Somewhere in the world there may be a train line that covers more gastronomic territory than the B and V subway lines, which start in southernmost Brooklyn and end deep in Queens, but if there is, we dont know about it. For the next twenty-odd weeks, we'll be riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants and food stores near the subway.
This week, the Brighton Beach / Brighton 6 Street B stop
Its a long ride on the B to Brighton Beach, but not as long as the Airbus to Odessa. Once you descend the El steps, youre in what amounts to another country; hardly anyone is speaking English. The subway roars above your head as you walk down the avenue past Brighton 4th, Brighton 3rd, and Brighton 2nd, but no matter: Youre on your way to Taste of Russia.
The long, narrow appetizing store isn't very tourist-friendly. The signs are in Russian, and most of the prepared foods are not easy to recognize. But they are almost always fantastic. A thick piece of roast salmon, as clean and delicate as sashimi and stuffed with light, dill-fragrant cheese, sits in one corner; another one displays a flattened panko-covered quarter-chicken, its tender meat barely held together by the brittle crust. Just as you're eyeing the garlic-and-dill slab bacon, freshly made pickles, an assortment of pirozhki, and enormous fried dumplings packed with pork or eggs or cabbage come into view. Everything's so cheap that you can buy whatever you want. Once you do, consume the bounty the Brighton way: on the boardwalk.
Taste of Russia, 219 Brighton Beach Ave., at Brighton 1st St., Brighton Beach, Brooklyn; 718-648-2583