Some cooks tinker with a recipe for years, ever in pursuit of elusive epicurean perfection. Others, smiled upon by foodie fate, stumble into gustatory greatness.
As usual, we’ve spent the past few months compiling the most delectable stories in Brooklyn (sure beats working for a living!) and while many of the stories chronicled in this issue follow a familiar formula (passionate eaters, driven by visions, dust off dad’s homebrew kit, cook local chiles into habit-forming hot sauce or simmer 90 pounds of midnight-picked cherries into tumultuously tasty jam) my two favorite features tell the tales of edible entrepreneurs who conquered the culinary canon by accident.
On an unlovely side street in Bushwick, the dropout slackers behind Roberta’s pizza are turning out perfect pies and fried chicken fine enough to attract adoration from the Times Dining section and a visit from Alice Waters herself. It couldn’t have come as more of a surprise to the owners, nor has it changed the way they run their business. Which, we’re happy to report, is like a post-collegiate hangout with a standout cook in the kitchen and better beer.
Up in the Hudson Valley, New York’s first distillery since Prohibition produces craft whiskeys that set locavore hearts to thumping (they’re alchemized from local grains and fruits) and whiskey fans to whispering (about how easy they are to drink). But as you’ll read, the owners of Tuthilltown Spirits knew next to nothing about alcohol and had never given a thought to the spirits business when they built their still by hand, as a last resort after Plan A ran afoul. Today you’d never know it, either by the looks of their distinctively tubby bottles or by the sweet tastes of what’s inside.
We cheer heartily for these accidental epicures. Sure, they bear a resemblance to a lucky bumpkin who absentmindedly scratched the jackpot combination from a lotto ticket, but in these cases it is we, their happy customers, who truly win.
Perfect pie, Bushwick.