Monday, October 5, 2009

San Gennaro Feast

So every year I try to subject myself to the craziness of San Gennaro Feast in Chinatown NYC. I've been going to this thing since I was a child. I specifically remember the great smelling food and the fun games. Now it's more all food and vendors. And the games, no one is playing. They offer free games to passerbys with no success. Sooner or later, they'll disappear completely. Recently, I've only been going for the food (which isn't great) and the nostalgia. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a street fair. Besides, Little Italy is a small area that's disappearing fast and we need to keep it alive! This year, we walked all along Mulberry Street to scope out the food. Big mistake. The crowd was thick. Not only were we subjected to people just standing there doing nothing, baby carriages (don't even get me started on the dangers of that!), but it was also Friday night. The weekend is always the absolute worst time to go. Avoid at all costs. Our first stop, a Latino place offering the usual fair of empanadas, arepas, and steak. I was specifically looking for that amazing pork I saw in a Brooklyn feast but to no avail. Anyhow, the empanada ($2) was fried crispy. The crust was good. However, the ham and cheese filling was lackluster. More air pocket than filling. And there was this weird liquid that would shoot out as we took a bite. Not fun. Next stop: gyros. For some reason, NYC-ers love gyros. That includes myself. And I haven't had one in a very long time. So we split one. It was so satisfying after that damn squirting empanada. It was filled with meat, onion, lettuce, and white sauce ($7). It doesn't look like much meat there but most of it was stuffed towards the bottom. That's important in eating while standing. There's less of a chance to drop it by accident. I like this gyro alot. Though, the sauce could have been much better. No tzatziki here. Mostly watery. And now: Fried calamari ($9). I saw these just come out of the fryer. They were freaking hot. And the bread coating was nice and light. Although I mostly prefer grilled calamari over fried, this was good enough for me. The worst part was the marinara sauce. Watery and ill tasting. I would've just preferred the calamari as is with a squeeze of lemon. I was dreaming of pork bracciole ($7) the whole way through the fair. Normally, I always get sausage, peppers, and onions. However, this year I aimed for completely different things. But one thing is for sure, I never stray from Lucy's. They make some of the best food in any street feast. Although, the sandwich was a little charred for my liking, it tasted great. Easily the best thing we had all night. The pork was really flavorful and juicy. Next, we'll get it with cheese! Lastly, we ordered funnel cake ($7). They didn't have any ready so they fried it to order. Big mistake. It was over fried. We should have said something before accepting it. But we had already paid ahead of time (mistake #2) and just wanted to grab it and leave. It was so crispy it was like potato chips. No soft inside. It burned out mouths and fingers. We threw it away. It was that bad. A terrible ending to a crowded and frustrating food adventure. But year after year, I come back for more. And next year will be no different. 82nd Annual Feast of San Gennaro September 10-20, 2009 New York City

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