Counterpoint to salty 'cue: caramel cake (slice, $6). Unlike the wrapped, shelf-stable candies that sometimes attain the hardness of table-top hockey pucks, the caramel frosting was just as meltingly luscious as it looks. Alas, at dessert-time, a decision had to be made, and in hindsight the also-rans, strawberry and red velvet, look ever more tempting now that they're out of reach.
Sugaree's Bakery 110 West Bankhead St., New Albany, Mississippi 662-534-0031 www.Sugarees.com At the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party In and around Madison Square Park, Manhattan www.BigAppleBBQ.org (The 2015 event was held on June 13 and 14)
"This is our Persian soup; we make it with 17 different vegetables. We top it with mint, crispy onion, garlic, and yogurt" (that is, kashk). The gal who runs Taste of Persia's outdoor pop-up repeats this litany tirelessly; despite the winter cold, customers just keep coming.
Not far away, chef-owner Saeed Pourkay also serves his thick noodle soup, ash reshteh (small, $6), and three or four other dishes each day from the front corner of a Flatiron pizzeria. (At less-busy hours, you may be offered samples of the lot, commentary included.) The setting is unglamorous, but it does offer indoor seating and ready access to fountain soda.
Previously: My Persian plate ($12) would look humdrum if not for the sumac powder and saffron water that decorate the basmati rice. That's too bad. Kabab diggi, the sauteed ground beef shown at top left, is quite good; fesenjan, below it — shredded duck in a pomegranate walnut sauce — is terrific, especially for the tartness of the pomegranate.
The volunteer-staffed food stalls at this annual event, which also features arts and crafts and live performances, serve a number of dishes dear to the heart of the local Taiwanese community. Rarest, in New York, are Hakka dishes, the culinary heritage of a people who emigrated to Taiwan from Guangdong and surrounding regions of southern China.
Shown above: "silver needle" rice noodle soup. The noodles, which had been extruded by hand the night before, were perplexingly short and fat but also pleasingly chewy. Below: "burning" grass jelly, whose namesake ingredient is melted and served hot rather than cut into pieces and served cold. The heated grass jelly was poured over mung and azuki beans and what looked like escapees from a fruit cup. In reality some of those sticky orbs may have been made from glutinous rice flour, while others may have employed taro or sweet potato. The different colors seemed to be only for looks; all had the same bland flavor and sticky texture.
See these treats, and other menu items from multiple incarnations of the festival, in the slideshow.
Passport to Taiwan Union Square www.P2Tw.org May (the 2013 festival was held May 26)
Kamameshi (kah-mah-May-she, or "kettle rice") is an analog of the Hong Kong-style claypot rice called bo zai fan. A distinction of this Japanese style is that it employs a metal pot for cooking and serving, but the similarity is more apparent: Good things are steamed with rice, which takes on their flavors.
In the case of "five gold curry kamameshi" ($15), the principals are coconut curry, green onion, and minced chicken, which in the first photo have already been gently mixed with the rice. Also shown: the okoge, the enticing, desirable crunchy bits that adhere to the pot.
Sen 12 West 21st St. (Fifth-Sixth Aves.), Manhattan 212-388-5736 Also 23 Main St., Sag Harbor, New York 631-725-1774 www.SenRestaurant.com
In March 2010, New York City's Department of Health voted to lift a decade-long ban on beekeeping within city limits. Apis mellifera, the common honeybee, had previously been lumped in with mountain lions, jackals, snapping turtles, cobras (even if devenomized), and many other wild animals deemed "naturally inclined to do harm and capable of inflicting harm upon human beings."
In lifting its ban, the department specifically recognized Apis mellifera as "non-aggressive." Be that as it may, on a summer afternoon they had these samples of local peaches all to themselves.