Remember those jelly candies shaped like slices of watermelon, but in the colors and flavors of many fruits? With a nibble, the green orbs in this tray of frutas cristalizadas brought lime slices to mind. (If your childhood was filled with Pueblan candied fruit instead of Jersey Shore jellies, that memory might work the other way around.)
The candied lime, however, is all rind. For a jellylike texture, look to other frutas ($1-$2 each), perhaps one with a flavor not yet co-opted by the candy-slice makers. Say, guava.
El Trigal Bakery 216 Union Ave. (1st-2nd Sts.), New Rochelle, New York 914-633-9516
Perhaps the number of vendors and the variety of preparations were suppressed by unusually brisk weather for a mid-May afternoon. Though they might have been a monochrome lot, however, by and large the moles were delicious: In a chicken combo whose accompanying tamal de frijol (made with beans, that is) took on anise-like flavor from an avocado leaf; ladled over absorbent, yielding tortas de camaron, or shrimp patties; and spread across a cracker-thin tlacoyo. Running dry? More mole on the side, please!
La Feria de los Moles 1 Library Plaza, New Rochelle, New York www.Facebook.com/events /1717853448465849 (The 2016 feria, the first East Coast edition of a well-established Los Angeles event, was held on May 15)
"Swanson's Cafe" and "Drink Coca-Cola" appear on opposite sides of the same building in Mount Vernon, just north of the Wakefield section of the Bronx. The Swanson's sign is visible when you're headed south, toward the city, so it's likely that this long-gone cafe was located in the Bronx, or perhaps in nearby Yonkers. Though this particular Coca-Cola sign is visible only when you're headed north, toward Westchester County, the slogan is at home just about anywhere.
Paleteria La Michoacana 407 South Broadway (Post-Radford Sts.), Yonkers, New York 914-709-0439 Also at 15 East Prospect Ave. (Gramatan-North 3rd Aves.), Mount Vernon, New York 914-665-0459 www.Facebook.com/PaleteriaLaMichocana
"Jíbaro" is an affectionate name for the mountain people who lived in the once-inaccessible forested highlands in the heart of Puerto Rico. The epithet shows pride in the straightforwardness, humility, and hard work of folks who live off the land, and it has attached itself to one particular product of their labors: the plantain.
"Jibarito" (hee-bah-Ree-toe, $7.95), the diminuative form, denotes a sandwich akin to the Venezuelan patacon pisao, which employs discs of flattened, twice-fried green plantain rather than slices of bread. By comparison, typically the jibarito is oblong (in the photo, only half is unwrapped), and the pressed plantains are thinner and less stiff. Though some versions use chicken or pork, this shop's jibarito features the traditional skirt steak; "con todo" ("all the way," in Yonkers parlance) adds mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, onions, avocado, and garlic-rich mayo. You can't have too much of that garlic; my order included extra on the side.
Most of the shop's sandwiches, by the way, are offered as a "roll" or a "hero." True, "wedge" is a common local name for sandwiches, both here in lower Westchester County and in nearby parts of Connecticut. "The Wedge," however, in this case refers to a long-gone parcel of land, "the location of many industries in Yonkers since the days of the old grist mill."
Thomas Adams had been a man of many trades, none of them wholly successful, when he met the exiled Mexican general Antonio de Santa Anna in 1869. Santa Anna provided Adams with large quantities of chicle, a natural gum obtained from certain tropical evergreen trees. Presumably, the general hoped that the chicle could be transformed into a substitute for rubber, form the basis of a new, profitable industry, and pave the way for his return to power in Mexico. (It didn't work.)
Ever inventive, however, Adams quickly found another use for the leftover chicle. In 1871 he began manufacturing Adams New York Gum No. 1, an unflavored chewing gum; a decade later Adams Sons and Co. introduced the licorice-flavored Black Jack gum, which bears the family name to this day. Adams California Fruit Gum seems to have first appeared about a century ago, when the flavors of fresh fruits from the West Coast were not readily available nationwide; it has long since disappeared. The sign shown here was painted no later than 1920.
Adams California Fruit Gum Surviving signage, New Main St. between Palisade and Nepperhan Aves., Yonkers, New York
False-flag operation? As trains on Metro-North's New Haven Line pass the Larchmont station, the most colorful sight to the east is The Cellar Bar. Like many drinking establishments in this part of the country, it displays the flag of the United States and several associated with Ireland. But why, I've wondered on many train rides in both directions, are they accompanied by the banner of the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica?
From the manager's quick smile, it was clear he'd heard the question before. Every so often, he noted, one or more befuddled folks who conceivably hail from the Lesser Antilles will wander in to ask, why do you have the flag of my country? (Likely the hope is for some home cooking, my thought as well.) He explained that the owner (not present during my visit) is a big fan of the singer Jimmy Buffett, whose fans have long been known as "Parrot Heads." To little surprise, only one national flag features a parrot; the owner displays it, as well as assorted parrot-phernalia inside the bar, solely out of devotion to Buffett. Alas, no chow is involved.
The manager shared one other observation as I ascended back into daylight. That's supposed to be a branch that the parrot is perched on, but it looks like nothing other than a kazoo.
The Cellar Bar 8 Railroad Way (near Chatsworth Ave.), Larchmont, New York 914-834-8723
The counterman and the grill man still call it "The Paulie." But even if the sandwich that the menu board now dubs the "Blast from the Past" (roll, $5.95) has slipped into the oldies rotation, at J.P.'s it still seems to get heavy play.
In concert with turkey, mozzarella, and brown gravy, the most notable ingredient — the slightly darker layer, when seen in cross-section — is a wad of hash browns. As with the croquette in one particularly good Cuban sandwich, a little crispiness can be a very good thing. I'm sure the grill man will be happy to oblige.
J.P.'s Deli 2325 Boston Post Rd. (near Lorenzen St.), Larchmont, New York 914-833-0827