Street Food Focus: Falafel

By: Melaina Gasbarrino

The falafel is a delicious Middle Eastern dish that is made from chickpeas or fava beans and a plethora of spices. It is a favorite among vegetarians who are looking to taste some deep fried goodness. The ingredients for the falafel are mixed together then deep-fried in balls or patties. Though it may not seem like every persons dream to eat a falafel, when topped with Tahini sauce or in a pita, the falafel is a thing of sheer perfection.

With pop-up shops taking over New York City it is no wonder falafels are being added to the mix of delicious quick street food carts readily available throughout the city. The falafel is certainly a healthy rendition as to what street food is all about and if finding a way on many top 10 lists around the city. Mademan.com has created a "Top 10 Best Falafel Carts in NYC" list where you can certainly pick and choose which falafel stand fits your fancy. The list includes popular falafel walk-up spots throughout New York and provides some insight into why they certainly are the best. Here are a few falafel shops and street food vendors we deem as the very best.

Tiam Mobile: At Tiam Mobile you'll find every falafel lovers dream with a twist. Not only does this pop-up shop serve tasty falafel dishes ranging from sandwiches to platters but adds a little bit of uniqueness to the menu with a range of summer-fresh smoothies. Ranging from $3.50 to $10 the popup shop can be found along the streets of the Highline.

Sam's Falafel Stand: With a plethora of falafel dishes this street food stand offers cheap, filling meals that will have you coming back for more. The falafel sandwich is filled to the brim with a whole lot of Middle Eastern inspired goodness. This vendor can be found at Cedar Street.

Global Street Food Pop-Up is open for a week in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center for a taste of international comfort food. We are offering a Fish Falafel dish that will blow your mind.

Trust me, your taste buds will thank you after finding a street food vendor and trying falafel for the first time! For a great basic falafel recipe, check out Food Republic's recipe here.

Photos: Robyn Lee

Very Old World Wine

Very Old World wines are an alternative to French, Spanish and Italian wines. In Amy Ma's article "Ever Heard of Very Old World Wines?" she discusses the revival of Middle Eastern wines. Fusing Old World and New World characteristics, Very Old World white and red wines are "medium-bodied and full of earthy rather than fruity tones, making them somewhat interchangeable." Mellower than French or Californian vintages, these wines possess more obscure mineral and nut flavors.

Look for Israeli and Lebanese wine in your supermarket. In particular, try some more unusual Lebanese varietals like Obaideh and Merwah. To read more about Very Old World wine, click here.

For wine and cheese pairings, check our our suggestions here.

Baba Ganoush

By MarcusSamuelsson.com Editors

Difficult to pronounce and even more difficult to (politely) eat, baba ganoush is popular across the Middle East, especially in Egypt. Made from eggplant, baba ganoush typically accompanies flatbread or pita. Similar to my eggplant-chickpea dip recipe, baba ganoush is delicious as an appetizer or a main course. Smoky, sweet, and a little bitter, it gets its savory taste from mashed eggplant. Drizzled with oil and seasoned with garlic, lemon, and green herbs, this dip works well on any cracker or bread.

Originally from the levant, a region of the Eastern Mediterranean that includes Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, over the centuries baba ganoush found its way down to Egypt and up to Greece and Turkey. In Egypt, it is often served as a side dish with roasted meats or fish, unlike how Americans typically see it consumed.

Baba ganoush celebrates the rich Mediterranean heritage of Egypt. Instead of its usual appetizer role, try serving it alongside grilled beef, or as part of a salad.