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The preserved plums at Wah Fung New York Mall

Food Stuffs is a new column examining the gastronomic landscape of Bensonhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods. Each entry will cover anything and everything even remotely related to food because here in Bensonhurst, food is always news.

Hidden in the quiet Asian Grocery stores of Bensonhurst are many treasures. Some are appetizing, some are intimidating and some are just funky. In the Wah Fung New York Mall at 2286 86th Street, among the dried coconut, 30 types of ginseng, withered mushrooms and cranky staff members are jars of colorful preserved plums. Could there be a better way to start a pickle column than with a rainbow of shapes, sizes, textures, flavors and types?

The preserved plum pickles have a bizarre taste that reminded this reviewer of a chemical mixture of cotton candy and frozen orange juice. The aftertaste recalls lollipops children are given in doctor’s offices after an injection: sweet and also, somehow, sad.

I was conservative and chose only the plums that were $3.80 a pound, and almost a week later I still have most of them. If you want to try these odd and intense plums – you can certainly do it on a budget.

I also sampled the preserved mandarin, which I enjoyed. It had the bitterness of citrus skin and the taste of lemon-scented pledge.

One darker preserved plumb was more expensive at $9.40 a pound. It looked more like a dried piece of steak than dried fruit. That plum was the most palatable, having the texture and aftertaste of licorice. Imagine a fine anise-flavored liquor injected into a Jujy Fruit.

If the neon plum parade is not reason enough to visit 86th Street, you should know that the staff in the mall were extra friendly. They refused to allow any photos of the plumbs, even after I purchased them. I also had to ask six times how to prepare the dried coconut – the one word answer – soup! But the Bean’s talented photographer was able to sneak a couple of shots, as if we were in the middle of a communist cell meeting or a Central American civil war circa 1980.

The staff also checked my plum bag to make sure I hadn’t taken the expensive plums. I will note the helpful assistance of the plum police after I struggled with the tight lid of a preserve jar and one strong staff member was able to pry it open without injuring me, the plums or himself.

I will say this, if you love pickles, if you love preserves, you should go and sample all of these strange fruits. It will help you grow some hair on your chest and give you some serious Bensonhurst street cred.

Until the next barrel.

Wah Fung New York Mall, 2286 86th Street.

Is there a restaurant or specific dish you think we should check out? Let us know!

Photo courtesy of Ana Paula Paglione/ @parttimefarm of GrowNYC

Normally, a snail award goes to something like the long lines at the DMV. In this instance, food advocacy group Slow Food NYC has awarded it to the Bensonhurst Greenmarket.

So what do snails have to do with produce at the market, the obvious pest reference aside? 

Here’s what Slow Foods has to say about the snail award:

The Slow Food New York City Snail of Approval… [is] a directory of the restaurants, bars, food and beverage artisans, and stores and markets that, because of their contributions to the quality, authenticity and sustainability of the food supply of the City of New York, have been awarded the SFNYC Snail of Approval.

The market was awarded the snail about two weeks ago. Not bad Bensonhurst, we win again. 

 FYI, if you’re curious about Slow Foods, here is their mission statement:

Slow Food NYC works to create a food system based on the principles of high quality and taste, environmental sustainability, and social justice—in essence, a food system that is good, clean and fair. We seek to move our culture away from the destructive effects of an industrial food system and towards the cultural, social and economic benefits of a sustainable food system, regional food traditions, and the pleasures of the table.

The market is located in Milestone Park on 18th Avenue between 81st and 82nd Streets. It is open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through November 18.

Source: Google Maps

Anne Cohen, the mother who was stabbed by her son earlier this week, had apparently been trying to flee the city to get away from him for a long time.

She was scared of her son, Richard Cohen, and had often mentioned moving to Florida or North Carolina, according to a friend.

Richard stabbed his mother in the torso and neck.and is currently jailed without bail.

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We publish the week’s statistics for the 62nd Precinct reports every Friday. The 62nd Precinct is the police command responsible for Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

Source: U.S. Coast Guard via Flickr

Ever wonder what life is like for those working in Gravesend Bay?

“A 25-foot response boatcrew from Coast Guard Station New York, heads into Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn, N.Y., along side the Coast Guard Cutter Sail Fish, homeported in Sandy Hook, N.J., August 2, 2012. The two Coast Guard crews participated in a routine training exercise to test their operational skills during emergency situations,” wrote Petty Officer 1st Class Sondra-Kay Rivera, of the  U.S. Coast Guard.

Now you know.

Source: US Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia Commons

Department of Health officials found the West Nile Virus at zip code 11228 in Dyker Heights on August 3. It was detected in Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Heights and Starrett City as well.

The DOH used an aerial larviciding technique to rid the area of mosquito larvae on August 8. According to their website, aerial larviciding is “dropping natural bacterial granules by helicopter to marshes and other large natural areas to kill mosquito larvae before they grow into adult mosquitoes. Does not take place in the residential areas of NYC.”

Residents of other neighborhoods like Windsor Terrace have been peeved about the confusing West Nile spray communications the DOH releases, and in this instance, the communication is not clear either. It seems the Dyker Beach Golf Course may have been the area that was treated, although the 11228 zip code extends beyond the golf course.

After being bitten by a mosquito, symptoms of West Nile appear similar to the flu, ranging from headaches, fever, muscle aches and fatigue. Though, not all of those afflicted will experience any symptoms.

West Nile Virus can be deadly so anyone exhibiting symptoms should get to a doctor.

The DOH advises residents to wear long long pants and sleeves around dusk, drain or dump standing water and repair window screens to avoid being bitten.

Source: VH1.com

A.J. Donofrio, otherwise known as AJ, the son of “Mob Wives” star Angela “Big Ang” Riola, was at the Brooklyn State Supreme Court yesterday for his arraignment on drug charges.

He stood accused of being involved with a group that sold drugs. Instead of jail time, he will be sent to an in-patient facility for 18 to 24 months. Had he received a prison sentence, he may have served up to 25 years in prison and a minimum sentence of one to three years.

He was caught selling cocaine in Bensonhurst during an undercover sting. His attorneys argued that he is an addict and needs rehabilitation.

“These people should go to jail,” assistant district attorney Jonathan Laskin said when referring to AJ.

If AJ cleans up his act while in rehab, he’s free to go. If not, he may face the maximum prison penalty.

Photo courtesy of the JCC Rockland

Olympics shmolympics.

The competition-ready youth of the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst  (7802 Bay Parkway) want to bring home the gold in the 30th annual Maccabi Games, a major sports event held all over the United States by the JCC.

Over 6,000 teens attend the summer competition. It is the second largest organized sports program for Jewish teenagers in the world.

The two-week games often feature top ranking Jewish athletes. In the past, Mark Spitz, Mitch Gaylord, Ernie Grunfeld, Danny Schayes, Brad Gilbert and Dick Savitt have all come down to show their support and officiate ceremonies.

The event takes place in several cities simulatiously. This year the Maccabi Games that will take place in Houston, Memphis and Rockland County.

The JCHB Maccabi team is competeing in volleyball and table tennis in Rockland County.

Go JCHB, show ‘em how Bensonhurst does it!

Local Assemblyman William Colton has been advocating for the installation of additional sources of free wireless internet around Southern Brooklyn.

Colton expressed that he feels it is unfair that wealthier neighborhoods in northern Brooklyn and Manhattan are dominating much of the city’s free internet service at parks and public spaces. He said that his constituents deserve to be serviced as well as those residing in other areas.

“Many here feel that the city often caters to the needs of the few and privileged elsewhere and leaves us stranded,” Colton said in a letter fierce letter sent to the City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, according to the New York Post. “We pay our taxes like everyone else, and we are entitled to the same level of services just like everyone else.”

Following his letter, the Parks Department said they will be adding free wireless internet to the Coney Island beach and boardwalk, MCU Park, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park’s Nature Center, and possibly Owl’s Head Park in Bay Ridge.

Colton will be holding a press conference later today announcing the new locations.

Source: Hunter O’Eeils via Wikimedia Commons

The fight against the waste transfer station situated in Gravesend Bay has come full circle for neighborhood activist Dorothy Mortman.The 87-year-old Mortman was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago. Given that she has no cancer in her family, she believes it was caused by the smoke and ash from the old incinerator located two blocks from her Bensonhurst home.

“It’s not genetic. Nobody in my family had it and I don’t carry the genes,” said Mortman, 87.

Mortman refuses to allow a new waste transfer site to be built in that location. She is standing alongside other environmental and community activists in suing to block the proposed $87.7 million waste transfer site at the edge of Bay 41st Street near Gravesend Bay.

“For more than 30 years, that incinerator spewed contaminants into the land, water and air and the effects are still being felt by residents today,” Assemblyman William Colton said to the New York Post. “There’s no way we’re going to allow those contaminants to be dug up and pose another threat to the community.”

Colton is leading the suit against the waste transfer station.

Vicki Grubman, who has lived blocks away from the proposed Brooklyn site for many years, remembers an anonymous survey conducted in the 90s asking residents to discuss their health problems.

“One person said there were 15 people on their floor who died from cancer and they had no one left from their family to respond to the survey,” she said.

Local environmental groups like Wake up and Smell the Garbage and the No Spray Coalition state that the site will further pollute the water, killing off a delicate eco-system that already suffers from pollution and harming children and residents in nearby areas.

For Mortman, though there has been no conclusive scientific link between the site and her cancer, she knows it to be true. And her fight is not for her own health, but for the health of the future generations who will play in the local parks.

“It’s too late for me because I’m an old woman, but we have young children here,” she said.