Unlike most NYC street fairs, which are dispiriting, interchangeable body-jams of tube-sock sellers and mozzarepa stands, Brooklyn's late-September Atlantic Antic is an actual neighborhood celebration, stretching from Hicks nearly all the way down to Flatbush in a cross-cultural mix buoyant with bouncy castles and canine massage, shea butter and henna tatttoos, blintzes from the Belorussian church and pasteles from the Spanish-speaking one, jerk chicken and rice and peas and falafel and jambalaya and paella and beef brisket with horseradish on a challah bun (this last from Nosh, a new Jewish deli opening this week on the south side of Atlantic near Court St, run by Mark of Blue Star).
Nearly every restaurant, food shop, and church along Atlantic Avenue was dishing out something tasty last Sunday. West of Clinton St, tapas joint La Mancha sent up an irresistable smoke from its curbside grills, where fresh whole sardines were turning golden over the coals , along with huge pots of shellfish-topped paella and chubby lengths of paprika-red chorizo sausage. If your only experience with sardines had been the shiny headless critters revealed as you peel back the flat top of a sardine can--or merely as a metaphor for the 6 train at rush hour--these fat, crispy-skinned fish were a sublime revelation. These were big guys, about the span of your hand, fat and meaty, dark and oil-rich like bluefish or mackerel, spritzed with lemon and scattered with crunchy sea salt.
Next door, Floyd had set up shop on the street, reproducing their bar--complete with a fake fireplace and mantle, comfy couches, rugs, and mismatched coffee tables, and of course, beer taps--out on the curb. (You did have to go inside for bocce, though). Last Exit had its usual hay bales and country swingers; over at Magnetic Fields, thrash-and-burn boy bands. Outside the Atlantic Chip Shop, pans of shepherd's pie languished in favor of misshapen golden lumps of deep-fried Twinkies--Anglo-American cooperation at its queasy best. Not to be outdone, one of the many Italian-sausage trucks (obviously enjoying being MIA from the insanity of the San Gennaro fest across the river) was pitching deep-fried Oreos. Steve and his key-lime pie truck were selling, naturally, key-lime pies, which gave me a pang of missing K., of course, and our key-lime adventures at last Saturday's social.
What else? Belly dancing and Arabic music; cheery zydeco, gumbo and jambalaya outside Stan's New Orleans restaurant; the very serious, all-chick horn section of the funk band outside Downtown Atlantic's bbq-and-beer garden (women who spent their teen years at band camp, no question about it); Brooklyn pride T shirts of all kinds, from 718 thongs to B'klyn Baby onesies and Gowanus Yacht Club baseball tees. Sweet potato pie from the sugar-seeking crush around the Baptist church ladies. And finally, far from the madding crowd, a cool lady's half-pint of Brooklyn lager in the pleasant late-afternoon gloom of the Brooklyn Inn.
Now, as promised, pie-social recipes!
Key Lime Pie (adapted from MIAMI SPICE by Stephen Raichlen)
Graham cracker crust
If you're really pining to make extra work for yourself, you can make your own graham crackers from Nancy Silverton's recipe, here. I didn't love these crackers on their own, but they did make a nice crust, although not monumentally different than one made from a box of teddy grahams from the corner store. Whatever you do, put a whole bunch of crackers into a big zip-lock bag and roll them into crumbs, or break them up and spin them in the food processor until buzzed to fine crumbs. Mix 1 1/4 cups crumbs with 4 TB melted butter and press into a pie pan. Bake at 350 F for 5-6 minutes, until lightly browned and firm.
1 lb key limes*
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
Zest off enough rind to make 1 teaspoon. Set aside. Juice the rest of the limes, give or take a few, to make 1/2 cup juice. Using a hand-held or stand-up mixer, beat eggs and milk for at least 5 minutes, until light-colored and thick. Add juice and rind and continue beating. The mixture should be creamy and very thick. Pour into pie shell and bake for 6-8 minutes, until set but not browned. Let cool to room temp, then refrigerate for several hours. Top each slice with a key-lime twist (a thin slice of lime cut down the middle and twisted in opposite directions) and whipped cream, if desired.
*Key limes are very small, yellowish-green limes, often called Mexican limes. They are small enough that you can juice them by twiddling each half between your thumb and forefinger. You can find them, with some searching, in Latin produce markets or specialty produce stores. If you can't find them, Raichlen suggests a mixture of 5 TB lemon juice and 5 TB regular lime juice.
Enough with the pies and sardines, already: we want to know about the GAY PENGUINS!!!!
Well, since the issue of penguin anthropomorphism has been a big topic in the news lately (thanks to March of the Penguins and its tales of heroic ice-bound monogamy--hey, it was a long, hot summer), the Times devoted a detailed update to the trials and tribulations of the Gay Penguins of Central Park today. On the happy rainbow side: Tango, the girl penguin the penguin dads raised from an egg, now has a girlfriend. Go Tango!! Wanna come camping? On the sad rainbow side, her dads Silo and Roy got pushed out of their nest by two" aggressive penguins" (bastards!), and in despair over the NY real estate market, pressured by the demands of celebrity gay couplehood, Silo jumped the fence and started macking on a tattooed lady-penguin barmaid named Scrappy--an import from, of course, that polyamorous paradise, Sea World. All this, reported in page-six detail. First Gay Weddings, now Gay Penguin Gossip.
(And now I'm going over to Sitemeter to see how many people ended up on this blog because they googled "gay penguins." Just as a change from "dirt cake," which is, hands down, the top search that sends random strangers here.)