I Heart Coals

Pure Bliss grilled pizza at Coals.
Pure Bliss grilled pizza at Coals.

I can have Pure Bliss at Coals. Or I can have Heaven Scent.
Or Smokey Joe or Dean Martin.
Invariably, I go with Pure Bliss.
Small pools of tomato sauce seep into dollops of basil pesto, mingling with
fontinella, ricotta and pecorino cheeses…
All resting on a bed of freshly grilled striped crust.
At first bite, I taste the smoky basil and the tartness of the pecorino and a sweet tomato and I am happy.
The Big Guy, doesn’t get all crazy, and goes for the classic Margherita, which should not be overlooked because it’s familiar. Once, though, I did go for the burger, a house specialty, and it was quite good. They serve up paninis as well.

Before moving to the Bronx, I’d never had grilled pizza, I don’t think we’d ever heard of it. But since our neighbor Matt tipped us to Coals, it has been our favorite spot. We’d been looking for a place where two adults can wind down the week without being served by someone whose next big life event is prom. At Coals we can do that. Secretly we call it, Scrubs Bar. We imagine that most of the fresh faced people around the bar are interns from Jacobi Medical Center across the street.

If we’re lucky we can get the seat in the “library” and cozy up by the “fireplace” with a glass of wine and a beer. Books on the shelves are there for anyone’s perusal. Or we sit back and meditate on the crimson Buddha on the bookcase.

We try to keep room for dessert — the Nutella pizza.
ohhh baby yummmmm…
Warmed and melty chocolate hazelnut spread on a grilled “crepe” with a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar, mmmm, this pizza should not be missed…Really, you could stop in for that alone and go home doing a little jig….
All I can say is bring your lactose pills…

Coals –> 1888 Eastchester Road (at Morris Park Avenue) –> Bronx –> 718 . 823. 7002
They recently lifted the open weekday only policy and are now open on Saturday and Sunday.

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Pancakes on Ice

Sunday morning I made pancakes and turkey sausage, filled our thermoses with steaming hot chai, packed it all up and we ate outside at Orchard Beach.  I wanted to see how the snow was looking. The Big Guy agreed, but he really did not want to go.  I could tell.  But the beach was so beautiful. All the tree branches were shimmering with ice.    I was reminded of that silver tinsel we’d hang from the Christmas tree for icicles.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen trees so silvery. Almost every surface was wrapped in a skin of ice. The pancakes were still warm when we unwrapped them and buttery and syrupy and cooling quickly.  What was most startling was the sound of the ice crackling and snapping over our heads — it was melting.  Soon we had an arc of squawking gulls and pigeons around us.  Skittish creatures. But their hungry distance was slowly closing  in.  Soon we packed up our plates and walked up the boardwalk a bit, then veered off onto the sand — crunchy snow covered sand.  The Big Guy was laughing.  “This beach looks like Mars.” We walked out of the snow into the ocean.  Our boots ankle high in the water.  We looked for horseshoe crabs.  We didn’t see any.   Actually I can’t think of a better start to the New Year.

Happy New Year Dear Readers!

p.s.  If you’d like the recipe for the pancakes (made entirely from scratch!) I’d be happy to email it to you.  Just contact me through the comment field below.

Taste of Honduras and Central America

Busiest Food Tent at the Honduran and Central American Day Parade in the Bronx.
Food Tents in Crotona Park for the Honduran & Central American Day Parade.
Food Tents in Crotona Park for the Honduran & Central American Day Parade.
Dishing up a Garinagu plate in Crotona Park.

Last Sunday we were in Crotona Park having our first taste of food from the Garinagu/Garifuna.  We were a few among many gathered in the park for The Honduran and Central American Parade. When we arrived at about two o’clock, the parade appeared to be over, (I was not able to find out exactly what streets for the parade route) but we were just in time for the food.  We headed to the tent with the longest line and smokiest grills.

We sampled a plate of grilled steak (a bit tough, but nicely flavored), red beans and rice, crispy fried plaintain, pickled onions (red, sweet and vinegary–nice condiment) and a crunchy side salad like a slaw (also nice). And we had fresh lemonade (ahhhh).

Participant in traditional dress.
Participant in traditional dress.

The Garinagu are the offspring of the Black Carib people from the island of St. Vincent.  In 1797, the Black Carib were deported to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras, by the British and from there, after tiring of Spanish rule, eventually sailed to Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua.  I came to learn that the Bronx, unofficially, has a larger Garifuna community than Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua and the Honduras (which has the largest concentration) combined.

I asked one of the women serving us for the name of a Garinagu restaurant in the Bronx and she said “La Orquidea on 149th St and Brook Avenue opposite the Burger King”.  We intend to try it. And we’re open to other places too. Anyone have other recommendations?

Flags of Honduras decorate this car.
Flags of Honduras decorate this car.

To Market , To Market

I import about 99% of my groceries from Manhattan. On a given Saturday morning, my movements are highly predictable by those that know me: I am in some state of getting to or coming from the Union Square Farmer’s Market. A trip there is a fix for me, it sets my weekend on the right foot and if I miss it, I’m cranky the rest of the day, possibly the entire weekend. I go even when my fridge is full with yellow and red chard, flowering thyme, Boston lettuces red and green, chocolate mint, garlic scapes, rocambole garlic, lamb’s quarters (wild spinach), zucchini, crab cakes, black sea bass, smoked pheasant sausage, fresh lamb sausage with pomegranate, cumin and ginger and on and on… I know a few of the farmers by sight and my fish guy calls me “Barracuda” after I told him how I reeled one in on a fishing trip in Jamaica. I haul everything back to the Bronx on the 6 train in freezer bags fitted with ice packs. Of all that I miss about Manhattan, the Union Square Farmer’s Market is at the top of my list.

So when the opportunity came to get to the NY Botanical Garden Farmer’s Market, I could hardly wait.
This greenmarket is on Wednesday days only from late June to late October. I had a free day to go and so did my neighbor Sue, so we hopped on the bus. The market, just inside the garden entrance at the Mosholu Gate, is tiny with three farmers and one baker. I recognized two stands from Union Square. The prices are comparable to Manhattan. Even though my fridge was full that day, I bought fresh bread and more zucchini anyway. Sue bought gorgeous strawberries and rhubarb for a crisp. The best part of the trip was sitting under the majestic Tulip Trees that lead to the luminous Mertz Library Building. Families arrived and children were doing cartwheels on the lawn just behind the Do Not Walk on Grass signs. We sat and talked until we noticed that Sue’s rhubarb leaves were beginning to wilt.

The New York Botanical Garden is free on Wednesdays for strolling the grounds only. This added benefit makes the trip even more worthwhile on a gorgeous summer day. Sue’s strawberry rhubarb crisp with a surprising twist of cardamom, toasted almonds and orange zest was delicious and I regret I didn’t take a bigger piece. Toting my many bags of groceries and ice on the 6 train from Manhattan is exhausting. I’ll have to figure something out…The other Bronx greenmarkets are on my list to check out and I’ve read there’s a food coop in the South Bronx. Surely, the Union Square market bounty will be tricky to find here in the Bronx. If anything I’ll keep going down to Union Square just to be called ” Barracuda”.