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Cornel's Garden

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Yes, I realize that this is the Manhattan board.

For some reason, probably a good one simply unknown to me, today was Romanian Festival Day in the two blocks of Wall Street between Water Street and the East River Drive. Initially, I was suspicious, because this is the site of many a standard Friday-afternoon street fair -- you know, sausage sandwiches, zeppoli, refrigerator magnets, hats, underwear, sunglasses, and Oriental masseurs.

In fact, except for the food stands, the rear block was just as expected, i.e., the standard street-fair roadshow. In addition, however, were displays of Romanian books, Romanian wines, other merchandise and things Romanian, and a bandstand with Romanian music.

Best of all, for me at least, was the food: three stands, all apparently operated by Cornel's Garden, one of which featured a "garden" of tables and chairs squarely amidst the asphalt.

I had a sort of kebab (mititei?), shaped like a skinless Italian sausage, which tasted like a mixture of beef, pork, and garlic, in roughly equal proportions. It was absolutely delicious, charcoaled on the outside but tender and juicy inside, the polar opposite of dried out. I saved one for a Romanian-born friend, who said "I haven't had these in years, and they taste exactly like I remembered." Four were $5, served with a decent French bread roll.

One side benefit: Vampires and fellow subway riders gave me a wide berth for the remainder of the day.

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