It can be a good thing to make a left turn instead of the right turn, even if it takes you another five minutes to get where you’re going. There are no grocery stores in my neighborhood, so I have to walk all the way over the Polaski bridge to Brooklyn to get to a lousy Key Food. About three quarters of the way over the bridge you have the option of taking about four flights of stairs down to Ash Street, and just for the heck of it–I have been shopping at the same grocery and walking the same way for twelve years–I went down the stairs.
The North end of Manhattan Avenue is as close to quiet as you’re going to get around here. A cafe called the Ashbox, with mismatched old wooden chairs and people sitting outside at the one table made me feel like I was Dorothy and had dropped down somewhere into a contemporary Kansas. There was even another cafe with a gorgeous coffee machine a little further south, still on Manhattan Avenue–Greenpoint groovers sipping their joe and reading papers–and then my favorite finds, Pio Pio Rico, a Peruvian restaurant with amazing plantains and ceviche, the Rivera Market, a tiny store with a big return, and the Acapulco Deli and Restaurant. I took Jonathan back there for lunch today and for $14.95, we got two chicken burritos with rice and beans, a side of guacamole, and beer. I scrapped the Key Food all together.
If you can’t find good burritos you can make your own.
Use either flour or corn soft tortillas. Flank steak is excellent as well in a burrito. Marinate it for fifteen minutes in crushed limes, cilantro, red onion, and garlic. Season it with salt and pepper, and throw the whole thing on a grill pan, cooking just two or three minutes on each side so that it is still a little pink in the middle.
In a separate frying pan with a cover, saute a diced onion and some minced garlic with a bay leaf and a good drizzle of olive oil. Add salt and a sprig of fresh thyme or parsley. If you want the beans to be spicy, add a few flakes of red pepper flakes, or a chopped jalapeno to the onion. When the onion is soft, add a can of well rinsed black beans, and stir around. If you have a little sauce left over from yesterday, add a few Tablespoons. Add two and a half cups of water and one cup of white rice. You may need another drizzle of olive oil. Bring to a simmer, and cover until the rice is tender, about fifteen minutes. Shred some lettuce and toss with finely chopped jalapeno, roughly chopped onion, and tomato. Season with salt. Smash some avocado with garlic, lime juice, and salt. Shred some sharp cheddar. Pile a little steak sliced on the diagonal, some rice and beans, a little cheese, some avocado, and a spoonful of sour cream onto the tortilla. Wrap the whole thing up by rolling it. Serve with the salad, and corn on the cob that has been smeared with a mayo mixed with lime juice, cilantro, a dash of ground cayenne pepper, and salt, and then packed with parmesan all over. Drink with beer or limeade.