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Photo Credit :: MRNY
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Garden Party 29: A Taste of Pride at the USís Largest LGBT Food Festival
Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
June 18 2012
www.gaycenter.org     Photo-album
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Are there any words more beautiful than truffle mac-n-cheese?

Get ready to salivate. Hereís what was served at the Centerís 29th Annual Garden Party: crab cake sliders, coconut cupcakes, mini croque monsieur, champignon crostini, tuna tartare with avocado mousse, pecan butterscotch bars, butter crunch and marzipan squares, summer tomato soup, citrus cake with blueberry and coconut filling and candied lime.

Hungry yet? Wait, thereís more: vodka mint cucumber cooler, tiramisu, summer panino, mini cannoli, salmon tartare, mushroom truffle croquettes, caramel crŤme cookies. (Whisper these words into the ears of your beloved - and watch what happens.)

Each year, the Centerís Garden Party kicks off NYC Pride Week with its Monday evening fundraiser - and this year, Garden Party 29: A Taste of Pride attracted nearly two thousand gourmands to its brand new home at Hudson River Parkís tree-lined Pier 46 at the base of the Richard Meier-designed Perry Street towers.

What started as a fundraiser in 1984 with one catering company has evolved into the largest LGBT food festival in the country - and one of the most celebrated tasting events in the culinary world.

The Centerís longest-running event is also its largest annual fundraiser - and Garden Party 29 featured more than forty restaurants, caterers, and food trucks, all of whom generously donated their food, as well as staff and time, to feed a crowd of hungry (and sartorially astute) New Yorkers.

Food participants at Garden Party 29 included Esca, Aria, Li-Lac Chocolates, Rickshaw Dumplings, Murrayís Cheese, Mitchmallows, Mappamondo, Dos Caminos, Amyís Bread, Tiffin and Thali, Good, and dozens of other altruistic restaurants that deserve our communityís support all year long.

Apart from the surfeit of sinfully delicious delectables, the Garden Party is always a showcase for spring fashion with a festively attired crowd that promenades like peacocks in their seersucker and gingham, bow ties and waistcoats, and tutus and leather.

This yearís Foodies Silent Auction included a chocolate tasting for twenty, tix to hit Broadway shows, a private tour of the Metropolitan Museum, and home decor - while the winner of the raffle won a vacation in Tuscany.

Volunteer bartenders wandered through the crowds bearing Ketel One cocktails and wine from Beaulieu Vineyard.

The Centerís Executive Director, Glennda Testone, accepted a commemorative proclamation from Governor Andrew Cuomo - and Christine Quinn (who might well become the first lesbian mayor of New York) reminded a cheering crowd about the incredible progress toward LGBT equality that has occurred during the past year.

Now celebrating 29 years, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Community Center has spent its history building community through arts and culture, wellness and recovery, in its mission to envision a world where LGBT people no longer face discrimination or isolation because of who we love.

Oh, wait; did we forget to mention the homemade meatball sliders? And crudo, and gelato, and an assortment of rainbow-colored and flavored marshmallows, and green papaya salad, and free-range chicken poppers.

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.

If, for some silly reason (such as a diet), you missed this yearís Garden Party, mark your calendars now for next yearís Monday evening kick off to NYC Pride Week.

Because you only turn 30 once - and you know that Garden Party 30 is going to be a major celebration of food, community, and Pride.