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Posts from the ‘Ecuadorian’ Category


I’ll admit that Bushwick isn’t a neighborhood I’ve ever frequented. When I moved here nearly nine years ago, I briefly slept on the couch of a zine penpal and her roommates, smack up against the BQE off the Graham stop on the L. I didn’t know the first thing about New York City, let alone Brooklyn neighborhoods so I’d walk around a lot, almost autistically. I was fascinated by those uniquely NYC shopping strips containing Radio Shack, Petland, Jimmy Jazz, Pretty Girl and similar nowbrow chains but after the girls I was staying with semi-seriously warned, “Don’t go past Grand Street,” I became skittish and began heading the opposite direction up Manhattan Avenue into Greenpoint where they had a classy Rainbow and Genovese (now Eckerd).

I eventually moved six stops plus a transfer from Graham Avenue and always wondered what the landscape was like above ground between the two. I’m sure things have changed, but in the late ‘90s stops like Morgan, DeKalb and Jefferson (I’m still not sure what Jefferson looks like from the outside) seemed desolate and unpopulated like the eerie Bowery M station.

Barzola_cevicheBarzola isn’t quite that remote, optimists/liars might even try describing that pocket as East Williamsburg. The restaurant is almost randomly placed on a quiet sort of residential street, and on my Sunday afternoon visit was teeming like an Ecuadorian Cheesecake Factory (sure, I could’ve referenced Little Owl but I’d actually attempted CF the night before and the mob was so thick that there was a line just to put your name on the list and be quoted an hour and 40-minute-wait. WTF? We then tried Benihana across the street and risked death on a pedestrian unfriendly service road with no stoplights just to be faced with an equally ugly crowd with slightly fewer strollers. We ended up at the weirdly appealing Skylark Diner again where you can at least drink cocktails while waiting).

I’ve always wondered why young white folks, college kids, vegetarians who are old enough to know better but only seem to eat pasta and burritos, embrace pseudo-Mexican food but rarely go further geographically. No Williamsburg trickle was in evidence. I’m guessing that the average person isn’t clear what Ecuadorian food is exactly. I’m still figuring it out. I’ve experienced meatier fare, not the famed cuy, but Barzola is seafood-centric.

Barzola_humitaWe stuck to ceviches, pink, soupy affairs with tomatoes, onions and cilantro. I tried for the black clam, which sounded unusual. They didn’t have it. I never have much luck when ordering the mildly offbeat option. Instead, I ended up with shrimp and octopus, which seemed to be lightly cooked rather than raw. There was a competing hot and cold sensation depending where I dipped my spoon but the dish settled on a consistent temperature after a few minutes. 

I have a serious sweet and savory tooth so the dulce humita, a sugared corn and cheese tamale was a perfect treat. Our waitress seemed a little perplexed that we didn’t want any sides like plantains or rice (they also had fried rice, which I’m starting to realize is a South American favorite) but corn tamales are just enough starch for me.

Barzola * 197 Meserole St., Brooklyn, NY

Hornado Ecuatoriano

I don't think I've ever met a plate of roast pork I didn't like. Lechon, hornado, whatever you call it. Rich, fatty meat and nice crme brulee-crisp skin topping. It's nothing fancy (and certainly nothing healthy) but it's one of my favorite things. Maybe it's because I've never been able to reproduce the moist-crunchy masterpiece at home. And it's for the best, or I'd be digging an early porcine grave.

When I end up on Roosevelt Ave., eating is a must. The tough question is Asian or Latin American? I could easily go either way, but my two top choices along that strip would be Thai or Filipino.

Hornado I never know if it's a language issue or if I'm just hard to understand, though I got what I came for. English isn't really spoken and most of the menu isn't translated, so you kind of have to know what you want (or speak Spanish, duh). James got all weird and randomly ordered arroz con pollo, which I wouldn't do at an Ecuadorian restaurant. The massive chewy yellow rice had bits of chicken strewn through out and a sweet fried plantain draped across the oval dish. He wasn't thrilled, but it's not my fault he ordered poorly.

Me, I had a nice heap of pork, generous pile of white hominy and two little arepas with a side salad that was tasty enough to not completely ignore. This food is filling to say the least. And they say Americans are corn crazy. I love hominy, maybe more than corn. It's chewy and more satisfying on the teeth you can really bite into it. I didn't get one of the fruity batidos that seemed to be on every table (there were a few pitchers of sangria being consumed, as well) though they did look refreshing.

Hornado Ecuatoriano * 76-18 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, NY