June 26, 2007
What would motivate me to travel all the way out to Brooklyn on a Saturday afternoon despite several subway transfers? Well, the best Latin American food in the greater New York area is what. And by best, I mean I might have to make the trip a weekly excursion since my mouth is still watering.
The New York foodies and many, many others have been buzzing lately regarding the Red Hook soccer fields. Recently, the city informed the Latino food vendors that their Temporary Use Agreement, granted by the Department of Parks and Recreation, would not be renewed. The city wants to open up the park to concession bids, ensuring a sizable amount of money for the city, but surely bringing an end to the vendors operating at Red Hook for the last ten years.
I went out to Red Hook on Saturday to see for myself why these vendors are so wonderful. First of all, the food was easily some of the best I have had anywhere in New York. Salvadoran pupasas, thick corn tortillas stuffed with cheese or pork, are made by hand continuously by a couple of vendors, and served with a pickled cabbage relish called curtido. Some of these delicious pupasas are pictured above. They seem rather simple, but these babies are mind-blowing. Other vendors sell fresh ceviche, which I have certainly discussed before.
Sampling some Mexican cuisine, I also enjoyed some fresh, chorizo tacos with plenty of spicy salsa and guacamole. Chorizo is Mexican sausage, and I want it much more often than I can find it. To wash all this down, I enjoyed a tall, cold cup of horchata, which is the sweet drink made from rice, almonds, and usually some cinnamon. An impressive juice stand also had fresh watermelon juice and limeade.
With all this food, J* and I settled down to watch some soccer at the fields. I couldn’t have been happier. Looking around at all the vendors, with their makeshift tables set up, I can see how important these vendors are to the community. Families from all over Brooklyn and New York are enjoying the food, the weather, and the soccer, and certainly not just Latino families. This is what makes New York great, and would certainly be a tragedy if lost.
According to Serious Eats, the vendors at Red Hook can stick around at least until the end of soccer season, October 28th.