Deep Fried Bacon

From left to right, local craft beer, roast pork drizzled with garlic, and deep-fried bacon at La Marqueta’s Vendy Plaza in Spanish Harlem on Sundays.

Yup, deep-fried bacon…just like Jesus intended. Lightly breaded bacon, slithered onto a stick, and gently nestled into a golden pool of boiling fat.

That’s just one of the many treats available at La Marqueta, the open-air market in Spanish Harlem. Every Sunday, starting at noon, an eclectic collection of food vendors gathers at Vendy Plaza, at Park Avenue and 116th Street, to offer up all sorts of tasty treats at affordable prices. It’s like Smorgasburg, or any of the New York City’s other weekly food events, but with three distinct differences: no lines, no ridiculous prices, and a live freakin band!

When Pigz Fly calls it chicken-fried bacon, and serves it with a side of gravy, but it’s basically deep-fried bacon on a stick.

I’ve written about this event already, but I’m writing again because I’ve discovered something truly delightful. One of the vendors, When Pigz Fly, has chicken-fried bacon. Those of you familiar with the Southern staple called chicken-fried steak will recognize this dish for what it really is: deep-fried bacon. And for $3, it’s a steal.

Lately I’ve been getting this as an appetizer and again as dessert, while my primary focus has been on the delicious roast pork…drizzled with garlic oil. That’s cheap, too. Something like $5, I think. The same price you’ll pay for a local craft beer, if you can believe it.

The roast pork is prepared Puerto Rican style by Angel Jimenez of La Pirana Lechonera, a South Bronx food truck (checkout the video on him below, from Liza Mosquito de Guia of Food. Curated.). Whatever tender loving care he gives this pig during the slow roasting in the wee hours ends with skilled but sudden slices of the machete, as he serves up perfect portions to salivating swine fiends like me.

And this isn’t some stale knockoff of the now ubiquitous Smorg machine, with the same vendors, long lines, and bleeding hipsters. These are real people, serving up stuff with appliances often on loan from their own personal kitchens. All to the accompaniment of a live band. It’s real. It’s local. And it’s delicious.

Pork Belly on a Stick

PorkBellStickI never thought I’d utter the phrase “I guess I’ll have to settle for the pork belly,” and with a tone of disappointment in my voice. But I did just that a few weeks back at Smorgasburg (the final DUMBO day, before it abandoned the Tobacco Warehouse for an empty lot down by Pier 5), when I was told by the grillmasters at Inglorivs Yakitorivs that they were out of giant lamb chops.

I don’t know who these Inglorivs Yakitorivs cats are, as it was the first time I spotted them at the Smorg (though I did run into them last weekend at Pier 5). And they lack the fundamental decency of a Web site, thinking Facebook and Twitter will do (my dead pony has a Facebook page…that shit tells me nothing). Empirical evidence tells me that they do grilled meats, preferably on skewers – except for those lamb chops (which, sadly, they didn’t have at Pier 5 either). And the name suggests a mix of Asian and/or Eastern European influences, perhaps with an appreciation for Tarantino’s later work.

But what I do know, for a fact, is that their pork belly on a stick is literally divine: godlike; characteristic of or befitting a deity. I wanted to go back for another, but I foolishly decided to play it cool, not wanting to expose my gluttony (which reminded me of that line from Hey Jude: “For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little less full of pork belly on a stick”).

Feeling a vast emptiness, I decided to Smorg again the following weekend, for the debut of the Pier 5 location, and try another pork belly skewer as well as one of those lamb chops. But Inglorivs Yakitorivs (a midfielder for the Hungarian national team in the early 50s?) was a no-show, so I had to settle for Maple Bacon on a stick from Landhaus, which was indeed delicious but like listening to a soloist when you were hoping for a symphony.

Inglorivs Yakitorivs also grills chicken innards, and appears to be fond of serving various chicken cartilages as well. But if you get a chance to sample the pork belly, I recommend it so highly that I’ll likely pass out due to a lack of oxygen. And if you get a chance to grab one of those lamb chops, please drop me a line to let me know how they are.