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Red Hook Vendors: Safe for Six Years, But in What Form?

The forces of good have triumphed! The Parks Department has issued a permit to the Red Hook food vendors, ensuring deliciousness at the Red Hook ball fields for at least another six years. But the vendors aren't out of the woods yet. "Two hours ago I got a call from Parks saying we won the bid," Carlos Fuentes, the vendors' leader, tells us. "This has been an uphill battle. It's by no means an end. It's a big victory though. Now the biggest challenge is DOH compliance. In winning the bid we understood that we need to comply with health regulations. It might change the character of the affair — the ethnic, rustic, mercado style. We may have to turn into a more generic type of activity. We need to look at options in hopes of trying to find a way to preserve what we already had."

Brooklyn Eats Is Back On for 2008

We are pleased by the imminent return of Brooklyn Eats, the borough’s own multi-restaurant tasting event that was on hiatus last year. Come April 30, you’ll find at least 30 participating restaurants at the Navy Yard. But why not even more? If you have a roti shop, trattoria, or Uzbek kebab house, contact the organizers: Brooklyn is a big place, and there’s room for everybody. Brooklyn Eats [Official site via Brooklyn Paper]

Red Hook Vendors Aren’t Out of It Yet

Red Hook
Eat for Victory’s Nina Lalli spoke to Red Hook vendors rep Cesar Fuentes yesterday and posted an admirably easy-to-understand summary of the current bureaucratic boondoggle that is currently holding the vendors’ fate in limbo. To sum up the summary: All isn’t lost, but the future doesn’t look rosy, either. We’ll let Nina explain. The State of the Ball-Field Vendors, Plus a Ceviche Exclusive [Eat for Victory/VV] Related: Red Hook Vendors Bid for Ball Fields Earlier: Grub Street's Complete Coverage of the Red Hook Ball Fields

The $4 Di Fara Slice: We Break It Down

Dom De Marco raised the price of a Di Fara's slice to $4, and Chowhounders are aghast, reports Slice's Adam Kuban. But do the accusations of making a quick buck lobbed against the Saint of Avenue J have any merit? We did a little research into the cost of ingredients at Di Fara and confirmed our suspicion that De Marco doesn't make much money.

City’s Only Barbecue Contest Loses Home

It’s yet another setback for the barely breathing New York competition barbecue circuit: Grillin' on the Bay, the city’s only Kansas City Barbecue Society–sanctioned contest, which had been planned for this summer at beautiful Kingsborough Community College in Sheepshead Bay, is off. Kingsborough rescinded its invitation, organizers say, leaving them only a few months to find a new location for dozens of teams and their mobile barbecue pits. One alternate being considered is Floyd Bennett Field, an empty expanse south of Marine Park in Brooklyn. We'll let you know the confirmed time and place when we hear it.

It’s the End of the Line for Schnäck

Schnäck, the Red Hook hamburger-and-hot-dog mecca that was one of our favorite additions to the Brooklyn restaurant scene — nay, to American vernacular cooking! Co-owner Harry Hawk tells us that the end is nigh, but he will not give an expiration date. We hear through the grapevine that the proximate cause of the closing is a lost lease, but having seen ever-thinning crowds over the past year, we are more likely to believe that the poor location and awful service softened the victim up for the final blow. Schnäck is a resilient entity, however, and it would not surprise us to see it pop up somewhere else; in the meantime, Schnäck burgers, or their near equivalents, will continue to be available at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City.

The DOH Shuts the Doors on Cake Man Raven

Irate customers outside Cake Man Raven are being forced to forego their southern red-velvet fix after a not-so-friendly visit from the Department of Health yesterday. According to the Cake Man (a.k.a. Raven Patrick De'Sean Dennis III), an inspector showed up Wednesday afternoon and shut down the cake shop that evening for not having the proper permits. With demand growing for the alarmingly crimson layer cake, the Cake Man moved his baking operation from the store's tiny kitchen to an East New York factory in late December. The bureaucratic reason: "They said the cake was coming from an unknown source." In layman's terms, the mix-up is over permits to transport slices of cake (whole cakes are fine) from the factory to their storefront on Fulton Avenue in Fort Greene. "If I brought the cakes to the store whole, it wouldn't be a problem," the Cake Man says. We have a call in to the Health Department.

Morton’s Arrives to Destroy the Last Bit of Brooklyn’s Soul

Morton's
Now that Morton’s has announced that it’s opening a steakhouse in Brooklyn, the borough has lost its claim to a culinary soul. Morton’s — a chain steakhouse that presents its meat to customers under plastic wrap — is the culinary equivalent of the banks and drugstores that have pushed out mom-and-pop businesses all over town.

Esca Chef to Work for Mets; Bourdain Back on Food Network

Esca chef David Pasternack will be right at home in the new Mets stadium come 2010, running a place called the Fish Shack. [Insatiable Critic] Related: Hark! New Shake Shack to Open at Shea Stadium Kim Severson just ruined our breakfast with a look at PETA’s "Got Pus?" campaign and the question of whether or not milk contains pus. Let's all share the nausea, shall we? [Diner’s Journal/NYT] A Brooklyn pizza maker accused of gunning down a mobster was acquitted yesterday, but the case still reinforces those old mafia-in-cahoots-with-Italian-joints stereotypes. [NYDN]

Jonathan Lethem Fuels His Writing With ‘White Trash’ Sandwiches

Lethem
Boerum Hill resident and author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude Jonathan Lethem is at work on a still untitled novel that’s set on the Upper East Side and features a character that’s always seen eating either an H&H bagel or a burger deluxe from Jackson Hole. The author also happens to be a bagel lover and tends to wolf them down with egg and cheese during writing breaks, something he describes as an “abject New York style of white-trash eating.” Of course, he’d never indulge in that for breakfast. “My tendency,” he says, “is to go from purity to decadence, like I’m reliving the fall of a great empire.” Here he recounts the rise and fall of his diet this week.

It Takes a Lot to Win the Brooklyn Jerk-Off

The first annual Prospect-Lefferts Gardens "Jerk-Off" was held earlier this week by a group of local jerkaphiles, to determine just who makes the best jerk chicken in the neighborhood. Considering the area's huge Caribbean population, it was a tough call. Hammonds Bakery and Jerk Center won top jerk honors, with the more-hyped Peppa's coming in a distant fourth owing to crippling dryness. Which only goes to show that you're only as good as the last chicken you jerk. PLG Jerk-Off! [Hawthorne Street]

Red Hook Spokesman Strikes Back, Puts Down Coup

Ivan Kane
The Times reported dissension among the Red Hook vendors, and we were surprised. But not as surprised as Cesar Fuentes, who was furious when we talked with him over the weekend. “This wasn’t really dissension,” Fuentes says. “It was more of a coup d’état.” Seriously? What's going on in Red Hook?