New York street food goes gourmet

Carrot buns, lemon macaroons, golden veal cutlets and tamarind ice cream spiked with balsamic vinegar are taking New York by storm, as street carts trade working-class fare for delicacies.

Websites, online social networks and especially micro-blogging website Twitter keep alive the trend, first launched on the West Coast.

The tweets point gastronomes to where street carts serve up the best fare of the day.

"Remember guys, we'll b @ 52nd b/w 6th & 7th today @ 11:30-2. The sun is out. the mood is good, and the schnitz is fresh:) so come getcha sum," tweeted Oleg Voss, a 28-year-old culinary school graduate and one-time investment banker.

Voss, who says the brutal economic recession pushed him to make a career change and open a street cart in Manhattan, counts some 5,400 followers on Twitter.

Dozens of them come each day to grab a bite of schnitzel - breaded meat or fish cutlets - from "Schnitzel & Things," a brown and white cart Voss started with his 35-year-old brother, Gene.

"I had just been hired as an investment banker in Vienna when the recession began: last hired, I was the first fired," recalled Voss, who also graduated from New York University's Stern School of Business.

The Ukrainian-born entrepreneur decided to sell schnitzel after becoming a fan of the cutlets in Vienna. He serves them hand-pounded, lightly breaded and "fried to golden perfection" with mashed potatoes or french fries.

"Here the veal is too expensive, so I buy chicken or beef," he told AFP while writing down orders from his clientele mainly consisting of young lawyers and bankers working in the neighborhood.

"But everything is top quality, the bread crumbs are put at the last minute, the frying oil is organic and renewed every day."

In addition to Voss's brother, two cooks work up the stoves in the back of the cart. They serve about 200 meals per day, each sold for about 10 dollars.

A little over a dozen "gourmet" carts work up New York's streets, accounting for less than 10 percent of the Big Apple's street food industry.

Many restaurateurs struggle to enter the market, only succeeding if they manage to prevail over an arduous process to obtain permits from the city.

Grant Di Mille, who runs his "Street Sweets" cart with his wife Samira Mahboubian had to jostle with the ice-cream men "mafia" to keep his buns, croissants and cupcakes business open.

"Three Mister Softee guys came and threatened to burn our truck," said Di Mille, referring to the half-century old franchisor of trucks serving up soft ice cream.

He and his wife worked in marketing for two decades before launching their street cart nearly two years ago.

"We wanted to have our own business," said Iranian-born Mahboubian, who was inspired by her mother's confections.

The couple finally got their permit, then made some friends in the New York police force. Their business is now thriving.

They prepare sweets for events organized by companies and sports clubs, and also rent out a second truck to clients.

Douglas Quint opted to open his "Big Gay Ice Cream Truck" in the summers to supplement his income as a bassoonist in Boston in winter.

At the major downtown intersection of Union Square, he sells an array of surprising flavors: olive oil and sea salt, the "Salty Pimp" (vanilla ice cream, caramel, sea salt and chocolate dip), toasted curried coconut, pumpkin butter, cardamom and elderflower syrup.

"People love ice creams but all the others serve the same thing. I use a better ice cream, add a lot of layers. I convince people to try it and they love it! It's like running an open kitchen," said Quint, 39.

"The trend is growing," he concluded as he prepared to travel to San Francisco for a conference on street food.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future