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Hester Street Fair Lower Feast Side Food Festival

Today was opening day for the Hester Street Fair which featured a Lower Feast Side Food Festival in conjunction with the other events going on for the New Museum’s Festival of Ideas, which wrapped further west on the Lower East Side around the Bowery.   In a slender space at the intersection of Hester Streets and Essex Streets was a varied collection of crafts vendors with adorable stuffed toys, handmade purses, terrariums, and bath and beauty products as well as some terrific food vendors.  Bringing a bright ray of sunshine into the lives of New Yorkers after a particularly brutal winter this year, people came out with dogs, strollers, babies, and friends to chat with the merchants, pick up some things, and enjoy a sunshine-filled day outdoors.

La NewYorkina‘s friendly face and delicious Mexican-inspired ice pops started off the market on a terrific note.

Here’s a peek inside her freezer.  There was a new Raspberry-filled Horchata flavor just for the market today

Or if you needed a little pick-me-up before tackling the market today, you could have stopped by Wonder City for coffee and Donut Holes with Caramel Sauce

A stop by Roni-Sue’s, also located in Essex Street Market, should definitely have been on the list for today.  I mean, chocolate-covered bacon (aka Pig Candy), how could you go wrong?

Unless that is, you were really angling for one of Sigmund Pretzelshop‘s fabulous creations.  I wish that they had also brought the Truffle & Cheese ones I’d tried at last year’s Grub Street Food Festival or the Olive & Feta ones that were at the Union Square Holiday Market.  Oh, well, means I’ll just have to plan a visit to their store.

These are only “stand-in” ice cream treats from Melt Bakery for display purposes, so you have to buy the real thing.  I tried the Lovelet, which was amazing.

Soft, fluffy red velvet cake with tangy, cool ice cream in the middle.  Please, Julian, sell these on the SweeteryNYC truck!  (note that their store front will be opening soon)

How can you not want to take one of each of these lovely beauties home with you?  I treated myself to three of Macaron Parlour‘s flavors: Red Velvet, Snickers, and Bubblegum.  The latter two flavors are new to this market.  I really liked the Snickers one and thought it captured all of the essences of the candy bar.  A gift box of these from your sweetie would win over anyone’s heart.

There were also lots of other small bites at the fair to tempt one’s tummy.  Edamame Buns and Pork Buns served with

Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost

Mighty Balls was serving up Meatballs in various ways

I’m a fan, however, of the Arancini Brothers, so I sampled their Chicken & Fontina creation.  The Chocolate one to the far left, also looked really yummy

At New Amsterdam Market, I’d tried Kings County Jerky Co. regular flavor jerky.  I think my favorite is their Korean version with its sesame-soy flavor that had a nice heat to it as you chewed it, like great Korean barbecue.

I also made sure to stop by to try the Agri-Dolce Peppers from Dolce Nonna.  The sweet-tart peppers marinaded in Italian olive oil, oregano from Sicily, and garlic transported me back to sunny, summer days in Italy.  How perfect would this be poured over fresh mozzarella?

Or what about snacking on their Pickled String Beans?

Next to them were the makers of these perfectly-sized, completely fantastic-tasting brownies, and sweet bites, like the ones above and below.

Girl Next Door‘s “Husband Bait” with its buttery, crumbly outside and sweet-tart raspberry interior was incredible.  If I could pull together something that tasted like this, maybe my husband-to-be would find me, too.

These teas from Wellnista would have been perfect for an afternoon cuppa with some of those sweets, too.

I decided instead that it was time for a Guaco Taco from Brooklyn Taco Co. Next time, I’m going to try the one that got them in Time Out.

An Choi wasn’t set up when I did my rounds looking for lunchtime nibbles, so I might have to catch them at the next market or at their storefront downtown.  Cheeky Sandwiches looked ready to sell crêpes, too, but they also weren’t up and running when I stopped by.

The Dumpling Diva brought along her Mushroom Dumplings for everyone to try.

She also brought along bottles of her Dipping Sauce to buy.

Someone walked near me with one of these gorgeous concoctions from The Shaved Ice Shop.  She said to her friend, “You know, we’re doing dessert first today.”  I highly encourage that.

Back over the the savory side, La Sonrisa had several types of Empanadas to try as well as a Pulled-Pork Slider with Chipotle Mayo.

But I was heading to Luke’s Lobster for half of one of their sweet, cool, creamy Shrimp Rolls.  Good luck defending your title at the Lobster Roll Rumble!

Which I washed down with one of these light and refreshing Elderflower Lemonade drinks from The Fat Radish.

Although I really could have picked up one of everything that they had on the menu, it all looked so delicious.

I was hooked from the first moment I tried these terrific Caramel Sauces from Herbin’ Spoonful.  The Lavender is sweet with a delicate floral perfume.  The Chai is, as she says, “like coming home,” with its warm, full, spice notes.  The Habanero starts out all nice and green peppery and then kicks you hard with its heat.  I could see using any and all of these for some great desserts.

Not to leave anyone out, Bocce’s Bakery was there with treats for man’s best friend.

And it was good to see that Cup, er “Pupcakes” are a trend even for the furry set!

It was so hard to resist these cookies from Lucky Penny Bake Shop

Or these darling Rosemary Shortbread hearts.  She had other savory varieties as well.

If I didn’t make my own granola, these delicious ones from Spatzi’s might be in my cupboard.  It was great to find out that we both use Tremblay Apiaries Honey in our batches.

One of the more interesting things to see to day was this demonstration of sorbet making by the guys from Rogue24, which is winding down its preview in New York City this weekend.  This is watermelon juice mixed with liquid nitrogen.

When paired with dried Spanish ham and these greens and drizzled with olive oil,

You get a wonderful, bite-sized creation that is part sweet, part savory, part fruity, part meaty, part chewy, and part smooth and cool.

What a perfect note on which to end the day’s eating adventures!

Buon appetito!

The Hester Street Fair will be open on Saturdays only from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. through October 30, 2011.