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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Vend You? Vend Me!

In a recent stroke of “crack” (wink, nudge) investigative journalism, the NY Times pulled this biscuit out of the oven:
“I hate calling up to order food,” said Lewis Friedman, a Manhattan real estate broker. “It throws me over the edge. They put you on hold. They get the order wrong. It’s always a crap shoot.”
No joke? I had always considered delivery the least stressful of all dining options in NYC. One simple call nets a sort of legal, temporary butler, a chap who (for pennies on the dollar) runs to your house with food you ordered: falafel or sushi, pizza or vodka. That said, Lewis Friedman, Manhattan real estate broker gave me pause. I hate getting put on hold thrown over edges, and maybe the affordable luxury of pad thai on wheels just isn't worth the risk.

But what to do? I'm lazy busy, never always on-the-go, and want it my way. Whence, a delicious, quick fix without fuss or precipice? And then it hit me... Street Vendors! Those purveyors of fine, hassle-free eats! No phones! Direct accountability! And great food from around the world! The best part? The Third Annual Vendy Awards rolled out their latest Motley Crue of finalists last week. In tow, an eclectic assortment of wonderful stress-free dining options... so The Porkchop Express headed down, sampled the goods, and came up with a few additional awards for all those who didn't take home the giant #1 trophy.
Best Use of Melted Cheese went to Veronica Julien of Veronica's Kitchen (Front & Pine, Manhattan). Hailing from Tabago Trinidad, Veronica's cart offered an impressive selection of Oxtail, Chicken(s), rice and peas, but she had us at the creamy Macaroni And. Also noteworthy: a spicy Jerk, whose solid seasoning compensated for the lack of drum cooking (and correlative smoky goodness). Lots of heart and aromatic herbs made this a solid Vendy newcomer, and a great Lower Manhattan street option.
Spurting Creamy Goodness: A “King of Falafel” performs under pressure
If you work/live/eat in the outer boroughs, consider instead the self-annointed King of Falafel & Shawarma (Broadway & 30th St, Astoria). I actually counted four Kings (Kong?) in action, but the H.K.I.C. is one Freddy Zeideia of Palestine and, more recently, Queens. Dude had a truly warm smile, and his crew pulled out all the stops (big, generous plates; belly dancers; creamy white sauce; belly dancing; etc). For that reason, they won our Best Bright Lights Big City Performance for quality showmanship and unrivaled customer relation skills. (Not to mention a tasty, distinctive, crunchy, salty falafel.)Of all the food clichés, “I'm from California...” (as evidence of Authoritative Taco Knowledge) rubs me the wrongest. You and 37 million other people, champ! And I bet you're all super-mega-awesome taco experts!!!!! (Note: I've never heard anyone “from Mexico” pull this line, but I doubt it would sound as annoying.) So when a gracious Californian gave Super Taco his Super Cali Stamp of Approval, I raised an Eyebrow Of Mild Irritation. Alas, Super Taco's small servings of so-so meats on single, not-well-grilled tortillas hardly put me in a Good Taco Mood. Now even tho I'm from Brooklyn, single tortillas are just not cool. My buddy P-Knuckle wouldn't let this one die, and he was right. That said, he – and others I both trust and like – tell me Super Taco does truly tasty things uptown at their truck. So by serving a sub-par product, this first-time entry ensured that I will haul ass to try them on their home turf. Hence the award for Vendor That Ironically Made Me Most Want To Visit Them At Their Stand (96th & Broadway, Manhattan).
Mohammed Rahman, Kwik and Easy!
Three The Good Way: Lamb, Chicken and Falafel Pitas

The second most irritating food cliché? “I would walk a mile in the snow to eat...” The bad news? Someone had the falafels to use this line in praise of Kwik Meal (45th & 6th, Manhattan). The good news? Well, Kwik Meal is pretty damn... good. Mohammed Rahman (of Bangladesh) knows how to stuff a pita. His spongy, fluffy breads, delicious well-cooked meats (moist lamb and spicy chicken), and sound “Mama Bear” saucing style (not too much, not too little) won us over. The Kwik One took The Porkchop Express Award for Our 2007 Favorite, along with the slightly less prestigious Official “People’s Choice” Award (culled from attendee ballots).
As for the honest-to-goodness Silver Vendy Trophy? I overheard someone say 'no way the fat judges will swing Dosa,' but Thiru “The Dosa Man” Kumar (Washington Square South @ Sullivan St) bucked the odds and brought home the hardware. (This after two consecutive 2nd Place finishes.) We've already profiled Thiru in full, so click here for an in-depth look at his goods. Suffice it to say that the fresh-trimmed mustache and piping hot lentil crepes were more than enough to sway even the grandest of guts. To which we say, kudos, sir; the only edge you send us over is... the Dizzying Incline of Delicious!
Have we met?

And kudos again to Sean Basinski, the Street Vendor Project, and the entire Benefit Committee whose hard work and good cheer make this our favorite awards ceremony of the year.
And kudos also to the folks who ate their share...
...this Vendy's for you!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post, man.

always good to have a true, red-blooded food-fancier at the event.

-the red chef

P.S. Up on 96th Street, they always use double tortillas...

9:21 PM  
Anonymous beccles suffolk said...

I wish I could attend the event. Those foods are so mouthwatering. Your so lucky to taste all of them.

1:54 AM  
Anonymous terrine recipes said...

I'm glad Kwik Meal got top honors because those Chicken and Falafel Pitas are to die for.

1:47 AM  

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