Wednesday, September 23, 2009

82nd Annual Feast of San Gennaro

After the disappointment of not getting into Oktoberfest in Central Park, we decided to head over to Little Italy to check out the Feast of San Gennaro - New York City’s longest-running, biggest and most revered religious outdoor festival in the United States! Originally started to keep alive the spirit and faith of the early Italian immigrants to America, the Feast today is expected to attract more than one million people from all over the world to the streets of Little Italy to participate in this annual Salute to the Patron Saint of Naples. Check out the amount of people at the Feast. We had trouble even trying to get in!!

Eventhough this was originally known as an annual celebration of faith, the Feast of San Gennaro is now better known for its festive atmosphere. An 11-day event featuring religious processions and colorful parades, free musical entertainment, a wide variety of Italian delicacies, charming restaurants and cafes and the a world-famous cannoli-eating competition!

Kevin's colleague told him (even printed out the history of this feast, location as well as it's daily events for us) that we MUST go to the Feast for the food! She is Italian and without fail, she and her family would be there every year for the food. If an Italian tells us that the food is good there, I know she is not lying :P So yeah, we were there for the food! With that as motivation, we took a deep breath and pushed thru the sea of people to get in (thank god the people thinned out as we navigated thru the inner streets).

Mmmm mmmm mmmmm, the smell of Hot Italian Sausages, Cheese Steaks, Rib Eye Steaks...all kinds of grilled meat just filled the air. There were so many meat stalls to choose from, we didn't know where to begin!

We then saw something that we have never seen before. It looked like pancakes but way thicker. It smelled pretty good too. It's actually two corn patties with loads of mozzarella stuffed inside. We bought one for $5, just to try something new. I didn't really quite like it because it was way too greasy but Kevin liked it. Sooooo, he had to finish it by himself. No problem there :P

Apart from all the sausages, meats, pizzas, strombolis, calzones, pastas...ect, there also all kinds of yummy desserts! Various types of cannolis, lobster tails, tiramisu, cream puffs and gelati. Oh so yummy yummy!! I can actually feel my waistline expanding just by typing all this.

This is one of the more popular stalls during the Feast. It seems that they have the best biscotti and nougats around. Too bad we didn't know of their fame until we came back home. If not, I would have bought some just to sample it.

Ahhhhhh one of my all time favorite carnival food..Zeppoles! Since it's an Italian festival, I would imagine them having great Zeppoles. Guess what? I was right!! They are the best...ever!! Oh I love Zeppoles, oh yes I do!

If you are not a fan of street food or walking around while eating, there are also over 35 different Italian restaurants featuring some of the best food Italy has to offer. Many of them have pre fixe menus as well as regional favorites. Of course you can also sample some of the finest Italian wines available. I just love how they converted part of the street to al fresco sitting in front of each restaurant, it gives it an European feel, doesn't it? :P

So, apart from food (which constitutes about 80% of the stalls), what else was there? Well, there were also a few stalls selling "Italian pride" apparel - from Italia jerseys to baby rompers.

There were also stalls selling all kinds of knick knacks and this stall. I have never seen so many different types of cigars before. I was told that they carry cigars from all over the world and also make some of the finest cigars on Mulberry St.

Just before leaving the Feast, we headed over to the carnival games section. There were all kinds of carnival games, mostly for kids though :P

Also, I was quite amused that they had carnival rides right in the middle of the narrow streets of Little Italy. Imagine opening up your apartment window and seeing some stranger go by on the Ferris Wheel!! Anyways, we had a great time just walking around and eating some really good Italian street food. Kevin's colleague was right, everybody should head over to Little Italy during the Feast to check out the food. We will most definitely be there again next year!!!

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