The backlit glow was irresistible, but a big lunch loomed ahead, and so I did well to hold myself to a half-pound of these lemon cookies ($7.50 per pound). Four cookies would have been light; five turned out to be just a little over. Based on my small sample, I'll bet that these cookies are consistently lemony, but I understood from the counterwoman that their contours, and thus the number of cookies per pound, vary from batch to batch. That is, your frosting may vary.
Tacos al vapor, "steamed" tacos, are another name given to the tacos de canasta sold by street vendors from a cloth-draped "basket." Tacos de canasta are filled in advance, folded in two — they tend to be slim — and fitted, with several hundred of their fellows, into a basket that is carried to the vendor's place(s) of business. Their collective warmth has also prompted the name tacos sudados, since the texture of the tortillas is consequently "sweaty."
By contrast, at Las Conchitas — which functions more as a restaurant than as a bakery — the tacos al vapor never see the inside of a basket. Fillings of cabeza de res and lengua (beef head and beef tongue, $2.50 each) await at a windowside steamer, and tortillas for each order are warmed directly atop the meats. The assembled tacos al vapor don't have time to develop the enticing juice-soaked texture of some tacos de canasta, true, but the tortillas are soft and warm, the fillings, ample for the price.
H/T Ike Hull (via private communication)
Las Conchitas Bakery 48-11 Fifth Ave. (48th-49th Sts.), Sunset Park, Brooklyn 718-437-5513 Tacos al vapor available Monday through Saturday after 3:00
"Qada" is the name at this Georgian bakery; the seeming cognate "gata" is typical in Georgia's neighbors Armenia and Azerbaijan. Back home, by reputation, it varies from region to region, even village to village, but the qada (and gata) of South Brooklyn tend toward one common style: a laminated pastry, burnished on top, enfolding more richness than sweetness.
This sparingly sweet, buttery qada ($2) is surely wonderful with tea, provided that one can wait till teatime. Best to buy several.
Compared with New Hong Kong next door, this manufacturer of "homemade Greek specialties" seems to do less retail business. Although the "food service industry" might provide the principal clientele for F&S, the display just inside the window makes plain that walk-ins are welcome, too, even if only for a fresh-baked pick-me-up. Spinach swirl ($3).
Although the idiosyncratic makings of this full English ($19) were thoroughly spelled out on the menu, one component nonetheless fixed my eye when breakfast was served. The beans, at far right, were not baked, but black — a fine addition to a Costa Rican casado but no better than a curiosity at Kirsh. Compare a more traditional presentation by Myers of Keswick and lament that the British specialty shop's cooked-food stall, which briefly held court at the old Gansevoort Market, is no more.
These are Taiwan-style pancake rolls (about $2 each), according to the owner, though she herself is indeed from Hong Kong. Each wears an artless "label" to indicate its filling. Even a first-time customer can "read" the ham, but to identify its companion two rolls to the left, you would need to know that, of all the fillings, only the fish is lightly battered and fried. Or you could close your eyes and take a bite — into scallion-flecked pancake, lettuce, mayo, and yielding chunks of flounder.
Hong Kong Bakery 807 42nd St. (Eighth-Ninth Aves.), Sunset Park, Brooklyn 917-455-7885
On November 22, when many New Yorkers are looking ahead to Thanksgiving, Lebanese-Americans commemorate their 1943 liberation from a French mandate. Sahlap ($4) — an Independence Day-only special, barring popular demand — is widely known, under various spellings, throughout the lands once under the domain of the Ottoman Empire. This hot beverage is traditionally prepared from milk, sugar, and an orchid-root flour (increasingly rare nowadays, so substitutes are common) that adds an almost creamy thickness. My cup, accented by a pair of sesame-seeded breadsticks, was strewn with cinnamon — though for New York tastes a pumpkin-spice topping was available, too.
Also shown, from a summertime street festival: a hand-drawn schematic of Manousheh's namesake flatbread, and the imminent application of dough to saj, an inverted-dome cooktop that sees action only during outdoor events. At the Bleecker St. storefront, which employs a flat-surfaced, largely enclosed oven, the baker trades in his pillowlike hand protector in favor of a long-handled peel, like that for pizza. The bread-making is less dramatic, but by most accounts the manousheh is just as tasty.
Manousheh 193 Bleecker St. (Sixth Ave.-MacDougal St.), Manhattan 347-971-5778 www.Manousheh.com