By AnnMarie Mattila & Meryle Evans
On Saturday, October 12th, the Goldbelly Sweets ‘n Beats event kicked off late night fun full of sugar, songs and socializing. It was hosted by Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro and Joe Ariel, the founder of Goldbelly, and featured a live DJ playing a variety of classic and current pop hits. Over 20 different food and drink stations enticed the enthusiastic crowd to taste some of the best sweets of the New York area and wash them down with beverages such as Mionetto prosecco, Acqua Panna water and Cardenal Mendoza brandy cocktails. Treat highlights included New York institutions like Lady M and their exquisite crepe cakes, William Greenburg’s iconic black & white cookies, as well as newcomers on the scene like Zola Bakes, who offered their twist on rainbow cookies using Nutella. Naturally, the longest line was for Buddy’s own Carlo’s Bakery from Hoboken, which featured an impressive array of sweets including various cakes, rice crispy treats and his own more traditional rainbow cookies. Cream puffs were another popular dessert for the evening. Recolte Bakery noted their cream choux were the fastest moving item they brought to the event, and across the venue, Ceci Cela Patisserie was touting their own profiteroles filled with pear william cream. Even for those unable to attend the fun night will be happy to note that many of the treats sampled are available anytime through Goldbelly, who partners with local shops to ship their products all over the United States. Carlo’s Bakery has been partnering with them for just over a year according to Valastro and he notes that’s it’s been “awesome” to “bring a taste of Hoboken” to places all over the country that normally wouldn’t have access to their products.
Along with the help of social media influencer Jessica Hirsh of Cheat Day Eats, Ariel and Valastro crowned Arnold Wilkerson and Little Pie Company the winners of the night for best sweet, a seasonally appropriate sour cream apple walnut pie. The real winners though were the charities supported by the New York City Wine and Food Festival, which has raised 12.5 million dollars to date for various organizations over the years. This year, the NYCWFF supported both Food Bank for New York City and No Kid Hungry, an organization that focuses on closing the hunger gap for children by providing breakfast, afterschool and summer meals. For the Cake Boss, feeding those in need is personal. Valastro recalls being raised in a house where giving what they received was an important life lesson. “Every single day Carlo’s Bakery, starting with my father, any extra things we had, we brought to Hoboken shelter. Every single day. So, this is near and dear to my heart. It’s the way I live my life and when I got asked to be a part of it, it’s wasn’t even a question,” referring to participating in the festival.
Charm City Cakes’ Duff Goldman, equally devoted to giving back to the community, carried the NYCWFF torch on Sunday morning, hosting the popular Family Ice Cream Fun-dae presented by Loacker. “There’s a lot of good ice cream here” Goldman declared, a modest assessment of the vivid array of frozen delights offered by 16 top notch purveyors to hundreds of eager attendees of all ages. Trend-setting flavors and techniques vied with traditional fare, like banana and salted caramel from locally based UES Ice Cream Shop and Davey’s classic hot fudge sundae. More elaborate toppings ranged from Eggloo’s cone filled waffles and toasted marshmallows to the cloud of blue cotton candy ice cream, also with marshmallows, at A La Mode. The latter’s mantra “nut-free, sesame-free, egg-free, all natural” channels the current enthusiasm among artisanal ice cream entrepreneurs for lighter, healthier options, many focusing on fruit and vegetable flavors.
Yum Actually, showcased butternut squash with butterscotch, caramel sweet potato, and mango, while Llama Ice Cream, headquartered in East Stroudsburg, PA, whose owner, Julio Amenero, is Peruvian, brought sub-tropical passion fruit and Andean lucuma, naturally sweet with a taste that resembles a blend of caramel and sweet potatoes. Milk Sugar Love, based in New Jersey also opted for a Latin theme, mini-cones swirled with alfajores, a favorite South American cookie filled with dulce de leche and rolled in coconut. Demonstrating the latest crowd-pleasing techniques, Minus 10’s rolled ice cream was topped with strawberries and a graham cracker, while Bonsai Kakigori’s shaved ice with caramel corn anticipated Halloween. Lorenzo Franchetti, of Lollino Espresso Bar & Gelateria, rolled over his stunning cart from nearby Chelsea to scoop vegan hazelnut and the rosy new ruby chocolate recently created by Barry Callebaut.