"Dragged through the garden," an epithet for the Chicago-style hot dog, takes note of toppings that customarily include onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles, and sport peppers. This faded sign, seen from across Bruckner Blvd., marks what seems to have been an early attempt to transplant the Chicago dog to New York. In this case, it didn't take root.
Chicago Styles Surviving signage at 918 Hunts Point Ave. (at Bruckner Blvd.), Hunts Point, Bronx
"Place your orders NOW for Thanksgiving," exhorted the flyer. This seemed to be a matter of course for Canarsie; several other Jamaican food shops in the neighborhood made similar pitches. Across the way, a Grenadian bakery-restaurant advertised a complete turkey dinner. The bird, by the looks of things, would be cooked to a more traditional recipe, but the choices of hors d'oeuvres included beef patties and codfish cakes.
Also shown, from years past: a flyer offering "American turkey with Odessa-style stuffing" (sadly, I came upon it in December) and a series of "Happy Thanksgiving!!!" supermarket banners for provisions including paticas de cerdo. The market supplied the holiday savings; the customers, presumably, supplied their own recipes for pig's feet.
"Jerk turkey" Tasty Delicious Bakery & Restaurant, Canarsie, Brooklyn (2013) "American turkey with Odessa-style stuffing" Brighton Beach, Brooklyn (2012) "Happy Thanksgiving!!! Save on pig's feet" Stamford, Connecticut (2009)
This successor to Georgian Bread has coupled a sit-down restaurant to the takeout-only bakery. Through a window between the two you might, with good timing, catch sight of your own khachapuri emerging from the open-topped oven, or toné. (The celebrated baker Badri has retired, alas.)
The compact, firm penovani khachapuri ($2) is well-suited to eating on the go. Many layers of puff pastry provide fine insulation for a filling of salty-sour melted cheese: Mine was still warm within. The broad, round imeruli khachapuri — when the cheese inside is still molten, it's droopy and messy, too — is not nearly as portable, so it's nice that there's a table indoors where you can divvy it up with your friends.
Russian, despite the name. La Brioche displays an abundance of sweet confections everywhere you turn, on counters, tables, shelves, and large rolling racks. Shown: nut-filled gata ($6.99 per pound) and two purchases from years back, a hefty date-walnut square bound together with honey, and rolled pastries filled with cherry, apple, or cheese.
Bakery "La Brioche" Café 1073 Brighton Beach Ave. (Brighton 12th-Brighton 13th Sts.), Brighton Beach, Brooklyn 718-934-0731
Russian kvass reminds me of Caribbean malta. Both are brewed soft drinks, nonalcoholic or nearly so, that attempt to play the role of thirst-quencher, not always convincingly. Many commercial brands of malta, for example, have a syrupy character that smacks of molasses; one also evoked chocolate Yoohoo.
Unlike malta, kvass is fermented though not necessarily effervescent; it too can seem syrupy. After downing a full bottle of Troika brand kvass ($1.29), I felt thirstier for the effort. Perhaps the raisins, from which Troika and many other commercial renditions of kvass take their flavor, are the reason.
Earlier: Peterburgsky nut torte with caramel (290 g., $2.59 some years ago) hid the flavor of hazelnut under too much caramel and chocolate. Nonetheless, when proffered to friends, it disappeared very quickly.
Taste of Russia 219 Brighton Beach Ave. (near Brighton 1st St.), Brighton Beach, Brooklyn 718-934-6167
Bakeries and other food businesses have devised all sorts of in-house shortcuts to distinguish their look-alike wares. The hole in this lobiani khachapuri might appear to have been cut for ventilation, except that its fellow cheese breads, which have different fillings, lack one. I suggest that it's a keyhole that allows bakery staffers to spy the mashed pinto beans inside. Tearing into the khachapuri, of course, affords an even better look, but, as with the pork-filled kubdari style, count on that pizza box
to corral stray bits of filling.
Looking north from Brighton Beach Ave., the green awning of Georgian Food and the little pocket of shops that surround it are barely within eyeshot. They've always seemed less enticing than the markets on the main drag; only because I was headed for the avenue, and walking south from Sheepshead Bay, did I find myself here one afternoon.
I was too late for fresh khachapuri, it seemed. Though the counterwoman's English was little better than my poor Russian (as for Georgian, fuhgeddaboudit), she managed to convey that this salad from the small display case featured beans, potato, and other tidbits, all stained by beet. She also called it a vinaigrette ($3.75, at $4.99 per pound), which perplexed me, since I could detect no such aroma. (Later I learned that in Russian-speaking communities vinaigrette is an umbrella name for chilled salads of this sort, though they contain not a drop of vinegar; etymology unclear.) And, in lieu of Georgian cheesebread, the counterwoman provided a lagniappe: half a shoti to fill out my meal.
Georgian Food (also known as Brick Oven Bread) 109 Brighton 11th St. (Oceanview-Brighton Beach Aves.), Brighton Beach, Brooklyn 718-676-0332