Designed to survive sweltering Dominican summers, this confection stiffens up on chilly autumn afternoons in Washington Heights. Outdoors, I couldn't easily peel back my canquiña's paper wrapper, and at home I ultimately scraped it free with a butter knife. This sesame canquiña ($1) suggested salt-water taffy; the coconut might well be sweeter.
Canquiña vendor St. Nicholas Ave. near the southwest corner with 182nd St., Manhattan Hours and precise location undoubtedly vary
The owner's stated purpose in life, encapsulated on the awning, is to sell his wares at low prices, a message that has more of a ring in original Spanish: "Su nombre Jose Liberato, su destino vender barato." The helicopter adds an implicit promise to another store policy: Delivery is fast as well as free.
Liberato Food Market 3900 Broadway (at 163rd St.), Manhattan; 212-927-8250 Also, without a copter, at 359 Audubon Ave. (at 183rd St.); 212-923-1112
This isn't your usual outdoor grilled-food Greek fest, it's an indoor home-baked Greek fest. In the absence of sizzling meats over leaping flames, the many trays of food — all prepared by the Ladies Philoptochos Society of St. Spyridon — appeared very modest. I nearly passed up the moussaka, which unlike the other entrees seemingly hadn't been touched. This turned out to be just a matter of timing: An earlier tray had already been emptied, and mine was the first superb slice from the second.
Also shown, from the well-provisioned sweets table: fenekia, soft cookies sprinkled with crushed walnuts.
St. Spyridon Greek Food Festival and Bazaar St. Spyridon Church, 124 Wadsworth Avenue (179th-180th Sts.), Manhattan www.PhiloptochosDistrictDiocese.org/calendar-of-events (The 2013 festival continues Saturday, November 9, noon-5:00, and Sunday, with live music, noon-3:00)
In New York, the typical Venezuelan arepas and the most celebrated Colombian arepas bear little resemblance to each other. They're practically twins, however, when compared with Dominican arepas (first photo, $1 each), which suggest slices of a baked, firmed-up majarete. Dominican arepa recipes variously employ some combination of coconut milk or coconut cream, cinnamon sticks, raisins, and brown sugar; this particular version was very dense but, perhaps, not quite as sweet as intended.
Much gooier and sweeter: dulces de cocopina ($1 each). Also available in all-coconut, no pineapple.
Dominican sweets table Broadway near the southwest corner with 170th St., Manhattan
Many uptown Manhattan seafood markets cook finned fish and shellfish to be consumed on the spot. I dug into deep-fried stuffed crabs ($2.75 each) amid a clinking Caribbean soundtrack; for a more Mid-Atlantic vibe (and a crabbier stuffing), cross the street to the GWB Station (also shown) and catch the Bolt bus to Baltimore.
Mid Atlantic Fish Market 4250 Broadway (180th-181st Sts.), Manhattan 212-923-1600
Ah, the tenacity of wheat paste. This decades-old poster for a Washington Heights nightspot was recently uncovered during construction nearby. Starch-based liquid adhesives have been used at least since the time of Toulouse-Lautrec to affix handbills and posters to flat surfaces; if not peeled free before the paste has dried, they're very difficult to remove. Adhesive tape, used on many Columbia band flyers from the same period, is much less messy and more amenable to preservation, too.
El Chico In 1983, near the corner of Jumel Pl. and West 170th St., Manhattan
From my archives, two photos of a showroom for kitchen-and-bath furnishings. This Harlem branch (to the trade only) shows off local color provided by Tats Cru murals. Though some have since been partially or fully covered by construction, the Sylvia's artwork is still in full view.
Davis & Warshow 251 West 154th St. (Adam Clayton Powell Junior Blvd.-Lenox Ave.), Manhattan 212-234-5100 www.DWNY.com
Interesting choice by the artist, Dister Rondon, who expresses love for his hood throughout Washington Heights. It's rare, on the street, to see a woman wielding the raspado. Unlike many of Rondon's works, the lifespan of this one will be short: It's painted on a construction barrier outside a shuttered shore that's awaiting a new tenant.
"I Love My Hood" shaved-ice mural Outside 186 Dyckman St. (Sherman Ave.-Broadway), Manhattan
Cherry rounds off the sharper, more astringent notes of this coco Cubano ($1.25). The business, to be sure, is Dominican, and the namecards, it seems, were meant for a Chinese bakery — in one corner, each bears the character "yuan" that indicates a unit of currency.
Kenny Bakery 126 Dyckman St. (Nagle-Sherman Aves.), Manhattan 212-569-8414
There's no candy to be found here in flip-top containers. "Pez cotorra," noted the man behind the counter, should have been printed "pescado cotorra," maintaining a common Spanish-language distinction between food fish still swimming free (pez) and caught or prepared (pescado). On offer at this Dominican seafood restaurant: a species of parrotfish that can be colorful enough to pass as Pez but is much harder to catch hold of.
A cookup, in the Caribbean, is an umbrella term for any number of one-pot concoctions. Cookup saltfish (about $4.50) is traditionally prepared with cod, though in light of the recent scarcity of that species, another white-fleshed fish is often substituted. (I didn't get the specifics.) A side order of some sort of carbohydrate is standard, both to get your day off to an energetic start — this is a breakfast dish — and to sop up cooking oils infiltrated with fishy essence.
At this Jamaican truck, the dumplings (50 cents each) serve admirably. They're simply fried dough, without filling, like oversized unsugared donut holes. I've enjoyed them straight up, too.
Sunrise Grill Truck parked on Broadway between 166th and 167th Sts., Manhattan Reportedly open weekdays only, early morning till late afternoon
The aroma of steaming pasteles, to many New Yorkers of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, is the aroma of Christmas. Pasteles, which resemble oversized tamales, often feature a labor-intensive filling, and when a home cook sets out to prepare 50 or 100 leaf-wrapped bundles for a single festive occasion, the temptation of time-saving measures is understandable.
For the preparation of pasteles the masa, or dough, is traditionally made from plantain — which seems to be illustrated on the flyer — or some combination of tubers.
"Masa de pasteles" Flyer seen on West 207th St. at Post Ave., Manhattan
Even by malta standards, Puerto Rico's El Sol (12 fl. oz.; 59 cents) is very sweet; especially in aroma but also in flavor, this brown-black beverage brought to mind chocolate Yoohoo. Also spotted on the shelves: Ranchero brand salsa Inglesa and salsa China. You may know them better as the sauces Worcestershire and soy.
Mi Pais 3361 Broadway (at 136th St.), Manhattan 212-281-4280 Also at 1460 St. Nicholas Ave. (at 183rd St.) 212-568-0721