This past Sunday was the eighth annual Time Out For Hunger event, where over 160 restaurants in New York City participated in giving 10% of their day’s proceeds to the Food Bank For NYC. Presented with Time Out New York, the Food Bank enlisted some of the best restaurants this city has to offer, from Lure Fishbar to the Russian Tea Room, all of the BLT spots and more. I had a hard time choosing, but wound up heading to Boqueria for an amazing brunch with my family. Since I could never snag a table on any prior attempts, just getting a seat was reason enough for celebration.
Boqueria, named after Barcelona’s world famous and spectacular market, claims it offers New Yorkers “the chance to dine as they would in Barcelona’s famed tapas bars without ever leaving town.” I’ve never been to Spain, but if it’s anything like Boqueria in the Flatiron district, sign me up. The vibe is relaxed and communal, with high tables and chairs allowing diners and staff to be at eye-level, which strangely feels like you’re just chit-chatting with a friend while also ordering food. Genius.
There were six of us, and even though the Brunch menu looked amazing, we opted to stick with the tapas y raciones menu so that we could taste (and eat) as much as possible. The first bite to arrive at the table were the bunuelos de bacalao, which are salt-cod fritters with citrus aioli; the fritters were crispy and delicious, and the sauce was put aside on the table for all future dipping. Next up were the dates stuffed with almonds and Valdeon (a type of cheese similar to blue cheese), wrapped in bacon. These were small enough to pop in your mouth and exploded with amazing flavor after crunching through the salty bacon: sweet, savory, it was all there. Other highlights from the meal included the sauteed wild mushrooms with manchego cheese (salteado de setas), chorizo frittatas, and the grilled baby squid (txipirones) with garlic and parsley crispy potatoes.
My favorite pick of the afternoon were the blistered shishito peppers with sea salt (pimientos de padron); blackened to perfection, these little Japanese peppers were unassuming, simple, and fresh. They are typically mild, but a few can sneak in (on our plate, 3) that are very spicy, so we took the liberty to play ‘fiery pepper roulette’ with the table; I lost twice, but really, I won! I left Boqueria pleasantly full and happy, knowing that the amazing meal we just had would be contributing to the programs at the Food Bank.
For every $1 donated to the Food Bank For New York City, 5 meals can be provided to New Yorkers in need. Last year, Time Out For Hunger raised close to 300,000 meals in one day. The final tally hasn’t been completed yet for 2011, but Boqueria alone raised about $1,900- that’s 9,500 meals!
For more information about Time Out for Hunger 2012, visit the Food Bank for NYC website.
Boqueria has two locations- 53 West 19th Street in the Flatiron District, and 171 Spring Street in Soho. To see their menu and contact information, visit their website at www.boquerianyc.com