I touched on the Bryant Park Winter Village in my Very Merry Christmas Guide to NYC, but I didn’t delve into much detail regarding the array of food-coma inducing options available while you wander this winter wonderland. Fortunately for me, I get to pass by Bryant Park at least twice a day. Unfortunately for my wallet, this means that I have already paid a visit into the park five times since it’s seasonal opening on October 28th; Three days of which were spent hopping from food vendor to food vendor. In just three days, I’ve tried foods from 12 of roughly 35 food-related booths. Do I regret it? No. Am I ashamed? Absolutely not. Because everyone knows that during the holiday season, food doesn’t go to the stomach. It goes to the soul.
Bolivian Llama Party
I won’t even lie and say that the name of this vendor wasn’t what immediately drew me to it, but it’s the food that will keep me coming back. BLP’s Winter Village menu primarily consists of sandwiches, sliders, and fries; all of which smell way too good while you’re waiting to order. It literally took me about ten minutes to decide if I wanted brisket on a slider, or atop some papitas; and then another twenty minutes to actually get my order. I was definitely annoyed, up until I finally received my specialty papitas, which were topped with brisket, chimichurri sauce, and a little bit of cheese. I’m saying it now, this takes the number one spot for me this year. Every flavor blended perfectly together. Guess I’ll have to go back for the sliders.
Chick’nCone provides an on-the-go take of chicken and waffles, and while I don’t know if the two can be compared the Chick’nCone is amazing for what it is. So far, I’ve tried two of the three flavors being offered at the winter village; Kick’n Ranch packed a punch of spice and flavor and combined perfectly with the crunchy cone. I wasn’t too thrilled with Cinna-Maple, but it was a tad too sweet. That being said, the chicken was cooked to absolute perfection with both servings, which I honestly was not expecting. Chick’nCone definitely falls into my top three favorite food vendors this year.
La Sonrisa Empanadas
Typically, I’d gravitate towards a beef empanada, but all flavors lost my attention when I set my eyes on the “Mac and Cheese Empanada”. For the record, it’s not as good as it sounds; it’s better. And pairing with some hot sauce for dipping takes it over the edge. On another visit, I tried the “Bacon Mac and Cheese”, which is the exact same recipe but with some chunks of thick-cut bacon thrown in. After purchasing, you have the option to enter you cell number for rewards points. At 1 point per empanada purchased, you receive a free one after gaining 10 points. Challenge accepted.
Dulcina Churros was the first shop I stopped at at this year’s Winter Village. While I’m not generally a churro fanatic, I couldn’t pass up on trying these stuffed churros I kept hearing about. It was a tough choice, but we eventually decided on Boston Cream, Dulce de Leche, and Smores filled churros. The Boston Cream was great; with a perfect amount of filling and that mildly sweet taste you’d get from a Boston Cream donut. The Dulce de Leche on the other hand, though flavorful, seemed to be overstuffed making the entire thing a bit unappetizing. The smores flavor was definitely my favorite, as it put a twist on a typical smores by combing marshmallow and Nutella, as opposed to chocolate. However, I do wish that they made this substitute more clear as I happened to be sharing with two people with nut allergies. Luckily, I noticed as soon as I saw the consistency of the filling when tearing it apart.
If Paris is always a good idea, so are macarons. The Woops! booth at the Bryant Park Winter Village is one of my favorites, due in part to it’s simplicity, but also to the exceptional flavors of macarons. Choosing a few is always a challenge, especially because a couple new flavors are added each year. This time, I went with Key Lime Pie, Cereal Milk, and Nutella and couldn’t have been happier with my choices. If you’ve eaten Nutella, or anything flavored with the product, you can probably already tell what this macaron tasted like. Of course this isn’t a bad thing. Cereal Milk was different but delicious, and gave us a flavor of Fruity Pebbles. But my favorite was the Key Lime Pie; the filling was perfectly tangy without being bitter.
You may have seen Dō posts all over your social media feeds, or read about it in my NYC Food Fads post. My review of the Winter Village version is pretty similar. It’s pretty good, but in the end you’re spending $7 on a cup of semi-frozen cookie dough. That being said, everything tastes better when eating it in front of an ice rink while holiday music plays.
I personally feel like Home Frite is the younger, slightly less cool cousin of Pomme Frites, because honestly nothing beats being able to choose between 30 different dipping sauces. But the handful of dipping options offered by Home Frite aren’t half bad. On this day, I tried the lemon garlic aioli, which I felt was a little bland compared to some of their others. On the plus side, home frites fries are already so good on their own, that no dipping sauce is required. PSA: one order is definitely good for two people, maybe three if you’re not that hungry. As much as I wanted to, and I really wanted to, I couldn’t finish one cone on my own.
Rice balls, arancini, whatever you want to call ’em, I love ’em. So of course, I had to make sure to try as many flavors as I could. Some of them I wasn’t too enthusiastic about; the Buffalo Chicken had some flavors that just didn’t line up, and the Pizza ball was just okay. But some flavors were top-notch, like the Chicken Parmesan, Classic Ragu, and Bianco Verde. If I had to choose, I’d say the Chicken Parmesan was the clear winner. But I got my eye on the French Onion Soup arancini for next time.
I always tell myself I’ll skip a stop at the Max Brenner booth each time I visit, because honestly I’ve enjoyed enough Sunday Pasta, chocolate fondue, and lava cakes at their brick-and-mortar restaurant to last me a lifetime. But a trip to the Winter Village is never the same without a cup of Max Brenner’s hot chocolate. If you’re expecting a watered-down, powder base, sorry excuse for a drink type of hot chocolate, then this is not the place for you. Max Brenner hot chocolate is like nothing you’ve ever tasted; It’s super rich, flavorful, and worth every single calorie.
Pickle Me Pete
Walking passed the Pickle Me Pete booth, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the dozen or so buckets of different varieties of pickles available to order. That’s right, there is a booth that strictly sells pickles: bread & butter pickles, small kosher dills, small horseradish pickles, you name it. And as much as I love myself some plain pickles, the fried pickles are apparently the must-try at this booth. These pickles were extremely average in a good way, because I have yet to taste bad fried pickles. But they were good and I’d probably grab some again sometime.
Baked Cheese Haus
If you’ve experienced Swiss, French, or German cuisine of certain areas, this may not seem too odd for you. But for many a sandwich of alpine cheese scraped right off of the wheel, spring onions, baby gherkins, dijon mustard, and bratwurst, may seem like an interesting combination. I had tried something similar when visiting the Christmas markets in Quebec, but this one had a lot more going on. While I loved the bratwurst, gherkins, and dijon, I probably would’ve preferred a bit less cheese; which is odd considering that is almost the staple of the Raclette. But overall, it’s definitely one of the more unique items you’ll try at the village, and worth trying if you have the chance.
Jars by Dani
Honestly, you could put any ready-to-eat product in a glass jar and I’d probably purchase it, based on cuteness alone. Jars come in a variety of flavors and are made up of cake, a mouse or merengue, and a buttercream; with a few extras thrown in depending on flavor. Jars also come in size small (pictured) and large. I grabbed a Cookie Dough for my sister but my choice was the Lemon Bar, which is made up of chewy lemon bar crust, lemon custard, whipped cream, and sprinkles. While, I feel the price is a bit high for the size of the product, it was absolutely delicious. Jars by Dani may look like a cute DIY project, but the taste screams high-quality baker.
If this didn’t make your stomach rumble, keep checking back for updates as I make my way around the Bryant Park Winter Village.