Saturday, July 25, 2009

Steve's Key Lime Pie

As far as I can see you only go to Red Hook for a few reasons; a home furnishing trip to IKEA, the Latino food carts by the ball fields, and Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie. Let me tell you, these pies are awesome.

Kevin and I woke up on Saturday anxious to get out in the city but with no destination in mind. We hopped on the free water taxi at Pier 11 by the South Street Seaport which takes you directly to the new IKEA in Brooklyn. There has been a recent controversy that will require riders to pay up for the ferry during the week unless they can provide proof of a purchase at IKEA. But for now, Saturday and Sunday are still free with the ferry departing every 20 minutes or so.

We followed the signs that pointed to the pie and finally arrived at an old warehouse on the pier. A Swingle (key lime pie dipped in chocolate and frozen on a stick) was reason enough for the trip across the river but we got our 8 inch pie for $15 to take home and it was delicious with its crumbly graham cracker crust. Not overly sweet as I feared, and it has a natural limey flavor.

KEY LIME PIE, infatuation that shouldn't exist,
KEY LIME PIE, indulge and I am in your debt.
KEY LIME PIE, inspire me with foolish love,
KEY LIME PIE, your green filling makes me inept.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Arab – African Street Festival

The Annual Arab-American and North-African cultural street festival earned my presence in the Village this past Saturday afternoon. Vendors lined the street offering a variety of products, exhibiting original crafts, displaying Arabic literature, and playing regional music. But you know why I’m there, to sample the food! Middle Eastern and North African foods can refer to a wide range of cuisines and often utilize similar ingredients and cultural tastes. The dishes frequently contain flat breads such as pita and chickpeas or beans. Many dishes do not include meat, making Middle Eastern cuisine a great option for vegetarians. This is how I fell in love with Falafel. Falafel is a fried ball made from spiced chickpeas and/or fava beans, originally from Egypt, and usually served in pita-like bread called lafa. This is always a perfect fast food option fresh from the streets.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Regreso Puntas

You may have missed my food critiques for some time now due to my attempt at learning Spanish in Madrid during the month of June. I had intended to update the blog regularly with postings describing all the marvelous Spanish foods I was eating abroad but unfortunately did not spend much time by my computer. Madrid was an exciting and fantastic city that reminded me of New York in so many ways and my new amigos from Universidad de Antonio Nabrija made this trip el tiempo de mi vida.

Madrid is the capital and largest city in Spain. The metropolitan area is the fourth-most populous urban zone in the European Union after Paris, London, and the Ruhr Area. While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of it's historic neighborhoods and streets. Some of its landmarks include the Royal Palace; the Teatro Real; the Buen Retiro park, and superb art museums such as the Prado Museum, which hosts one of the finest art collections in the world, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which had a brilliant Matisse exhibit during my visit.

Madrileños have a much different custom of eating than Americans. They eat very little for breakfast, usually just a pastry and coffee and then have their largest meal at lunch, around two o’clock, before siesta (the regular afternoon nap to avoid the heat). One of the best ways to sample Spanish food is to try tapas, or snacks, which are served at any time of day in local bars. These were usually costly and difficult to order without an understanding of the Spanish menu, which we didn’t study until the last week of class for some reason.

The gastronomy in Spain is heavily influenced by the different cultures which have passed through the Iberian Peninsula. Some events that heavily influenced Spanish cuisine include the Roman Invasion, the Invasion of the Moors, and the discovery of the Americas. The Romans developed wine, oil and wheat production while the Invasion of the Moors contributed to their knowledge of water management for agriculture and also introduced oranges, lemons, and rice to Spain. The discovery of the Americas provided the Spanish with potatoes, maize, cocoa, tomatoes, and peppers. All of these products form Spain’s current food culture. Madrid is an amazing city and will always have a place in my heart but this does not waiver my loyalty to New York City which is still the food capital of the world.

Restaurants offer tourist menus (menu del día) which include a primero and segundo course plus a glass of tinto for 12 to 15 Euros. Among the popular Spanish food recipes that make up the varied cuisines of Spain, a few can be considered common to all or almost all of Spain's regions, even though some of them have an original origin such as Paella, a typical Valencian rice dish. Paella is one of my favorite Spanish dishes. It can be prepared in many ways, based on meat or seafood. One of my favorite paellas was from Riofio in Columbus Plaza. I also had a wonderful Hake dinner at the oldest restaurant in the world, Sobrino de Botin, where most go for su especialidad, el cochinillo (the specialty, the pig).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dance Parade

Just a warm Sunday sitting in Tompkins Square Park, eating Arepas and watching the old men play chess while tourists take pictures of squirrels. What is everyone waiting for? The third annual NYC Dance Parade. They started dancing to raise awareness for the importance of dance in the community. Registered dance groups range from ballet to belly dance, capoeira to the rumba, and from salsa to zydeco. In addition to the dance companies and individual dancers, colorful floats, live bands and DJs waltz, tango and pirouette down Broadway from 32nd Street to Tompkins Square Park with a dance festival finale in the park through sunset. Best dance parade ever!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Caracas Arepa Bar

Pale gold arepas, made from scratch daily, they have been described as "dense yet spongy corn-flour rounds, pitalike pockets, corn muffins, cake-swaddled mélange, white corn cakes, Latin sloppy Joe, sandwiches of a flat cornmeal patty, soft and smooth within, golden crispiness, tasty treats, burrito-killer, panini-killer, wheat-free, gluten-free crisp on the outside, steamy-soft in the middle..."

The truth is that arepas resist definition. They are the result of a relentless dedication to homemade quality slow food. Straight from Venezuela, Caracas Arepas Bar is located in Manhattan's East Village, but has its original location in Williamsburg Brooklyn. The versatility of arepas is probably the reason why in Venezuela they are at the center of every meal; from breakfast to lunch, dinner, and the occasional after party treat.

Kevin had the De Guasacaca for $5.75 which is filled with Venezuelan guacamole and paisa cheese. I had the La Jardinera for $6.00 stuffed with grilled eggplants, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions and guayanés cheese. Both were delicious and so filling that the sidekick Yoyos for $5.00 (fried sweet plantain balls stuffed with white cheese) were really not needed but still tasty.