$5 Trifecta: Barbecue, Beer, Band

fotpbbqFree concerts abound throughout the city during the summer. But how many offer you a plate of delicious barbecue and a beer to devour while you enjoy the music, all to the tune of $5?

This Wednesday, Finger on the Pulse NYC brings you the whole package at Hope Lounge (10 Hope Street, Brooklyn–map) in Williamsburg. From 7-11 PM you can see about-to-explode Brooklyn indie band The Harlem Shakes (yes, the name is confusing) in a free outdoor concert. For $5, you can pick up a plate of barbecue and sides from seasoned kitchen and pit pro Sam Mason (of the restaurant Tailor and the hit food/rock mashup show “Dinner With the Band”), with a complementary beer to wash it down.

For the technologically inclined/gainfully employed among us, FotP NYC is even giving away free iPhone cases. For the rest of us, I’m pretty sure those cases can be used to hold food stamp EBT cards.

via Tasting Table New York

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Kashgar at the beach

kashkarThe Uighur people have been in the news a lot lately, and it hasn’t been good–their home region of Xinjiang, China is mired in a vicious state of ethnic violence. While the thoughts of Uighur immigrants in New York are likely in Xinjiang, their hands are imbued with culinary prowess. Thanks to Cafe Kashkar (1141 Brighton Beach Ave., Brooklyn–map), a trip to Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach means not only a lesson in Cyrillic (Russian immigrants dominate the neighborhood), but also a taste of the lesser-known Uighur culture.

mantyThe fare at Cafe Kashkar is a unique mixture of east Asian and Middle Eastern, natural for an ethnic group of Sunni Muslims living in northwestern China. Bring friends and share, because there’s a lot to choose from. Start with an order of Manty, boiled dumplings filled with ground lamb and a rich, salty broth ($7 for 4 large dumplings), or Samsa, a layered lamb pastry ($2.50 apiece). Don’t be confused by a misnomer on the menu: what they call “hot appetizers” are lagmanactually sizeable entrees. Go for the fried lagman, a traditional spicy noodle and vegetable dish ($7.50). Or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, go for the gigar–rice with an earthy, sweet mixture of fried liver, bell peppers, eggplant, and more–for $8.50. Round out your meal with juicy kebabs, around $4 each.

A friendly and helpful staff will aid you with pronunciation, while an Uzbek version of MTV serenades diners from the corner. Only in New York can a day at the beach be this deliciously eye-opening.

Straight from the middle man

Ever wish you could economize on beer by getting it straight from the brewery? You can’t. Due to antiquated liquor laws and an oversized Annheuser-Busch lobby in Washington, breweries can’t even sell their beer directly to retail stores. They have to sell to distributors, who then sell to your corner deli or supermarket. Of course, there’s a price markup every time the beer changes hands.

nbdBut there is a way to cut in early: most distributors have warehouses in the city where they sell beer directly to the thirsty consumer. Unlike NYC retailers, they sell in bulk–kegs, 30-packs, and cases, meaning you can stock up for a fraction of what you’d pay at a deli.

For the bottle sipper, pick up a case of Brooklyn Pennant Ale for $33.59 at American Beer Distributors (256 Court St., Brooklyn–map), or a case of Dos Equis Amber for $25.99 at Carousel Beverages (436 3rd Ave., Brooklyn–map). If you’re really looking to save dough, grab a 30-pack of Genessee Cream Ale (it’s better and cheaper than Bud Light) for $15.99 at New Beer Distributors (167 Chrystie St., Manhattan–map).

Warehouses can be a Mecca even for the consummate beer snob, sporting celebrated but hard-to-find American micros like Left Hand, Allagash, and North Coast, and imports like Orval and Sinebrychoff. At around $10 per six pack they’re not cheap, but they’re cheaper than you’ll find them anywhere else in the city.

New members welcome

GYCIf you’re a Penny Palate regular, your yacht club membership probably lapsed a long time ago. Like, in a previous lifetime. But with weather like this, it seems criminal not to do your eating and drinking out of doors. Luckily, Smith Street has just the club for you–no membership dues, collared shirts not required.

To be fair, Gowanus Yacht Club (323 Smith St., Brooklyn–map is not an actual yacht club, nor is it actually on the Gowanus Canal. But yacht clubs are stodgy and the Gowanus Canal is a putrid cesspool, so I’d say GYC comes out a winner in the end. Pass through the unimposing fence and head to the bar, where you can order hot dogs ($2), burgers ($4 for a single, $6 for a double), and beers at Canal prices. A PBR is $3, but kick in an extra dollar for a can of Porkslap Pale Ale or Moo Thunder Stout from Butternuts Beer–high class taste in a low-class can.

You’ll get to enjoy a diverse crowd–I’ve sat at the bar with hipsters, grizzled Brooklyn vets and, once, a beagle who had a hard time staying upright on his swivel bar stool. By the end of the night, you might have the same problem.

Willy(burg) cheesesteak

The appellation “deli” means something very different in New York than in smaller towns. Whereas most delis in the world are establishments that specialize in selling sandwiches and cold cuts, the typical New York deli is a place on the corner where you can pick up toilet paper, a bag of chips, and a 6-pack. If it sells sandwiches, they’re usually not something you want to sink your teeth into.

Williamsburg’s Big Apple Deli (671 Grand St., Brooklyn–map) is an exception to the rule. While it superficially resembles your typical corner store, a trip to the deli counter is a pleasant surprise, especially when you’re craving a cheesesteak. Once you choose between six different cheeses, the man behind the counter pulls out not a tub of precooked steak, but a whole slab of fresh meat and raw sliced onion and peppers. He cooks up your steak fresh, slicing it as he goes, then melts the cheese in with the meat and sauteed veggies so it pervades your whole sandwich and your every bite.

After about 5 minutes, you get your meat piled on a soft, fresh roll for just $4 for a round roll, $5 for a hero. There’s no seating, so take your spoils to one of many nearby bars and enjoy it with a cold one. Big Apple is open at least as late as any bar you know, so if you’re having late night hunger pangs, consider it your promised land.

Not your dad’s milkshake…but maybe your great great granddad’s

shakeRemember when a frosty milkshake cost just a nickel? Neither do I. But this Thursday, Brooklyn hot spot The Bell House (149 7th St., Brooklyn–map) is putting those bygone deals to shame, offering their take on the shake free of charge, starting at 9 PM.

A shot of history: back when milkshakes were invented in the late 19th century, they were often used as health tonics, fighting consumption with one key ingredient: whiskey. Pesky prohibition did away with the whiskey-laced shake, but it couldn’t wipe it from our memory entirely (in fact, Prohibition probably made everyone’s memory a bit clearer).

makersThe Bell House’s vanilla whiskey shake is a throwback to the good old days. And they ain’t using rotgut, either. They’re mixing their shakes with Maker’s Mark, aged at least five and a half years in weathered oak barrels to create a bourbon of consistently outstanding quality, one of the best to come out of Kentucky. The stuff’s not cheap, so tip your tender well. After all, she may be helping you fight off the TB, or at least a nasty case of sobriety.

The tip, from MyOpenBar.com

Get your goat

buff-patty-2On a February night, when winter seems determined never to recede, there aren’t many places I’d rather be than Jamaica. For now, I’ll have to settle for Fort Greene. On Myrtle Ave., just a couple blocks from Fort Greene park, sits a little hole-in-the-wall called Buff Patty (376 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn–map) that offers Jamaican specialties for not much more than you’d pay in the Caribbean.

buff-patty1It’s best to start with the namesake patties–$1.50 for chicken or beef and $2.50 for shrimp. They’re made of flaky, rich (lard-laden) pastry crust that will leave your table littered in deep yellow crumbs, and they’re stuffed with spicy curried meats that will fill you up for a snack, or whet your appetite for more to come.

Buff Patty also serves hot, salty jerk marinated chicken wings at $3 per half dozen. But my favorite dish is the curried goat; you can pick up a pint of goat and rice and beans for $6. It’s slow cooked and tender, falling off the cylindrical bones. The curry sauce is tasty enough that you’ll want to lick those bones clean.

Happy Hour of the Week: George Washington would have drunk here

clong_islandFort Greene, Brooklyn (called Fort Putnam at the time), played a key role in shielding George Washington’s retreat during the Battle of Brooklyn. Could there be a better place to celebrate our fearless commander and first president’s birthday? This year, a brand new pub has enlisted to help.

bphBrooklyn Public House (247 DeKalb Ave., Brooklyn–map) is the project of three Fort Greene residents who turned a deserted old candy shop into a first-rate pub serving comfort food (wings, ribs, pan pizza), 16 tap beers, and 35 bottles. It’s opening to the public for the first time tonight.

While I recommend checking it out ASAP, the real Happy Hour of the Week comes on Sunday–the mid-point of your three day weekend (if your job doesn’t suck). After a blessing by a priest, BPH will host an open bar from 6 to 8, and throw in some samples from the food menu as well. If you happen to ring in President’s Day with a hangover, just be glad you’re not eating hard-tack and using dirt for coffee grounds.

the tip, from Thrillist

Happy Hour of (Next) Week

brazenhead1It’s good to plan in advance when you’re economizing, and in that spirit, here’s a surefire plan for next Monday, when the week ahead is starting to look a little too long.

Steer your way to the Brazen Head (228 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn–map) in Brooklyn. A brazenhead2comfortable, homey bar that’s a favorite of Brooklyn law students and court staff, Brazen Head serves up some 15 micro-brews on tap. But they watch out for the budget minded as well, particularly on Mondays from 5 pm on, when they serve up an assortment of free food. Often it’s fresh, meaty chicken wings. When I went last Monday, it was tasty meatballs in wine sauce and macaroni with carmelized onions.

Complement the free eats with a few $2 PBRs and your week will look a little hazier, and a lot brighter.

The slippery Slope

ellisbar1I live in the Gowanus/South Slope area of Brooklyn, and in the past the one thing that’s drawn me away from my neighborhood is its lack of great bars. If I need to liven up my evening I’d usually head at least as far away as the north Slope or Smith St. But a rash of recent openings (along with the splendid weather) has given me all the more reason to stay home. The best: Ellis Bar (627 5th Ave., Brooklyn–map).

Ellis is a clean, comfortable neighborhood bar with excellent food. I mentioned its ridiculously cheap party deal in last week’s HHotW, but it turns out Ellis has a full calendar of drink specials that can keep you abuzz on the cheap. Consider tonight’s special, which they repeat¬† every single Wednesday: 25 cent shots of house bourbon to accompany live music, starting at 9. Mondays feature $3 Heineken, Tuesdays have canned beer specials (and trivia), and weekends have extended and reverse happy hours.

Ellis has an up to date website and a blog, so you can check in and fill out your calendar accordingly.