Readily available in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Flatbush and Canarsie, Haitian food is one of tastiest and most neglected cuisines in the city. It stems from a righteous commingling of French and West African techniques and ingredients. The results can be astonishing: take griot, a real pork confit made by marinating fatty chunks in shallots and citrus (either lime juice or bitter Seville orange). The chunks are then boiled in the marinade until the solution dries out and adheres. As the fat renders, the pork is further cooked in lard until a concentrated porkiness occurs. For meat lovers, griot is porcine nirvana.
Get it at Yoyo Fritaille, a Flatbush joint of long standing and low prices that specializes in the fried portion of the Haitian menu. Shown in the illustration is a combination of griot, spicy pork sausage, and a fritter made from black eyed peas and malanga, a corm also known as eddoes. The fritter is called accra and represents a nearly unreconstructed West African dish; the garlicky sausage might as well have come from a Polish butcher in Greenpoint, only spicy. This trio of fried delicacies will set you back $8, and is easily enough to feed two. It comes with piklis, a spicy cabbage slaw used as a condiment, perfumey with Scotch bonnet peppers. Once you've tasted Haitian food at Yoyo, you're destined to go back again and again. 826 Rogers Ave, Brooklyn, 718-676-1636.
The days when you could get a really cheap sit-down meal of pasta are seemingly long past. Especially if you demand that the pasta be good or even excellent, and not of the overboiled and barely sauced variety. Sure you can get lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs for $10 in many diners, but who'd want to? It may surprise you to learn that the Pepe chain — near the end of the last century, boasting 10 or so branches in Manhattan and Brooklyn — still exists in vestigial form. The branch called Pepe Rosso To Go continues to hunker next to the St. Anthony of Padua Shrine in a southern corner of Greenwich Village, dishing out delicious pastas that run as low as $7.99, served with bread, olive oil, and as much Romano as you'd care to sprinkle on. And you can sit down in this charming small space while eating —though signs warn you not to linger too long. Shown: penne with spinach and ricotta. 149 Sullivan St, 212-777-2755.
Around the corner from the Ditmars stop on the N and Q trains on 23rd Ave, To Laiko ("The People's") is a closet of a bakery famous for its iced coffee and filo-bearing pastries. The spanakopita (shown on the right) comes in giant sheets, and is steaming hot as it's served up, but along the same lines is another pastry stuffed with leeks, and several types of cheese pies. There are sweet, custard-filled pies, too. Shown on the left, the halo-shaped Greek bread called koulouria, which may or may not be a forerunner of the bagel. Weather permitting, sit outside and eat your pastries along with the old guys from the neighborhood. 2929 23rd Ave, Astoria, Queens, 718-274-6141.
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