After a successful run in LA, The Infatuation decided to bring Eaaaatscon to NYC…and I am SO glad they did.
Eaaaatscon is essentially a food festival that brings all the best Infatuation-vetted restaurants to one place. Tickets cost about $40, which seemed well worth it. True, you have to pay for all the food at the festival itself but 1) we bought the tickets months ago so by the time Eeeeeatscon rolled around it was outta sight outta mind 2) the food there was reasonably priced so it still felt like a deal and 3) there were several fun activations there that cost no money.
Overall, I thought they did a phenomenal job with this festival. Forest Hills Stadium seemed to be the perfect spot and, logistically, they were on point. Several of the vendors had massive lines but somehow everything seemed to flow really well and I never felt cramped or jostled around in the slightest. It was a sold out crowd but they made great use of the space, utilizing the tennis courts in the front, the stage are, the perimeter, and tons of nooks and crannies. They also did a great job branding. Signage was simple but consistent and included sound bites from the Infatuation reviews.
Now for the FOOD. The best part about this event was that Jourdan’s AmEx membership granted us early entry by 30 minutes. We ended up only arriving 10 minutes early but those 10 minutes were KEY. We managed to hit up two vendors before the crowds really arrived. Another perk of being an AmEx holder was that it got us one freebie. You could choose from four options (the EmmyShack, DU’s Doughnuts, the Dominique Ansel pushpop, and something else), but for us it was a no-brainer…more on that in a minute.
First up was Jon & Vinny’s. Jourdan and I planned our attack by prioritizing those spots we wouldn’t normally have access to. Jon & Vinny’s, for example, is an Italian spot in LA. Definitely not a place I could normally go, but even on the opposite coast I’ve heard raves about their spicy fusilli in a vodka sauce. It sounded like the spicy rigatoni from Parm/Carbone, which I lurve so I had to see how this compared. It was gooood. The pasta was cooked PERFECTLY. How it was just the right level of al dente when they’re churning out so many, I don’t know, but they did it. And there was just the right amount of sauce. At $11 it was one of the pricier items at Eeeeeatscon and one of the smaller portions, but it was delicious.
While we waited to get into the AmEx lounge, we sipped on Renegade Lemonade. Jourdan got regular, I got raspberry rose. Truly great lemonade that I sadly didn’t capture in a photo.
For one day only Emily (home is the Emmy burger, my all-time fave bistro burger) and Shake Shack collaborated on a burger that was basically the best of both worlds. It had the messiness of the Emmy burger (dat Emmy sauce) on the bun of a Shackburger with delightfully caramelized onions. It was the number one thing I wanted to try at Eeeeeatscon and it did not disappoint. We got this as our AmEx freebie but would have gladly paid for it. (And why anyone would have chosen any other freebie is beyond me.) Sure, I can easily go to Emily or Shake Shack, but this was our only opportunity for this burger. See? Strategy.
Next up was Galaxy Dumplings, a spot in Flushing (yes, in NYC, but not as convenient to get to) that offers about 100 different dumpling varieties. They had 3 on offer at Eeeeeatscon and we went with the lamb. Great dumplings with a perfectly golden bottom. Flushing is not exactly a hop skip and jump away, but it may be worth a trip.
We then stopped at the Ramona lounge to try their lemon sparkling wine. It was sweet (one or two would be plenty) but very tasty. And I just loved hanging out in the lush oasis they created with tons of greenery and yellow roses. This lounge was Instagram heaven. Honestly, all of Eeeeeatscon was made for the ‘gram. In addition to the 360 photo booth The Infatuation set up, tons of vendors set up walls that were perfect for social media. Smart move, vendors, this is the age we live in. (Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing…though I am guilty.)
Our final stop was Her Name is Han. While this place is easily accessible for us Manhattanites, I had never been and heard good things. Also, we were getting pretty full and needed our final dish to be on the lighter side. This dish had [I think] sushi rice, softshell crab, whipped avocado, kimchi, onion, and seaweed. It was really good and actually pushed Her Name is Han way higher on my must-try restaurant list.
I feel like I should also talk about the non-food activations because they were good and broke up the eating nicely. There was a booth each for the ACLU and voter registration. There was also a Showtime Shameless room (sadly we didn’t make it in) and a Zagat room tucked away in a tiny crevice of the arena where you could pin your favorite spots on a map of the city. And you can’t forget about the panel speakers (like Adam Rippon talking about how to eat like an Olympian) and a drumming troupe.
Another fun activation brought San Francisco’s The Riddler to life as a speakeasy through a porta potty. There was an extra fee but it came with caviar and champagne bongs so not too shabby. We were stuffed at this point so we decided not to go, but I thought it was inventive and, like most of this event, really encouraged attendees to explore.
There were only two places I really wish we weren’t too full to try: Maketto (from DC) was serving up interesting creations and Hoodoo Brown BBQ (from deep in CT), which had bbq poutine. We just couldn’t fit any more food in our bellies.
I love that most of the vendors took this opportunity to offer special items. The places located outside NYC merely needed to show up – not being local, they were special enough – but lots of New York vendors really upped their game. I already told you about the EmmyShack (epic), but it was great to see other collabs like Oddfellow’s ice cream + Bailey’s. I mean, I love Roberta’s (some of the best pizza around), but I can find them at lots of places now and would have loved to have seen some special Eeeeatscon toppings. Maybe next year.
Which brings me to my final point: come back next year, Eeeeeatscon! Hopefully The Infatuation found this to be as much if a success as I did. I would love to be able to do this all again in a year.