Last night Edible Queens celebrated its relaunch with Summerbeat in Sunnyside Gardens Park. The event’s theme “Eat meat, drink beer,” echoed that of the magazine’s summer issue, which includes some great articles about local butchers and brewers as well as my new column, At the Table. It was a very special evening on many levels. For one thing summer has always meant cookouts. Over the years the cookouts in my life have grown in scale from backyard grilling to the smoking of hogs, but the aroma of roasting meat in summer remains as welcome to me as the sight of the first fireflies of July.
I’ve been involved with Edible Queens since it launched in 2009, and am gladdened by its rebirth. Many of the restaurateurs in attendance, notably Tyson Ho of The Arrogant Swine and Josh Bowen of Alchemy, Texas BBQ, have become close personal friends of mine. Moreover Summerbeat was the only place in Queens last night to enjoy whole hog, Greek lamb, Peking duck, soup dumplings, duck sliders, and beef short ribs.
One of the first things I saw when I entered the park was Ovelia’s setup. In true Greek fashion the Astoria eatery was spit roasting a whole lamb. The succulent meat was lovely. The Chinese crew from sister restaurants Canton Gourmet and Nan Xiang Dumpling House also had high praise for the yang rou.
Canton Gourmet, a Hong Kong style restaurant in downtown Flushing was carving succulent laquer-skinned Peking duck. And LIC Market had decadent duck sliders with foie gras butter and cherry mostarda.
Canton Gourmet’s sister restaurant Nan Xiang Dumpling House was making soup dumplings and steaming them on the spot. Their crew of a half dozen men and women accomplished this feat thanks to two portable gas-fired ranges they’d brought along. Plus they had lovely little custard desserts in the shape of peaches.
Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, Big Alice Brewing, and Rockaway Brewing Co. provided the beer to go with all that meat. It’s hard for me to pick a best bite of the evening. So I’m going to call it a tie between Ovelia’s lamb and the Flinstonean short rib bone that Josh Bowen gave me to gnaw on.