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Perks & Quirks

27 Feb

It’s been about a month since we’ve been living in Bay Ridge, just enough time to start learning some of the neighborhood’s quirks. What at first seemed a quiet, lazy, almost suburban neighborhood is slowly revealing itself to, indeed, be part of New York City, and therefore, slightly eccentric.

Or, maybe I’m just projecting my eccentricities on the neighborhood. Either way, there’s are some major quirks to living here, but there are also some major perks.

Case in point, my morning commute.

Mackerel & Olive Oil Braised Vegetables

I’m finally reading again. A lot in fact. I’m blowing through at least two books a week. But that’s not the biggest perk. The biggest perk comes at the end of the line on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And what is it? The Union Square Greenmarket, of course.

I clamber out of the subway at it’s northernmost terminus to the sight of the stalls of the market. So far I’ve been in control of myself, it’s been helped by the grim reality of a market in winter, but last Friday, I was seduced.

I believe I was running late for work (as I always am). I came bounding up the steps, and then out of the side of my eye, I saw something and I froze mid-puddle leap. There off to the left, like something out of a nightmare sat two sharks.

Sharks? Yep. Sharks. Well, actually, more like dogfish, but they’re still sharks!

Mackerel & Olive Oil Braised Vegetables

So, why am I telling you about these sharks but not showing you a picture? Because many of the vendors at the Greenmarket don’t like people taking pictures of their wares. Why? I dunno, probably because I’m not the first blogger to write about Blue Moon Fish Co.

After admiring the sharks for a few minutes I took a gander at the other fresh fish on display. Lo and behold, they had a whole tub of one of my favorites, mackerel. Whole ones too (minus the head). So I grabbed the two biggest for a grand total of $1.05. It’s good to like what most people consider garbage fish.

And since I was already committed to carting home some perishable goods I decided to wander a bit and make myself a little later (they always keep me really late at work on Fridays, so I figured I’d chip off a few minutes at the front end of my workday).

The grass-fed beef guy was there, and he had short ribs, so I grabbed some of them too (more on those later).

Mackerel & Olive Oil Braised Vegetables

A large coffee later, and I was in my office placing beautifully briny, and yet still kinda fishy smelling, fillets of mackerel into the company fridge, right next to someone’s grotesque South Beach Diet cardboard lunch. It felt kind of nice.

We ate a lot of tiny, whole fish in Croatia. Most of the time, we think, they were sardines but they were often simply listed as blue fish. They were always prepared simply, usually just coated in olive oil and grilled, and were always delicious.

And so, with these memories in mind, a simple Adriatic preparation for my mackerel was called for. I stuffed their bellies with thinly sliced garlic and lemons, and a few leaves of mint and oregano (they happened to be what I had on hand) and cooked them under the foil of my Adriatic braised vegetables.

Adriatic Vegetables

And what are Adriatic braised vegetables? Only the single most amazing way to make your vegetables taste delicious and to (probably) sap them of all their nutritional value; vegetables cooked slowly in olive oil. A lot of olive oil! These came with every dish in Croatia, but I wasn’t 100% sure how to make them until the Tiny Banquet Committee sent me a scan of a recipe from a very old Helen Gurley Brown cookbook.

And so the perks of living in Bay Ridge do seem to be outweighing the quirks. But I fear for my wallet, and my shoulders, once the vegetables start coming back to the Greenmarket!

Head below the jump for the recipes for Vegetables Hrvatski & Mackerel Adriatica.

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