Brooklyn Represent!: Red Hook Ball Field Vendors
I’m not the first, and certainly won’t be the last, to sing the praises of the Red Hook vendors. The food vendors at the Red Hook ball fields have received extensive coverage on the internet, which you can read about here, here and here.
Red Hook is a neighborhood in South Brooklyn that should be known for its old school Brooklyn charm, art scene and views of the water but is, sadly, more known as being home to the only IKEA in New York City. Red Hook is also notorious for its lack of transportation options. Unless you have a car, you’ll find yourself relying on the B61 bus or the IKEA shuttle or schlepping a bit from the F/G trains at Carroll Gardens or Smith/9th Street.
For those of you unfamiliar, the Red Hook vendors started off humbly enough in the 1970’s. Semi-pro soccer games at the local recreational fields drew a good crowd of players and spectators from various Latin countries. Food vendors popped up to feed the masses after realizing that there was a sizable market of people who craved treats from home countries like Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Over the years, the makeshift “stalls” (read: tables underneath tarps set up in front of vans or cars) then became more well-known than the soccer games. More recently, with growing popularity thanks to foodies and blogs (whoops!), the Department of Health cracked down on the vendors with city regulated food preparation guidelines, and many vendors were forced to buy and operate out of food trucks, which cost around $50,000 each.
While many lament the loss of the “authentic” stalls and question the growing number of “outsiders” showing up every weekend (like many neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Red Hook has gentrification issues), there is no doubt that the food is still authentic and delicious. But no food can be declared worthy until one of the members of Allegations of Deliciousness judges it so.
The vendors are usually open every Saturday and Sunday from May until October, with October 31 being the last day for 2010. Hoping not to miss out this year, I went last weekend to try out the pupusas from El Olomega. A pupusa is traditional Salvadorian dish made with thick, hand-made corn tortilla filled with cheese and meat/beans/veggie. I got mine with cheese and beef while Edna Krabappel got her’s with cheese and spinach.
Pickled cabbage (I gave my share to Edna since I can’t stand cabbage), pickled jalapenos and a not-so-spicy tomato sauce accompanied the pupusas. They were both delicious. The pupusas were not too heavy despite their thickness. The outside had a slight crisp before giving into the fluff of the tortilla and melty, cheesey goodness inside. The beef was well seasoned while the spinach melded well with the cheese.
If you live in New York City and have yet to visit the Red Hook vendors, hurry down and try. Other vendors sell huaraches, tacos, ceviches, elotes and fresh pressed juices. You only have a few more weekends to enjoy before the trucks close down for the season.