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Garden Party 29: A Taste of Pride at the US’s Largest LGBT Food Festival

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Wednesday Jun 20, 2012

Are there any words more beautiful than truffle mac-n-cheese?

Get ready to salivate. Here's what was served at the Center's 29th Annual Garden Party: crab cake sliders, coconut cupcakes, mini croque monsieur, champignon crostini, tuna tartare with avocado mousse, pecan butterscotch bars, butter crunch and marzipan squares, summer tomato soup, citrus cake with blueberry and coconut filling and candied lime.

Hungry yet? Wait, there's more: vodka mint cucumber cooler, tiramisu, summer panino, mini cannoli, salmon tartare, mushroom truffle croquettes, caramel crème cookies. (Whisper these words into the ears of your beloved - and watch what happens.)

Each year, the Center's Garden Party kicks off NYC Pride Week with its Monday evening fundraiser - and this year, Garden Party 29: A Taste of Pride attracted nearly two thousand gourmands to its brand new home at Hudson River Park's tree-lined Pier 46 at the base of the Richard Meier-designed Perry Street towers.

What started as a fundraiser in 1984 with one catering company has evolved into the largest LGBT food festival in the country - and one of the most celebrated tasting events in the culinary world.

Root Beer and Vanilla Sky

The Center’s longest-running event is also its largest annual fundraiser - and Garden Party 29 featured more than forty restaurants, caterers, and food trucks, all of whom generously donated their food, as well as staff and time, to feed a crowd of hungry (and sartorially astute) New Yorkers. Food participants at Garden Party 29 included Esca, Aria, Li-Lac Chocolates, Rickshaw Dumplings, Murray’s Cheese, Mitchmallows, Mappamondo, Dos Caminos, Amy’s Bread, Tiffin and Thali, Good, and dozens of other altruistic restaurants that deserve our community’s support all year long.

Apart from the surfeit of sinfully delicious delectables, the Garden Party is always a showcase for spring fashion with a festively attired crowd that promenades like peacocks in their seersucker and gingham, bow ties and waistcoats, and tutus and leather.

This year’s Foodies Silent Auction included a chocolate tasting for twenty, tix to hit Broadway shows, a private tour of the Metropolitan Museum, and home decor - while the winner of the raffle won a vacation in Tuscany.

Chocolate Cake with Grand Marnier

Volunteer bartenders wandered through the crowds bearing Ketel One cocktails and wine from Beaulieu Vineyard.

The Center’s Executive Director, Glennda Testone, accepted a commemorative proclamation from Governor Andrew Cuomo - and Christine Quinn (who might well become the first lesbian mayor of New York) reminded a cheering crowd about the incredible progress toward LGBT equality that has occurred during the past year.

Now celebrating 29 years, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Community Center has spent its history building community through arts and culture, wellness and recovery, in its mission to envision a world where LGBT people no longer face discrimination or isolation because of who we love.

Oh, wait; did we forget to mention the homemade meatball sliders? And crudo, and gelato, and an assortment of rainbow-colored and flavored marshmallows, and green papaya salad, and free-range chicken poppers.

Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Ganache

More than 6,000 LGBT people visit the Center weekly, with more than 300 groups meeting at the beloved Village institution. The Center is home to a rainbow coalition of organizations from the Youth Pride Chorus to Center Families, as well as the largest LGBT job fair in the Northeast - and the proceeds from the Garden Party enable the Center to remain open 365 days a year.

If, for some silly reason (such as a diet), you missed this year’s Garden Party, mark your calendars now for next year’s Monday evening kick off to NYC Pride Week.

Because you only turn 30 once - and you know that Garden Party 30 is going to be a major celebration of food, community, and Pride.

RELATED LINK: ?Garden Party 29 Photo Album??



A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.


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