Happy Friday! I’ve been holding on to these words for a bit a little preoccupied but got word recently that this Saturday will be the last of Smorgasburg before they take what they’re calling a summer break for the rest of August? Huh? Was also trying to decide what else to share about my trip to Panama. Think we’ve covered the most important bits
I did learn that my maternal roots or more Jamaican than Panamanian and saw the Panama Canal that my great great grandfather traveled to Colón, Panama to help build. I also tried some foods like borracho. Not a big fan. About as I’m Panamanian as me, I tried Geisha coffee a smooth zip from Ethiopia. But it grows well in Panama. I tried a corn beverage which reminded me of the creamy Salvadoran atol de elote from my days in Chelsea Mass. Outside of Boston. It was cool and refreshing with some warm spices like cinnamon.
Whenever I return, I won’t be relying on Abuela as guide but will try to find my way amongst the contemporary locals. Grateful for a trip alongside Grandma to the”Mother-land”, I feel like my trip to Panama is yet complete. I’m looking forward to my trip to my “Father-land” of Belize.
Since I’ve been back I’ve been powering through the transition back to a healthy of dose of routine. I don’t know if I can afford Smorgasburg being routine but you may have heard of the food festival taking over Navy Yard’s Tingey Plaza every Saturday- well most of them- until at least October.
There has been quite a fuss, as is to be expected, that New York – the hometown in birthplace the market- does it better. I did visit the location in Williamsburg and have finally recognized that it is indeed bigger and certainly much more populated with vendors, foodies, tourist, and spectators among others.
Anywho, I stopped by some Saturdays to check out the festival and was pretty excited having showed up hungry but admittedly a bit underwhelmed by my options. I saw coffee, lots of ice cream, burgers and dogs and fries, arepas, pizza…I’ll stop there. As I continue listing, it sounds like a lot it; seems I might just be being difficult. But I think not.
After making my rounds, I decided my first stop would be Ekiben, recommended by my friend, Shanelle. What I didn’t realize was that I wasn’t the first one, placing my order only to receive the response, “Were you in line?”
I slowly turn my head noticing the many others awaiting their fried chicken bao buns and bowls. I walked off to find me some standing-in-line-snack food.
1: Pinch- Fried Dumpling (This list is in order eaten, not recommendation.)
Wrapped around the corner was Pinch Dumplings, these crispy fried packets of chicken and corn, beef and cilantro, and pork and cabbage. I even took a chance on the mango sticky rice. The dumpling wasn’t bad, but no rave-worthy matter. I had to remind them of the mango sticky rice but maybe wished I didn’t remind them. No comparison to the one had in Williamsburg, much less the one had in Bangkok. The Pinch cup was a 4oz cup of sweetened rice with diced bits of some sort of candied mango on top.
2: Ekiben: Bao Buns and Bowls
Thankfully, by the time I got back to Ekiben, I recognized their line was moving pretty quickly. I ordered their Neighborhood Bird, crispy chicken thigh stuffed in a sweet steamed bun and beautifully sauced in what they called a spicy Thai curry sauce, topped with pickles. Didn’t pack the heat they promised and I wish the bun better accommodated the chicken but lovely crunch and awakening flavors.
3: Gwenie’s- Filipino Sweets
By the time I finished it, I was losing steam on the hot Tingey Plaza. (There’s but one shaded hideout.) I finished up with dessert from Gwenie’s. (Seems I had a taste for Asian.) Unable to decide on one, I took the recommended frozen mango layered dessert and a cheesecake made of ube- a Filipino staple. Both were very rich! Tasty too. The cheese cake was creamy but not super thick. The “Mango Supreme” was sweet and a bit icy. But I was done for the day. I hope to return and fill you in on the rest. And look for pictures of D.C.’s and especially Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg on Facebook @ChefTasteBud.