Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Return to Red Hook

Pupusa Truck, Red Hook, Brooklyn

Earlier this month, I was in New York for the weekend and some friends and I decided to sate our pupusa craving with a trip to the Red Hook Ball Fields in Brooklyn. Little did we know that our visit fell on the first weekend the new! improved! "healthy"! stands were open. After a lengthy battle with the city, less than half the vendors have returned this summer, ensconced in approved taco trucks, following all health code standards.

Pupusa at Red Hook, Brooklyn
Bean and cheese pupusa with cabbage slaw.

The food was just as good as it was when I first sampled it last summer--particularly the grilled corn, doused with lime, cheese and chili. However, as I explained to a NY1 reporter, the weekly gathering has lost some of its neighborhood, family picnic charm. You can see my brilliant interview here.

Though it may have been first weekend madness, I recommend arriving early. At 11:30 when we showed up, lines were short--by the time we left around 12:45, you'd have to wait awhile for your Latin food fix. One exception--the ceviche line was unreasonably short, considering the deliciousness of the refreshing dish. Maybe the $8 price seems unreasonable compared to $3 tacos, but a serving is packed with meaty shrimp and worth every penny.

On another note, Manhattanites have an additional option for arriving at the Ball Fields this summer--the new IKEA ferry. Over at Serious Eats they have a handy map and instructions, but be warned that on the trip back those with receipts from IKEA jump to the front of the line. However, a receipt for a bottle of water is just as good as one for an IKSANDEERVERDENHOVEEN heap of plywood, so you won't be stuck waiting all afternoon. And you'll get a beautiful view and lovely breeze--much better than the stinky subway on a summer afternoon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Domo Arigato, Mr. Yogato

Mr. Yogato Message Board
The suggestion and message board at Mr. Yogato

What does a rocket scientist do when he leaves Cali for DC and misses frozen yogurt? Opens his own froyo joint of course. A froyo joint that has rules--all of which lead to a discount of some sort, whether it's 20% off when you allow the cashier to stamp "Mr. Yogato" on your forehead, to 10% off if you answer a trivia question correctly.

Free stuff for your Mr. Yogato Yogurt
Free stuff to put on your yogurt. Olive oil's (?!?!) one of the choices.

The tart yogurt and fruit toppings are direct descendants of the Pinkberry tradition, yet the warm, goofy atmosphere is as far from the antiseptic, corporate feel of the 'berry as it gets. Visiting Mr. Yogato feels like stumbling into a raucous neighborhood ice cream social, with free mango or mojito yogurt samples for all.

On Saturday after a sweaty hike around the Mall, looking at statutes of dead presidents, my friends and I stopped in to cool off. We managed to confirm our patriotic cred (and earn a 10% discount) by correctly answering the following: Name three of the four U.S. state capitals named after presidents. We may have gotten just a smidge of help, but just a smidge (our hint: 3rd president). My blueberry and banana covered tangy yogurt would've been worth it without the discount, but not "the funnest yogurt experience" I've ever had. (Personally, I'd prefer "most fun" but, hey, I'm not a rocket scientist).

Mr. Yogato
1515 17th Street NW (between P & Q)
Washington, DC 20036

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Two feasts for $5.58

$5.58 worth of groceries from Glebe Market

Are you a grad student working an unpaid summer internship? Determined to eat like a queen on a shoestring budget? Here's what you do: visit your nearest Hispanic market or bodega. Pick up an onion, green bell pepper, avocado, can of Goya black beans, and homemade corn tortillas. Contain your surprise when these ingredients (plus a few breakfast bananas) total $5.58 at the check out. Fortunately, you already have some crumbly cheese (feta works), garlic, and cilantro at home or you would've forked over at least $7 or $8.


Dice your onion and pepper, mince your garlic. Saute them all in olive oil. Meanwhile, drain and rinse your beans. When the onion/pepper mix is done--browned slightly, onions translucent--add the beans, salt, and pepper. Stir well. As the beans warm up, chop your avocado, your cilantro, and crumble some cheese. Turn the beans to low or off. Heat a smidge of olive oil in another pan until warm, then toss in a tortilla. Heat on one side until it puffs up and the bottom gets crispy. Flip. Repeat with a second tortilla. Put tortillas on plate, pile with 1/3-1/2 of the beans, top with avocado, cilantro and cheese. Save the leftovers for tomorrow's dinner, and toast your thrifty-ness with a glass of an $8-a-bottle pinot grigio.