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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?

‘Gourmet’ Hits El Alto; ‘Bon Appétit’ Hails Chang

Buon Appetit
As we near the end of the month, it’s time to look at the latest batch of food magazines. Gourmet‘s entire October issue is devoted to Latin American cooking and has two big features that New Yorkers will want to check out: a profile of “El Alto,” the Dominican enclave in upper Manhattan, with a focus on the area’s restaurants, and a mouthwatering survey of taco trucks around the USA.

Meet the Ultimate Locavore — For One Month, Anyway

So you eat New York State apples and pork from Violet Hill farm. You call yourself a locavore? Manny Howard lived for 30 days on what he grew in his backyard in Brooklyn. Or at least he tried to. But frigid rabbit does, cute ducklings imprinting on him, and the little matter of a tornado all threw obstacles in his path. Meet Manny Howard and his Empire of Dirt in this Grub Street Video.

Senator Schumer Springs to the Red Hook Vendors’ Defense Again

Another weekend went by without incident for the Red Hook food vendors, and don’t think we’re not happy about it. We’re grateful, too, because there’s reason to believe that the intervention of Senator Chuck Schumer halted the bulldozers of the Department of Health, much as he did the incipient threat from the Parks Department some weeks ago. Vendor representative Cesar Fuentes tells us that Schumer wrote Dr. Thomas Frieden, the department’s commissioner, thanking them for consideration and leniency. Fuentes, though, doesn’t feel that the vendors are out of the woods and not just because of the DOH: “As the deadline for our current TUA permit looms near, NYC Parks Dept. has not -as of yet- issued an extension for our operation to continue beyond Sept 8th and until the expected end of our season on Oct. 28th. As we are still hopeful this permit extension will be granted, we trust the Parks Dept. earlier decision to extend such permit is still in place -that it has not backed out of its decision, but just delayed it for unknown reasons...” The Parks Department to the left of them, the DOH to the right, on rode the food vendors. Senator Schumer's letter to the Department of Health [pdf] Earlier: Red Hook Vendors Make It Official: Their Fingers Are Crossed

Riding the B Line: Unreal Afghan Pasta in Polyglot Ditmas Park

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 don’t 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: Newkirk Avenue

Riding the B Line: Baklava Like You Wouldn't Believe

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 don’t 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: Kings Highway

Is This the Last Saturday for the Red Hook Vendors?

Things have looked dire for the Red Hook vendors for much of the summer, with first the Parks Department and then the Department of Health threatening their future. As Porkchop Express reported last week, the DOH popped in for a surprise inspection and was shocked — shocked! — to find no running water there. So will the situation be remedied by this weekend, when inspectors are rumored to show up again? Doubtful, says vendor representative Cesar Fuentes. “They want us to have hot and cold running water, a refrigerated truck to store food in, all the food prepared either in a restaurant or in a DOH-approved preparation facility, and a lot of other things.”

Riding the B Line: Georgia on Our Mind

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 don’t 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 Sheepshead Bay B Stop

Health-Food War Brews in Ditmas Park

There’s a war going down in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, and the winner, so far, is the neighborhood. For years, the Flatbush Food Coop has pretty much had the run of the area, and neighbors, even those who were members, often grumbled at their prices. But earlier this year, the Natural Frontier market opened down the block, garnering kudos for their extremely competitive prices. Now Flatbush Food has fought back, taking over the just-vacated Associated Supermarket across Cortelyou Road. Not that they want you to think of it that way.

LeNell’s Felled by Red Hook Development?

Red Hook residents have had plenty to fret over in the past few years: the loss of Lillie’s, the arrival of Ikea, the possible close of Barge, whatever's happening with 360 (currently closed with no sign of reopening), and of course the ball-field vendors and their permit issues. And now we’re told by employee Amanda Womack that LeNell's, the city’s most eccentric liquor store (and arguably its bourbon mecca), is getting the boot from its landlord and looking for another location. “We have a year, but we’re looking now. We can move as soon as we find a place.” The question, then, is whether they're intent on staying in the neighborhood. Apparently not: “We want to stay in Red Hook,” Womack tells us, “and we’ll stay if we can. But there’s not much available right now.” Red Hook locals, we advise you to start stocking up on bourbon now. Related: Best Liquor Store: LeNell’s Is This the Last Summer of the Red Hook Park Vendors?

Why Is Alan Richman So in Love With Brooklyn?

Given that Alan Richman has become a kind of professional debunker, the Amazing Randi of the food world, it was with some relief that we read his critical overview of Brooklyn in the new issue of GQ. The verdict: Brooklyn rules! Gramercy Tavern, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and the cities of Las Vegas and New Orleans, all victims of his scorn over the last few years, must be fuming.

La Marqueta Fights City Hall and Wins; Josh DeChellis Out at Sumile

Brooklyn’s La Marqueta, facing the same kid of pressure as the Red Hook vendors, wins another year and postpones getting the heave-ho from the 70-year-old market. [NYDN] Josh DeChellis has left Sumile Sushi to do a tempura restaurant at 50 Carmine Street. [NYT] Related: Josh DeChellis Dodges a Bullet, and Hits a Bullseye [Grub Street] This is a golden age of meatballs we’re living in. [NYT] Related: Men and Their Meatballs [NYM]

Zak Pelaccio Leaves 5 Ninth; Survival of the Fittest in the Hamptons

Zak Pelaccio leaves 5 Ninth to pursue projects with Jeffrey Chodorow; his replacement, Dan Perilla, a.k.a. Chino, is a Pelaccio protégé who will oversee the restaurant’s move away from Asian flavors. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine] The competition is brutal for Hamptons restaurants, and only the strong survive more than a season or two. [Newsday] The current lobster-roll craze started at the Pearl Oyster Bar, and its shameless imitators really ought to admit who influenced them. [Serious Eats]

Is This the Last Summer of the Red Hook Park Vendors?

Brace yourselves, Latin-food lovers: The Red Hook ball fields, home to the city’s most beloved cluster of food vendors, may be closing for good in September. The city, eager as ever for the fat stacks that only a bidding war by commercial concessions can offer, has given the vendors notice that their Temporary Use Agreement, the permit given to them by the Department of Parks and Recreation, won’t be renewed. The city wants to open the parks up for concession bids, which will almost certainly mean an end to the makeshift food stalls that have been operating there for over ten years.

The Food War Between Old and New Continues

The attentions of New York’s food staff are divided between modernity and tradition. Gael Greene is vexed with Provence, a reopened French restaurant which was faithfully conventional even in its former incarnation. Rob and Robin, apart from their usual announcements of new places in Openings, extract from Anthos chef Michael Psilakis a comparatively novel recipe for mature dandelion greens. And Adam Platt finds himself caught in the middle of Marco Canora’s half-modern, half-classical menu at Insieme.

Ride the White Lightning

Yesterday we reported that a legal form of absinthe is hitting the U.S. market this month (among connoisseurs it’s no secret that certain purists around town have been discreetly serving wormwood absinthe all along in cocktails such as the Sazerac). But what about that other banned booze — moonshine? Though it won’t be legalized anytime soon, let’s just say there’s a saloon in Brooklyn that will pull it from under the bar if you ask nicely. We were recently treated to a few eye-popping, sinus-destroying shots, poured from the obligatory Mason jar, of what we were assured was the real deal, and when we called later to request it for a friend’s birthday party, we were told we’d be taken care of again. We won’t give away the place’s identity, but we will tell you to look for a bulldog.

Mmmm, the Red Hook Ball Fields

Local asparagus, the Beard Awards, the shattered hopes of Knicks fans — there are a lot of unmistakable signs of spring in New York. But none trump the opening of the Red Hook Ball Fields, an explosion of ethnic home cooking and children’s soccer.

Even Peeps Aren't Safe From Brooklyn High-Hats

The level of Brooklyn sanctimony is always sky high, but this flyer, just posted on Epicurious, really takes the cake. Even innocent Peeps aren’t secure from freewheeling vegetarian assaults! But what really told us that Brooklyn had passed beyond the fringe was the fact that Gourmet food editor Ian Knauer, the poster, far from having a bit of sport at the flyer, goes even further. Though disavowing vegetarianism himself, he points out that if you are truly an orthodox believer, not only shouldn’t you eat marshmallows, but even sugar has the marrow taint: “Both the largest and second largest producers in the US use bone char filters made from beef bones.” Judas priest! Is there some kind of vegan-ethics Olympics going on in the 718 that we don’t know about? Never mind. We know the answer already. Peep This [Epicurious]

Jason Neroni Arrested, Taken Into Custody

Jason Neroni, as we suggested might happen, has been arrested and charged. At last word, he was cooling his heels in the 76th Precinct. [Gawker] Earlier: Neroni Is Indeed Free — for a Few Days, Anyway The Department of Health’s crackdowns have cost the industry millions, claims the New York Restaurant Association. [NYP] The Shake Shack was only the beginning: The New York hamburger now has to be natural, ethical, and very, very good to compete in a crowded landscape. [NYDN]

NYC ICY Set to Reconquer New York

It was a sad day for snow cones when artisanal water ice joint NYC ICY went under a couple of years ago. But now owner Jonathan Leeds tells us that not one but two NYC ICY locations will be opening in late May or early June— one in Brooklyn and a smaller one in Hell’s Kitchen. “It won’t be too different from the old place,” Leeds promises. “But we may let people in this time. We might even have a counter.” Counters? The places haven’t even opened up, and they’re already showing signs of decadence. NYC ICY, 628 Tenth Ave., nr. 45th St.; no phone yet. NYC ICY, 905 Church Ave., nr. Coney Island Ave.; no phone yet.