The tallies were still coming in Tuesday night, but one bystander, who reckoned his math skills were as good as any in the room, estimated that the 13th Annual Taste of Weehawken would bring in around $15,000 for the township’s victims of Hurricane Sandy. We’ll have to wait for the official numbers, but from the huge attendance at the event, which is run by the Weehawken Public Library each year, it’s not hard to imagine a similar figure being tallied at the end.
Upwards of 200 people crowded into the Food Court at Lincoln Harbor to sample foods provided by over 30 vendors, ranging from spicy Indian dishes to Cuban empanadas to mushroom ravioli and, of course, a wide array of desserts. Wine was provided by Giannone Wine and Liquors, who also provided beer for the first time.
Vicky Minervini, who lives in the Shades neighborhood that was damaged badly in Hurricane Sandy, said that she was touched to see her community come together to help her and her neighbors.
“We really appreciate it, we really do.” -- Shades resident Vicky Minervini
The library usually uses the profits from the Taste to benefit its special programs and fund upgrades to the building and its facilities.
“For many years, in good times and bad, this amazing community has rallied to support not only the Taste, but the library itself,” said Leona Nersesian. “In the wake of this terrible disaster, we wanted the library to give back to neighbors and friends in their time of need who have supported us for so long.”
And they didn’t have a hard time of doing it. Nearly everyone at the Taste seemed to be enjoying themselves, many of whom said that they had no time to talk as they were busy sampling as many vendors as they could.
Dennis Burkhardt said that the Ruth Chris Steakhouse’s filet mignon was the best food item he’d tasted all night, though he saved his highest praise, surprisingly, for a beverage.
“I’m a tea drinker, so I was interested to see what Tea NJ was doing,” he said. “They’ve got some really fantastic blends up there.”
Erika Zucconi, who was attending the Taste for the fifth or sixth time, said that GP’s meatball sandwiches and Charrito’s guacamole came in first place for her, but that she was most excited about the addition of the beer to this year’s Taste. She also commented on what she thought was a bigger turnout than usual.
“I think because of the special cause this year, for the hurricane victims, a lot more people came out,” she said.
When Mayor Richard Turner was asked halfway through the event whether he’d found anything he really enjoyed, he joked that he was ready to eat the microphone he’d been announcing prize-winners into for the past hour.
“But I’ll tell you, I love everything, and I’m going to try it all,” he said.
Turner said he wasn’t surprised at the big turnout, calling it “typical Weehawken.”
“This is what we do,” he said. “Weehawken helping Weehawken.”
Even the township’s student population pitched in. The culinary club at Weehawken High School presented a “vertical” Greek salad, served on a skewer, and a polenta with sun dried tomatoes. Francis Velasquez, a junior in the club, said that it was an honor to be able to pitch in.
“Feels great. We’ll be back next year,” she said.
Participants at the Taste included 3 Forty Grill, All Kinds of Whoopie, Amanda’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Canamelao Restaurant, Los Charrito’s, Chart House, The Clinton Social, Cremas Artisan Flavors, Dunkin’ Donuts (Palisade Avenue), Flaming Burrito, G.P.’s, Giannone Wine & Liquor Company, Gladis Homemade Cakes, Houlihan’s on the Waterfront, Hudson Blue Bar & View, The Hudson Cakery, Karma Kafe, Lusso Bar, The Madison Bar & Grill, Masina Trattoria, The Melting Pot Hoboken, Palermo’s Custom Cakes & Bakery, Pizza Villa, Porto Leggero, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Son Cubano, Tea NJ, Touch of Spice, and the Weehawken High School Culinary Arts Program.
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org