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Garden Party 27: Foodie Paradise
Pier 54, New York City
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
June 21, 2009   photo-album Bookmark and Share
Here’s what we ate (and drank) in the first hour: strawberry crème tart, fried zucchini flower moo chu with pickled summer flower in rice crepe, green chile mac-and-cheese with tortilla crumbs, caramel crème sandwich, baked brie pops with strawberry coulis, mini cannoli cupcakes, drip bar iced coffee, pecan butterscotch bar, mac-and-cheese squares, maple buttercream banana cupcake, buttermilk gazpacho, rice balls, caramel buttercream chocolate cupcake, truffled robiola pizza—and two cryogenically chilled greyhounds.

Here’s what we had to do during the second hour: sit down. Fortunately, there was an abundance of seating overlooking the Hudson River as more than 2,300 guests crowded Pier 54 for the Center’s Garden Party 27. With a record number of fifty restaurants participating in the only LGBT tasting evening in the entire country, this year’s Garden Party was the ne plus ultra of al fresco dining—and a complete death knell to diets all over the city.

Started in 1984, the Garden Party is the Monday night event of NYC Pride week and the annual fundraiser for the largest LGBT community center on the East coast. More than 6,000 LGBT people visit the Center weekly, with more than 300 groups meeting at the beloved Village institution. The Center is home to a rainbow coalition of organizations from the Youth Pride Chorus to Center Families, as well as the largest LGBT job fair in the Northeast—and the proceeds from the Garden Party enable the Center to remain open 365 days a year.

And with a silent auction featuring a Lunch for Four at Food Network, gourmet food baskets and—sit down for this—a signed script by the cast of Glee, there was plenty of reason to break away from the food (for at least thirty seconds) to affix your signature to a bid.

Here’s who else came out to support the Center (and to mingle at the open vodka bar sponsored by Ketel One): nightlife impresario Mark Nelson, international recording star Ari Gold, politicos such as Scott Stringer and Gerrold Nadler—and a sea of the most gorgeously attired peacocks, preening about in seersucker, linen, and gingham in shades as delectable as the food on the serving trays: purple and pink, lemon yellow and orange sorbet. This was a crowd that loves to dress nearly as much as it loves to eat.

Here’s what we missed eating (somehow)—and what we’re already dreaming about for Garden Party 28: housemade tofu with wari joyu, chilled tomato and watermelon soup, buttercream icing shots (!!!), ricotta bread, mozzarella carrozza, crispy papadum, taro spring rolls… These are food fantasies to fuel the months ahead—until it’s time for Garden Party 28, in 2011. Mark your calendars (and start dieting) now: the Monday evening of Pride week. Kick off Pride with the culinary event of the NYC Pride calendar—and help the Center to help the community of which we are all a part.
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