It wintry-mixed all morning, adding to the trenches and pools of wintry mix already on the ground. With the weather forecast calling for the mix to turn increasingly wintry as the day progressed, my personal forecast called for comfort food and a hot drink.
Make that hot drinks. Although I had a lunch destination in mind (La Flor Bakery, between 40th and 41st streets), I’d been having non-buyer’s remorse ever since my visit to Karen Deli Grocery two weeks ago. Karen’s menu of hot, milky atoles – rice with chocolate! sweet corn! – was intriguingly different from the standard offerings along 5th Ave. Not to mention perfect for a miserable, gray, wintry mixy day.
And so I deliberately overshot my destination and took the R all the way to 59th St. A quick zig and another quick zag and I’d be at Karen, where I’d get a drink to go and sip it as I doubled back to La Flor on foot.
The downside of that plan, of course, was that it entailed walking a full mile in miserable, gray, wintry mix. But you know what? Karen’s Salvadoran-style atol de elote (sweet corn atole, $2), was totally worth it. It was like imbibing the essence of corn – sweet and creamy, almost buttery. The only thing that might have made it better would be a sprinkle of cinnamon on top (mental note: ask for some next time).
A sprinkle of cinnamon, and not plunging my foot into an ankle-deep puddle of wintry mix at a crosswalk.
My small cup of atol de elote ran out around 50th St, so I was thoroughly chilled (especially my foot) by the time I made it to La Flor. Though they advertise themselves as a bakery, they also have a spacious lunch counter and several tables where they serve up all your standard Mexican antojitos, as well as American-style breakfasts. (Oh, and if you’re looking to feast on roast suckling pig some weekend, you can place an order in advance and pick it up from them before your guests arrive.)
Cold and wet as I was, there was one clear choice on the menu: pozole ($7.50), or pork and hominy soup. My heart sank a little when I was first served a tostada smeared with runny beans and piled high with lettuce, powdered cheese and crema. No, no, no, no, no, no, no! I’ve run into that presentation before around Brooklyn, and it violates my strong understanding of how pozole is supposed to be served, based on extensive research at one restaurant in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.
The way it’s supposed to be served is with a small stack of tostadas for crumbling (plain, not loaded with junk), a pile of chicharrones, small containers of various accompaniments (chopped onions, avocado slices, oregano, flakes of dried chiles), and an inexhaustible supply of quartered limes. Ideally, you should be offered your choice of broths – red or green. That’s how they do it at Lo Mejor de Guerrero, and that’s my platonic ideal of pozole.
Besides the gooped-up tostada, my pozole came with just chopped onion, half a lime, and a little dish of brick-red chile oil. My heart sank further when I saw that the broth was neither green (my favorite) nor red, but beige.
But you know what? It was delicious. The broth was deeply porcine, loaded with hominy and tender chunks of meat. Customized with onions, lime and that lip-tingling chile oil, it was all I wanted to eat at that moment. And along with a chocolaty champurrado, it warmed me so thoroughly that I didn’t fear the long wait for the B63 bus afterward (which, if you know the B63 bus, is saying something).
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La Flor de Izucar, 4021 5th Ave, Sunset Park, Brooklyn 11232
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