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Aug 1 / Josh

Trumpeting Vines on Randall’s Island


Other than the underwhelming sized crowd at the first Catalpa Music Festival on Randall’s Island, this festival did not disappoint!  From high energy sets from Matisyahu and Matt & Kim to Girl Talk’s daytime dance party, and Umphrey’s McGee’s usual rockin’ good time, Catalpa offered a solid array of music, not to mention the Dogfather himself (who was recently reincarnated) performing his classic album Doggystyle to close out the fest.

Following suit with the music, the food at Catalpa rocked!  The vendors included the usual festival suspects, such as The Vegetarian Oasis, Hippie Dips and the always delicious Pie for the People, as well as a few festival newbies & local restaurants.

Fest food veterans Pie for the People’s thin crust, mammoth slices have been a staple for me at virtually every festival I attend.  The ever popular David Bowie slice with jalapenos, bacon, pineapple, and sweet plum sauce places a nice spin on the run of the mill Hawaiian slice.  This year has been no exception for owner Ryan Weber and his Joshua Tree, California based travelling pizza banditos, as they have not been back to the Left Coast since Coachella in mid-April.  “The fest scene is a little bit brutal, but fun,” described Ryan while talking about his hectic summer schedule.  I would definitely recommend giving a Go Westo Ma Pesto slice a shot   The pie is topped with pesto, spinach, roasted potatoes, feta cheese, and Guinness caramelized onions.

One of the vendors at Catalpa newer to the festival scene was Carmelo’s Brick Oven pizza, which offers individual pies, rather than pizza by the slice.  Based out of Staten Island, NY, Carmelo’s beautiful, portable brick oven burns at temperatures as hot as 900 degrees, and kicks out pies in a ridiculous two minutes.  Their festival menu included the standard cheese & pepperoni pies, but also offered some lighter fare like the Tuscan field green salad with arugula and fresh mozzarella.  Even though they are newer on the festival circuit, Carmelo’s has already picked up a solid clientele, including Gov’t Mule & Warren Haynes, who ordered pies three nights in a row at Mountain Jam in June.

Newbie vendor, Little Muenster proved to be the most popular choice for festival goers at Catalpa.  Little Muenster, located on the Lower East Side of New York City, puts a gourmet twist on the classic grilled cheese.  Served on crispy, grilled organic peasant bread,  the biggest seller for Little Muenster at Catalpa was a perfectly gooey Vermont Cheddar cheese with salty, sweet bacon marmalade.  In addition to the sandwiches, owner Vanessa and her crew of grilled cheese connoisseurs threw together a refreshing watermelon salad topped with poppy seeds, and a surprising hit goat cheese ice cream swirled with roasted cherries.  Little Muenster definitely has the potential to be rock stars on the festival circuit!

Despite the small crowds, Catalpa offered a killer backdrop of the Manhattan skyline and provided a plethora of delicious food choices and some great music!  I’m definitely anticipating a bigger, more crowded fest to return to Randall’s Island next summer.

Editor’s Note: The title of this article is a reference to the origin of the word, Catalpa. Thanks to Evan Pliskin and Laurence Eckstein for covering!

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