6/23/2012: Smorgasburg in the Burg!
As efficient as NYC subways are, on beautiful weekends such as these, the last thing I want to do is spend it underground, so I hopped aboard the East River Ferry for a 15 minute ride from Midtown to the Burg. With the sun warming my body and the wind in my hair, the views from both sides were just spectacular from the water. Before I knew it, my ride was over and I was rushing off the boat to the beautiful sights, sounds, and smells of Smorgasburg fare. Grubspot #1 was BFC for their delicious fried chicken. Until now, my favorite place for fried chicken had been The Redhead in the East Village, but the chicken at BFC was just scrumptious. Both are pre-soaked in buttermilk, but the exterior at BFC was a tad crunchier, and the meat ultra juicy. An order included a drumstick and thigh with honey and hot sauce and a side of basil watermelon salad. The salad was refreshingly minty and sweet and the chicken was crisp, fatty, and so good on its own I devoured both pieces without a glance at the sauces.
Grubspot #2 was neighboring La Casa de Camba for Bolivian. I asked Patrick for his recommendation and received their signature pork belly Salteña. It’s very similar to an empanada, but baked, and the dough is mixed with Aji Amarillo (yellow chilli) that gave it a nice lingering heat. The filling was made with tender pork belly, gelatinized chicken broth, smoked chilly, a slice of hard boiled egg, and Swiss chard. It was like eating soup from a breadbowl but without the spoon. The broth was savory with a hint of smokiness, and the heat from the chilli crust was spot on, producing a welcoming burn that lingered but wasn’t overpowering.
Without skipping a beat, my sweet tooth beckoned so for Grubspot #3, I dropped by Biteme Cheesecakes for Justice and Chef Ty’s miniature bite-sized cakes. My box of three included the classic, strawberry balsamic, and limoncello meringue. The limoncello was light and citrusy, with a sweet and airy meringue cap that balanced the rich filling and crust. The strawberry balsamic was tangy with faint whispers of balsamic and sauvignon blanc from the glaze. My favorite was the simple classic. I’m a big fan of cheesecake and an even bigger fan of those with buttery crusts. I’ve tried Juniors more than enough times, and while their filling is good, the crustless bottom just ruins it for me. The classic at BiteMe was delicious – sweet, velvety filling highlighted by a perfectly buttery graham-cracker crust.
A NOMination came in for Takumi Taco, so I hopped in line for their spicy tuna taco and was graced with a hard shell encasing chunks of sushi-grade tuna. Although tiny, it packed tons of flavor, but by my second bite, I realized the fish was raw (it was covered in sauce so I didn’t know). Being a sushi-newbie, I was completely surprised at my inability to have cringed at the raw fish. The sesame seeds and sauce were delicious, and the shell tasted fresh. The pieces of radish atop provided a nice firmness that mediated between the textures of the soft fish and hard taco. The accompanying chips were spicy and well-cripsed. There may be hope after all of breaking my non-sushi nomming shell after my challenge.
My final stop was Grubspot #5, Handsome Hank’s Fish Hut. By now, I’d loosened a notch on my belt, but the long line at this stand hooked and reeled me right in. Amanda at the counter took my order of their classic fish sandwich and within minutes Randy served up a humongous plate of fried goodness with a side of slaw and 2 big slices of bread. The slaw was tart and creamy, and the fillets were huge! Super crunchy shell with insides that were well-seasoned and flaky. At $8 for enough food to feed two, this was easily the best deal of the day and I ended up bringing more than half of it home. There is still a plethora of delicious Grubspots I’d missed today, so count me in for several more weekends of grubbin’ in the Burg.
To all the awesome people today that let me intrude on their lunches to capture their grub and smiles, thank you! Enjoy the pics!