Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Taste of Ebony at The Metropolitan Pavilion

Last night I attended The Taste of EBONY event at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan. Taste of EBONY is and evening of food and wine tastings that celebrate the unherald history of the contributions African Americans have made to the world of Culinary Arts. The Event was the brainchild of Linda Johnson-Rice, President & CEO of Johnson Publishing Company, whose holdings include EBONY & JET Magazines.

I arrived at the Metropolitan Pavilion at around 6:45pm. The invite called for "Cocktail Attire" and let me tell you.....My people did NOT disappoint!!! The folks were seriously done ya'll!!! I was attired in a beautiful black, sleeveless, velvet cocktail dress with a deep "V" shaped neckline (I was SERVING up some Cleavage ya'll!!!) and a beautiful multicolored sash wrapped around my bustline and ended in a beautiful bow in the back, I topped my "look" off with a pair of 4 inch, black patent leather, peek-toe sling backs (what on EARTH was I thinking about huh?). My dress was courtesy of Miss Raymona for ENV New York.

I made my way through the crowd and collected my red EBONY wristband (needed for entry into the event) and headed through the doors to the foyer. The first thing to catch my eye was a beautiful display of cooking saute pans stacked like an elaborate Christmas tree with the EBONY logo interspersed within. I took a quick photo and headed off to find the ladies room but stopped when I saw a bunch of cuties hanging out near the restroom area. I realized quickly that they were "working" the event and a very sexy, bald headed, light skinned brother, graciously insisted upon personally escorting me to the Ladies room (He loved my shaved head...thank you cutie!!). I quickly took his outstretched arm and allowed him to do just that! I entered the bathroom and immediately hear my name being called, I look up and see a someone that I have not seen in AGES!!!! My Sista/friend/former plus model turned visual stylist - Miss Breea Williams. Breea is another sister that I met during both of our early days as Plus Models - She was also a member of the "Diva Team" that took the top prize in the Team Runway Competition at late fashion designer, Angel Claudio's Collection Show in Newark, NJ. You KNOW I couldn't resist providing a clip!

(Whew! THAT brought back memories). We have been making plans to see each other for YEARS now, so you can imagine the noise in that bathroom when we saw each other. We screamed and hugged each other for a very long time. We talked as we tried to remember the last time we saw each other (it was at Union Square Cafe - We had a late night supper with Kym Hampton after and Ashley Stewart Event at the Puck Building) and she told me that SHE was the one who had done the visual styling for the entire event (and that included the pan display I was admiring earlier - You GO Girl!!!). She headed off to change in to her outfit for the event and we agreed to meet in the main room before the night was over.

By the time I returned to the lobby, my guest for the evening had arrived. My guest was Mr. Don Echoles-Conway, who is an accomplished jazz musician and a well loved music teacher in the NY City Public School system. Don is one of my favorite people and I was so glad he was able to join me for the event. He looked quite handsome in a suit and he smelled amazing! There was a bar in the foyer so we stopped there for our first cocktail of the evening. There were a couple of specialty drinks offered for the evening and we decided to go with a pomegrante flavored cocktail that came in a martini glass. One sip was enough for me to decide that drink was WAY too strong for me. Across the room at the coat check I ran in to menswear designer, Shaka King and Margo Lewis, owner of CakeBliss of Brooklyn, NY. Margo designed an incredible cake that looked like shipping crates with various EBONY magazine strewn about. The entire cake was edible and simply amazing to look at.

We took our drinks and headed to the main room where the opening remarks & presentations were winding up. The room was beautifully decorated and was totally packed with good looking people! After the remarks & photos, the floor was open for the tastings. We ditched the Pomegrante cocktails (too strong for me - too "girly" for Don) and went to sample some of the wine offerings. Don got to sample quite a few red wines and even a brandy, while I stuck mostly to the whites & sparkling wines. After we sampled a few wines, we moved on to some of the delicious food being offered. Along the way we ran into Earl Graves Sr, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Black Enterprise Magazine, Sonia Alleyne (careers & lifestyle Editor at Black Enterprise), Sonia was the Editor in Chief at BELLE Magazine and she gave me my first cover with the premiere issue of the magazine. Also in attendance were photographer Donn Thompson, Melba Wilson (owner of my current fave restaurant in Harlem...Melba's), CBS Morning Show anchor Maurice DuBois, who hosted the evening's festivities, Audrey Smaltz (the Ground Crew), Black2Broadway's Kevin Anthony and one of my favorite TV Chef's G. Garvin, of TVOne's "Turn Up The Heat With G. Garvin" (Um..."G" must have been having a "moment" cuz Bro'Man was a little er...funky when I tried to greet him initially....I'll forgive you this time "G"!)

The food was excellent and we sampled a dazzling array of dishes from Anheuser Busch's Budweiser grilled chicken wrapped in collard greens (Which were REALLY tasty) but my mouth was really watering for the Beechwood Fried Baby Back Ribs!!!! (sigh...I am STILL off the pork for now ya'll...but I ain't gonna lie....I WANTED to EAT THOSE RIBS!!!!). We then moved on to a delicious Seared Scallop with Spinach Ravioli & Fall Truffle Sauce (from BG's Restaurant in Bergdorf Goodman's)...Yummy!! Maryland Crab Cake "lollipops", Red Velvet Cheesecake, Spiced Coconut Chicken Noodles with Shanghai Bok Choy (From Ginger..The new restaurant on 116th St). We also sampled seared yellowfin tuna medallions with onion marmalade (needed a lil salt though), Beer Battered Catfish (which I actually enjoyed although I don't really care for Catfish), Mac & Cheese croquettes from Melba's, Jerk Chicken Wings from Maroon's (That set my entire chest on FIRE!!!), Deep Fried Pork Belly with Sauteed String Beans & Pickled Onions (Damn, Damn...DAMN!!! The pork belly was looking good....but I was a good girl and only ate the string beans...WHICH WERE AWESOME!!!) to a delicious stuffed shrimp & and a mixed berry parfait from G. Garvin, who was in a much better mood later on and even stopped to take photos with us. There was so much good food in the room, I felt like I had died and gone to Heaven. After we were stuffed we stopped at the bar for one last cocktail before departing and I decided to try the OTHER specialty cocktail of the evening...a pink colored, passion fruit drink also served in a martini glass. It was delicious and didn't burn going down...lol...like the Pomegrante Cocktail did... and it was a great way to wrap up a wonderful evening.

As the evening wound down and we started to make our way towards the coat check, I finally met up with Publicist Mary Moore, who got me the tickets (Thanks Mary! and Thank you Cynthia Horner, for inviting me!) and she arrived with Theresa Randolph of JT Productions along with Troy Safi, The reigning Miss Full Figured New York 2007 (Troy is also one of NYC's Finest!) and Alicia Mitchell, who was a top 5 finalist on Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance, Season 1. I quickly instructed them on which booths to hit first and Don & I headed outside, but first we stopped off at the sign in booth where we turned in our red wristbands and received 2 of the most amazing gift bags ever!!! Our bags were filled to the top with cookbooks, napkin rings, A slice of Banana Nut Cake, a G.Garvin cooking DVD and tons of other things. We picked up our bags (so heavy you need both hands to hold them....now THAT'S A GIFT BAG!!!!) and since I was determined to take home some Red Velvet & Sweet Potato Cheesecakes to my Monster, Don was kind enough to carry the bags as we walked to his car. We must have walked about 30 feet when I decided to abruptly stop in front of this other building where three men had come outside for a smoke and chat. I gave one of the men my biggest and brightest smile and asked him to please hold my two plates for me, he obliged and (to both Don's amusement and the gentleman holding my plates) I announced that my feet were what???? BURNING!!!! And I promptly removed those 4" Black Patent Leather, Peek Toe Slingbacks and put on my flats. I breathed a deep sigh of relief, retrieved my plates and walked up the street with my dignity intact!

It was a most wonderful evening, Thanks Don for hanging out with me, Thanks to Cynthia Horner for being kind enough to invite me....and Thank you Mary Moore...for always thinking of me!

A fool says he can and does nothing, but a wise man knows he can't and asks how.

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