By Ernest Barteldes
Spring and summer are really enjoyable here in New York City thanks to the countless outdoor events, going from inexpensive (or free) concerts, dancing, movie screenings, street fairs and other options that often take place at the same time. It is a welcome change from the frigid weeks when everything happens indoors.
Sure, those who enjoy winter activities like skiing or ice skating or simply admiring the snow that falls over the city parks while enjoying a cup of mulled wine certainly have a ball, but those of us who are not stretching at a tropical beach due to unavoidable circumstances (jobs, for instance) welcome the chance to have some fun under the hot sun.
Among the many events that Renata and I look forward during the year is the International Food Festival on 9th Avenue, which usually takes place on the third weekend of May. During two full days, local restaurants join the usual street fair exhibitors (fake designer clothes, costume jewelry, Italian sausages, etc) and showcase all kinds of food, going from Asian to Cajun and everything in between.
The fair begins on 42nd Street and extends all the way to 60th Street, and those with an appetite and curiosity for something different are definitely in for a treat without spending too much, since the restaurants create special menus with food that goes as low as $ 1 , such as Indian samosas or Thai satay chicken.
Some neighborhood restaurants serve alcohol in enclosed areas (it’s been illegal to serve alcohol in street events in New York since 2001 in response to several incidents that had taken place in earlier years) along with the select fare, and there is also live music ranging from rock cover bands to instrumental jazz.
When we go to the fair, I always make a point of stopping at Delta Grill on 50th street, where I order their iconic alligator sausage served with spicy mustard. During the year, they serve it inside as an appetizer, but it’s just way more fun to have the spicy concoction outside with a bottle of Abita beer (which is brewed in Louisiana).
Recipe: Vegetarian Jambalaya
Linda McCartney from Linda McCartney On Tour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion — chopped
1 clove garlic — chopped (1 to 2)
3/4 pound vegetarian burger — crumbled
2 vegetarian sausages — defrosted and
sliced into rounds
1 medium leek — sliced thinly
1/2 red bell pepper — seeded and sliced
1 stalk celery — sliced
1/4 pound okra — trimmed, or
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
2 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1 can chopped tomatoes — (14 ounce)
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
3 cups small brown mushrooms — halved
sea salt and black pepper to taste
Tabasco to taste
chopped scallions to garnish
In a large saucepan, heat the oil and soften the onion and garlic over medium
heat for 5 minutes. Add the burger and sausages, and fry until browned. Then add
the leek, red pepper, celery, and okra or zucchini, and stir until the
vegetables have softened slightly. Add the herbs and Cajun spice mix and stir
well. Then stir in the rice until it is thoroughly incorporated.
Add the tomatoes and half of the stock or water, and cook over low heat,
covered, for 10-15 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and remaining stock, and cook
for a further 5-10 minutes until the rice is tender.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Serve sprinkled with chopped