Pocky at the Park (and a Giveaway!)

December 10, 2015

There it was, on West 40th Street, parked directly across from Bryant Park. A bright red panel truck painted with large graphic designs.

Passers-by were approaching the truck, reaching up to the folding window cut into its side, taking something from the hand that appeared, and walking away.

It was the Pocky truck.

Pocky is a little Japanese treat created by Ezaki Glico in 1966. Dubbed “the world’s first chocolate stick snack,” Pocky is a slender, crisp cooky (biscuit) stick with one end covered in a sweet coating. The name was inspired by the crunching noise made while eating a Pocky, described in Japan as “pokkin pokkin.”

The original Pocky was dipped in chocolate, but it now comes in a variety of flavors including strawberry, chocolate banana, cookies & cream, almond crush, and green tea. While only a handful of flavors are sold in the US, Pocky lovers in other countries have access to different shapes and sizes, limited editions, and seasonal flavors.

The Chinese enjoy peach flavored Pocky, and blueberry dipped Pocky is popular in Thailand, but the greatest variety is available in Pocky’s home country, where the slim snack has developed an almost cult-like following.

In fact, in Japan, November 11 is designated as Pocky Day because the date, 11.11, looks like four Pockys in a row. The date has been certified by the Japan Anniversary Association and is registered as an official national commemorative day. On the most recent Pocky Day, Pocky broke Twitter’s record for the most tweeted brand name in a 24-hour period, racking up 1,843,733 tweets.

So, what was that about a giveaway?

To spread the joy of Pocky, I will be giving a pack of the original chocolate dipped cooky sticks to a Blather From Brooklyn reader. For a chance to crunch into a Pocky, leave a comment on this post. Want a second entry? Comment on a different post. Third entry? Same deal.

The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email (so please be sure to provide your email address). Sorry, US only, as there seem to be some bizarre rules regarding the mailing of food overseas. The deadline for all entries is Sunday, December 27, 11:59pm (Eastern Time). Good luck!

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Update: The giveaway is closed. Many thanks to all who participated; I enjoyed reading your comments. The winner is  Jerry Marquardt! Thanks again; I plan to hold another giveaway soon.

Bright Red Pocky Truck
A bright red truck

Getting Pocky
People were approaching the truck

Something being distributed
Something was being distributed

Pocky anyone
It was a truck filled with Pocky

Untitled The Pocky truck team

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More flavors available via Amazon.com (and in Japan)

Pocky Pack
Yes, I got a pack!


Pocky commercial

Pocky Christmas Concert
Pocky
Facebook: Pocky
Rocket News: Happy Pocky Day
Glico: Pocky Worldwide


Junior’s Birthday Cake

November 3, 2015

There I was, minding my own business in Downtown Brooklyn, when I was approached by a member of the NYPD.

“Hey!,” yelled the cop.

“Yes?”

“Do you like cheesecake?”

“Huh?”

“DO YOU LIKE CHEESECAKE?”

Despite momentarily wondering whether “cheesecake” might be a code word for some type of illegal activity, I admitted that I did, in fact, like cheesecake.

With that, the officer told me that to celebrate its 65th birthday, today Junior’s restaurant was selling cheesecake for 65 cents a slice.

To Brooklynites, there is no question about where Junior’s is located, what it serves or why a 65 cent slice of their cheesecake is worthy of a proclamation.

Junior’s restaurant was founded by Harry Rosen on the corner of Flatbush Avenue Extension and DeKalb Avenue on November 3, 1950. Rosen said that if his was going to be a great restaurant, he had to have a great cheesecake. He and his pastry chef began tinkering with formulas for the rich sweet until they found what they considered to be the perfect recipe. The pubic agreed and Junior’s cheesecakes have gone on to worldwide acclaim.

Junior’s is now in the hands of third-generation owner Alan Rosen. The little corner restaurant with the scrumptious dessert has become a local landmark. There are branches in Manhattan at Grand Central and Times Square and a location within the Foxwoods casino in Connecticut. There is a mail order business (said to sell over one million cakes per year), several cookbooks and scores of awards naming theirs the best cheesecake in the city. And a single wedge of Junior’s classic cheesecake sells for $6.95.

To celebrate its 65th anniversary, the restaurant announced that it was selling slices of its famous original New York plain cheesecake for just 65 cents—one per customer—only at the original Brooklyn location on Tuesday.

The line began forming before the sun rose. Celebratory signs and balloons were fastened to the restaurant’s famed orange exterior, crowd control barriers erected, security guards posted at the front door, a squadron of police officers stationed at the curb. Behind closed doors, thousands of cheesecakes were baked, sliced, packaged and bagged for the waiting crowd.

By the time doors opened at 6:30 a.m., the queue stretched down the block and around the corner. Some passersby called out that people had to be crazy to stand outside like that “just for a piece of cheesecake.” But they were wrong. It wasn’t “just cheesecake”—it was Junior’s.

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The crowd waits

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The deal

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One slice per customer

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Security guard keeps order

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The hard working countermen

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The cake

Welcome to Junior’s! Remembering Brooklyn With Recipes and Memories from Its Favorite Restaurant
Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook
Junior’s Dessert Cookbook
Junior’s Home Cooking
Junior’s Restaurant
Brooklyn Eagle: Junior’s fans come in droves with loose change
NY Daily News: Slices of famous cheesecake for 65 cents
PIX11: Junior’s Cheesecake celebrates 65th anniversary
Foxwoods Casino


Marathon Meal

October 31, 2014

I get all the exercise I need by jumping to conclusions, climbing the walls, bending over backwards, sticking my neck out, pulling out all the stops, and pushing my luck.

It’s an old joke. And while I don’t avoid all forms of exercise, I am not, by any means, a marathon runner. So when a stranger offered me a VIP ticket to the New York City Marathon Eve Dinner, I didn’t know what to expect.

The dinner, held in an enormous white tent erected inside Central Park, was open only to ticket holders. My VIP ticket meant that I was able to walk past the long line of runners waiting in the chilly night air.

As it turns out, the Marathon Eve Dinner is a beloved tradition of the race that was first organized in 1970 by Fred Lebow and Vincent Chiappetta, co-presidents of the New York Road Runners Club. That year, one hundred and twenty-seven men ran around Central Park and 55 crossed the finish line.

Today, New York’s is the largest marathon in the world, with over 50,000 participants from around the world. The current course goes through all five of the city’s boroughs, where an estimated two million spectators line the streets, highways, and bridges that are closed for the race.

Because authorities say that a large intake of carbohydrate rich foods before a marathon can increase stamina and enhance performance, the night’s menu featured salad, two pasta dishes, and beer—all with unlimited refills.

While they listened to speeches, watched presentations and ate and drank, the polyglot crowd laughed, exchanged tips, recounted past races, and formed friendships. And then, quickly, the beer and spaghetti-filled runners withdrew to their hotel rooms, eager to get some sleep and make it to the starting line early in the morning.

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VIP ticket

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Inside the tent

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Distributing dishes and utensils

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Aproned server

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Filling dishes

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Making their way to tables

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Diners in action

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The meal

New York Marathon
TCS New York City Marathon Eve Dinner
Runner’s World: How to Carb-Load for Marathon Week


Father’s Day is Coming

June 14, 2014

Wondering what to do for Father’s Day?

Brooklyn’s Sip Fine Wine offers these words of wisdom.

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Sip Fine Wine
New York Magazine: Sip Fine Wine


A Small Protest

March 13, 2013

Graffiti inside a bathroom stall in a Brooklyn grocery store.

Feed all people
Free the wage slaves
Question the system

The response.

And protest by
writing on a bathroom
stall instead of
actually doing something.

 

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The 21st Annual Hot Chocolate Festival

February 21, 2013

The holidays are over. The winter feels as though it will last forever. You long for an escape from the cold but you can’t leave the city.

In Manhattan, City Bakery has the solution. Every February, when the weather is at its bleakest, they host a  Hot Chocolate Festival. Now in its 21st year, the Festival celebrates the rich, creamy drink by featuring a different special flavor every day of the month. This year, the flavors range from Bourbon (February 8) to Vietnamese Cinnamon (February 10) to Creamy Stout (February 15th).

Today, I’m being a bit of a purist, with Darkest Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate (so thick you can eat it with a spoon) topped with one of City Bakery’s home made marshmallows. And suddenly, February doesn’t seem long enough.

Hot-Chocolate-Festival-Calendar-of-Flavors

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The City Bakery
The City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival


This is a sale?

March 22, 2011

FreshDirect, New York’s premiere online grocery service, made its first deliveries to Roosevelt Island in Manhattan in 2002. Over the years it has expanded into other sections of the city (even New Jersey) and has won legions of detractors and admirers.

While critics have blasted the company for “overpackaging” (FreshDirect responded by reducing the amount of packing materials they use) and branded those who use it as “lazy,” I’ve been a satisfied customer since first they began serving my neighborhood.

While I find myself in local grocery stores nearly every day, I’ve come to rely on the FreshDirect team to deliver those items that — while cost-effective — are simply too heavy to me to schlepp home: cases of beverages, bags of kitty litter and huge containers of laundry detergent. I also scan their weekly newsletter to check out the latest offerings and bargains.

This week, however, some of the items currently featured on their Web site under the heading “Healthy Living For Less” don’t seem like such a bargain to me.

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Healthy Living for Less page

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Not such a deal

FreshDirect
New York Times: FreshDirect Expands Brooklyn Delivery Service


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