Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!)

Filet Mignon
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2008/07/02 12:57:59 (permalink)

Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!)

Recently, on two separate days, I decided to try a fairly new place in the city (new to me anyway) and one of my standbys in Lower Manhattan. I first went to a Jamaican/Carribean street cart called Veronica's on Front Street near Wall Street. It's on the same block as the Jianetto's Pizza truck I posted here back in May. I had heard about Veronica's from some friends and on Chowhound. It's about a 5 minute walk from where I live, so I figured it was high time I checked it out for myself. The catch is that they close up when they run out of food and I've made the mistake of arriving late (around 1-1:30 pm) and having them tell me to come back tomorrow.

My vantage point from the back of the line. Many corporate types line up here for their fix every day.

No fanyc menu here, just a dry erase board. Lots of regional favorites for homesick Carribeans: jerk chicken, stew chicken, curry chicken, oxtail, goat, kingfish, rice and peas, plantains and callaloo (a spinach-like green). For beverages, included were seamoss, sorrel (both I think are some sort of leafy green), ginger beer and Solo (a carbonated soft drink). Not sure what Bake N' Codfish is though.

The listing of sides.



Lots to choose from and decnet prices too.

More plate options.

I took this pic just to get the phone number.

This guy was really cool. He spoke with barely a whisper of a voice and he was in charge of taking the money. We had a nice converstaion about Central NY.

My to go box.

Lunch-I decided to load up so I could try a bit of everything. I ordered the jerk chicken ($7.00) that came with two sides (I think that is right, but not entirely sure). I opted for mac & cheese and callaloo (never even heard of it before, so something new sounded pretty good to me). I also got some rice and peas and friend sweet plantains. I picked up a ginger beer and was debating between a slice of chocolate cake or the pineapple cake. My inner child, who loves chocolate, spoke loud and clear!

The chicken was moist and juicy and had good jerk flavor, especially on the skin. I have to say though, I'm a white meat person, so I would have preferred more white to dark. The heat was of the creeping variety and lingered a bit, which I loved. The callaloo was really good and had a nice spinachy, leafy flavor to it. I know that doesn't describe it well, but I it was a nice balance to the meat. It was not so much of the leafy texture, but more finely chopped. The plantains were soft and sweet, just as I like them, but the rice and peas were a bit undercooked for my taste. A bit more bite than I care for, but the flavor was alright. The mac and cheese was a big disappointment for me. I love it so and have tried countless variations in my 37 years (homemade, store bought, restaurant, Kraft (and I still have emotional scars from it!). Veronica's looked the part with a beautiful browned cheese crust and the texture was just past al dente, but the flavor was really flat. Lots of cheese in it, but you wouldn't know it by tasting it.

My slice of cake. This looked better than it tasted. I'm betting that the frosting was straight from the can and the cake was moist enough, but nothing to write home about.

Ginger beer. Interesting, very interesting. This is non-alcoholic and made, I think, with ginger, lemon, sugar and water. Always on the lookout for some new beverage to try, this was powerful stuff! An very bold ginger presence. A little too strong and spicy for me. Perhaps an acquired taste.

Sophie's is a place (or rather, places)downtown that I have been frequenting for the past year. Now I'm sure there are more Roadfoody places with far cheaper food uptown, but like most New Yorkers, I don't travel that often out of my comfort zone and I really, really love Sophie's pernil (roast pork)!

The menu is in spanish and english and almost everyone who works there is Spanish speaking.

My pernil meal ($9.00) of slow roasted pork, rice, black beans (2 sides included). I added on a side of maduros (sweet fried plantains). They ask if you want onions (with tomato and cilantro) on top of the pork and YES is always my reply. These are not raw, but some sort of picked onions that just make perfect sense with this rich, salty, meat. This is how the "to go" meal is presented, although I staged the maduros for their photo op!

Oh, I do so wish I could eat this pork every single day of my life! Porky, moist, salty, tender shreds (although no cracklin skin-though I've never asked for it-hmmm?) and paired with the onions is perfection. The vinegary onions cut through the richness of the meat. I usually don't like cilantro, but it doesn't have it's usual boldness in this for some reason. The black beans are always creamy and the rice is cooked just right, nice and soft and the liquid from the beans seeps into it, which I love. The sweet maduros provide another contrast for the palateand a forkful of those with the pernil is just wonderful!

I can't always finish this meal as it is substantial enough to make two meals for me on most days. Today was good and I ate every last bite. They do close around 7 pm and they only take cash. There are other things that look tempting, but every time I walk in there, I'm like a culinary sailor being lured on to the rocks by that siren known as pernil!

I just had to include this shot from my friend Marisa's birthday party last month. She and her boyfriend Doug are the ones who took me out in Queens for my birthday. These are more of the wonderful PB & J cupcakes and I was lookin' like the fox in the henhouse when she brought these out! I wasn't up to the task of baking cupcakes on this day, so I made her some chocolate mint chip cookies using Andes Candies baking chips instead of chocolate chips. They seemed to be a hit.

Just want to leave this report with a quote I read while on the subway a couple of weeks ago. From E.B. White's "Here is New York", his love letter to the city: There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter--the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last--the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion. I hope to explore much more of the city and the surrounding areas in the months to come. It's just waiting for me!

14 Replies Related Threads

    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/02 13:52:16 (permalink)

    Love dat menu board, mon! Callaloo! N curry goat! Oxtail.

    Wherah was da ginga beer?

    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/02 15:42:36 (permalink)
    Oh, man! If that food tastes half as good as it looks, I'd be on one knee proposing to Veronica.
    Double Cheeseburger
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/02 15:50:22 (permalink)
    My stepfather is from Trinidad. I've had callaloo many times made either by him or one of his friends or relatives. It reminds me a bit of creamed spinach, at least the way they make it.
    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/02 16:29:16 (permalink)
    That sure looks like fun street food.

    Interestingly, the menu from Sophie's looks like it was written by a Puerto Rican, because of some of the terminology used. For instance, Pernil is a Puerto Rican dish; the Cuban equivalent is Lechon Asado. The Cuban version includes mojo and sour orange. Also, chivo guisado is something that I associate with the Dominican Republic. Looks like an all-Caribbean-hispanic mix!

    Keep up with the great NYC neighborhood reports.
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/02 16:45:12 (permalink)
    Great report. You would have never have seen this food in NYC 40 years ago when I lived there. At least, not in sidewalk form.
    The Travelin Man
    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/02 19:53:53 (permalink)
    billyboy - Re: white meat jerk chicken...down here, where there are a number of Caribbean restaurants of one form or another (Jamaican, Bahamian, Puerto Rican, Cuban, etc.), I have never seen one that offers jerk chicken offer anything but thighs. I, too, usually prefer the white meat (fried, for sure), and asked one of the proprietors, and she told me that (a) thighs are cheaper, so that is what more of the poorer people in the Caribbean are used to eating; (b) thighs are easier to prepare - doesn't get dried out in the cooking process like breasts do; and (c) thighs are more flavorful. She made a darn good argument on all three accounts, and when I eat jerk chicken, I don't mind at all the dark meat.

    I, too, am a fan of mac and cheese and order it on many occasions - some more appropriate than others - but, I don't think I would have expected too much from the mac and cheese from a Jamaican restaurant!
    Double Cheeseburger
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/02 20:21:42 (permalink)
    Great post! Enjoyed every word and every picture!
    Double Cheeseburger
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/02 20:33:21 (permalink)

    Great report, great looking pictures, the only thing missing was some ice cold Kalik beer.

    I agree, the one menu has a certain Puerto Rican leaning.

    My best half is Puerto Rican - Nicaraguan plus some Irish and Native American.

    Her mother used to cook those dishes all the time. If you should up at the house at 3 in the morning, or whenever, mamacita would get up and fix you a plate of food, There was alway a pot of rice and beans on the stove.

    Luckily she taught my bride how to make those foods, and my bride indulges me every so often.

    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/03 11:03:49 (permalink)
    Veronica was a finalist in last years Vendy Awards. http://streetvendor.org/vendies/finalists.html I've have yet to try her food but she is on my list.

    Sophie's is a favorite of mine. You get so much food I have to limit the times I go there. She is not from Puerto Rico but is from Peru. She opened her first place near the trade center in 1997 and started to grow slowly. They had 4 places by 9/11/2001 and lost 2 of them on that fateful day. Their places are low key till you go inside. I passed one place several times a week for months and never knew it was there. Go inside at lunch and they are packed, both eat-in and take-out. http://sophiescuban.com/ If you go you have to ask for the green sauce; don't know what it is called, anyone know?
    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/04 07:04:39 (permalink)
    If it's Peruvian, it might be aji.
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/04 08:09:57 (permalink)
    That all looks great, especially the pork meal with the fried plantains. We don't really have anywhere to get things like that here! Great pics!

    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/04 08:20:49 (permalink)
    BB - As always, another great report! I love Cuban food and everything about Sophie's teased me. The quote is one I've not read and found it interesting...but the real winner here, a platter of cupcakes! Don't let the other BB see that...he'll be leaving Pitt in a hurry!
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/29 03:59:32 (permalink)
    Awesome!! It is astounding the amount of food you can get from a NYC street vendor, for a decent price. At an upscale NYC restaurant, I pay $7 for a bottle of San Pellegrino bottled water.
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    RE: Takeout in NYC...take two!! (with pics!) 2008/07/29 07:12:48 (permalink)
    Ahhh you can get any kind of delicious food in NYC!!!!! Looks super!
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