Monday, February 25, 2013

Recapping Melba Launch Party in New York

The room buzzed with chatter of beer, wine and food last Monday night at Melba’s New York City launch party.

Nearly forty people gathered in a Union Square loft, where a piano man played delicate music, calming guests on another cold February night. The party popped off with beer and wine from New Clarendon Brewing Company and Bed-Vyne Wine Shop, doing their part in welcoming guests to the celebration.

“Bringing wine to the table, sharing food, culture, and music — it’s a great fit for us,” Michael Brooks, one of Bed Vyne’s owners, said.

Brooks served up a 2011 Pullus Pinot Grigio Slovenia Stajerska, an orange-hued Pinot Grigio, which results from the skins being left on the grapes (usually, the grape skins are removed to process Pinot Grigio), he explained. Guests also enjoyed a 2007 Tete de Lard Cab Franc Saumur from Loire Valley, France and a 2011 Alfredo Roca Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina.

Brewers Stone Dow and Geordie Wood of New Clarendon Brewing Company poured a refreshing Belgian-style saison made with cardamom, blood orange peel, ginger and hibiscus. The second tasting was a Marienplatz Dunkelweizen, a traditional wheat beer with honey malt.

Beverages were plentiful as Marilyn Donahue-Schiller’s Eastern European menu emerged: sausage, pickles, beet blinis, and hearty trays of gravlax.

Later, a delightful winter meal of roasted pork, sauerkraut gravy, roasted potatoes and vegetables was served family-style at round tables awaiting hungry guests.

Presented with a huge platter of meat, it was up to one brave (or hungry enough) soul to lead the meat carving for the table.

As guests began settling in for dinner, Santiago Tenorio, co-founder of Melba, and Alisha Miranda, head of community for Melba in NYC, welcomed guests to Melba’s first gathering in New York City.

“I’m really excited that we got such a great group of people together tonight to really be part of Melba’s launch in New York and be part of our journey as we bring Melba to the U.S.,” Tenorio said.

Miranda gave a shout out to Brooklyn, where she pictures these feasts really taking off.

“I’m really lucky to have been able to recruit some of the finest folks I know out of Brooklyn to make this party happen,” she said. “I think the food/tech world is ready for new, innovative projects, and hopefully Melba becomes one of those.”

In a place with new faces all around, everyone got to know each other over a homemade meal. With a wide variety of BYOB beer and wine around, too, it was easy to try a variety of things — and hopefully discover something interesting.

Leticia Salama, owner of Leti’s Catering, enjoyed experiencing something “new and fresh,” she said.

“I got to meet a wide variety of people — from chefs, owners of start-ups, food photographers, journalists, brewers, investors, to Melba people,” she said. “I guess you can meet all those people in a restaurant too, but the ambiance was much different. I felt like it was more a community of people. All of us gave a little something to make it happen.”

Tenorio said the event was like those held in London, where Melba launched five months ago.

Tenorio, who enjoys cooking and was inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s travels, said Melba feasts allow people to interact with the people behind the food — unlike most restaurants. Melba also gives cooks the chance to express their cultures, he said.

“I don’t want to be stuck in a corner cutting carrots,” he said. “I want to cook what I want to cook.”

The meal concluded with a light dessert of fresh pears and pineapple. For an irresistible take-home treat, HIM in the Kitchen’s Armando Rafael presented his cardamom, cayenne, sea salt and chocolate chip cookies. Packed in brown paper coffee bags, it was hard to wait until home to enjoy this incredible experience of a cookie — especially when it was such a fantastic pairing with New Clarendon’s cardamom saison.

“It was nice to mingle with new people and try all these different foods and drinks,” Rafael said. “I liked meeting new people equally as interested in food.”

After a day of hard labor, Donahue-Schiller finally left the kitchen and lounged on a couch, still in good spirits thanks to many helping hands from Melba staffers and volunteers — with a glass of wine in hand. She was pleased to see people “slow down” and chat with each other throughout the night.

“I think tonight was a lovely event,” she said.

Looking at the cheerful faces as they exited the dinner party, we couldn’t agree more.

Look for more Melba events coming your way soon in New York City, or host your own!

by Beth Kaiserman, guest writer for Melba, foodie and writer taking in Brooklyn, one bite at a time. Thanks to all our sponsors, volunteers, and staff for making our New York launch so successful!

Check out more photos of Melba’s New York launch party on Instagram at #MelbaNYC


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    have successfully launched...the staff, volunteers,
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