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What’s the Garlickiest Dish in NYC (and Immediate Vicinity)?

Rocambole is said to be the strongest form of garlic, and has a dirty appearance due to its purplish coloration.

My Irish grandfather, Ned Lafferty, loved garlic so much he was known to take out two pieces of white bread, spread them heavily with mayonnaise, then coarsely chop an entire head of garlic and sprinkle it over the bread to make a raw-garlic sandwich. Recently, in a Jersey City pizza parlor, I had what amounted to the same thing.

The garlic knots at 3 Guys are smeared with nearly raw garlic, and lots of it!

Like calzones and hippie rolls, garlic knots are byproducts of New York pizza parlors, made with the same dough as the pizzas. At a typical price of $1.75 for four, this quintessential Italian-American snack is often the cheapest and most filling item on a pizzeria’s menu.

The dough balls, sometimes tied up as knots, are baked, and then soaked in garlic and olive oil so that the garlic adheres to the outside of the knot. Parsley and grated cheese are often added. These become adhered to the outside of the knot, sometimes during a brief secondary baking.

After sampling them all over town for the last few months, the strongest FiTR encountered were found at 3 Guys From Italy pizzeria in Jersey City. It was once located in a ramshackle shopping strip just south of the Journal Square PATH, but when that was recently demolished, the place moved to a new storefront on Kennedy Boulevard. The slices are also quite good, though a little doughy and undercooked. But the garlic knots are perfection, light as a balloon and guaranteed to leave your lips and tongue burning with garlic.

A bland tomato dipping sauce is served on the side.

3 Guys From Italy
2854 Kennedy Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ
201-792-9565

The 3 Guys crew hard at work

The new fa├žade of 3 Guys, right on Kennedy Boulevard

3 Guys’ plain cheese slice is pretty good, too.

 

 

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Union Square Greenmarket in Winter

Deals are to be had on designer garlic.

Austere are the pleasures of area farmers’ markets in winter, and the mother of them all, the Union Square Greenmarket, is no exception. The number of vendors has shrunk by about half, as have the number of pedestrians making their way through the L-shaped parking lot — making shopping more of a pleasure, especially for those who favor seasonal and local eating .

The stock of summer and fall vegetables has been largely decimated, and supplies of tomatoes, broccoli, and brussels sprouts have given way to root vegetables, alliums, and hardy fruits. Indeed, apples, pears, carrots, onions, garlic, and kohlrabi now share space with vendors hawking dairy products, meats, and wines from Long Island.

Here are some pictures taken in the Union Square Greenmarket right before sunset yesterday.

Don’t go away empty-handed.

Carrots are everywhere…

…and so are sweet-fleshed apples and pears.

Wine tasting is a popular pastime.

Lining up to buy goat meat and goat yogurt

Potatoes and parsnips are the stars of the show.

In the winter Greenmarket, find plenty of elbow room.

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Year of the Takeout Day 156: Mei Zhong Wei

Chicken Wings With Garlic Sauce from Mei Zhong Wei (57 Pitt Street, 212-529-5029)

Mei Zong Wei doesn’t exactly reinvent the culinary wheel — the restaurant takes common fried chicken wings and slathers on equally common garlic sauce, then charges $4 for the alleged specialty.

That said, the chicken wings with garlic sauce come out quite good. Though this gravy tends to be over-sweet on every other protein, the salty, oily fat balances out this sugary vibe, making for a delightful juxtaposition.

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Year of the Takeout Day 47: Friend House/ Random Florida Takeout

Broccoli and Tofu in Garlic Sauce from Friend House (106 Third Avenue, 212-388-1838)

A staple of quick Cantonese cuisine is indeed garlic sauce (with veggies, tofu, or meat).

In Year of the Takeout‘s observations, this gravy has the same texture as the brown, soy-based variety, but can take on a pinkish hue and feature different heat levels, depending on the amount of chili flakes present.

Now what also fascinates about garlic sauce is how it exemplifies both the ubiquity — and organic uniformity — of this food in the U.S.

These independently owned eateries have generally adopted the same cooking standards and practices — but without any centralized mandate.

So, much as a Big Mac in New York tastes the same as a Big Mac elsewhere, Chinese food in Florida (where YotT happens to be this weekend) can feel virtually indiscernible from the Northeast’s offerings. Unlike Big Macs, though, there’s no corporate boss telling these small restaurants how to do things. This can also be explained by the fact that a lot of these sauces come pre-made — but also that many recipes are so simple that variation remains unlikely.

See for yourself: Pictured below is an item from a neighborhood joint in Anonymous Suburb, Florida. No big difference, right?