Monthly Archives: July 2007

Chelsea Market Fieldtrip

It hadn’t yet reached a crisis point, but I noticed this weekend that I was getting low on coffee. My morning cappuccino is an addiction that I picked up after having lived in Italy, so not just any cuppa joe will do to get me started on my day. I don’t even drink NYC Deli Coffee, except in a real caffeine emergency. And, the coffee machine in the office, please, I think I’d rather just drink a mug full of scalding hot water instead.

My brand of choice is Illy. It’s not very difficult to find in the city, but depending upon where one shops, the price for your average can of ground coffee beans can vary widely. Then, again, depending upon where one shops, it could be taking a gamble with the coffee’s freshness as well. I usually try to buy mine at Chelsea Market, but that is an excursion downtown and across town from where I live.

As I was volunteering today and had to head into Soho, I decided to take a detour and hit Buon Italia, the Italian store in Chelsea Market, where I’ve found the best price on Illy. I’ve also seen products there that I haven’t come across since I lived in Italy. This is one of many great finds in the building that once housed the Nabisco Biscuit Factory (and, if my memory of one of the displays is correct, is the place where the Oreo was invented). Now it is a collection of shops and office space, and a prime tourist destination for food lovers, as it is the home of The Food Network.

I realized that I haven’t really written much about food shopping in New York. True, there are grocery stores and bodegas scattered around every few blocks. The truth is that those are often not enough. There’s a grocery store in the basement of my building, but I rarely use it except for purchases like toilet paper, paper towels, or cleaning supplies. It’s expensive and the quality is just so-so. For real shopping, I hit the Greenmarket and specialty stores like Chelsea Market. This mix gives me, I feel, the best in taste and quality as well as the ability to take advantage of more competitive prices.

So, here’s a little photographic field trip to share with you some of the delights and treats of Chelsea Market. For more information on the market itself, its history, and the shops located there, click on the link in the second paragraph.

The entrance doesn’t look all that promising 

Until your eye catches the flower shop 

And you walk by the bakeshop 

Or wander past the wine shop You can watch bakery treats being made

Or see what goes on in a butcher’s shop

Some of the industrial elements of the factory have been kept

If you get hungry, here’s a place to stop to eat

Or maybe here?

Or stop to pick up some produce here?

My destination – it might not look like much


but here you can find olive oil from all over Italy
lots of San Marzano tomatoes for sauce
tanti tipi di formaggi italiani
and some of my favorite cookies from Italy

you can even pick up something for tonight’s dinner

One more stop. Here’s a great concept – gelato and kitchen supplies

Of course I couldn’t resist a small one after staring at all that Italian food
mmmm, molto buono!

Buon appetito!

Craving Apricot Tart

It must have been the left-over influence of Bastille Day, but I have been craving apricot tart (one of the few items I did not sample at the street fair last Sunday). In searching online, I have found the perfect recipe. I remembered how gorgeous the locally-grown fruit had looked last year, when I first attempted to make the tart. Yesterday when I was down there, they looked no less beautiful, so I decided to make it again this year.

In hunting around for a recipe on my original search, I had found one on Epicurious that perfectly fit the bill. It is actually from notable food writer, teacher and epicurean Patricia Wells. You can also locate it in her book “At Home in Provence,” but I have to warn you, the photo of this tart, along with the raspberry one on the same page, is apt to make your mouth start watering in an instant, if you are as much of a fan of fruit-based sweets as I am.

Tarte Abricot Verlet (click on link for recipe) is quite simple to make, even if you’ve never attempted pastry before. I’m a big fan of the cookie-type crust (or biscuit-type if you are in the UK). It doesn’t take any rolling out of pastry or fussing about with cubes of butter or cold water. The ingredients are very simple to find, the only main item being that fresh, in-season apricots hold the key to the wonderful flavors that result. [Of course, I did take advantage of the wonderful fare at the Greenmarket to get eggs and cream from their vendors as well.]

The end result creates a photo almost as beautiful as that found in the cookbook, and definitely more delicious, as I get to eat it myself!

Buon appetito!

Bastille Day Food Festival 2007

It’s that time of year again. The annual Alliance Française Bastille Day eat-fest, err celebration, is today. I hadn’t originally planned to spend my Sunday in Midtown strolling along 60th Street checking out all the goodies on offer, but the weather is gorgeous and a friend told me last night when we were having drinks that she had made it her mission to go this year. When someone says to you that he/she has had this marked on his/her calendar for months, it is a serious endeavor even among the general food-obsessed in New York.

Last week, I’d taken a break as my sister drove up to the city (thanks, sis!) with boxes and boxes of kitchen equipment and books (mostly cookbooks) that I’d had in storage at my parent’s house. I’d actually planned to spend the Bastille Day weekend going through the French ones looking for inspiration, but somehow it just seems easier today to head to the street fair and buy something ready-made. As you can see from last year’s post, I don’t think I’ll be suffering for choice or losing anything by taking a pass on heating up my own kitchen.

Unlike other events of this type, there is a method to the madness that can be hoards of people all clamoring around the same tables in the three-block length of the festival.

1. Start at one end and saunter to the other, scoping out what’s on offer.

2. Remember what was worth eating last time you were there and search for those tables this year.

3. Decide on a plan of action and map out your strategy. My co-conspirators and I opted to eat savory things first and then went for the sweet.

With these simple rules in mind, we successfully tackled Bastille Day 2007.

Baguettes with duck, chicken liver mousse, pate, and all sorts of wonderful things


Where there’s smoke and fire….


There’s likely to be merguez (spicy lamb sausages)


Savory cheese puffs and tarts with goat’s cheese olives and tomatoes

Chocolate treats each for $1.00
Strawberry tarts and puff pastry with peaches

Cakes and macaroons

Bon Appétit!