
'A Taste of Tennis', hosted by tennis legend Serena Williams, describes itself as the world's premier food and tennis experience.
The bold promise exceeded expectations last Thursday, and hundreds of New York residents and out-of-town visitors, who flooded the big apple for the US Open, were seduced by the signature gastronomic creations from 25 top chefs and restaurants in New York City.
This annual event took place at the W Hotel on Lexington Avenue in midtown Manhattan, and apart from being a who's who listing from the gastronomic world, it was also a style barometer of what's hot and fashionable on the city's centre courts for food and beverage. With a limited number of tickets available, A-listers and foodies put up no resistance to paying a pretty penny to be fed by a collection of some of New York's most remarkable chefs.
This year, assorted watermelon delicacies that were all the rage last year disappeared from the menu. Seafood made a big comeback, replacing last year's many creations with steaks, pork bellies, and red meat products. This year, ceviches reigned supreme.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Grace Foods scored a big win at the event by partnering with Harlem-based Jamaican chef Samantha Davis, who served up a Peppa Shrimp Ceviche over Plantain Mash. The crowd loved it! Former number-one ranked women's singles champion Jelena Jankovik was the pied piper who led the way to the Grace Foods booth, and hundreds followed. The dish is, of course, inspired by the Middle Quarters shrimp sellers in St Elizabeth, Jamaica.
Local brands present
Jamaica's positioning at the event was also perfect. The JTB and Grace Foods were joined by Secrets Resort & Spa doing giveaways of Jamaican vacations and Appleton Rums, offering a delicious mai tai, creating a powerful Jamaica presence near the entrance to the three-hour party.
The island's impact was further enhanced by huge panel displays of fresh and vibrant images from Jamaica and talk of sprint legend Usain Bolt's recent feats in Beijing was almost as juicy and delicious as the food that patrons came out to worship.
Some of the other superlative culinary creations were Jerked Chicken Meatballs with Mango Chutney from Daniel Holzman and the Meatball Shop; Warm Crab Crostini with Corn, Coriander and Saffron Aoili from Jimmy Bradley and the Red Cat; Asian Spiced Lamb loin with Peperonata Tangy Pepper Oil from The Four Seasons; and Tuna Tartare Spring Rolls with Crispy Shallot and Ponzu from Brian Ray at Buddakan. A variety of French wines, led by Mouton Cadet, vodkas from Russia; raspberry and thyme gin and tonic; a new and utterly delicious HKB whiskey cocktail from China; and the Secrets Breathless Sunscape featuring Appleton Rums completed the beverage temptations.