Cook the Book: 'New York a la Cart'


Even those of us who don't live in New York know of the city's vast street food scene. The idea of eating while standing on a sidewalk runs deep; pushcarts hawking hot dogs are as much a part of the city's culture as Chinatown dumplings. Today, New York is home to an array of carts selling everything from Greek pork chops to tacos to well-engineered ice cream sandwiches.

But what if you want to enjoy the panoply of street cuisine without buying a plane ticket to New York (or shuffling out your front door)?

Serious Eats contributors Alexandra Penfold and Siobhan Wallace have written a cookbook to help readers do just that. The two women are the authors of the New York food blog Blondie and Brownie, as well as editors for Midtown Lunch, so they know a thing or two about eating out in the Big Apple.

Their book, New York a la Cart, is a collection of recipes and stories from many of the most popular carts and trucks in the city. These stories are in depth and casual, giving the reader a taste of not only each cart's food, but their personalities as well. The huge number of photos that accompany each story make the book read almost like a long-form blog. It's approachable and fun.

The recipes themselves run the gamut from boozy slushies to Korean cheesesteaks to old-school sausage and peppers. Those familiar with New York carts will recognize many of the names and faces pictured; quite a few of the vendors have won Vendy awards before. All of the recipes are helpfully categorized by difficulty, making it easy to find weeknight meals and weekend projects alike. Still, there are a few snags common to a collections of recipes. Some of the directions could have used more careful editing for clarity and ease of use in a home kitchen. Small flaws aside, New York a la Cart is a fun book and a good read for anyone interested in food trucks.

This week we'll be cooking a veritable food festival's worth of street food. We'll start out with a couple of sandwich-friendly options: Kwik Meal Cart's Lamb and King of Falafel & Shawarma's Falafel. Then we'll branch out with N.Y. Dosa's Pondicherry Dosa and Country Boys' Chorizo Huraches. We'll end the week on a sweet note wtih Wooly's Ice's Green Tea Ice with Sea Salt Leche.

Win 'New York a la Cart'

Thanks to our friends at Running Press, we have five (5) copies of New York a la Cart to give away this week. All you need to do is tell us about your dream food cart in the comments section below.