Saturday, March 22, 2008

Woppalicious Easter

Pork is the superlative meat, and I am a sucker for butter molded in the shape of farm animals. Easter's not a wretched time of year.

My pal Chaz and I wandered up to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx today, rumored by some to be the "Real Little Italy", as opposed to Mulberry street's parody of itself, and the day before Easter the markets and bakeries were abuzz with activity. We tasted fresh ricotta (a little soupy) posed a statue of a mob icon, and I consumed my first bitters appertif that I didn't entirely hate. Charlie noticed the popularity of slaughtered lambs split down the middle:

What rattled us both: the lambs still had their teeth.

I was particularly taken with the unfamiliar varieties of baked good: sfogliatelle came in longer shapes and were called "lobstertails," "pescas" are biscuits with peach sugar and peach flavor, but the inside features a shot of espresso and peach liqueur,

and a few of the items featured rum, a surprise to me. Most foreign, however, was the festive pastry that looked as if it was gestating, generating some alien, gluten-based species:

In a nod to spring's assumed fertility, "Easter Bread" is an anise-infused sweetbread which incorporates at least one hard-boiled egg. The eggs' sharp presence unnerves the eater, reminds one a little too much of bone, and I found myself avoiding the white mass as I consumed the pastry.

The Arthur Avenue Retail Market features hard-to-find Italian kitchen instruments (I finally found the deep-dish pizza pan I'd been searching for), an extensive meat market, the zingiest, crispest thin crust pizza I have ever had (I know, sacrilege), a library of hard-to-find coffee products and liqueurs, and novel fresh pasta shapes.

And a little bit of Brooklyn, for good measure: marzipan lambs!

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