This is generally a very positive, hopefully uplifting blog. However, it’s with regret that I share this tragic news about the passing away of Marcelo Azar, the owner and proprieter of Med Empandas. I quote here from a comment left by his mother-in-law, Jan Fields to my Empanada Guide.
Marcelo and his wife, Stacey Fields, loved to create good food and good conversation together. Over the past 7 years, they worked together in many restaurant ventures, from French Confessions ( Pleasantville), and their own restaurants; Broadway Cafe (Valhalla), and Med Empanadas (Briarcliff).
Marcelo’s memorable, booming voice could be heard through the restaurants, “HELLO MY FRIEND!, I made something special for you!”, and it was always an oversize portion.
The young couple shared a deep love for each other and their 3 month old son, Marcelo, “Marcelito”. In the last 3 years, they never left each others side.
In April ‘09, one month after Marcelito was born, Marcelo was diagnosed with 4th Stage Melanoma. Together, Marcelo and Stacey fought this cancer positively and aggressively. Marcelo’s entire family came from Uruguay to join Stacey’s family in supporting them through the next 2 months.
As the treatment was having encouraging results, the couple’s plan was to re-locate to Uruguay by August for a less stressful life. Marcelo’s health depended on dramatic life changes.
In a sudden, unforeseen turn, Marcelo died on Sunday,07/05/09, due to complications from chemotherapy. He was 36 years old.
Jan Fields, mother-in-law
The eulogy above accurately reflects my limited experiences with Marcelo. Every time I visited MED during my Westchester Empanada excursions, he was always very outgoing and eager to talk to me about his business. He was outgoing, friendly and clearly took great pride in his product. On top of that, he was very talented at his craft. Those are three qualities one would hope more people would emulate.
Finally, when I visited MED the last time, with Liz Johnson of the Journal News to complete the Journal News write up of my guide, he spent considerable time with us and was genuinely thrilled at the attention his little empanada store had been garnering. I have no idea what the future of MED will be; it may already be closed at this point. I’ll try and find out more details.
My sincere condolences and prayers for his family, and particular his wife and three month old baby.
After a failed attempt to scout out a new empanada place in Briarcliff Manor, we set our sights on Pony Express in Pleasantville. The restaurant is a tiny burger joint run by the chef of Iron Horse Grill. Having come as a recommendation from George, by no means a carnivore, I figured it would be a good bet.
Their specialty is the slider – small snack sized burgers. And while those looked tasty (they come two to an order), I set my sights on the larger 6 oz burger. After all, there’s nothing worse than leaving a burger joint hungry. So, I ordered the El Charro burger, a big burger with onions, pickles, tomato and lettuce topped with jalapeño pepper cheese and chipotle sauce. I must confess, was an excellent burger. The beef was appropriately beefy, but not overly salted to compensate for inferior meat. The brioche bun was absolutely perfect and the accompaniments did their job to accent the burger without taking away from the main star.
My only disappointment was that the burger, ordered medium, was cooked to well done without a hint of pink. Now, generally, that’s an unforgivable sin for a good burger joint. Luckily, their good quality beef saved them preserving the burger’s flavor and juiciness. But next time I go, I will expect a medium burger to be just that.
I wouldn’t consider this a destination burger, but if you are nearby, it’s well worth the visit.