Pickled turnip, caramelized onion, and sauce-striped falafel make for a pretty photo, but the measure of the underlying mujadara — prepared by Wafa's Express for The World's Fare — is a combo of lentils and bulgur wheat so moist as to evoke mounded porridge. Here it's largely hidden; for the full picture, dig we must.
My review of this restaurant's previous Forest Hills location and its homespun food, prepared by Lebanon-born chef-owner Wafa Chami, appeared in the April 18, 2012 edition of The New York Times. The current fast-casual incarnation of Wafa's has a smaller dining room, but the sparkling and ample kitchen bodes well for other old favorites on the menu. For more photos, see my album.
Regarding many West African lunches, including at least one at this Ivorian restaurant's Harlem sibling, New Ivoire, I've often noted portions so large that I needed a nap soon after. Indeed, at New Ivoire, a vibrating massage chair once held pride of place against the back wall of the dining room, ready to accommodate weary cab drivers (it has since been retired). I was grateful, then, to find that Paradis Des Gouts ("Paradise of Flavors") offers lunch-special portions like the djollof rice with lamb shown above. It's satisfying, not elephantine.
"Muffuletta" describes both a round, sesame-seeded Italian bread and, made from it, a New Orleans sandwich that sports various cold cuts, cheese, and a marinated olive salad. Twin Suns adds sopressata, mortadella, and provolone to a loaf whose crumb is much airier than that of the benchmark, at Central Grocery, but no one can say that it skimps on the seeds. My so-called "big muffuletta" was actually a quarter-muffuletta further divided in two; a full sandwich would have been about the size of a hubcap.
Some call it sacrilege to heat a muffuletta, but by many accounts the practice is not uncommon even in New Orleans. Up north in New York, at Dive Bar, this seems good sense when the customers as well as the sandwiches are dressed in layers. At the counterwoman's suggestion, my Twin Suns muffuletta was toasted, too.
Twin Suns Deli 244 Himrod St. (Kinickerbocker-Irving Aves.), Bushwick, Brooklyn 718-484-9291 www.TwinSunsDeli.com
A bulky letterpress machine, which rattled away on these premises for more than a half-century, still squats beside the window and lends weight to this French bakery's name, "Print Shop." Except for rare demonstration runs, the old press has been powered down in favor of free Wi-Fi, but by many accounts the Gallic owner is no less devoted to his own craft. This slice of lemon poppy-seed cake was procured after sunset, not long before the shop closed for the night; a morning visit would show the baker's wares to best advantage.
It's not a bug, it's a feature. The weary signage previously half-hidden by the awning of Eva Deli Grocery has been spiffed up to furnish The Wheelhouse, a purveyor of "gourmet grilled cheese," with old-school street cred. The forebear of the small Iavarone chain of Italian markets opened in 1919; one location in Maspeth, Queens, and others on Long Island, still serve a newer generation of Italian-Americans.
I'd always understood that two contrary traditions surround gumbo z'herbes, a Creole dish prepared during Lent. One treats the gumbo as a meatless dish for Good Friday, though liberal variations flavor it with the likes of ham hocks that are removed before serving. In another tradition it is prepared for Holy Thursday, for the last big meat meal before Easter Sunday.
Perhaps this bowl is evidence of a third, latter-day tradition: Be strict about the omission of meat, but be liberal with the occasions on which it is served. Year-round, chef willing. More-familiar versions of the dish are also known as green gumbo, but thanks especially to a sliver of bullseye beet (also called candy-stripe and Chioggia), this gumbo z'herbes accommodates extra color, too.