Peach-Pineapple Salsa

peaches pineapple salsa mint lime juice tortilla chips fruit recipe

With the arrival of Labor Day, summer is “offically” over. Kids are heading back to school (if they’re not there already), beach house rental prices have plummeted, and the pumpkin spice flavored goodies are out in full force.

I’m as excited about the start of fall as anyone—the first pumpkin beers of the season are chilling in my fridge right now—but with 80-degree days still forecast for at least a couple more weeks, I can’t switch off summer mode yet. Especially when it comes to making the most of summer fruit, still in full, bounteous swing.

Since just eating a piece of fruit gets a little boring, I decided to make a fruit salsa to jazz up my five-a-day. Fresh pineapple, now at the end of its season, mint and lime juice rounded out some just-ripe peaches to make a flavorful, refreshing treat. I call this a salsa but really, it’s a diced fruit salad, so feel free to eat it with a spoon, tortilla chips, on top of ice cream or yogurt, or however you like it.

peaches pineapple mint lime hot pepper fruit salsa recipe

Peach-Pineapple Salsa

Ingredients:
3 large or 4-5 small peaches, peeled, cut in 1/2″ dice (yields ~3 cups)
2 cups of fresh pineapple, cut in 1/4″ dice (if substituting canned pineapple, use the kind stored in its juices, not in syrup)
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
juice of two limes (about 1/3 cup)
2 green cayenne peppers, finely minced (can substitute other hot peppers to taste or eliminate entirely)

Directions:
Mix all ingredients well, cover tightly, and let sit in the refrigerator for several hours. (This step is important as it mellows the vegetal mint and allows all the flavors to blend.) Serve over ice cream, as a topping for tacos, with tortilla chips, or plain. Keeps up to three days in the fridge.

Jackson Heights Taco Tour

oreja, pig ear, taco, mi mexico lindo, taco cart, jackson heights, queens, new york city

Oreja taco from Mi Mexico Lindo

Jackson Heights, situated in the heart of Queens, the nation’s most diverse county, is probably my favorite neighborhood in New York City. Roosevelt Avenue seethes with bustle and noise and humanity while, down any given side street, quiet families stroll past garden apartments and co-ops sitting staidly in the shade of tall, green trees. You’ll hear a dozen different languages in the space of a block; your head will turn at a hundred different aromas; and you can get the city’s best momos from a cart and, two minutes later, indulge in the tastiest arepas this side of Bogota.

With so much good food available, you could spend weeks eating exclusively in Jackson Heights and still not exhaust its culinary treasures: South Indian, North Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Tibetan, Korean, Mexican, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Uruguayan, and loads more—I’m sure I couldn’t list them all because there’s so much I haven’t yet eaten.

Systematically, I’m trying to change that, starting a couple of weeks ago with a progressive meal of Latin American delights. My friends Mu and John live in Jackson Heights, so I tapped into their local expertise about the tastiest spots. Initially, I was going to limit myself to tacos, but my resolve crumbled as soon as the empanadas came out.

empanadas, la gran uruguaya, bakery, jackson heights

Empanadas from La Gran Uruguaya

Mu, originally from Argentina, got these empanadas from a local Uruguayan bakery, La Gran Uruguaya, which she says is about the same as Argentinean and, in this ‘hood, definitely the better offering. (Argentinean cuisine seems to be curiously absent in New York; this blogger posits that one-time immigrants eventually returned to Argentina, leaving a gap in the South American culinary spectrum of Queens.) Unable to verify authenticity myself, I can certainly vouch for their tastiness, especially the tuna and spinach varieties.

Palates sufficiently whetted, we headed to Coatzingo Restaurant (an expansion of Tacqueria Coatzingo a couple blocks down the street). Oh, the glorious vertical spit of roasting pork al pastor! The tender steamed lengua! The homemade tamarindo! I gorged on tacos and a cemita filled with strata of meat, cheese, greens, and sauce and enclosed in an appropriately seedy bun–the kind of sandwich that years from now I will dream of and wake up hungry.

taco, lengua, coatzingo, jackson heights

Lengua taco, Coatzingo Restaurant

cemita, al pastor, coatzingo, jackson heights, mexican food

Cemita al pastor, Coatzingo Restaurant

On our way to the next destination, Sunjay stopped for a quick oreja taco from Mi Mexico Lindo. This was my first experience with pig’s ear and it did not disappoint–chewy and soft at the same time, and deliciously well seasoned.

mi mexico lindo, taco cart, street food, jackson heights, queens, new york city

Worth the wait

Next stop: Terraza 7. Without the guidance of two locals, I’d never have noticed this place. Other than the banner, it’s completely unremarkable from the outside, tucked away on a little side street. Inside, it’s smaller than it seems, shaped by the street into an odd triangle, although the wire loft (which usually houses a band) was surprisingly airy. Patrons can sit on kegs with custom-made cushions, sipping homemade sangria (with canned peaches!) and craft beer (including new Queens brewery Singlecut) and admiring the kitschy décor.

Terraza 7, jackson heights bar, queens, new york city

Terraza 7

downtown manhattan & brooklyn sign, 4 train, downtown 4 train, metal straps, new york city subway, subway, nyc

Just take the stairs to get to the downtown 4–err, the loft.

Our bellies full but still craving one last nosh, we stopped for arepas. Roosevelt Avenue’s famous Arepa Lady wasn’t yet out for the evening, so we had to make do with the second-best in Jackson Heights–which was still pretty flippin’ awesome.

los chuzos y algo mas, los chuzos, arepas, jackson heights, queens, colombian restaurant

“Kebabs and something more,” according to my level 1 Spanish.

arepa de choclo, arepa, los chuzos, los chuzos y algo mas, jackson heights, queens, new york city, roosevelt avenue

Arepa de choclo (maize, not chocolate)

If I’d had more room in my belly, I’d have liked to try a chorizo chuzo, which smelled amazing. The arepahowever, did me in for the night with its greasy, crunchy, cheesy fried goodness. 

I don’t take a trip to any neighborhood without running through my mental list of nearby stores selling specialty foods I can’t find closer to home. In Jackson Heights, every outing ends with a spree at Patel Brothers. No matter how much I buy, I always walk out having spent way less than I feel I should have.

patel brothers, grocery store, indian, indian food, lentils, parathas, chukree, chukli, spices, mango pulp, indian groceries

Shopping at ethnic food stores: my favorite recreational activity

It’s the ultimate satisfaction: a belly full of great food and bags of more great food to take home. Till next time, Jackson Heights.