Last year‘s Choice Eats food fest was so unbelievably fantastic, and this year was no less spectacular!  The 4th annual Village Voice Choice Eats took place yesterday, Tuesday, March 29th, 2011, with hundreds of guests swarming the best food, drink and dessert providers in NYC.

Going VIP is highly recommended for this event, so much so that they were sold out within the first few days of ticket sales.  VIP status included special access to the downstairs lounge with an extra hour of tastings from select vendors, a swag bag of goodies, an hour of a Choice Sweets with additional dessert vendors, and  a special demonstration and sampling by Cathy Erway of Lunch at Sixpoint and author of The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove.

Going through 70+ vendors is no small feat, so the following are just a few highlights.

Adorable mini arepas from Caracas.  Their larger versions at the restaurant have a better meat-to-carb ratio, but these were so cute and bite-sizes which gave us the opportunity to sample a few of their varieties.

I was a little disappointed that both Luke’s Lobster and Red Hook Lobster Pound were only serving shrimp rolls instead of their signature lobster rolls.  Bah!  But fine, I still tried them (delicious) and no one else seemed to mind since there were huge lines at both. Ditch Plains had mac and cheese top a hot dog – definitely not good news for my arteries, but we’ll worry about that later.  The taffy display was not really part of their sampling, but people were taking them by the fistfuls anyhow.

Mama’s Food Shop countered that with a three-cheese mac and cheese with pulled pork.  There were tons of sliders being featured: Sliders in general are amazing, but they sorta backfire at tasting events because you get so full off of them.  Probably because of all of that bread.  I hate being one of those wasteful people that discard the buns, so if you use delicious brioche bread, like on this lamb slider with yogurt sauce, the bread is less likely to be trashed.

This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef served up different items every time I visited the stand, from sliders to soups to pastas, but I snagged one of the last of the roast beef sandwiches. Max served up an amazing meat lasagna.  I would say that it was almost better than my mom’s lasagna (sorry, ma), but they were frantically serving so many people that the sauce ran a bit cold.  Next time I visit, that will be the dish of choice.  Next door, Ofrenda was offering up their signature item: albondigas!

Aka: meatballs.  I think albondigas just sounds way cooler.

Curry-Ya had beef stew curry to try over their steaming hayashi rice, but I gravitated towards their mango lassiFay Da Bakery has a vast assortment of their best breads and pastries, and also bubble tea.  Normally I don’t like bubble tea (the bubbles freak me out), but their coffee with milk tea was a great pick-me-up after all the savory foods.  And yes, I avoided the bubbles.

Kyochon, specializing in chicken wings, featured their super spicy wings and their soy wings, but the best part was their happy dance-y mascot guy:

Everyone wanted to take a picture with him!  Adorable.  Even when he went for a beer run, he was still being chased down for photo opportunities.

There was a huge line waiting for Del Posto‘s eggplant and chocolate.  Whaat?! Not as weird as you may think!  The eggplant was very subtle so it was pretty much just the eggplant texture at the base, topped with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate.  The homemade ice cream was still frozen solid which took some time scooping out, but the Del Posto duo worked together diligently to serve everyone.

At 8:00 PM, the Choice Sweets dessert stations opened up and everyone made a mad dash.  The Kelvin Natural Slush Co was a huge hit with their customizable slushee drinks.  They had two of their “base” flavors available (Arnold Palmer and ginger) and their mix-ins for added flavor and sweetness, from strawberry, mango, white peach, and even mint.  So refreshing and makes me dream about having one on a warm summer day.  Blue Marble Ice Cream had a few of their delicious flavors – chocolate, butter pecan, coffee and ginger – which paired really well with cookies from The Good Batch

Kumquat Cupcakery had a lovely display of their delicious mini cupcakes they were oh so adorable!  The purple frosting added a pop of fun color.  There was a mishap where a tray of red velvets were all jumbled and mushed together off to the side, but that didn’t seem to deter people at all from trying them.

Scroll through our gallery for more food porn.  The Village Voice’s Choice Eats is a feast always enjoyed by all, and we already can’t wait for next year.  Their 5th anniversary should be quite a bash!