Opponent: New York Islanders
Location: Barclays Center – Brooklyn, New York City
Today, the Predators visit the New York Islanders. They now play at the Barclays center in Brooklyn, but take their name from their original home: the Nassau Veterans Memorial Stadium located on Long Island. Amongst the teams within a tight radius of each other (Islanders, Rangers, Devils), the most densely populated spots for Islanders fans are Long Island, Brooklyn, and Queens.
The team was established in 1972, and in just their third season started a run of 14 consecutive playoff appearances that included four consecutive Stanley Cup championships (79-80, 80-81, 81-82, 82-83). Their
worst best ever logo was definitely the Islanders Fisherman in the mid-90s (which prompted Rangers fans to chant “We Want Fish Sticks” due to his resemblance to the Gorton’s Fisherman). Their mascot is Sparky the Dragon, who also served as the mascot for the New York Dragons Arena Football Team until that league temporarily collapsed. They also had a markedly more creepy mascot named Nyisles (see what they did there) in the 90s.
Narrowing down foods to choose for New York City is no easy task. The diversity throughout the boroughs is not only a melting pot of people, but a literal melting pot of cuisine. For the Islanders, I focused on finding what was both common and traditional in Brooklyn.
For this post, I chose the Potato and Onion Knish. A knish is a type of Jewish and Eastern European snack food or side dish that is pretty basic: some sort of filling wrapped in dough that is then baked or fried. The most basic and traditional form contains a potato and onion filling. They’re found at delis, in butcher shops, at street vendor stands, as side dishes in ethnic restaurants, and more recently served up from food trucks.
Don’t worry y’all, I wasn’t 100% sure how to pronounce “knish” either – but luckily there’s a youtube video for that.
The Yonah Schimmel Knishery has been around since 1910 (and their website appears to be almost as old). Gabilas claims to have sold over one billion (yes, 1,000,000,000) potato and onion knishes alone since 1921. Via their website you can have an order shipped to your home, packed in cryo-gel and ready to pop in your oven or fryer. A fire at Gabilas in 2013 caused a nationwide knish shortage. The Brooklyn Bowl, a “hip” bowling alley, serves up all kinds of gourmet takes on Brooklyn classics, including a reportedly undersized and overpriced potato and onion knish. You can also check out Jay and Lloyd’s Kosher Deli for an old school Jewish Deli experience. There’s Robin the Knish Lady, who sells hot knishes from a cart on the boardwalk, and the Deli-N-Dogz Pastrami Truck for a more mobile knish experience. There’s even a memorial website for Shatzkin’s Coney Island Knishes, a place for people to reminisce about a now defunct knish stand.
I also sought out of some of the oldest, non-knish restaurants around Brooklyn, since man cannot live on knish alone. Peter Luger Steakhouse has been around since 1887, and the pictures on their website really speak for themselves in terms of both class and quality of beef. If you prefer the surf to the turf, there’s Randazzo’s Clam Bar, a raw bar and seafood restaurant opened in 1932. If you’re looking for something a little more laid back check out Tom’s Restaurant, a diner opened in 1936 that continues to collect eclectic American decor inside. The lines are long here, but someone from the staff periodically hands out free coffee, orange slices, and cookies to waiting patrons.
If you’re in the mood for classic Italian-American, red sauce/white tablecloth dining, check out Bamonte’s. They’ve barely changed since opening in 1900 and have had the same chef for more than 40 years. For a more casual Italian experience, grab a bite at Ferdinando’s Focacceria. They’ve been around since 1904 and specialize in Sicilian-style sandwiches and open-air market foods. No segment on Italian food would be complete without Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitana, an authentic pizza joint opened in 1924 by an immigrant from Naples who had worked at Lombardi’s in Little Italy for twenty years (spoiler alert: they’ll show up again in the Rangers post).
Nathan’s Famous is of course legendary with the original 1914 Coney Island location still intact. We know them now for the hot dog eating contest every 4th of July, but they boast a long history of prestigious customers and fans. Franklin D. Roosevelt served Nathan’s Famous hot dogs to the Queen of England in 1939 and had some shipped to Yalta in 1945 for his meeting with Churchill and Stalin.
Once you’re good and full from all that classic Brooklyn food, there’s one more stop to make: Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop for some dessert (or breakfast the next morning). There was a short documentary created about the shop for the Brooklyn Film Festival last year.
Now that you’re probably hungry, it is time to start cooking some knish!
Here’s what you’ll need –
- 6 Russet potatoes
- 1/4 cup corn oil
- 1 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp salt (separate)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 white onion
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 egg
- 2 dashes turmeric
- Glass of bourbon (for yourself)
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Peel the potatoes, cut into chunks, and boil for 15-20 minutes. Drain, and then mash until chunky.
- Take out 1 cup of the potatoes to use in the dough. Mix them in a bowl with the oil, 1tsp salt, and a dash of turmeric. They should get mushy.
- In a separate bowl, mix up the flour and baking powder.
- Slowly add the flour mix to the potato bowl and mix well.
- Make a well in the middle of this mixture and pour in the cold water. Knead the dough for several minutes.
- Take a few cold and wet paper towels and cover the dough; place it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
- Dice the onion. Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the onion until it is soft, but not brown. Drain and remove.
- Mix together 1 and 1/2 cups potatoes, 1/2 tsp salt, a dash of turmeric, and the onion in a bowl.
- Take out the dough and divide into 4 parts. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness one part at a time, and fill with 1/4 of the potato/onion filling. Fold the sides over and use a couple drops of water to help seal the seams.
- Place seam side down on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Beat the egg and brush the knishes with the egg.
- Bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
Our take-aways: My wife/taste-tester and I agreed that these were good, but would be super awesome with bacon, sausage, and cheese added to the filling. Doing so would of course defeat the purpose of preparing something based on Jewish/Kosher cooking, but if you’re less worried about authenticity that’s the way to go. A second modification we talked about was pouring brown gravy over them. Many people eat them with a spicy brown mustard. They’re also incredibly filling, so don’t expect two people to be able to eat all four of these at one time.
I also have two brief pieces of bonus content:
- Just hours after the New Jersey Devils post went live, this news story popped up all over the place about a guy claiming he captured photographic evidence of the Jersey Devil.
- I started craving some Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, so I made some with (store bought) coney sauce and a habanero shredded cheese.
Next up: The Ottawa Senators
Previously: New Jersey Devils