Trinidad & Tobago Cart Expands My Caribbean Food Vocabulary
Every once in awhile, I get a craving to try some weird food. And by “weird,” I don’t mean “hey wow, man, when I mix my ketchup with mayonnaise, it tastes awesome” kind of weird. I’m talking rocky mountain oyster weird. I’m talking Spicy & Tingly Lamb Face Salad weird. And today, I’m talking Cow Foot Soup weird. Why do I enjoy this kind of thing? I don’t know. But I don’t think I’m the only one with this wonderful/horrific affliction, so that’s why I’m sharing this with you all today. The one thing I’ll promise you is that I won’t eat anything too disgusting. That is, unless it tastes really, really delicious. Enough of that, though. On with the story.
So I’d been going to Veronica’s Kitchen for a good long time now and it wasn’t until relatively recently (probably last spring) that I’d heard about a rival Caribbean food cart on Whitehall between Bridge and Pearl Streets. Since then I’ve eaten here a number of times, though I’m still a loyal and frequent visitor of Veronica’s Kitchen. I’m not here to tell you which one is the best one, only to share the goodness. The dishes I’ve gotten have ranged from their rotis to their soups to their oxtail. And it’s all been good, my friend. There’s just something about Caribbean food that really tickles my fancy and I haven’t met one I don’t like. Not yet anyway. To try an entice you to join the love, this time I decided to show you the jerk chicken and cow foot soup.
Everything at this marvelous cart comes in two sizes; large and small. The jerk chicken I was all over. I know it’s nice and spicy, really flavorful, and incredibly tender. Without hesitation, I ordered a large for $7. Smalls are $2 cheaper and you get a container roughly half the size of the large, though the lady in the tin box still manages to cram a healthy serving in there. So as not to go over the price limit, I ordered a small cow foot soup for $3. The price difference with the large is the standard $2.
The chicken was just as I remembered it. The heavy spicing on the outside gave it a great flavor that penetrated the skin. In combination with the hot sauce (that yellow stuff all over my chicken), I was sweating quite a bit, though the pain didn’t linger. With the main dishes, you get a choice of two sides, though I’m not sure what would substitute for the rice and peas. It’s best just to stick with that one, and feel free to ask for a little extra gravy on your rice. Your other options are vegetables (mostly cabbage) or yams. Both are delicious (the cabbage is pictured above), but the yams are probably my favorite.
The soup, part of a rotating menu and available only on Mondays, was a good balance to the chicken in that there wasn’t any spiciness to it. But that’s not to say it was blast. This was a rich broth, more like a gravy because of all the fat and gelatin of the cow feet and the starch of the yucca and plantain that were cooked in it. By the way, you’re not really getting to appreciate the full glory of the soup in the picture above. The chunk of cow foot I got in the soup wasn’t very picturesque. I attempted to eat it, but my penchant for strange foods couldn’t outweigh my aversion to the texture of cooked cow feet in my mouth. I’m perfectly alright with many textures, including cartilage (fried chicken cartilage was actually a favorite of mine in Japan), but this was more of a firm, warm meat jell-o. Apart from that, however, the soup was really delicious, though perhaps could’ve benefited from a shot of hot sauce or a shake of salt.
All together, this was too much food for me. I managed to get through all that wonderful chicken, including the sides, but the soup was a bit thick and hearty for me to put it down comfortably. If you go, I’d recommend sticking with a large entree and maybe spending that extra couple of dollars on some sorrel or mauby to help wash it down. I’m almost positive this is just about the only place in the Financial District you’ll find these menu items, among others.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- These guys have some unique menu items you’re not going to find anywhere else in the FiDi
- That hot sauce hurts so good!
- Jerk chicken the way it’s supposed to be: spicy, tender, and delicious
- I can call ahead to pre-order my food
THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Cow foot is just not that appealing to me
- Because my favorite dish is one of their specials, they only serve it once a week
- I just don’t dig on Caribbean food
Trinidad & Tobago Cart, Whitehall Street between Bridge and Pearl Streets, 646-436-9974