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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Barbados Golden Choice Bakery & Restaurant

The other day someone asked me to describe myself and I didn't know what to say. Wise like Buddha? Wiley like Churchill? Fly like an eagle? Hung like an angry stallion? Then it hit me: humble and restrained. Unlike, say, this restaurant I recently came across. According to their menu, they claimed to be
“The No. 1 Bakery in the USA.”
Sounded brash, gentle reader. Like soccer parents screaming superlatives: Johnny is tops at Kick(ing) Balls! Sally at Scoring (goals)! Lance RULES! And so on. Brash and dull. Number 1 at what? Why? Since when? And who cares?And yet... we cared. Because, good reader, there was another sentence at play here – painted discreetly on the window – one that seemed right up our alley: BIG TASTE at a SMALL PRICE. Alrighty! If true, this was Prime Porkchop Express Material. So we headed inside the Barbados Golden Choice Bakery & Restaurant to check the Flavor firsthand.
A Winning Smile: Eureka Nicholls meets and greets

Upon entering, all fears were quickly allayed by an exceptionally welcoming woman with an easygoing smile. Eureka! Eureka Nicholls actually, who has run Barbados Golden Choice for over 28 years with her husband Nick. If Eureka is the hostess with the mostess, Nick is the man with the culinary plan. Just don't let his shyness fool you: he handles all cooking and baking, and speaks the international language of delicious. As to his specialties...
Lovely pair: Codfish and coco bake

We started with regular and spicy beef patties. The fillings were tasty but the crust was a little dense. So we moved on to a terrific Codfish and coco bake sandwich: light, flaky fish cooked with carrots, peppers, celery, onions and spices, and served on a soft, slightly sweet roll. The coconut/salty/vinegar mix worked on multiple Flavor Levels. Unusual, and unusually tasty. Ditto for the fritters, addictive, chewy fried-batter balls flavored with codfish, herbs and spices. Grab a 3-pack and dip them in some Scotch Bonnet hot sauce as you're deciding what to try next.
Tasty trio: fritters to stay

Then consider some baked goodness to keep your spirits high. Everything is made “on premises,” so freshness isn't a problem. Nor are options. Nick offers slightly sweet, fluffy, raisin-studded Choice Bread; dense hot dog rolls dubbed Lead Pipes; tasty, toothsome Coco Bread; scone-like Rock Cakes; and, as the menu admits, many more. We also enjoyed the turnovers. Strawberry is a local favorite, but Pineapple was our money triangle: less sweet, with a slightly tart real-fruit flavor that really shines thru.
The Money Shot: Pineapple Turnover

Now just as we were set to call it an evening, a young Barbadian woman entered. It was her third trip to Golden Choice that day (kindred spirit), and each time she had ordered the same thing: Flying Fish with Cou-Cou. To be honest I thought Flying Fish were like Unicorns or Fairy Elves (fictional, goofy, hung out under rainbows, born in New Zealand). But it turns out I was totally off base. It's actually Barbados' national dish, along with cou-cou (cornmeal and okra stewed to the texture of creamy potatoes).

I'm no “afficiandao.” Nor do I have anything to “compare” it to. But screw it, I'll go out on a limb and say this is some of the tastiest fried flying fish to be had in all of Brooklyn: fresh, well-seasoned and fried to a light golden crust. You can eat them whole or cutter-style (on a coco bake). So whatever you decide, order at least 2 (they're small). And don't forget the hot sauce.
Finger Lickin' Addiction: Fried Flying Fish

You might also consider arriving well before closing; cou-cou often sells out early. Ditto with Nick's Pudding-n-souse. One regular had effectively worked me into a PNS frenzy by describing Barbados' favorite pickled pork and black pudding... only to have Eureka break the bad news (none left!). But class act that she is, she quickly cheered me up with a consolation slice of ham.

Yes, good reader, Eureka is a woman after my own heart, and Golden Choice does a Virginia-style ham boiled (to drain the salt) and baked with top secret seasonings. Needless to say I was thrilled... and surprised. Pork is more exception than rule in the Caribbean spots I've visited, so I can't honestly say I saw this one coming.Which, it turns out, is one of the reasons I've returned to Golden Choice. The Nicholls are quirky in all the right ways: gracious and down to earth, with eclectic tastes and a deft culinary touch. It's hard to spend time there without ordering a few random Bajan delicacies and pondering a trip to the island itself. But if you're lazy/hungry/curious, there's no need to skip town. Just head to Nostrand and see what grabs you.

I should add that until very recently, Eureka and Nick only served food on weekends. (If you're counting, that's nigh-30 years of business where customers had to wait five f%#&*@$ days for a flying fish fix.) But I'm happy to announce that Golden Choice now cooks Bajan delicacies on the daily. So what are you waiting for? Stop reading and head on down to a magical world where the fish fly, bread is made of coconuts, and a smile says hello. Dare to dream, good reader; dare to dream.

Barbados Golden Choice Bakery & Restaurant
722 Nostrand Avenue, East Flatbush, Brooklyn

Closed Mondays; open from around 7am til 8pm all other days (later on Fridays & Saturdays). Call ahead if you want to be safe: 718-953-8459

You should try Fried Flying Fish and cou-cou, codfish on coco bread, fritters, a pineapple turnover, and anything else they recommend that day. Breads, snacks and sandwiches run no higher than $3, meals around $8.



Anonymous who walk in brooklyn said...

dude (&/or dudette)-- START comparing at Cock's, also on Nostrand & then rock ANY Bajan joint you can find... i can know 5 or 6 more offhand, & also a little more bashful St Vincentian bakery that might very well be thee best in Brooklyn... it pains me to admit this but for Jamaican baked goods-- esp. killa' carrot cake-- ya'll gotta head north to Tha' Boogie Down, tho' the BK is excellent for Bajan, Trini, Guyanese, Haitian & OTHER Jamaican dishes (just not cakes, rolls, pattie, etc). if anyone INSISTS i'm wrong, please, do tell!



7:11 PM  
Anonymous Rajendra Nagar said...

your blog is much appreciated...
Chowirnghee Lane

7:50 AM  

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