Monday, July 26, 2010

Recent Eats

This summer, I acquired a Key to the City, part of an art project organized by Creative Time. It's a pretty neat project that basically gave me an excuse to venture to places I would otherwise never have explored. So on a recent blazing summer Saturday, my dining companion and I decided to set out for an adventure in Queens. But we started the morning by fueling up with a mega-breakfast (the only kind you can get) at Shopsin's. It was tough to narrow down the most expansive brunch menu in the city, but here's what we settled on:

Adobe: egg burrito, coconut pancakes, cranberry salsa. You can't even see the massive burrito hidden underneath. The cranberry salsa gave the plate a nice tinge of sweetness.

Fairie: pecan pancakes, bacon fried eggs, flat biscuits. Shopsin's really knows how to make pancakes. They're fluffy and light and buttery. With all the flavor combinations they offer (including mac and cheese pancakes that are actually good), there's no way you won't find one you like. I also loved the flat biscuits, which were like a chewier version of pancakes that tasted like biscuits. 

Properly prepared for our day, we headed to the Louis Armstrong Museum in Corona and took a tour of Satchmo's old house. This was the only time we gave ourselves to really digest. After that, we stopped in at Tortilleria Nixtamal, which Serious Eats wrote about as off the beaten path. But it's worth visiting. We tried out the spicy pork tamal.

The pork had just a tickle of spiciness and the corn masa tasted fresh and homemade. The key was supposed to take us down into the kitchen for a tour, but because they were preparing for a catering event, we were asked to come back later.

So on we went to our next stop. But before we arrived at our destination, we were waylaid by the sight of The Lemon Ice King of Corona, which is one of those classic, old-time New York places everyone should visit at some point or another. The menu listed lots of flavors, some of which I find it hard to imagine would taste good as Italian ice because I associate ice with fruit flavors.

We decided to go with a standard lemon ice and a tangerine ice.

The small cups look small, but that's a lot of ice packed in there. And it was surprisingly smooth and creamier than any Italian ice I've ever had. Now I could see how the less fruity flavors might pull it off. They didn't taste artificial and were cooling and refreshing.

Our next location was Eddie's Sweet Shop in Forest Hills. It's an old-fashioned soda and ice cream shop.

We sat at the counter on stools and ordered a strawberry sundae with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and a cherry. This isn't fancy ice cream and you'll never say it's the best you've had; the fun is in the setting, which makes you feel like a kid again.

And by sitting at the counter, you have a front-row seat to watch all the sundaes and shakes being prepared. We caught a peek inside the fridge of the giant mound of whipped cream and witnessed a big dollop miss its target. 

Because of the key, this mysterious lock box arrived with our order (the key also meant a discount on our ice cream). Inside were scraps of things with messages from people who had been before us. We added our own message to the heap and locked it back up and returned to Nixtamal.

We were taken down to the kitchen where we learned that nixtamal is the mixture of ground corn that is used to make the tortillas. We were given a mound to roll into a ball, flatten out in a tortilla press (the same instrument my grandmother used to make dumpling wrappers) and turn into a tortilla that we got to eat. They were hearty, pure corn tortillas.

After, we decided to get an order of steak tacos. The wait was long, but it was a lazy kind of day and as we were winding down, we didn't mind so much. They were a little on the salty side, but otherwise delicious.

The freezer with intriguing flavors of ice pops (like rice pudding, rum raisin) called to me. I couldn't leave without trying one and I went with avocado. I was hesitant about my choice, for fear that it would be too vegetabley of a flavor, but in fact it was creamy with a fruitiness to it. Had I thought harder about it, I should have realized because avocados are actually a rich-tasting fruit. It was an exclamation point on a long day.

No comments:

Post a Comment