January in Brooklyn

It's a new year and we still have to eat

The first thing I ate in 2021 was a guava and cheese donut “inside” Guevara’s pink parklet. Their set up reminds me of Mexico City but becomes less charming after 20 minutes when the overhead heaters start to dull and you have to put your gloves back on in between bites to spare your hands from shivering into frostbite. The donut was too dense but otherwise tasty, and free since they had forgotten to fire our breakfast sandwiches due to a mad dash of Grubhub orders. I long for warmer mornings eating roles de guayaba at Panderiá Rosetta.

From Jalsa Grill & Gravy in Kensington comes fragrant veggie biryani dotted with soft, caramelized pieces of potato and carrot, cauliflower florets, and peas. It’s fantastic. On the night we got take-out, a winter saag made with mustard greens made me realize I prefer saag made with mustard greens. It’s got more bite than spinach. And it was served with a thick corn flatbread described as a roti but pastier in texture, flavored with finely chopped leek, onion, cilantro, and celery. If you live nearby or have a car, order from Jalsa, asap. The menu is huge. Artichoke aalu tikki chaat and spicy cauliflower ka keema gravy are hits, too.

Snacking cakes seem to be trending, anyone else notice that? Maybe I follow too many food accounts on Instagram. But I get it; they’re easy to make and act as a wholesome answer to that midday sugar craving at home where we all are, always. Although I don’t have it, this new Yossy Arefi cookbook is getting lots of attention. Anyway, I woke up on Friday morning and felt like baking Superiority Burger’s carrot cake from their cookbook, which contains no frosting nor layers nor nuts nor raisins nor shredded coconut. It’s a simple, ultra-moist snacking cake scented with olive oil and cinnamon and I can’t stop eating it.

NUMU is a vegan mozzarella company based in Brooklyn. They make cheese specifically for pizza makers, and it melts just like the real stuff. Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop, Scarr’s, and other noted pizza joints use it so the quality must be good, right? Well, I tried it so you don’t have to, and it’s not bad! The texture is there, albeit a tad mushier than a dairy-laden slice and not as satisfyingly salty, but a fine replacement indeed. At Scarr’s, a classic slice with mushrooms and a Sicilian (both vegan) hits the spot, especially when paired with their exceptional vegan Caesar.

On the other hand, I would not recommend Oddfellow’s vegan miso chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, which tastes like raw xanthan gum, or how I imagine it does. Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy chocolate fudge brownie is another sad excuse for a plant-based pint. 

There’s a new sandwich in my neighborhood that I’m obsessed with. It’s a wrap, actually, with lightly stir-fried broccoli and thin marinated slices of tofu, cabbage slaw, kimchi, and peanut sauce, plus “cozy” rice, which I don’t know what that means but it’s tinted yellow and almost mushy, all wrapped in a tortilla and griddled. Broccoli Bar is the name of the restaurant, a fast-casual spot in Fort Greene that started as a food cart in Vermont and serves an entire menu of broccoli-based dishes. Oh, and the sandwich is named after Erykah Badu.


I’ve had a few stories published since my last newsletter…

In Brooklyn Magazine on 7 Grain Army, the redux of Bed-Stuy’s beloved SCRATCHbread, coming soon to Williamsburg

A fun investigation into the history of Dirt Cups for The Takeout

My first Resy NY Hit List of 2021 including King, Bolero, Noz Market, and more


A couple of recommended reads:

Aaron Timms for n+1: Salt Fat Acid Defeat. The restaurant before and after Covid.

Rachel Handler for Grub Street: What the Hole Is Going On? The very real, totally bizarre bucatini shortage of 2020.


I’m @emilyjwils on Twitter & Instagram.