Fete Paradiso

The carnival has come to town!

This summer, French company Fete Paradiso, has made its American debut at Governor’s Island; bringing vintage 19th and early 20th century carnival rides, games and carousels to one of New York City’s prettiest spots.

Set in amongst the old yellow houses of Nolan Park, I imagine it’s a nice little surprise if you don’t know it’s there. The distant sounds of bells, horns, and children’s laughter draws you closer until you spy hints of *something* between the trees.

The rides and attractions have been beautifully restored and maintained. The detail on some of the pieces is remarkable.

French accordion music, interrupted every so often with cuts from the Amelie soundtrack, pumped in through the speakers adds a great touch to the atmosphere.

By far my favourite thing was this bicycle carousel, the “Velocipede”, one of only two in the world. You actually have to pedal to get the carousel going. And then they make you go backwards! Considering how much work you have to put in to it, it was great fun.

And this we just couldn’t resist, because what’s a day without a little treat? Though I think I can happily go another ten years or so without having another bite of candy floss.

My only complaint? The food! There was just one vendor and they were serving things like croque monsieur and burgers. Where are the cone crepes I can get on every street corner in Paris? Caramel popcorn? What about hot dogs in baguettes with spicy French mustard? Next year, maybe next year…

Eats: Pig Island 2012

When some friends asked me if I wanted to go to a barbecue and eat pork all day, I didn’t need to think even for a second. For the past couple of years, for one day only, Governor’s Island has been transforming in to Pig Island.

So on Saturday September 1st we hopped on the ferry and headed over to see what 25 of New York’s best chefs could do with more than 80 whole pigs. They did not disappoint.

Peaceful and not all that crowded. The event was sold out but the space never felt too cramped, nor were any of the lines unbearably long.

These guys are from Mosefund and cooked up some of my favourite dishes of the day using Mangalitsa pork, a special breed that originated in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Here they’re grilling up Thai pork skewers with green onions. The onions were a great addition and reminded me a lot of calcotada.

This is their BBQ Mangalitsa collar with grilled peaches, pickled cabbage and Carolina sauce. The collar is smoky, and comparable to bacon in some ways. The meat was moist, with just enough fat and the sweet and sour of the salad was the perfect accompaniment.

See how charred the skin gets, the meat is beautifully tender inside.

Head cheese on black bread with homemade mustard and pickled onions from Waterfront Ale House.

Spicy Korean roasted pork bun with plum sauce, pickled peaches and cucumber from Delicatessen. Another favourite. The ratio of bun to filling was just right and those little crunchy bits sprinkled on the top – amazing!

Pate and a honey butter biscuit from Joe Doe’s.

After all that food (there is a LOT that I didn’t photograph, some things just get eaten before you think to snap a pic) we decided to take a little walk around and make room for round two.

Governor’s Island was most recently a Coast Guard installation and before that an Army post. There are lots of interesting old administrative buildings and former barracks, like the ones pictured below.

I think we managed to burn off all of twenty calories before heading back around for some more hogs.

Whole pig wiener with roasted tomato ketchup and spicy cucumber relish from The Darby.

Ovelia Psistaria brought Greek-style pulled pork on pita as well as homemade sausage.

Edi and The Wolf’s grilled pork belly with arugula, peach and rye bread-mustard vinaigrette. This was a highlight for me.

Casa Mono – Pork, smoked maple banana sauce, fried plantain and sherry lime vinaigrette.

Tacos al Pastor from Hecho en Dumbo. Slow grilled chile marinated pork served with caramelized pineapple on handmade corn tortillas.

As you can see we were lucky to have gorgeous weather and were able to stay until the last ferry out. I’ll definitely be heading back next year for the next Pig Island, but Governor’s Island is a great place to go for the day even without all the bbq.