Sunday, September 4, 2011

Simple Simple Syrup

Don't you hate it when you have an iced drink and the sugar doesn't dissolve in it like it does in a hot drink? That is where simple syrup comes in! Simple syrup is another term for sugar water, because that's what it really is: sugar and water. Making this is really easy too.

You will need:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
Heat up a small sauce pan with the water until it starts to bubble. Add in the sugar and swirl/or whisk it so the sugar doesn't sink to the bottom. Keep watch because it'll heat up really quickly due to the small amount of water. The water will thicken up and if you get a spoonful of it, you can't see any sugar crystals. Once it dissolves completely pour the simple syrup into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until needed!

You can't see it but the bottle is full of simple syrup. Simple solution to sweeten an iced drink. :)

Smorgasburg | A Brooklyn Flea Food Market

I was first introduced to Smorgasburg (between North 6th and North 7th St., at the East River, from 10am to 5pm) about a month ago by the Boyfriend. It was a trek to get there because it wasn't particularly near any train station. Smorgasburg is located at a gravel lot on the Williamsburg water front. It is full of food vendors in booths, scattered tables with chairs, and the Manhattan skyline as the background. The food vendors here aren't the cheap halal stands, but more unique and gourmet, and can be seen by the prices as well. There is also a newly renovated park and water taxi outside the market. You can escape the city and relax on the clean lawn with a picnic made up of foods from the market.

** Smorgasburg is part of the Brooklyn Flea but they are not at the same location. Smorgasburg is all food vendors meanwhile Brooklyn Flea encompasses everything (clothing, utensils, everything else). I have yet to visit the Flea but I will soon!

Surrounding the market is the up and coming Williamsburg. The buildings are new, fancy, and has a doorman. Maybe one day I'll be able to afford it. Haha
* Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Overlooking the city skyline on a beautiful summer day. Its sort of like Central Park, where it is an escape from the city but not really.

Now onto the exciting part: The Food. The first time the Boyfriend and I went, we were modest and didn't go crazy over the food.

This is from Solber Pupusas, a Dominican Food Truck from Red Hook. Also note, a lot of the vendors here are food trucks/carts or just chefs without a store front and this is their attempt at making it big. This is the pork special. When we got it, I was like, "Wheres the pork??"

The meat is inside. It was good and worth a try. For some reason there is always a line for Pupusas.

Next we tried Asia Dog, hot dogs with an Asian style topping.

Two organic beef franks with WANGDING (chinese BBQ pork belly + ake + scallions) and SIDNEY (Thai style: relish with mango + cucumber + red onion + cilantro + crushed peanuts + fish sauce)

I like the Sidney more because it is not as fatty and monotonous as the Wangding's pork belly. Sidney has more texture from the peanuts and mango, the crunch and nutty flavor, and it is more fresh. Obviously, since it has mangoes and cucumbers versus cooked pork belly. But mmm, pork belly is so good.

For the second visit, I had a voucher that I bought from GILT New York (think Groupon but fancier).

The Lobster Roll: Maine Style from The Red Hook Lobster Pound. Don't get me wrong but I like the Red Hook Lobster Pound. The first time we went to the brick and mortar, we got the Shrimp Roll and it was GREAT. Maybe its the price that is throwing me off. This is only half the roll but the full roll is not much bigger. And it is $16. $16!! for a small lobster roll. For that price, I could get a whole lobster elsewhere.

Biscuit with Honey Butter from King's Crumb. They are famous for their biscuits and fried chicken (including a sign across their booth stating so). The biscuit is pretty big and fluffed up. The honey butter is sweet and it tastes good, but anything with butter (and bacon) tastes better. Together it makes a savory snack. The Boyfriend thinks there is orange zest in it because of the orange flakes in the butter.

This is from Landhaus and it is DELICIOUS. Do you see the giant slab of bacon? Every BLT should include one. They ran out of the Lamb Burger by the time I got there, but this was an excellent substitute. The bread is toasted and crunchy and the bacon, oh the bacon. One of the best BLT's I've ever had and I recommend this to everyone, except vegetarians. The two creators behind this sandwich has an interesting history too.

The Roasted Chicken Sandwich from I8NY. We were contemplating between Porchetta and I8NY, and I think we made the correct decision. The salsa verde on this is amazing. The chicken is not dry but moist and juicy and the pickled green tomatoes helped with the acidity.

Fish Tacos from Chonchos Fish Tacos. At first they told us we had to wait 20 minutes so we walked around and went back to the stand. We ordered the fish taco so we had a variety for today: lobster, pork, biscuit, chicken, and fish. I mean, it was okay for a fish taco. Nothing that blew my mind and it needed a bit more sauce.

For our 'dessert' (because this isn't our only one!) we had the Stumptown Coffee [with cream + sugar] Popsicle from People's Pops. If you ever tried People's Pops, they do not go cheap on the ingredients. The Boyfriend is a huge fan of Stumptown's coffee so we got this flavor. The top is not dark because of lighting or the camera but because it is the coffee grounds. Crunchy little bits of delicious coffee.

The stand's top is a popsicle stick, how cool! I wish I could try all the flavors. They all sound so interesting, especially the Watermelon + Basil!

Dough. One of the stands you have to visit, regardless if you like doughnuts or not. They are fresh, fluffy, and made locally in Brooklyn. They are not heavy, not stale, or overly sweet like the popular commercialized donuts from Dunkin Donuts. They sold out of doughnuts twice already and were waiting for their third batch of doughnuts. The line for this could get ridiculously long.

If I was bigger or faster I would carry that cart of doughnuts and run away to an island.

Left to Right: Earl Grey Chocolate, Blood Orange, Cafe au Lait

Earl Grey Chocolate is the first one I ever had and I absolutely love it. The Blood Orange and Cafe au Lait were 'snacks' we bought during our second visit. The chocolate and blood orange one are their popular flavors and sell out fast; and I can see why. There are just hints of the flavors so it doesn't overpower. Cafe au Lait has a slight coffee flavor and the crunchy bits on top are so good. I eat these doughnuts as fast as I can once I get my hands on them so I don't know if they'll go stale the next day or not, but why would you wait until the next day to eat them?? They are only $2 each, too! And they are HUGE. I think these doughnuts are much better than the cupcake trend.

On a hot summer day, nothing quenches thirst like a slush from Kelvins Natural Slush Co. It is all natural and extremely refreshing. I fell in love with the slush since our first encounter at the Flea Market in Hell's Kitchen. Since this isn't the truck, it only has limited flavors and this is the Arnold Palmer + Pink Guava. One day I will try it all. Probably before winter.

During the stay at the Smorgasburg, it gets pretty hot and with all the food we needed some sort of liquids.

Left to right: Grapefruit Honey Jalapeno, Lime-Aid, Green Tea + Mint

The Grapefruit Honey Jalapeno is a soda from BK Soda Works. I was surprised but I actually like it. The grapefruit is not that sour or acidic and was made sweeter by the honey. The jalapeno adds a kick to the drink and on my tongue but wasn't too crazy. The Lime-Aid and Green Tea +Mint was from random stands which I don't remember. A lot of the stands sell drinks or bottled water along with their food.

If you don't have plans for the weekend, you should consider making a visit to the Smorgasburg because there is something for everyone. Plus, who doesn't like good food? Just be prepared for the lines. The market is also within walking distance to the Brooklyn Brewery but that's saved for another post. This is the height of the hipster, food truck, waiting in line, pop-ups, organic, local, gourmet meets accessibility phenomenon and Smorgasburg is a perfect example of it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Las Margaritas

It is a risk to try out a hole-in-the-wall establishment. These are eateries that are literally a hole in the wall that aren't fancy and usually their menu isn't either. Plus, its with minimal seating so it encourages a grab-and-go style. When you stumble upon one, it could be either be a great find or a race to find the nearest bathroom.

It just so happens that one opened up down the street from where I live. Las Margaritas (1738 Bath Ave, Brooklyn, NY) is a Deli-Grocery. From the front, it looks like a small grocery store with an array of native Mexican products. In the back its actually a deli with a flip-table and chair for one, but usually the table is stacked with products. This is truly a family-run establishment. The father (I assume) does the cooking with the grandma and his wife. There is a young boy that is usually playing with a baby in a stroller and I've seen all of them at the deli every time I visited.

Its funny how I came upon this place because I don't really go exploring for food around where I live. Many times I find take-out menus in the mail box or door slit and I would throw them out, except this one time. And thankfully, I kept it. It is definitely not a fast food option because they make everything from scratch. The boyfriend and I waited from 20 minutes to an hour for our food. Starting off with the drinks:

Mexi-Cola and Fanta

My first time trying Mexican Cola. The boyfriend said its supposed to taste different, but I couldn't tell. It could also be because my mouth was numb from the spices.


I wanted to try something different and this fit the bill. I wasn't sure about it at first because its not typical, but that's why I wanted to try it in the first place right? It smells different, not in a bad way, and tastes syrupy sweet.

Lengua Taco (Tongue) - this is LEGIT!

The tongue is very tender and flavorful. The second time I visited this place, I ordered Lengua en Salsa Verde (Tongue in Green Sauce, cause the guy said green is not as spicy as the red sauce + rices & refried beans) because the Lengua was delicious. Only problem was the green sauce was still too spicy for me.

(2) Lengua (tongue) Gorditas

The tongue is REALLY tender and the gorditas are homemade corn tortillas stuffed with lettuce, onions, and cheese. If you think tongue is gross, it really isn't. You just have to try it. They don't serve it as a whole tongue and it is cut up into pieces. If you were served lengua without the prejudice, I bet you will like it. :) The problem with gorditas is they can get soggy from the ingredients (plus moisture from the heat in the styrofoam box too) so careful picking it up!

Salty Beef Gordita

We were too full to finish this but I bet its delicious! It is in the fridge waiting for me to devour it tomorrow.

Torta Cubana - pork, breaded beef, Mexican sausage, egg, ham, pork cheese & cheese

The cheese is like Mexican mozzarella - so stringy, so good. Its the most expensive sandwich, but also the heaviest. Full of meat with different flavors and texture mixed with the melting cheese. Yum. This is a better Cubana than ones I've had at bigger restaurants (aka Essex).

Al Pastor Torta - Mexican sandwich garnished with refried beans, avocado, tomato, Mexican cheese, mayo, jalapeno, and marinated pork

Al Pastor Cemita - roll sandwich garnished with refried beans, Mexican cheese, avocado, papalo & chipotle

I'm beginning to grow very fond of the Al Pastor, maybe because of the pineapples that add the juicy and tangy-ness. Al Pastor is like Mexican gyro (and I loveee gyro!) and it has a long history behind it.

"Likely as a result of the adoption of the shawarma spit-grilled meat brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Having derived from the shawarma, it is also similar to the Turkish doner kebab and the Greek gyros. Whereas döner is usually lamb-based (thus the "shepherd style" name), gyros and tacos al pastor in Mexico are made from pork."

Salty Beef Tortas - Mexican sandwich garnished with refried beans, avocado, tomato, Mexican cheese, mayo, and jalapeno

The sandwiches here are seriously no joke. They are homemade, fresh, and heavy.

"Plain" Nachos

Mixed Nachos with chorizo, dry salty beef, and other meats with FRESHLY FRIED NACHOS!!

I put "plain" in quotation marks because it isn't plain, as stated on the menu. Do you see the ingredients on top of the nachos? Look at how fresh the avocado looks! These are probably the best nacho chips I've ever had. They are freshly fried and made-to-order.

Please note that these are pictures from two visits and not one fatty moment. They don't go cheap on the ingredients and they take the time and effort to make the food. It is not the typical Mexican fast food, but with the prices of one. It is pretty out of the way for anyone not living in this area, but if you are around here, really, check it out. (Take-out recommended)