Dissent on San Genaro Feast
The braciole is just not that good from the street vendors. (Tried a number of them side by side, including the famous one on Grand and Mulberry). It's too tough. Go to Volare one night for great, tender braciole.
And the sweetbreads were not very good at all. (Maybe I just don't like sweetbreads.) VERY tough (though a nice smokey flavor.)
The deep fried Twinkie, however, is perfection. Only one stand sells it. Run, don't walk.
Great festival, however. (Just avoid the Calzone with spinach, which for some reason, haven't been banned this year.)
Oh I never eat at San Gennaro (except once or twice at that braciole stand). But I go four or five times during each year's run. I'd never expect the food there to be as good as a restaurant. I go for the experience, the swirling crowds, so many happy people.
It reminds me a lot of the bad guy's restaurant in Big Night. The food was mediocre but everyone who went there had a good time. It was like a party. And you could ask for ketchup on your risotto without the chef attacking you with an axe.
I've avoided that festival since buying an undercooked sausage that I had to throw out.
Sweetbreads, when done properly, are most certainly not tough. They're usually crisp (when sauteed) on the outside and a soft, melt in your mouth texture on the inside. I adore sweetbreads. [ Have had great ones at Hearth and the best I've ever had were in San Francisco at Boulevard. ]
Agree about the sweetbreads. You didn't have a master at the grill there that day. He cooked the daylights out of them. Typical of a streetfair. If there isn't a steady stream of customers, the food is going to sit around and in the case of grilled meats, they wind up taking on a very unappealing quality to them. I always take a good long look before I order. "Hey buddy, let me have a look at that (before I have to pay you umteen dollars for some stuff that's probably been sittin' around for a while)". They get the message. I take my food seriously and it should be fresh.