November 18, 2007

Getting Fat in Red Hook: Part 1

[This entry originally took place on September 20th]

When my coworkers told me that the Red Hook Ball Fields would stop serving food for the year after September 21st (and possibly foreverrr), my first reaction was, "NOOOOOOO!!"

My second reaction after about a second or two of cursory thought was, "Well, I'm definitely too lazy to go." The idea of sleeping, of not expending energy, of not trying to catch a train or hauling my hefty ass around Brooklyn, of just lying in bed like a corpse and letting my brainmeats steep in brainmeat juices, was so nice. It was...beautiful.

But then I chatted with Kathy and found myself a fooding buddy (two actually, with her roommate Shann). Which meant there was energy expenditure in my future (besides consumption of lots of awesome food, but you know, when you're tired all you want is sleep). Dammit.

So that's how we ended up at the Red Hook Ball Fields. I mean, I took the train from NJ to NYC, then the subway to Kathy's place, then we took the F train to Smith-9th Streets, walked under the Gowanus Expressway as it peed dirty automobile-tainted liquids on our heads and meandered over to Red Hook Ball Fields. It's easy to get to from Manhattan, although the area can be a little sketchy at night.

a taco (and other things) stand? people getting drinks n stuff
WE'RE HERE

"OhmygodIwanteverything."

That's how I felt when I walked into the tent-covered food corner of the field and passed piles of grilled corn. ...And mountains of meat sizzling on a griddle, and pictures of tacos, and people carrying around plates loaded with meat and tacos, etc.

"Where should we start!?" exclaimed Kathy while wearing a grin on her face that said, "OhmygodIwanteverything."

I CAN HAS HORCHATA
I haz horchata

I didn't have an answer to her question, but as I craved the cinnamon-vanilla-ricey goodness of horchata most terribly my legs took me towards the drink station. As someone who tends to just drink water, it's surprising that I could love a drink so much even after only having drank it once in my life (in Phoenix). But it's magical. Maybe. It kinda tastes like drinkable rice pudding.

"I think I'd rather eat rice pudding," said Kathy.

She had a point. Hell, I'd usually say the same thing; why drink something if you can eat it? (Ice cream shakes come to mind—I get a lot more satisfaction out of chewing ice cream than drinking it.) But what I like about horchata is that I can get the taste of rice pudding in a light, refreshing liquid form without having to eat loads of it in solid form. Eating rice pudding in solid form tends to result in "pregger's belly," a condition that I'm overly familiar with. I mean, I feel really fat. Yeah, okay.

makin' huaraches
Meat pile

Drawn towards the sizzling pile of meat on the griddle, we picked a huarache—which my meager knowledge would describe as a gargantuan taco whose shell is a double-layered corn tortilla filled with a thin layer of bean mash—as the first solid food for our lunch.

stuff to put on top of stuff
Sauces

After your huarache is done, you can top it with mysterious bucket contents. Sauces, I think. And maybe pickles.

OH YEAH, it's huge beany innards of the huarache
Huarache time!

While I didn't break out a ruler to measure the length of our huarache, that it extended over the boundaries of the plate should tell you something. Huge ass. Like a freakin' snow show. The bean mash-filled tortilla was topped with pork, guacamole, salsa, chopped lettuce, grated cheese, something creamy, and possible more. By this point I don't remember. Admittedly, if I had written this entry the day on September 21st, I probably still wouldn't have been able to remember much about the huarache.

Kathy and Shannon are happily eating
Kathy and Shann

I mean, we DOWNED THAT BABY like it was our first meal after being stranded in a forest for two weeks, left to subsist on a diet of berries, dirt, and obsessive thoughts about death. Kind of. The best way to eat a huarache is to pick it up with your hands and shove it into your open mouth, but since we had to split it between the three of us we tore at it with forks and...forks. There weren't any knives. So in case you were wondering, knives are very, very useful; they can cut through things. Forks suck at this. And that concludes your kitchen utensil lesson of the day.

So we were pretty focused on eating our individual shares with our forks, mutilating it in the process. Oops. Aside from the mutilation, it was mega tasty. The tortilla did a lot for the tastiness; slightly crisp, soft, chewy, not too thick, full of corny goodness. I'd say that whenever I eat something in a sandwich-esque category it's the bread part that is just slightly more important than the filling. Slightly. In my opinion that no one else has to share (although I hope someone does), mediocre filling in great bread tastes better than great filling in mediocre bread. The huarache did great on filling and bready part.

finished.
Devoured

We ate it. Ah, success.

FRIED
FRIED!

We moved onto a stall selling 100% golden fried things. And meat on sticks. If this doesn't get the tummy rumbling with grease-laden glee, then you're reading the wrong blog. (...It's alright—you can stay!)

people playing sports, burnin calories
Field
fried potato mash stuff with stuff
Fried ball o stuff
innards of potato thing
innards

We sat on a bench in front of the athletic field while Kathy balanced our styrofoam bowl of "chunka fried potato mash with a hidden surprise!" on her lap. Our dense potato ball was filled with bits of rice, peas, and shredded pork, breaded and deep fried. Sounds lovely, right?

Unfortunately, it was pretty bland. We were probably supposed to put sauce on it, but being virgins to the fried potato bomb, we didn't know the best way to proceed. Good stuff: the light and crunchy crust was great and the filling was agreeable (as things with bits of moist shredded tend pork be). Bad stuff: the potato would've been tastier with a sodium injection.

grilled corn stand
Grilled corn stand

As Kathy waited in the pupusa line, Shann and I indulged in some grilled corn goodness. Grilled corn goodness is made like so: take ear of grilled corn, shove a stick up its nether regions, slather it with mayo, roll it in powdery white cheese (which has a real name, but I won't guess what it is), squeeze on the juices from half a lime and sprinkle with chili powder. And...BAZAM!!!

Come to mama.  For $2.
Drool collects in my throat

You are now the proud owner of a beautiful ear of grilled corn. Each bite burst with juicy kernels of...um, juice. Sweet corny juice. With a hint of hotness and sourness and cheeseness.

pupusas! making pupusas pupusas are a-griddling!
Pupusas, in da making!

The pupusa stand, dedicated to the Salvadoran stuffed, hearty tortilla pancake, was the busiest one there. One woman (wearing the pink hat) seemed to have most of the pupusa-making duty; she would gather a ball of the maize dough from the giant mother-dough, shove in some filling, flatten it out, and BOOM, done. In five seconds. Or so.

PUPUSAS, GET IN MY BELLY!
Belly! Now!

Our plate of one loroco flower and cheese pupusa and one meat and cheese pupusa was topped with a pile of pickled cabbage and pickled jalapeños. Pickled cabbage = crunchy and yummily tart! Pickled jalapeños = DEATH TO ROBYN'S TONGUE, SEARING HOT PAIN, ETC. They go nicely with warm, happy pupusa matter, but on their own they're hot angry little buggers to want to burn off your taste buds.

pupusa innards
INNARDS

My first pupusa-eating experience left me wanting more. Much more. More sniffing of enticing grainy masa fumes, cracking through the crisp griddled exterior, chomping on a mouthful of warm, thick corny bread mixed with gooey cheese and meat/vegetable bits. It's not like anything else I've ever eaten, but fulfills the idea that things wrapped in dough are usually tasty.

Despite its popularity at the fields, it doesn't seem to be anywhere near ubiquitous in NYC. Which means I don't know where to get them. Bahia Restaurant has a wide selection of them, but if you have any recommendations please TELL ME, TELL ME YOUR SECRETS, for my stomach writhes for pupusa.

ye damn right, it's good
MAGIC LIQUID OF SWEET PUDDINGLY DELIGHT
Atol de Elote
Cuppa

While we were waiting for our pupusas, Kathy bought a cup of Atol de Elote, a dessert drink made of corn, cinnamon and milk, out of burning curiosity for what possibly life-changing properties the giant bucket of hot, thick, milky liquid held.

HOLY SHIT IT, WAS SO GOOD. There's no need to be eloquent when it comes to Atol de Elote. It tastes like freshly squeezed angels. Fat angels. Brought up on a diet of ambrosia. And corn. It reminded me mostly of drinking corn-infused creme anglaise, which I have done (sans the corn). (There's NO SHAME in this, no shame at all.) The only downside perhaps is that this stuff had the density of lead, or at least this cup did—Kathy said it had too much cornstarch. Less thick and we would've gulped it down in no time.

Gimme churros!
Gimme churros!

We were going to stop there. Really. But then we walked into the path of a churro cart. And when presented with a churro cart, one cannot ignore the churro cart.

Love the girl's expression in the above photo. And her wardrobe...is interesting. (I can't comfortably wear a halter top.)

2 churros / $1
Churros!

For $1 we walked away with two skinny, sugar-coated ridged sticks of chewy fried dough. While churros are perfectly tasty on their own (hello, fried dough + sugar?), Kathy wondered, "If only we had hot cocoa to dip them into."

churro and atol de elote
With magic liquid!

So we did the next best thing and dipped them into the remaining Atol de Elote. ...Which didn't work out so well, or not as well as it would've with hot chocolate. Not that it was bad. Sweet, viscous liquid goo atop sweet carbs is usually a winning combination.

wash your hands
Wash your hands!

We washed out hands at one of the convenient hand washing stations around the food stands before moving onto our next edible victims. Of which there were many. You'll have to wait until the next entry for that.

For more Robyn-eating action (but really, is this what you want?), read Kathy's entry!

Address

Red Hook Ball Fields
155 Bay St, Brooklyn, NY

...But there's not much point in going now since it's not food-filled. :(

Posted by roboppy at 6:48 PM

Tags: Brooklyn, Kathy, Mexican, Red Hook, Red Hook Ball Fields, Salvadoran, Shann

Comments (22)

HOORAY! OMG, looking back, I can't believe the sheer quantity we ate that day!

(shudders slightly)

BUT IT WAS FUN!

(squeezes squishy belly)

And Delicious!!!

(runs around tiny apartment in yellow American Apparel tights)

thank you! :)

Posted by: Kathy at November 18, 2007 7:16 PM [#]

My gosh, that looked like so much fun!

I want everything too! :D

It's been a long time since I've had churros (last summer, in fact), and yes, the corn made me drool too.

I also agree about that bit on the mediocre filling and great bread being better. I'm often disappointed by bad bread, even if the stuff in between is quite good.

Keep happy and keep eating! :)

Posted by: Daisy at November 18, 2007 10:58 PM [#]

Good stuff...your blog is great, a bunch of soldiers started reading while we were in Iraq and have kept up the tradition since we got back state-side/ to school...this shit is hilarious, much thanks :D

Posted by: Marisol at November 19, 2007 8:15 AM [#]

OMG...that grilled corn looks so freakin' tasty! Why didn't I join you that day? I don't remember. -__-

Anyways, looked like you had a TON of fun with Kathy?

Wait a minute...didn't you go to Baked and other places around Red Hook?

Posted by: Tina at November 19, 2007 9:01 AM [#]

Crap. Read your blog before dinner again. Had to stop reading to please my tummy. I'll read the rest later, promise.

Posted by: kaare at November 19, 2007 9:53 AM [#]

I haven't posted on here in a while, but I'm still here "lurking"...haha. This entry was too yummy looking not to comment on, as I really love this sort of food.

Anyway, you should DEFINITELY try the papusas at Bahia in Williamsburg. I live close to there and they are so good! My friend grew up in El Salvador and she says they're very authentic, and eats there all the time, also.

And speaking of churros, I just got back from 2 weeks in Argentina, where I had a steady diet each morning of churros filled with Dulce de Leche, the regional specialty. For a real treat, you can dunk them in homemade hot chocolate, which is also popular there. All I have to say is, OMG!

Maybe you should consider Argentina for your next trip? ;-)

Posted by: Rachel at November 19, 2007 11:08 AM [#]

oh my god, I have not had churros in about 100080 soul-sucking churroless years. they are now being added to my list of things to eat immediately.

ooooh, pupusa . . . this entry is too good robyn.

Posted by: susannah at November 19, 2007 12:45 PM [#]

the huarache is hard to eat with just your hands! it's totally possible but you just get it all over your hands, which could be good or bad...

and that girl looks so angry, even with the person handing a bag of churros to her.

Posted by: danny at November 19, 2007 1:11 PM [#]

Oh joy, pupusas! :D Had them for the first time with my family in El Salvador several years ago. Kimberly and my dad are actually going back for Thanksgiving... safe to say that I'm pretty smackin' jealous.

Posted by: misoponia at November 19, 2007 3:29 PM [#]

Pupusas rule! Fresh ones are the ONLY way to go. The pickled goodness (curtido?) is my FAVORITE part of a pupusa eating experience...well, along with hot masa goodness. :D

Is the crumbly cheese on the corn called cotija?

I want a custard-filled churro now. :(

Posted by: Manda at November 19, 2007 5:41 PM [#]

I wantz dat corn!

The little girl's expression is priceless. She's rockin' an "I aint eatin no Churros, Fool!"

Posted by: Graeme at November 19, 2007 6:59 PM [#]

Minor quibble - it's "Salvadoran," not "Salvadorian." That drives my Salvadoran friends nuts.

Posted by: oishii at November 19, 2007 9:15 PM [#]

That's sad to hear no more Red Hook food vendors. I thought they were given a reprieve by some higher up in govt.

But what really caught my eye was Rachel's comment about dulce de leche filled churros! That's so perfect! We have all three things here in the Philippines too, churros, dulce de leche and hot chocolate! Am hoping to inspire someone to make this happen here too.

Posted by: Mila at November 19, 2007 9:19 PM [#]

MAN!

this meal has me drooling and i just ate lunch whilst reading...

nothing satisfies me more than masa (not even rice, which would seem fitting for me), and your description of those pupusas... *sigh* one of my favourite foods ever.

Posted by: juji at November 19, 2007 10:07 PM [#]

Kathy: YOU ARE WELCOME!

Don't eat too much or else you won't be able to fight in the tights anymore.

:(

Daisy: I've rarely eaten churros in my life. But when I do...it's good. Seems like a once a year thing at most. :[

Marisol: Reading this blog has become a TRADITION? Holy crap, that's awesome and sweet. Thanks for letting me know! I hope I could provide amusement in Iraq...and elsewhere. ;) (You need lots of amusement in school too, haha. Euh.)

Tina: I think it was kind of a last minute decision to go Red Hook fooding. But I'm glad I dragged myself out of bed for that..eeuh..yay! We did go to Baked and Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies; those are in part 2!

Kåre: I hope you finished by now!

Rachel: I'm glad my entry was delicious enough to comment on. I HAVE TO DO THAT MORE OFTEN YESS!!

And thanks for the vote for Bahia; it's going on my list! If only I had discovered it sooner. I could have eaten so many pupusas by now.

And yes, I REALLY NEED TO GO TO ARGENTINA! Churros! ...Steak!...and other things, I suppose.

Susannah: And what a sad 100080 years those must've been!

Danny: It's probably more enjoyable to eat with your hands than poke at it with forks, even if it's messier? FUN FUN! Good thing they have hand washing stations.

She's full of angst. Tween angst.

Lee Anne: I too possess the jealousy.

Manda: Curtido seems to have more stuff in it (cabbage, carrots and onions?) than what I ate...sounds good though!

And looking at the description for cotija, it could've been that. Like parmesan, but not?

Graeme: If only we really knew what that girl was thinking.

If only.

oishii: Thanks for the correction! I SHALL NEVER MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN!

Mila: Oh, they might be back next year! I wasn't sure if it was certain or not.

Jebus, I really need to go to the Philipines. That'll be my first Asian stop! Whenever I travel again.

juji: Oh noo, I LOVES MY RICE! Masa is really satisfying though, I gotta say. If I had been brought up on it, it could've been my favorite food.

But I loves the rice. A lot. Nom nom.

Posted by: roboppy at November 19, 2007 10:44 PM [#]

Oh man, you make me miss Mexican food sooo bad! The best Australia can do is throw a pepper and some onion into tomato soup and call it salsa. I used to buy the grilled corn (or elotes) from street carts in Chicago, except they would shave it off the cob and mix it all up in a cup for you with mayo, butter, chili powder and cotija cheese. A much better cheese to corny goodness ratio. Good post. Thanks for making me drool on the keyboard!

Posted by: leena! at November 20, 2007 12:23 AM [#]

OMG fried things, corn things, and sweet things - SIGN ME UP! I have been eating pupusas my whole life and they are one of my most favorite foods! There are lots of Salvadoran places in Baltimore (where I am) and in DC suburbs - come visit and I'll take you! Not sure about in NYC though...sorry! Keep up the good work - looove your blog!

Posted by: Erin at November 20, 2007 11:36 AM [#]

This entry made me all happy inside because it reminded me SO MUCH of Spring Fair at Hopkins, which is basically a weekend of food. There are supposedly other things, such as concerts and shows and events of the entertainment sort, but they tend to get lost in the haze of "OMGZORZ MEAT ON A STICK!!" @Erin, if you're anywhere near Johns Hopkins (Homewood Campus, not E.B'more) in April, you should definitely check it out.

I was going to ask if the cheese on the corn was Parmesan, but I guess not. Peccorino Romano, maybe? I can't imagine what would make that girl look like that when confronted with SWEET CHURRO GOODNESS, but it must have been pretty bad.

Also (last thing, promise), everyone that I was supposed to go to Paper Moon with (the "Playskool-on-crack" restaurant) this weekend cancelled on me at the last minute, so still no pictures =(. I hope it isn't anticlimactic when I finally do go!

Posted by: Kathryn at November 20, 2007 12:00 PM [#]

DROOL. I finally went to Red Hook (in September too, I think!) And it was like, I wanted to be buried in that ground, after feasting on everything. My faves were the corn (I think it is cotija cheese?) and the pupusas and the tacossssss and the horchata. OK but I didn't try everything. Hopefully they will return!!

Angry churro girl? That's how I look in the morning. Angry sleepy asian girl, instead.

Ummm. Williamsburg pupusa trip???

Posted by: janet at November 20, 2007 4:22 PM [#]

Leena: Wow, it's that bad down under? I had no idea. Well, you have lots of other good food there, I'm sure. ASIAN FOOD! I have jealousy! Bwa.

Grilled corn, so good! I don't think we have grilled corn street carts here. Wah. I want...mayo butter chili powder cotija corn mash!

That would make a yummy corn chowder.

Erin: I wish I had been eating pupusas my whole life. :(

If I wanna visit I shall let you know. And let you drag me to the tasty places. BWAH!

Kathryn: It's cojita cheese perhaps! That's what everyone else is saying. SO I WILL TRUST THEM!

Damn, those flakes! I wouldn't have canceled. I would've happily visited the magical playskool on crack restaurant!

Janet: I like your favorites. I WILL TAKE THEM AS MY OWN.

AND YES WE MUST DO PUPUSA TRIP!!!@#

AND THEN KOREAN FOOD.

BWAHAHA.

I'm just zombie-like in the morning. Wah. :(

Posted by: roboppy at November 20, 2007 10:34 PM [#]

The pickled cabbage is called "curtido." It involves magic, including pineapple vinegar and sometimes organo and other good things. Years ago, at a Salavdoran place in Vacaville, California called El Caracol, the curtido was so fiercely delicious, I would order the pupusas just to get at the big jar of this condiment. Now, that's some tasty cabbage.

Posted by: Jx at February 25, 2008 7:34 PM [#]

Jx: Oh man, I also want to order pupusas JUST for the curtido! ...Not that I want to eat it on its own, but pupusas aren't right without it.

Posted by: roboppy at February 25, 2008 9:45 PM [#]

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» 12/02/13: Taipei 2011, Day 2: Shaved Ice Two Ways, 7-Eleven, Shilin Night Market, Etc.

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» 08/19/13: Indessert, My New Favorite Dessert Shop Serving Tong Sui in Chinatown

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» 06/30/13: In Remembrance of David Jones, My Favorite Memories from Virginia

» 06/02/13: Visiting Norway (Bergen and Oslo) from June 8 to 16

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umami
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These friends have lent me their stomach acids on numerous occasions.

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Colin
Diana
Eric
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Kåre
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