No one knows cold weather breakfast beverages like Andeans, especially Ecuadorians. The temperatures are now trending up, so before the cart ladies disappear for the summer, I thought I’d mention a few highlights of the tasty breakfast trail that runs through Corona/Elmhurst, Queens around the Junction Boulevard 7 Train station. The carts move, but there’s always at least one on the Flushing bound side in front of Angelo’s Restaurant. They all offer at least three of the below mentioned items.
1. Arroz con leche
This is not your Greek deli rice pudding. Rather, it’s all that milky moist ricey goodness warmed up and transmuted into a steaming flavor wallop. Stronger than expected cinammon adds some extra heat. A double portion (two dollars) will leave you full for a long walk to work.
A kissing cousin to the “arroz con leche,” drink, morocho simply uses corn instead. It’s a bit more filling and a good deal more savory, though the sweetness reminds you how much sugar there is in corn. Much better than turning it into syrup for the abomination that is American Coke.
3. El “Quaker”
Essentially a drinkable oatmeal named for the popular American brand, “Quaker” is not the tastiest of the morning options but it is arguably the most gut-filling. Better for digestion than delectation, but a worthy option if you tire of 1 or 2.
It may be more Mexican than Andean, but in a polyglot, multi-national Latin American neighborhood like Elmhurst, it is often for sale right next to the Morocho and Quaker. Champurrado is corn flour based and tastes of chocolate and cinnamon as well as vanilla and sometimes anise. Its texture skews slimy-slithery, like the good rice noodle rolls you get in a dim sum breakfast. Unfortunately, it has all the cloying quality and none of the umami of those Chinese taste treats.
Taking a step off the Roosevelt and into El Hornero Bakery (9608 Roosevelt) means access to a great fast frothed hand whisked hot chocolate. Pair it with a dulce de leche stuffed churro, and you have yourself a breakfast feast. N.B. Skip the coffee here and at the Colombian bakeries lining Junction Boulevard. They tend to serve a watery brew that would make Juan Valdez weep with shame.