I’ve taken a look at all of the national food holidays ahead of us for the year, and without a doubt April 19 is my favorite day of the whole year 🙂 There are two food holidays today, both of which are some of my favorite things ever: garlic, and (as you’ll see later) Amaretto. I’ll be gladly ingesting both of them in large quantities today, hahaha 😉
We all know that garlic is that great, pungent herb we put on pizza, stuff into Italian knots, and use to ward away vampires. But there is way more to garlic than that. Cultivated for over six thousand years by nearly every civilization in history, garlic is incredibly easy to grow by the amateur farmer, and is a compact bulb plant, which means that it’s perfect for apartment gardening. Even better is the fact that most garlic these days is cultivated asexually: in other words, take those old cloves of garlic that are sprouting in the vegetable crisper and plant them right into a pot full of soil. You’ll most likely grow a whole other garlic plant from that one clove alone. 🙂 Garlic is grown in every U.S. state but Alaska, and all parts of the plant are edible (and delicious). And it’s not only one of the best food flavorings around: since ancient Egypt, people have used garlic for its medicinal properties, utilizing it for various ailments, from parasites to poor digestion and high blood pressure. There are so many medicinal properties to the plant that many doctors consider it a superfood. It’s one of my favorite foods to grow, cook, and most of all, eat 😉
I’m so much of a fan, I’ve convinced my boyfriend to take me upstate this September for the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties 😀 If you’re a garlic fiend like me, throw caution and halitosis to the wind today and try one of these great places in New York City to get some garlic-themed lovin’ on Garlic Day!
Leave it to the Food Network to dedicate an entire episode of one of their food shows purely to the wonder of garlic! An episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate focused primarily on the network’s chefs’ favorite garlic foods from restaurants around the country. And Michael Psilakis, the Greek god behind Anthos restaurant, picked a lesser-known gem in a very famous Jewish delicatessen. You usually head to Katz’s Deli for a pastrami sandwich, or a knish with mustard, or you just have what Meg Ryan was having. But what we’re all missing out on is the garlicky knoblewurst, a beef sausage made with lots of garlic and served hot-dog style in a bun. Katz’s also serves it as the meaty part of their sausage and eggs, giving the garlicky kick that is lacking in typically too-sweet breakfast sausages. Katz’s is one of the few places in the city to still serve knoblewurst, let alone make their own from scratch. It’s a different spin on garlic and on the sausage that might have you rethinking the traditions of both. It’s tough heading to Katz’s Deli and NOT ordering a hot pastrami on rye, but if you’ve got the willpower, the knoblewurst is worth the sacrifice.
205 E Houston St (between Avenue A & Essex St)
“Sausage and eggs ($9.10 with toast, potatoes, orange juice, and coffee), made with rounds of knoblewurst fried on the griddle, was extremely satisfying.”–Serious Eats
“There wasn’t any debate about the knoblewurst, a plump, irresistible beef sausage that’s seasoned with garlic and eaten in the manner of one of Katz’s hot dogs, to which it’s vastly superior.”–The New York Times
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“I’ve come here for three years and each time its been special. The moist melt-in-your-mouth pastrami, the roasted garlic sweetness in their knoblewurst and their cool refreshing homemade sodas. Yes, you have to deal with the crowds of tourists, the tickets and the lines but isn’t it worth it when you have such amazing food? The last time I was here, I sat across from my husband and I just felt a swell of love for him as we savored each luscious bite of the knoblewurst. A bite of a knoblewurst with a swig of their homemade sweet ice tea is heavenly. Salty and sweet with a crisp exterior, the knoblewurst is one of my favorite items on the menu.”–Doreen L.
“In addition to their pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, Katz is also known for having some of the best hot dogs in the city, including the knoblewurst, having won several awards from New York magazines for the grilled, cheap delights. Each week, Katz’s serves 5,000 pounds of corned beef, 2,000 pounds of salami and 12,000 hot dogs in addition to chopped liver and tongue servings.”–Ricky L.
And while I do love the homeyness and eccentricities of Katz’s Delicatessen, when I think of garlic, I don’t automatically think of a Jewish deli. The first thing that pops into my mind is Italian food: the rich, tangy flavors that come from ripe tomatoes, freshly cut basil, or a good Marsala wine sauce are complemented perfectly by the inclusion of garlic. But this Brooklyn girl, as many of us had been, was raised on the local pizzeria as her closest connection to Italian cuisine, and back in high school, one of my main cheapo food groups had to be garlic knots. One of their main draws was the fact I could get as many as 6 oven-baked appetizers for only $1.00 at my local pizza place, but what kept me coming back was the taste: glistening with freshly brushed olive oil, the dough was already rich with fresh and powdered garlic, and then even more minced garlic covered the surface of each little knot of perfection. You may think that there is no pizzeria of distinction for garlic knots, but you would be wrong. Rizzo’s Fine Pizza in Astoria makes exemplary garlic knots, both for their flavor and for their marketing: keeping the price low and even offering freebies to good customers, Rizzo’s knows how to sell their garlic knots and keep patrons coming back for more.
Rizzo’s Fine Pizza
3013 Steinway St, Astoria
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“One thing that should be noted is the garlic knots really surprised me. I bought them on a whim cause they were cheap, now i have a serious addiction. this place is excellent.”–Colleen F.
“Other than the above my delivery experience with Rizzo’s was great. How about those squishy, garlic-y, yummy balls of goodness?! Four for a buck?! Yes please. Great thin crust pizza, exactly what you hope for in a NYC pizza experience – nice work Rizzo’s.”–Philip M.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!