View of Manhattan from LIC's Water Taxi Beach

View of Manhattan from LIC's Water Taxi Beach

Yesterday the Fourth Annual NYC Food Film Festival came to a close, having kicked off on Wednesday, June 23rd and providing five full days of various events and films – all relating to food, from the normal to the extreme. The first event I attended of the festival was titled Edible Aventure #001: Smokes, Ears, & Ice Cream. I’ll admit, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect at the event, aside from the run down of the films which they would be showing and I assumed that they would have food to purchase which would line up to the title of the event. I ended up at least being partially correct!

The event was at Water Taxi Beach. When we arrived in, we expected to see vendors set up around the space selling the food, but that wasn’t the case. There was a line for hot dogs ($3, the only real food for sale) and there were bar areas set up, but no food vendors. Instead, the food was distributed around the venue via volunteers, meaning it was better for you to have staked claim to a seat at the tables (something we hadn’t done). The volunteers were great, but the method for distribution seemed a little less than ideal, meaning the crowd would rush over and mob them wherever they happened to walk – defeating what I’m assuming was the intended purpose: allowing the attendees to focus on enjoying the films.

Anyhow, the films were fabulous. One of my favorites of the evening was “Smokes & Ears” (directed by Joe York) which told the story of Big Apple Inn in Jackson, Mississippi – also known more commonly locally as “Big John’s”. They’re located on Jackson’s Farish Street, a location one blog explains as having “reached its peak as a ‘Bourbon Street-esque popular nightspot’ in the 60s and 70s” – now Big Apple Inn is one of the remaining establishments, still selling their smokes & ears. I went to school about an hour and a half from Jackson, so I found the piece especially interesting, as well as the food which accompanied…

Pig Ear Sandwich - Courtesy of Jackson's Big Apple Inn

Pig Ear Sandwich - Courtesy of Jackson's Big Apple Inn

Shortly after the film concluded, the volunteers came out with trays containing two items. One batch was the smokes served by Big Apple Inn. The other batch was the ears. Hmmmm. I’ve been since teased by people saying I must have eaten ears before. As a matter of fact, I have not… ’til Friday. Let’s say it’s not on my must-order-again-ASAP list. Definitely not a fan. But after seeing the film, and learning the owner shown in the film had carried the ears with him on the flight up from MS to be there in person, it seemed an appropriate time to try it. Heck, Anthony Bourdain would have downed it. It was chewier than I’d like – in fact (perhaps eating TMI) it was entirely too obvious to me that my teeth were grinding on cartiledge. The smokes, however, were unreal. We sought out more of those to try after our initial helping came around. It was ground up pork (sort of the consistency of ground hamburger meat) which had been seasoned along with some cabbage on top and placed on a simple roll. That doesn’t do it justice. It was just amazing. Highly recommend trying in the event that you’re in Jackson, MS. If you’re curious about the film, it’s actually up online on Vimeo and you can see it here.

The other film I really enjoyed was “Fatty ‘Cue: Smoking Fat Heritage Breeds for the Barbie” (directed by Liza de Guia), which focused on the cooking techniques used at Williamsburg’s Fatty ‘Cue. We had the opportunity to try samples of one of their bacon items and it was absolutely unreal. I’d be lying if I did not admit that I was a little more into the film before it even started due to the wonderful flavor I still had in my mouth. The film was extremely detailed and showed their cooking process and explained that they use as many sustainable food items as possible. It was reasonably short (only 6 minutes) but the director effectively captured the essence of the restaurant and the character of the people behind it. I’ve already got a date on my calendar to finally try it out, along with some friends I met at the festival.

Other amazing items from the event were the ice cream, provided by Max & Mina’s – an inventive ice cream parlour located in Flushing. We had the chance to try all sorts of unique flavors, from cabernet to spicy peanut to corn. Kris Brearton’s piece titled “Bruce Becker: Ice Cream Picasso” showed the process behind this and the store to accompany the fabulous ice cream in which we were indulging. Definitely worth a trip out to Flushing!

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