Friday, August 28, 2009

Boroughs Other Than Mine

Before I head back across the Atlantic to visit some of the world's more gossiped-about eateries, I owe it to you, dear readers, to describe my last few days here on this continent.

On Wednesday afternoon, I was treated to a comped lunch at Prime Meats, which included a very delicious soft pretzel with sweet Bavarian mustard, a soft-poached farm egg over sauteed trumpet mushrooms with a grilled white sausage, and a small-but-noteworthy spiced stout cake. The sausage came with a horseradish mustard, spicy enough to satisfy me. The stout cake, possessed of a different judicious spice set (clove and cinnamon and the like) was gooey moist.

For a snack, I ended up at another Carroll Gardens joint, the newly opened Eton, Too, sibling of the original Eton, which serves dumplings and shave ice. I spent a few frustrating hours driving around the big island of Hawaii last August hunting down authentic shave ice, so it's nice to know I can get it close to home. Shave ice, for those unaware, is delicately shaved ice topped with flavored syrup, or syrups, if that's your bag (it's mine). In Hawaii, they also top their shave ice with: condensed milk, fluffernutter, mochi bits, chocolate syrup, canned fruit, vanilla soft serve, etc. Hawaiians are big on preserved food, i.e. spam. I'm a purist: give me a shave ice in a plastic cup that looks like an upside-down hat and one of those straws that doubles as a spoon and I'm good to go.

I had a half lychee-half watermelon. It was delicious. I also bought chicken-mushroom and pork-beef-cabbage dumplings to go. Heat and eat. Yum.

Later, after more wandering around BK, we ended up at Buttermilk Channel, where we snacked on pickles (our second helping of the day, after a duck into Stinky Brooklyn for pickles made at another local restaurant, Chestnut), grilled bacon with a mustard vinaigrette, bratwurst with sauerkraut and French fries, and four small baby back ribs with a mediocre slaw. The ribs were passable, as was the bacon. But the bacon... that's a dish you go back for.

Call these dalliances the introduction to my very meat-heavy pre-birthday birthday party last night at Korean hot spot Kunjip. I called for a reservation, and it's a good thing I did; the line snaked around 32nd Street and we still had to cram in to our side-by-side tables. Everything came at once. Fried dumplings, steamed dumplings, kimchi, daikon, egg custard, blood sausage with cellophane noodles and hot peppers. In a large skillet, the servers cooked boneless short ribs (outstanding), de-veined shrimp (also memorable), and slabs of pork belly (regrettably overdone). Bibimbop made my Polish friend sweat, though I found it only moderately spicy and perfectly coagulated owing to a raw egg on top.

We drank OBs. At the meal's end, the music increased to unpleasant decibels and a cake--made purely of orange segments and topped with three lit candles--arrived before me.

So perhaps that was the perfect American parting gift, even though it was not at all American. Espana, here I come.

Prime Meats
465 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Eton Too
359 Sackett Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Buttermilk Channel
524 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

9 W. 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001

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