red hooked on food trucks

Contrary to what I had always been led to believe, Brooklyn’s celebrated Red Hook food trucks are not Mexican but a veritable Pan-American exposition of south-of-the-border flavors – with particular attention heaped upon the cuisines of Central America. I trekked out to the soccer fields where the trucks set up shop each weekend – just south of a huge tract of public housing and west of the bend in the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway as it meets the Gowanus Canal – in search of the authentic huaraches, sopes, and tamales that occasionally haunt my daydreams only to discover ceviche, a crazy-delicious take on traditional horchata, and something called pupusa. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. At the easternmost stall on Bay Street, the mixto ceviche comes Ecuadoran-style, in a sweet and sour stew brimming with lime, red onion, cilantro and a substantial quantity of shrimp, squid, octopus, and fish that belie the thrifty $9 price tag. Add a few spoonfuls of the fiery green hot sauce and you’ll want to finish by drinking down every lick of the remaining broth. An icy horchata is the perfect complement to all that sweet and sour fire. However, unlike the traditional rice and water variety I’ve encountered, the Honduran version offered here incorporates milk, cinnamon, and peanuts to bring a whole other dimension of savory and salt flavors to the forefront. Round one over, I head to the line forming for pupusa, a traditional grilled corn cake from El Salvador that traces its roots back to the Maya. Resembling a tortilla, it can be stuffed with a variety of meats, cheese, or vegetables. I opted for cheese and loroco – a traditional flower bud heretofore alien to me – and watched as the pupusera shaped the dough and stuffed it to order. Accompanied by pickled coleslaw, tomato salsa, and onions, the loroco had a complex taste similar to the flavor of sea beans. I could have easily gobbled another. One thing was certain: this was no street fair arepa, thank you very much. Sated, stuffed, I nevertheless pined to continue eating my way across the continent. Yet for once I practiced a smidgen of self-control, opting for a fresh mango dusted with lime and chili, those twin ingredients which so often elevate Latin food to a sublime place worthy of the occasional gustatory daydream.

Share

birthday booze: shine on

One of the cooler prezzies I got this year for my birthday was this bottle of Kings County Distillery corn whiskey, better known as moonshine.  Distilled right here in Brooklyn, New York, it ups the ante in my growing push to eat more locally. Now I’ve got to think about drinking locally, too.

Share

peaches off the hook

Earlier in the year I posted about the amazing sight of fruit trees in my friend’s backyard in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Well, the peaches are finally ripe and ready for picking.  My kitchen is now full of their fragrant scent – but not for long; one of the great joys of picking ripe fruit is savoring that all-too-fleeting moment of sensory perfection.

Share

a peach grows in brooklyn

Lo and behold, I discovered peach trees this weekend – growing in the unlikeliest of places:  my friends’ backyard in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  (There are plum trees, too, but they have yet to start fruiting.) I can’t wait until August, when I hope a late night, outdoor session of our book club will be scented with the aroma of ripe fruit on the breeze – and the grill.  The asphalt jungle never smelled so sweet.

Share

Proudly powered by WordPress
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.