Yay! It's Bastille Day! I don't know what that means. Actually did you know that in France, they don't even call it that? It's true. Steph told me that it's just an American thing. But here in New York, the France national day celebration is still called Bastille Day Celebration. In fact, there's not one, but two such parties in New York every year. Many people are familiar with the one in Carroll Garden's on Smith St. There's pétanque in the streets and everything. The second party is in Manhattan around 60th street by Lexington Ave. This one is backed by the fiaf. If you're into food, I say go to the 60th street celebration next year, and if you're into chilling and drinking beer, then go to the one on Smith st.
If you go to the party on 60th street hosted by the fiaf, you'll see loooots of food stands. There were ham and cheese sandwiches, croissants, brioches, pastries, macarons, couscous, and my favorite... merguez sandwiches. There were at least three different places selling merguez sandwiches. And of course, I picked the most simple, and cheapest option. $3 dollars. Yup. Three small links of merguez inside of a baguette-type thing, and some sort of red sauce. It was sooooo worth the $3 dollars. Other sandwiches that cost more looked bigger and had toppings. The sausage always looks bigger on the other plate...
I didn't even pay attention to where the merguez was from. Some place with the word 'nomad' in the name. But I didn't pay attention. The smoke from the grill made me forget. And did I mention it was a three dollar sandwich?! After the sandwich I spoted a Payard stand. In fact there were TWO such stands. Of course Payard actually closed... see this Chowhound post. Since they didn't have a store, it was cool to see that they had a stand and were selling everything for $4 dollars! Sweet.
See this is a caramel tart with some nuts and a chocolate disc on top. $4! I bet back when Payard had a store front, this tart woulda been like $6 dollars. So I was happy to get it at a discount, and to have a great meal of a merguez sandwich and a chocolate-caramel tart for just $7 dollars. If I could only eat this well everyday...
There were plenty of people on hand, and even a big time chef. Cyril Renaud was on hand at the Bar Breton stand. He was doing it all, making sandwiches, flipping crepes, and socializing with the customers. Dude was working it. Good to see non-celeb chefs actually cooking. I mean, celeb chefs are fine, I like them, but it's cool to see them do their thing.
If you head over to Smith street, you get the same packed crowd. You could even say that with the street covered by pétanque courts, the sidewalks were more crowded than at 60th street. It was also more of a people in their 20s and 30s type of crowd. On 60th street you had older folks, and young kids. There was a dude selling animal balloons at 60th st. On Smith st, I think people just wanted to chill and drink. No animal balloons there.
So next year if you're deciding between the two Bastille Day celebrations, you could just base your decision on whether you want to get a buzz. Or you could just walk all over the city and visit both of them like I did. Just be sure to wear sunscreen.
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