Sausage Tasting Mitch has wanted to go on a food field trip to Queens for awhile now, and this was the week. I trust Mitch, but never really had a burning desire to eat in Queens. I do admit to wondering, “Do we really need to leave the island of Manhattan for Thai food?” “Do I really need to go to another salumi palace?” The answer is YES. Or maybe the answer is “Trust Mitch! You snobby Manhattanite know-it-all!”.
Mitch, of Tasty Travails has wanted to go on a food field trip to Queens for awhile now, and this was the week. I trust Mitch, but never really had a burning desire to eat in Queens. I do admit to wondering, “Do we really need to leave the island of Manhattan for Thai food?” “Do I really need to go to another salumi palace?” The answer is YES. Or maybe the answer is “Trust Mitch! You snobby Manhattanite know-it-all!”.
First stop: Ayada Thai.
I just went on Yelp to check out the buzz, and some people get it, and some think it’s just a neighborhood joint. Don’t let the spartan decor fool you..this is a Thai food temple. There is this crazy crispy catfish dish, with thin shreds of mango that defies description. It’s alchemy. The lowly catfish is rendered into lighter than air crispy puffs. Don’t miss the Northern style sausage, or the delicate green curry. All the flavors harmonize like an orchestra…the chili heat gives way to a lime subtleness…leaving a lingering note of lemongrass. I’d love to spend a week or so staging here, there are secret, magical things going on in this kitchen.
Next stop: The Ridgewood Pork Store.
It’s the size of a little corner bodega, so packed with food products there is barely enough room for customers to stand. Sausages are hanging everywhere, perfuming the air.
We walk into the store and I’m immediately drawn by the oddities on the shelf. Need paprika cream in a tube? Big plump sour cherries in a jar? Fine soup noodles in 3 widths? Tubs of hazlenut spread? 12 kinds of mustard? While I’m perusing the shelves, I don’t know what the heck Mitch says to the proprietor, but within seconds, the sausage man sets a square of paper down with some sausages to taste. Wow..amazing flavors, textures. As we’re commenting on the sausages, Mr. Sausage plunks down another 5 kinds of sausages.
Now, bear in mind, we just ate a massive Thai lunch. We’re now talking about a Thai-Romanian-Croatian-Polish fusion going on in our stomachs.
Even though it’s called a pork store, it’s non-denominational: there’s beef sausage, rectangular lamb sausage, gypsy ham that smells like my grandmother’s kitchen, tight rolls of pancetta, 2 kinds of smoked bacon. It’s an Eastern European sausage melting pot.
Little beads of sweat are now rolling down my back at the thought of actually tasting ALL this sausage, when the Fedex man walks in. HA! Another mouth to help us eat our tasting. He’s adorable, a little leery, but game. He walks out with a mouthful and a handful of lamb sausage (my favorite!). We try to get two other customers to join us in the feast, but no luck.
By this time, there’s another smoked bacon, head cheese, some crazy sausage with another sausage buried inside of it, mortadella, pickles and some raw scallions to eat with the pig skin cracklings.
We need to get out of there because I’m about to burst I’ve eaten so much, and Jeff is useless. He’s wandered off to a far corner like an exhausted boxer who’s given
up the fight. Mitch has gone quiet, then he takes the lead and starts asking for the sausages he wants to buy. I realize if I ask any more questions, Mr. Sausage is going to cut more tastes and none of us can handle it. We finally make our purchases and our getaway. Bags bursting, bellies bursting, we agree this is one seriously crazy sausage emporium.
Ridgewood Pork Store
516 Seneca Ave. (corner of Seneca & Bleecker, bring your GPS)
Ridgewood NY 11385