It was an embarrassment of riches - street fair riches. I was torn in two yesterday, debating between events in Queens and Brooklyn. The Taste of Jackson Heights beckoned, as did the DUMBO Arts Festival and Cranberry Street Fair.
It was soon decided. A bi-borough street fair adventure was a "go."
Luckily for me, my street festival lovin' pal Ron offered the use of his convertible to shuttle us from fair to fair to fair. First on the list - Taste of Jackson Heights, where we joined Queen Celeste and her brood to indulge in ethnic goodies that ranged from searingly spicy vegetable samosas to Argentinian flaming sausages, doused in a sweet, seductive sauce of cognac and saffron oil.
After lapping up those delectable tidbits and more, Ron and I knew we had to hold on to a few precious food tickets. The organizers had secured a culinary coup, convincing Vendy Award-winning Pakastani food vendor Sammy's Halal to appear at the event. This was a "must-do."
The aromas that wafted off of Sammy's cart made our mouths water with anticipation. As we made our way to the head of the line, Sammy asked for our order. "Whatever you suggest," we replied. He winked and quickly scooped up a mound of fragrant rice, topping it with perfectly seared lamb and chicken, a bit of crisp lettuce, and then squirted a series of three mysterious sauces atop.
What the heck do you call this colorful mishmash? I had no idea. All I knew was that the juicy meats soaked up the spices and the grains of soft, tender rice gave my tongue intermittant relief from the sinus-clearing heat of Sammy's red hot sauce.
Ron and I could see why taxi drivers double and triple-park to get a plate of Sammy's gold-standard halal.
Floating on a halal high, we suddenly remembered that we had two more festivals to hit, so we bid Queen Celeste and her gang adieu, passed the requisite sea of strollers at the festival's exit...
...put the top down on the car, and zipped back to Brooklyn for a taste of DUMBO's delights.
But DUMBO wasn't as delightful as year's past. Yes, there were a few pieces of notable art...
...but all in all, the festival seemed to lack energy and enthusiasm. Where were the outdoor food stalls, entertainingly original performance art installations and hipster throngs that I had come to know and love?
That said, the festival organizers did offer up a bizzare family attraction, in keeping with the district's Disney-fied name.
Yes, that's an elephant. Her name is Dondi. She drew oohs and aahs from the crowd as she used her massive trunk to paint modernist pictures. Apparently, she trained at the Elephant Art Academy. (No joke.)
After witnessing pacyderm painting, the wee Cranberry Street Fair paled in comparison. I couldn't even bring myself to snap a photo or two.
Maybe it was simply a case of street fair overload.
But, as the ever-wise Scarlett once said: "Tomorrow is another day!"
That "tomorrow" is today, and today plays host to the grand-daddy of Brooklyn street fairs, The Atlantic Antic. So, I will grab my camera, tastebuds and sense of adventure -- and report back shortly on how the fair fares.