I used to make wings all the time. I stopped because of grease; not the theoretical grease people like to talk about when they talk about eating foods that have been fried, but rather the grease that would stick to the walls of my kitchen when I would make them. I am very happy to report that my friends really like eating the wings I make and, what started as, “hey come to my place and I’ll whip up a batch of wings” out of my mouth one Friday night, became, “when are we going to do another wing night?” out of theirs. For most of ’02 and ’03, I had up to 15 people showing up an average of one Friday a month and I would cook about 250 wings at a clip.
I used one of those small home fryers that are to be found at house-ware stores. It accommodated about a dozen wing sections at a time. The timing I came up with for this small batch fryer was one minute per wing in a batch plus one minute, so the cooking time for 250 wings was four hours and fifty-one minutes. Add to this the fact that, in one of those amazing no-one-ever-built-a-kitchen-in-a-New-York-apartment-for-cooking stories I have no exhaust fan in my kitchen, and the result was a pretty serious skim of grease on the kitchen walls on the corner I kept the fryer in. One day, while scrubbing the grease off the walls with Comet again, I had had enough and threw the fryer out, ending Augie’s wing nights.
The regular visitors to my wing nights were thus set adrift wingless to search the bars of New York.
Spidey found some in Park Slope, Brooklyn of all places, at Bonnie’s, a 15-stool lunch counter with a couple of tables, right next to Blue Ribbon. When Schmoo and Spidey called and invited me and Wife to join them for the best wings they had had since mine, I had to go, if just out of flattery.
They were right. These were amazing wings.
While waiting at the counter for a table to open up, I started talking to the guy behind the counter doing all the cooking, Anthony, about the restaurant’s choice of beers. They had a short selection of draft beers entirely comprised of smaller microbreweries. This led to a conversation on his wings, my wings, and great hot sauces. Anthony agreed to make me a separate set of truly hot wings using his special sauces. The wings were awesome, without giving up any flavor he managed to ramp up the heat to the point that, with breaks to regain composure, it took me about an hour and a half to finish ten.
Every now and then the occasion arises when the right thing to do is a little Saturday afternoon stunt eating, and this weekend was one of those times. So Bear, Fittsdoola, Bubby and I made our way to Bonnie’s to eat some seriously hot wings. We walked in as the doors opened at 1pm and took the four stools right behind Anthony,
was still wearing his Knoblauch T-shirt, just a little more threadbare from a year’s worth of trips through the wash. He looked over his shoulder and said, “How hot do you want them?” and we answered that we would start with 20 hot wings and then an additional order of 10, carefully choosing the wording “as hot as you could eat them.”
We devoured the first 20 in a matter of seconds, and this is honestly the way wings should always be. They are wonderful, with a strong, persistent heat that makes the beer more fun to drink. When you finish there is the lingering sensation of heat and that nice burning on your lips that makes wish you could drink from your pint glass while putting both your lips inside it.
it was time to eat the real hot ones. As if they weren’t threatening enough, these had a browner cast to them than that standard beautiful orange, and we smelled them about eight feet before they got to us. We loaded up a pitcher of the Honker ale, buckled down, and went to work. They had the same great flavor of the first batch with a new layer, that pure, or close to pure, capsicum to be found in truly hot, hot sauces, that I tend to liken to chocolate and bananas. There was a short (about five minute) period of silence while all we could do was eat. This was good because it allowed me to better listen to the wax melting in my ear canals.
Do your friends ever look better then when they are flushed red, like an Irish girl from New Jersey that spent the first day of spring break in Florida trying to get a base tan using a new bikini and some baby oil? With huge clenched-teeth grins and a tear rolling from their right eyes? There were rapid knee bounces, there were some deep inward breaths through closed teeth, and there were even some faint wows, but that was about it.
When the wings were gone, I had had four, Bear three, Fittsdoola two, and Bubby one. I think Bear was the first one of us able to truly regain command of speech, followed by me, then Fittsdoola, and Bubby brought up the tail, after running to the loo to splash some cold water on his face. All agreed, as the endorphin rush subsided, that although almost unbearably hot, they took us perfectly close to the precipice. Sometimes you just have to get that close to the edge to look over and enjoy the view. We decided the way to go was 10 more standard hot, since only Bear and I were interested in more of the truly hot variety, and another pitcher or two of beer.
Bonnie’s is great because Bonnie’s is authentic. Anthony makes burgers and wings, both very well. There is no pretension, there is no sign outside talking about best this or real that, there is no stupid heart attack release to sign before you get the serious wings. Hell, there is a picture on the wall of Kirk and Spock. It is a great place to go if you love burgers and wings and good ale, or if you want to watch your friends cry without having to rent Rudy.