Wednesday, June 1, 2011

MINI Wanderlust...the End of the Road

EE started nearly two months ago and produced 15+ events in five major cities across the country. This exciting and innovative project has now come to an end.  In association with German agency Avantgarde, EE’s participation in the MINI Wanderlust campaign ended with a final marquee event in New York City. EE is grateful to have been a part of this social media campaign as we are now part of the newest trend in marketing.  Below you can read an article from recapping the last of the Wanderlust events. It was quite a ride!

It was a gorgeous spring morning, cloudless and balmy, when I joined the team from in Brooklyn for a big day of New York-style Wanderlust adventuring. Not surprisingly, the group's special event for MINI Countryman Wanderlust was all about food.

Says the website's co-founder, and all-around social media whiz, Soraya Darabi: "Foodspotting is primarily based in San Francisco, so it's awesome, in the theme of Wanderlust, to bring the whole team out to New York to share our story with our East Coast friends." So half the team already had a big journey behind it, having flown in just for the day’s festivities. But their day of Wanderlust was just getting started. First, the close-knit coworkers had to divide and conquer. They split into two groups, each of which journeyed out to one of the five boroughs' favorite far-flung bakeries to try some of the best sweets the city has to offer.

One faction steered their MINI Countryman to the Bronx, where a famed cannoli awaited. Delillo's Pastry Shop is near Arthur Avenue, a strip revered by both locals and the online food-tip-sharing community for its authentic Italian cuisine. Says Amy Cao, who's Head of Community at Foodspotting, "We actually consulted Foodspotting to see where the best-looking desserts are coming from, and Delillo's was that place. Everyone...raves about it."

Meanwhile, I buckled my seat belt and joined group two, heading down to Red Hook, Brooklyn, where we were hoping to bag a similarly enticing and elusive pastry. The reigning modus operandi at Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies is an exercise in minimalism: The sole proprietor, whose name really is Steve, sells only Key lime pies. To make them, he exclusively uses fresh-squeezed limes from the Florida Keys, and prides himself in the no-frills purity of his recipe. Steve developed his unique five-ingredient formula in Florida, but the only thing that's changed about his operation since it moved up north is the location; many say it's the most genuine version of this classic American dessert you can get this side of the Mason-Dixon Line.

 Red Hook was a particularly well-suited destination for a day of Wanderlusting because it lies slightly off the beaten path. Amy explained that it's "a little bit out of the way for a lot of New Yorkers because there's no train that goes directly there, so you have to take the ferry or the bus. So if you're going to Red Hook, you're going there because you have a purpose-and our purpose is food."  She's not kidding. What I thought would be a simple pie run turned into an all-day, food-centric mission. 

Fiona Tang, Head of Outreach at Foodspotting, told me that they consider it crucial that each member of their team can actually walk the walk, or eat the eats, or whatever: "The fact is, we love food. Every single person on the team enjoys eating. We have this thing called the Foodspotting 15, where all of our team members have to fight off ‘the bulge.'" Amy adds: "We'll go far and wide for a certain dish that looks good, or that we've heard about. Our whole day is dedicated to discovering these awesome foods." 

The first stop on this particular food tour is the colossal grocery warehouse that is Fairway Market, where shoppers are first greeted by a produce section that's almost surreal in its psychedelic technicolor abundance. A long table beckons with about 20 different kinds of extra-virgin olive oil for sampling, and there's nearly an entire aisle dedicated to their mac & cheese selection alone. Amy tells me you can also grind your own peanut butter from whole peanuts here, one of the store's major draws. 

We stared at the gratuitously stocked shelves for as long as our grumbly stomachs could stand it, then headed to the Red Hook Ball Fields for a snack from the bright array of food trucks lining the surrounding streets. The salty-hot elote con queso is deemed worthy of a ‘spot, so everyone gathers round and snaps a quick smartphone photo to share online. Next, Amy (who's from Brooklyn) told us we can't leave without hitting the Red Hook Lobster Pound, where everyone agrees that the Maine-style lobster roll (with mayonnaise) is every bit as mouthwatering as the Connecticut-style (spicy) version. Then it was finally off to Steve's, where I learned that a Swingle is really as tasty as it sounds, and that real Key lime pie is yellow, not green. 

After all that eating, it was time for some...eating. The group took a short break to rest up and get cleaned up for dinner, then reconvened at Roberta's Pizza in Bushwick, which, like all the other destinations on our itinerary today, was chosen because it's a Foodspotting community favorite. Amy explains why the restaurant is an apt location: "[In Brooklyn] we really take pride in our pizza, and Roberta's really does make one of the best in New York City. A lot of our Foodspotters have spotted the pizzas here." 

In honor of the occasion, Roberta's kitchen even concocted an original, one-of-a-kind, never-before-tasted Wanderlust pizza. It featured mozzarella, pork sausage, red onion, parmesan, and ramps, a kind of wild leek that's popular in Southern cooking. Also on the menu was a juicy Wagu beef brisket with garden fresh snap peas and asparagus, but the hard-won dessert offerings were the real stars of the show tonight. 

Finally full, everyone was ready to dance off the day's various yummy adventures to beats laid down by Dave 1 of Chromeo. After all that wonderfully action-packed Wanderlusting and Foodspotting, it was definitely time to get a little loose.

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