On Saturday afternoon some friends and I rode our bikes to Red Hook Park to indulge in the amazing home cooked food from the Red Hook Food Vendors. A couple of years ago, I saw a students final film at New York Film Academy, they have free showings of their films, and this one was about the Red Hook Food Vendors. Since then, a visit to Red Hook has always been on top of my "New York City To Do List." It only took a matter of time and friends with bikes.
Mike had recently received a hand me down bike and was planning on renting Kristen a bike so they could ride over and meet us. However, there happened to be one of Kristen's dream bike left in stock and she couldn't help but purchase this sexy blue Linus Mixte! For Kristen's inaugural ride, they rode over the Brooklyn Bridge to meet us!
For over 30 years, artisan cooks hailing from all corners of Latin America gather in a remote corner of Red Hook Park. From spring through fall, weekends have been filled with a distinctive ambiance. In this remote and historic corner of Brooklyn, we find a place and atmosphere reminiscent of a small Latin American town, where its central plaza overflows in celebration of weekend summer glories. Its main attractions- Food and soccer games.
We decided the best way to do this was to try a little bit of everything from as many different vendors as possible. We successfully managed to try five out of the roughly ten vendors! I think that made for an ok day! Don't you?
The five vendors we dined from are all listen below with each dish. Enjoy!
We started off the afternoon with one of the most talked about items, the sweet Pupusas with cheese. If you want to be authentic you might as well give the most authentic dishes a try! The sweet pupusas we believe to be made from plantains. This was Emma's favorite dish of the day. It was too banana-y for me as I am not a banana fan. Since plantains are similar to bananas, it would make sense that it wasn't my favorite.
Our second mid afternoon snack of the day were these fabulous rolled tacos! They were tasty.
Kristen's appetizer was the Tostada de Aguakate which is pretty much a hard shell tortilla smothered in guacamole, onions and cheese. Yes please!
My main course of the day was roasted corn on the cob smothered in butter, cheese and spices. We determined it definitely was not one of the sexier foods to eat.
Josh's main course was a chicken Huarache which was a large flower tortilla with chicken smothered in onions, lettuce, tomatoes, guac, cheese, and sour cream.
Original Colombian Food
Original Colombian Food
Since everything was pretty much finger food and there was so much delicious food to try, we shared everything so everyone could get a little taste of heaven. Speaking of heaven, my favorite item of the day was the Arepa. This little piece of heaven is corn based filled with mozarella cheese. We might have had two!
It was wonderful sitting at the pick-nick tables in Red Hook Park with friends dining on such authentic delicacies. Besides from the weather being a little chilly, it didn't rain and ended up being a wonderful day for our adventure.
We also had a Colombian Beef Patty also known as an Empanada. This little Empanada was probably the greasiest treat I've ever tasted in my life. I''m talking grease coming out of both ends when you bite into it. Other than that, it was good.
After stuffing our faces, we decided we needed dessert. Mike mentioned chocolate covered key lime pies and before he could even finish the sentence we jumped all over him. We rode our bikes to Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies a little further West in Red Hook. I am still scratching my head wondering how on earth I did not know this place existed and how many other amazing spots like this I'm missing in my "New York City To Do List."
My pie-making began more than 30 years ago, when I started making key lime pies at my home for family and friends. Basically, I was too disappointed with what was brought to me in a restaurant when ordering a slice. Back then it seemed as if ease-of-use and convenience had taken priority over culinary integrity. Most -if not all- the commercial bakeries were opting for some other method of making key lime pies other than using fresh squeezed key lime juice, and I believe the same is true today. Knowing where to get a handful of key limes anytime I needed them, I found it much more rewarding to make them myself. “If you want something done right, do it yourself”. It wouldn’t be until years later that I began making pies for a living.
There are two different kinds of pies. Your traditional Key Lime Pie, which comes in multiple sizes, the mini is $4.00, and then the fancy frozen Chocolate dipped Key Lime Pie for $5.00.
Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies is located along Brooklyn's Waterfront inside an old renovated brick brick building along the piers. Just around the bend, we were told there is an old houseboat you can take a tour of. I am not exactly sure if it is part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Museum. Some friends Mike ran into had just been and said the family who lives on the houseboat was there giving the tour.
After indulging ourselves, we decided to hop back on our bikes to burn off some of those calories! We rode around and explored Red Hook a little more. There was street art everywhere! I couldn't keep stopping to take photos or I would hold the group up, but I did have to stop to get this one...
And because I'm sure everyone is hungry now, how about the recipe for Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies!
Our Key Lime Pie Ingredients
Here at Steve’s Authentic, we’re quite proud of the product we make and the ingredients we use. As purists, we insist on making everything we can “in-house”, and not relying on outside suppliers who control the ingredients for the sake of simplicity or what is easier. We do the hard work because know what the results are. We are basically recreating the very same key lime pie Steve was making for his family and friends as a young man in Miami, in fact, some of the ingredients have gotten better over the years.
We start with our crust, which we make here. Other bakeries, even those touting authenticity, rely on purchasing pre-made crust from commercial factories where the “bottom line” mentality always prevails. As we’ve done from day-one, we make all of our crusts for all of our products here in our bakery.
We start with a premium Graham crumb formula, baked at a specialty bakery who only make dessert crumbs. The particular formula we use is minimally processed, the list of ingredients is probably 20% of what you’d find in a commercially made Graham cracker, and the formula is trans-fat free. This is one of those cases where our ingredients have improved over the years, as we are always striving to make the best product we can, not cheapen it by reducing the quality of the ingredients.
We incorporate 100% pure butter, basically the “glue” that holds the crumbs together. When baked, the molten butter toasts the Graham crumbs while being imbedded into the crumbs themselves. The result, when cooled, is a rich, crisp, cookie-like consistency that cannot be rivaled by any commercially made crust. We’ve always done it this way and we always will, even though there are less expensive alternatives to using butter.
Our filling comes next. Another example of ingredients getting better over the years. The primary ingredient used is sweetened and condensed milk. Back home in Miami, and for many years commercially, we used a canned milk product, which was produced, packaged, shipped to a distributor, shipped to a wholesaler and eventually delivered or purchased by us. You had little or no control over the handling of the product or how long it sat canned in a warehouse or truck before it finally made way to the bakery.
We have tracked down a dairy in the Mid-West who routinely produces sweetened and condensed milk. When we place our order, the next production run is packed into 5-gallon buckets, placed on a pallet, shipped by refrigerated truck, and within a few days, sitting in our walk-in fridge. The quality of this product cannot be had out of a can, this sweetened and condensed milk is undoubtedly the freshest available, anywhere. We take great pride in using this product in our pies and bringing it to our customers.
The egg yolks are a touchy subject for us. As purists, we would prefer not using a processed product, but as everyone knows, raw egg yolks always stand the chance of salmonella contamination. We do not recommend using raw egg yolks for this very reason, although there are methods of pasteurizing yolks at home (we will post this later in a “how to” video). This procedure simply cannot be done on the scale that we produce our pies, so the choice really came down between using pasteurized yolks or baking the filling. Being the sticklers we are for authenticity, the decision was easy. Traditionally, key lime pies were never baked, it was always the “fill and chill”method. The baking of the filling changes too much of the quality that makes a key lime pie so special. The consistency changes and the flavor of the lime juice is altered by the heat.
Now comes the magic, the element that sets our product apart from other commercial bakeries, the one thing we’ve done from the beginning and will continue to do as long as we’re making key lime pies. Fresh squeezed key limes, the only source of juice we use, period. I’ve met other key lime pie bakers, in Key West no less, who asked why I didn’t just use a bottled key lime juice. I found this incredulous, the very idea of using processed key lime juice simply on account of ease of use. This is the very reason I began making key lime pies years ago, it seems that people just don’t want to do the hard work. You would be hard-pressed to find any of the commercial key lime bakeries in Key West who are using real, fresh squeezed key limes.
We stand proud of this point, and feel that we’ve earned our bragging rights. As I’ve said many times before, we do recommend the bottled from imported concentrate, complete with chemical preservatives, reconstituted and complete with a real Key West label variety of key lime juice, if you’re stripping paint or removing rust, but not not in a food product. Even if you’re making a key lime pie at home (which we will post a how-to video later), you’re better off using fresh squeezed Persian (regular) limes.
If you’d like to see a video walk-through of our ingredients, please visit our video pages and have a look.
Craig had told me of a cool bar in Red Hook called B61, named after the bus route maybe? We locked up the boys and girls and headed in for a drink and a little butt relief.
What a fabulous day exploring Brooklyn. I'm so excited to have so many friends with bikes in New York City now. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it all. But now we can now do more with the help of these sexy machines!