Monthly Archives: July 2011

Dekalb Market in Brooklyn

Have you ever wondered what happens to the old shipping containers once they’ve outlived the uses for which they were built?  Some folks turn them into homes like these.  For Urban Space, the organizers of several of the markets in New York City, it meant launching a design competition using shipping containers as the storefronts for its newest location, the Dekalb Market in Brooklyn.  Yesterday, I dropped by to check it out and to see what was going on over there.

Robicelli’s Storefront

Allison Robicelli and their cupcakes

The main entrance of the market has the containers that contain food merchants.  What better welcome is there than to be greeted by Robicelli’s Cupcakes when you get off of the subway.  That makes the trip from Manhattan with the Q train stopping and starting every few minutes so worth it.  Just a few of their uniquely-flavored, delicious cupcakes, and all of your troubles and the stress of the subway will drift away.

Robicelli’s Cupcake flavors – they’ll be rotating them

Key Lime Cheesecake (graham cracker cake, key lime cheesecake buttercream, graham cracker crumbs and lime zest) and The Elvis (banana cake, peanut butter buttercream and candied bacon) cupcakes

Not all that into cupcakes, how about munching on one of their brownies instead?  I first had a chance to try them at the Northside Market.  These are more the fudgy kind, with flavors that are more grown-up than those you had as a kid.  They also have one of my other favorite things that they do: whoopie pies.  Moist, rich chocolate cake with a schmear of their wonderful buttercream in several different flavors.  I picked up a few to take away with me for later.

Robicelli’s Brownies

Robicelli’s Whoopie Pies

Kitty Lee Thomas Marshmallows

The shop is warm and inviting with a bench to sit on while enjoying your purchases.  They are also selling Kitty Lee Thomas‘ marshmallows in their store in several different flavors.  Now that I had my sugar fix filled, I was ready to take on the rest of the market.  Joe the Art of Coffee is just across the entranceway from the Robicelli’s.  It looked like quite a few folks still needed to get their caffeine fix for the morning, too.

Joe at Dekalb Market

More Joe at Dekalb

Along with Joe, you could have found Cuzin’s Duzin Donuts to start off your morning at the market just right.  Other options for dining included the creations, both breakfast and lunch style from the folks at Cheeky Sandwiches.  It was so hard to resist, but I was meeting up later with a friend, so I had to pass on them this time.

Cuzins Duzin Donuts

Cheeky Sandwiches

What is nice about this market is that there’s a bit of something for everyone.  Nile Valley has an eco-juice and salad bar with some delicious-sounding vegan options on its menu.  I saw several sets of folks on line waiting to try out their offerings.  Next to them was Mazie’s International Soul.  My mouth was watering as I saw the list of their options: pulled pork sandwich, fish tacos, sides of mac-n-cheese.  Next time I visit, I will not have follow-on plans to be elsewhere.

Nile Valley

Nile Valley’s menu

Mazie’s International Soul

The market is home to more than just great food stalls, there are crafts, live music, and cooking demonstrations.  I happened to be there when the Chef Shana of Mazie’s was walking everyone through how to make collard greens without needing to use a ham hock.  One of their tricks is to heat the olive oil until it gets a bit smoky and then to throw in lots of garlic.  I had to get to my next destination so I couldn’t stick around to see all of their tips, but the collard greens at their stand are also on my list of things to try.

Some of the craft stands

Chef Shana of Mazie’s making collard greens

Too cool down, there were also several options, not the least of which was a cart from Brooklyn Brewery.  Another cart had tropical ice pops dipped in chocolate to bring down the temperatures a bit.   I also got to see the guys from Wooly’s Ice for the second time in a week.  They had great toppings to choose from for their shaved ice creations.  Tea by Tiffany also looked like another refreshing choice.

Brooklyn Brewery cart

Trop Pops cart

Wooly’s Ice toppings

Display for Tea by Tiffany

This market already seems to be a hit with the neighborhood after just one week in business.  Unlike some of the other ones that I usually go to, this is designed to be a year-round, seven-day-a-week venture.  The vendors and the organizers have made a huge investment to pull this together as a way of revitalizing what had been a vacant space in the middle of Brooklyn.  I’m curious to see what other merchants will be there as this market grows.

Coming soon!

Buon appetito!

Food. curated Season 2 Sneak Peek

Have you ever wondered about the people behind your favorite artisan and local foods? Liza de Guia does, too, and brings their stories to us via video on her terrific (and James Beard Award-nominated) site Food. curated.  Through this medium, she captures the passion, dedication, and artistry of the people who make delicious things for all of us to eat.  Her series is beautifully shot and completely addictive (much like the Robicelli’s cupcakes she profiles).   I’m always in anticipation of another installment the minute the one that I’m watching is finished, so that I can see what is the next amazing thing that she’s picked to portray.

Liza de Guia

Last night, at the Tavern on the Green food truck court area, Liza gave us a sneak peek at what would be showing during Season 2 of her series which starts on August 11 on NYC Life.  We were treated to pre-viewing samples of some of the local, artisan businesses she filmed.  Mini versions of Robicelli’s Estelle Getty and Key Lime Cheesecake  cupcakes were gobbled up quickly.  Danny Macaroons brought his Salted Caramel (wildly popular and one of my favorites), Chocolate Dipped, and German Chocolate flavors.  From Dough, where Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina developed the recipes, we noshed on Dulce de Leche & Almond and Lemon-Poppy Seed donut holes. I didn’t get to try any of Salvatore Bklyn‘s cheese, which is something that is on my list to track down.

Estelle Getty (almond cake, cheesecake buttercream, crushed Sicilian almond cookies) no Key Lime Cheesecake (graham cracker cake, key lime cheesecake buttercream, graham cracker crumbs and lime zest) left!

 The lone macaroon – German Chocolate

Dulce de Leche & Almond donut holes

Lemon-Poppy Seed donut holes

You’ll see from the photos below that arriving even a little bit late for the start of the event, resulted in my only getting to try the Estelle Getty cupcake and the lone German Chocolate Macaroon.  I did get to sample both of Fany’s donut holes, which were completely delicious.  I have to second Fany’s comment that the Lemon-Poppy Seed one brought back memories of a cake that I used to eat as a child.  It was all wonderful, which was not a surprise, given the care and craftsmanship that I know goes into making each and every one of these products.  After we saw the clips from the show, Liza brought the food folks themselves up on the stage to join her.

Salvatore Bklyn, Danny Macaroons, Dough, Liza de Guia (L-R)

So, how does she come up with her video ideas?  She replied that she gets out there and eats food, lots of food, and takes the time meet the artisans behind the brands, much like I do, too.  She develops relationships with them, and then gets them to agree to let her tell their tale of how they came up with their product, how their business came into being, and how they feel about what they do working in this industry.  Her engaging profiles are as much about a labor of love as a passion for food, which you can tell inherently about the artisans themselves as well as about Liza’s storytelling when she films them.

To view Series 2 of Food .curated, be sure to tune into NYC Life at 9:00 p.m. on August 11th.  Additional videos of her work can be found on her website www.foodcurated.com.  To keep current with her latest finds and whom she’s profiling next, follow her on Twitter at @skeeternyc and like her page on Facebook.

Buon appetito!

Jimmy’s No. 43 Ice Cream Beer Social

A rainy Monday night after a scorching weekend is the perfect excuse to visit Jimmy’s No. 43 for a free Ice Cream Beer Social (part of their Homemade Fare series).  The fact that the website mentioned beer floats being served was enough of a reason to venture out in stormy weather.  As an added bonus, I got to catch up with some really wonderful food folks who make great products that are usually found at the markets around town.

The first thing I tried was an old-fashioned-style Sarsaparilla Ice Cream Soda courtesy P&H Soda Co.  I’d had a preview of the soda itself at the New Amsterdam Market yesterday and really enjoyed it.  With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this drink was rich and creamy and delicious.  Then, Nichelle Stephens of Cupcakes Take the Cake had a suggestion to add some of the Lemon Fluff from Ovenly meant to be served on ice cream (on the left below).  That took this concoction to a completely different level of wow.

Ovenly had their Spicy Bacon Popcorn available as a topping, too.

I spent some time catching up with Wendy of Schoolhouse Kitchen.  We’d last seen each other at the Fancy Food Show in Washington, DC, so we chatted a bit about that and about our other projects, like trying to beat last week’s heat.  She brought some of her amazing Anytime Spreadable Fruit to use as toppings for the ice cream and shaved ice.  As she said it best, these are great for eating anytime: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.

Another option for toppings was the selection from Roni-Sue Chocolate.  There was everything from decadent fudgy brownie bits to pretzels with beer nuts to chili-spiked peanuts and walnuts.

For chocolate lovers, there was even more goodness with Mast Brothers cocoa nibs (foreground) and chunks of their 72% dark chocolate with fleur de sel.

Nomnivorous (Emily Hanhan) brought her lovely, fluffy marshmallows to the social to go along with the ice cream creations that everyone was making.

Wooly’s Ice, with their unique shaved ice (part of the secret is that it is flavored and re-frozen before it is shaved).  Served with a substantial drizzle of a salted leche (condensed milk plus evaporated milk), this was like eating the creamiest, most perfect snow ice cream ever.  For a closer look, as well as how I made my own sundae, check out the photo below.

For those who were interested in ice cream sandwiches, The Good Batch and La Newyorkina had teamed up to make these Avocado Brown Butter minis.  Ooos and Ahhs went up from the crowd as they were pointed out during the event’s meet the maker portion of the program, proving that their teamwork was a huge hit.

These Oat Chocolate Chunk cookies were available from The Good Batch as part of this ice cream sandwich or separately for crumbling on one’s own sundae.  They also brought along two of my favorite things: Stroopwafels and Cocoa Caramel Stroopwafels.

Fanny of La Newyorkina brought with her two flavors of her paletas as well as the ice cream sandwiches: Papaya Passion and Cucumber Lime.  Both sounded like they were balanced perfectly in terms of flavors and were sure to be refreshing, but I went with the latter.  A light sprinkle of the chili-salt brought a touch of heat to the cool pop.  It was the perfect palate cleanser.

Of course, you know that I couldn’t leave the social without trying one of the creations that drew me there in the first place.  Yes, I did have a Beer Float.  Made with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a drizzle of a raspberry-citrus syrup, this was an indulgent, boozy drink with a creamy, sweet-tart finish.  We were served it in small cups, but I would have preferred to have it in a large, soda fountain glass with two straws, one for me and one for my sweetheart.  Or maybe not.  It was really too good to have to share with anyone else.

Buon appetito!

New Amsterdam Market

It’s been a while since I’ve just taken a Sunday to stroll around the New Amsterdam Market.  Now that it is being held every week, I have to admit that I’ve skipped it many weekends to do other things around town.  Some of my favorite food vendors are here, so I took advantage of the drop in temperatures from completely miserably hot and stifling to just merely humid and disgusting to drop by and see what was going on there.  I also found some new items that I thought were really fantastic.

This year, due to work being done on the Brooklyn Bridge, the market has moved a bit further down from where it was so that half of the lot where it regularly sits can be used for parking cars.  This means navigating around this area before you can get into the market.  Fortunately, once inside of it, a whole world opens up, and you are greeted by gorgeous arrays of fresh, local produce like the kind from Do Re Me Farms.

To go along with some of these vegetables, you could pick up some of Bambino’s Ravioli‘s many pastas in various shapes and sizes, filled and not filled.

Or maybe you’d like to add some meat to the sauce as well to make a ragu, now that the weather has gotten a smidge cooler.  Dickson’s Farmstand Meats had some beautiful-looking dry-aged ground beef for sale.  They have a wider selection of meat products at their Chelsea Market location.

If you’d already started to get a bit peckish looking at all the great food items to pick up for your pantry, you could have stopped by King’s County Jerky to sample some of their flavors.  I’m still a big fan of the Orange-Ginger for its layers of citrus and spice.  Their Korean Barbecue tastes remarkably just like it sounds, but buying it here saves you the task of heating up your own kitchen.

As a special treat today, the market had Chef Galen Zamarra from Mas (La Grillade), opening up in August from the same group that brought Mas (Farmhouse) to the city.  I saw lots of folks happily munching on ears of perfectly-charred, grilled corn while walking around to see what other delicious things they could find in the market today.

One of the items they could have snapped up for their kitchens were these amazing and different Pickled Strawberries from Anarchy in a Jar.  I really enjoy all the flavors that these guys produce, but this was a unique experience.  Made with our area’s early season strawberries, these have a sweet, sour, tart, tangy composition that makes your mouth pucker and your brain say, “WOW! I was not expecting that!”  Like many pickled items, they make you want to go back for more to see what other tastes you can find in them.  These would be perfect for cured meats and patés as well as on a cheese board to liven up any meal.

For the bread to go along with that meal, you could look no further than Orwasher’s, one of my favorites, which was also at the market today.

Or, perhaps, some duck breast or duck proscuitto from the Hudson Valley Duck Farm folks, who were at the stand next to the Anarchy in a Jar team.

For some greens to add to your feast, you could pick up some of the many seasonal items that Z Food Farm had on display.   They are certified organic and specialize in growing heirloom varietals.

Looking for cheese to go on that plate, too?  Jasper Hill Farm was there with their amazing Clothbound Cheddar and their Landaff.  What tempted me, however, was a newer cheese that I hadn’t tried before, the Moses Sleeper (left in photo), which was described as mildly-Camembert-like.  After tasting a sample, I thought that was a good explanation for this soft cheese that seemed to melt on my tongue without that pungent, funkiness that can sometimes turn people off.

Paté from Brooklyn Cured could also pair well with the pickled strawberries.  You’d get that sweet, savoury, salty, meaty, fatty combo in every bite.

Or maybe some sausages from Mosefund Farm, who had samples of their Italian brats available for tasting?  Once I think I can stand to turn the heat on my stove again, I’m picking up a pack of their fabulously, delicious bacon.  It is worth every single penny, and the saved fat is perfect for frying up other things, too.

Sour Puss Pickles has some additional items that would make that charcuterie plate dance for joy, with its many kind of pickled vegetables just looking for a home.

If you wanted to look for something a bit different to go with the meats on your plate, as well, you should check out My Friend’s Mustard, a new addition to the market this week.  I’ve really enjoyed having this condiment at various food festivals, so it was so nice to meet the people behind this brand in person.  I picked up a jar of their award-winning Spicy Brown Ale version to have at home.

By this time, I was feeling overwhelmed by all the choices and in need of a little pick-me-up.  Fortunately, one my my favorite additions to the market this season, Pie Corps, was ready and waiting for me with all sorts of delicious-looking choices.  Eccles Cakes, my usual snack, are on hiatus for the moment, so I went with this Lemon Tart.  I usually gripe that folks don’t put enough lemon into their items, as I like lots of this citrus taste.  Not here, this puckerable delight was filled with lemon on the inside and the glaze was super sweet-tart and tangy.  The crust is amazingly light and flakey making this, for me, a perfect hand-held treat.

If I’d been tempted to try making one of these pies at home, I could have picked up some gorgeous eggs at Terra Firma Farm.  That probably won’t happen until the temperatures drop quite a bit more.

For those nagging cooking questions, the market has brought in Joshua Stokes as Grill-A-Chef.  I have to say, I’ve usually seen him talking to at least one person each time I’m there, so I guess folks are taking advantage of this resource.

One of the vendors whom I saw doing a brisk business to cool folks off today was Blue Bottle Coffee with their iced drinks.

Other folks found Kombucha Brooklyn to be their refresher of choice for the day.

I decided to stop by and say hi to Anton at P&H Soda Co. and grab a Sasparilla Soda (photo below).  I’d never had one before, and it sounded kind of old-timey and fun.  It was light and refreshing with a hint of root-beer-ness to it.  I don’t think it will replace the Hibiscus Lime in my pantheon of favorites from them, but it was a pretty darn tasty choice for today.

How convenient that right next to Anton were the folks from Jimmy’s No. 43 with a Citrus Pork Taco.  The homemade salsa verde was a bright, herbal complement to the smoky flavor.  Nestled in a corn tortilla with a crisp lettuce leaf along with a dusting of salty cheese.  This was a great bite to keep me going while I explored the rest of the market.

The folks at People’s Pops came equipped for the day with a large block of ice to make their shaved ice treats.  Did you really want that Snoopy Sno-Cone maker as a child?  I bet it didn’t come with Rhubarb and Sour Cherry syrups like they have here.

This was the first week I’d managed to be at the market on the same day as the folks from National Crab.  They brought with them their Crab Cake Slider, which I saw being nibbled on by several people today.  I’m still living off of the fumes of the ones I had at Market Lunch a couple of weekends back, but I’ll plan on trying one of these before the summer is out.

Another one of my favorite market vendors, and makers of some of the best, most addictive sweet treats around, Liddabit Sweets had this great selection on display.  I picked up  the Breakfast of Heros, which I haven’t treated myself to in a while.

What I had really hoped to have, though, was some of the Maple Cotton Candy that they were supposed to have been spinning (see photos).  Jen, who was manning the stand today, explained that the humidity was wreaking havoc with attempts to make these, but she gave me a taste of a sample one anyway.  I could see what she meant, as the usual fluffiness wasn’t exactly there; however, the lovely, delicate maple flavor came through in each sticky bite.

I have been eyeing the Brooklyn Butcher Blocks that were on display at the next table for ages.  Made of reclaimed wood, they are beautiful and functional.   These are definitely on my kitchen wishlist.

If I’d had more room in my freezer at the moment, I would have stocked up on the wonderful Ruis Bread from Nordic Breads.  This hearty, chewy rye will make a convert out of the most die hard white bread lover.  It is the perfect platform for sandwiches or even just butter and jam at breakfast time.  I notice from their website that they are also carried in Whole Foods in Manhattan, if you can’t make it to the market on Sundays.

If you’d hoped to pick up a nice bottle of wine today to go along with all of those meals that you’ve been planning with the other things you’d gathered from the market, the folks at Brooklyn Oenology had a selection of some of their vintages.

What better to go along with this wine than some chocolate from Taza.  They have a fragrant display of stone ground, organic, fair trade products to choose from.

Combined with some bread from Sullivan Street Bakery, you could make a mock pain au chocolate to munch on while taking in the rest of the day’s events.

Or maybe you were looking at one of the savory loaves and thinking that you’d prefer some cheese with that? The Pampered Cow had a goats cheese and their Hudson Red, a semi-soft cheese.

For fruit-lovers, Flying Fox had this colorful display of baskets of in-season peaches, apricots, and plums.

As did Toigo Orchards, which also had some homemade jarred sauces for sale as well.

To wash some of it down, Bellocq Teas had several of their varieties on display.  I was told that they are still in the process of finishing up the details to open up their tasting room.  I’m planning to head out to Brooklyn to check it out when it is ready for visitors.

Olio di Melli was a vendor I hadn’t seen in the market before today.  I’m fully stocked up with olive oil, but this display could have convinced me that I needed just one more bottle.

To put with that oil, I could have picked up a wide variety of herbs that the Wild Food Gatherers Guild had brought with them.

Having passed by so many great prepared food stands, I was ready at this point to pick up something for my lunch today.  I started off with the Shrimp Roll from Luke’s Lobster.  I know it sounds counter-intuitive to pick up a shrimp roll from a lobster place, but one bite of the cool, creamy, delicately salty shrimp cradled in a buttery, soft, slightly crunchy roll, will change your mind about that.

The Morris Grilled Cheese folks have been at a few markets, but the line is always too long for me to wait on when I’m hungry.  Today, with the lighter crowd, I decided to check out their Classic.  What a perfect combination of toasted sourdough bread from Orwasher’s with aged New York Cheddar and New Hampshire Landaff cheeses melted together within, making a sharp, ooey, gooey combination.  Now I get why everyone else is patient enough to wait around for their sandwiches!

I have a friend who has been excited about the return of Steve’s Ice Cream ever since she spied them in her Brooklyn neighborhood.  I never really bought into the mix-ins that they did, partially because we had a local version in college that was completely amazing (Remember Rocky’s anyone?).  An Ice Cream Sandwich of two soft chocolate chip cookies with salt holding a block of salty caramel ice cream decorated with a slather of chocolate beer fudge was seriously decadent.  I would have loved to have savored it some more, but the humidity of the day made eating this a race against time and the elements.

It was wonderful to see all the new terrific food items at the market today and to have a chance to check in with some old favorites.  What I’m really saving my next trip down there for, however, is the New Amsterdam Market Ice Cream Festival on August 21st.

Buon appetito!

No-Mayonnaise Carrot Salad

Do you have a food phobia?  I’m not talking about just a normal dislike or won’t-eat.  I mean, do you have something that actually strikes terror in your heart and makes you gag when thinking about it or even coming within 100 yards of the smell of it?  That is me with any kind of mayonnaise-heavy salad dish.  You know the ones I mean.  They lurk on the tables at Boy Scout potlucks, show up menacingly at soccer picnics, and loiter at neighborhood barbecues, trying to squeeze in next to the potato salad.

Grated carrots

There’s a series of these salads which date from my 1970s childhood (separate from the sequence of equally-disliked Jello salads).  Ambrosia Salad, Waldorf Salad, and the one that I probably despise most of all, although it is tough to pick just one, Carrot Salad.  Part of my dislike is that I’m not a big fan of raisins in things, which I now know is not that uncommon.  Then, there’s the whole globs of processed mayonnaise, which I also can’t stand as I’ve mentioned before.  So, put those two things together alone and the dish is not likely to be a hit with me.  Carrots, I think, are the innocent bystander in all of this, as I like those raw or cooked.

Dried dates

At a baby shower a couple of years ago, I was introduced to a whole different kind of carrot salad, one I could actually enjoy.  There were bits of sweet dates amongst the crunchy, shredded carrots instead of the dreaded raisins.  Toasted almonds, one of my favorite things, added a heartiness, and the chopped fresh cilantro brought an herbal brightness to the mix.  In place of the goopy mayonnaise was a light, smokey cumin-based vinaigrette.  My tastebuds were so happy that at last I could be freed from the horror of the carrot salads of the past!

Cumin vinaigrette

As it was such a hit, this recipe was quickly added to the keeper file after it was emailed around to everyone.  I’ve adapted the recipe somewhat and added some more instructions from the original.  With the temperatures set to reach record highs today, something cool, crisp, and refreshing, like this salad, seemed to be perfect.  The components can be prepared in advance, with the dressing added at the last minute, to keep everything fresh and crunchy.  The flavors would pair well with grilled meats or fish or it could be part of a vegetarian meal or mezze set-up, something else that would be a great solution for a no-cook dinner.

Annette’s No-Mayonnaise Carrot Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6

Ingredients:

1/4 cup blanched slivered Almonds

2 cups grated Carrots (3 large carrots, approximately)

1/2 cup chopped Dates (about 8 of them)

2 Tbsp chopped fresh Cilantro

Dressing:

1 Tbsp white wine Vinegar

2 tsp. Honey

1 tsp. ground Cumin

1 pinch Salt

1/4 cup Olive Oil

Assembly:

Heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put almonds in one layer on a baking tray and toast until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes (check them after 5 minutes to see how they are doing).

In the meantime, grate the carrots and chop the dates and cilantro.  Put these ingredients into a bowl and toss to combine.  In a separate bowl, put in the vinegar, honey, cumin, and salt.  Add the olive oil to the vinegar mixture in a steady stream while stirring with a whisk until completely incorporated.

When the almonds are done, set them aside to cool while assembling the rest of the ingredients.  If preparing in advance, wait until the last minute to mix everything together so that the salad doesn’t become mushy.  If serving right away, pour the dressing into the carrot mixture and toss to combine.  Sprinkle the almonds on top.

Buon appetito!

Fairway opens on the Upper East Side!

I know, you’re like, “Seriously?  Really?  The opening of a grocery store is worthy of a blog post?”  My response is, “You betcha!”  Living in New York has its culinary benefits, no doubt, especially when it comes to being able to eat at the top, most innovative restaurants or find the latest hot whatever cuisine.  The most recent food fad either starts here or makes its way here very soon.  Turn the conversation to where folks actually go to by the food that they keep at home, however, and you’ve opened a whole other can of worms.

There isn’t anywhere else I’ve ever lived where I’ve been at a party or random gathering and folks can spend hours talking about where they buy groceries.  I’ve witnessed people engaging in the most coherent, cohesive, arguments for why to shop at X rather than Y, except if you are looking for Z, down to the most obsessive level of detail.  In some ways, it can be a more heated and vibrant discussion than say, oh, raising the debt ceiling or whatever the news item of the day is.  Fairway Market is one of those places that inspires this kind of fandom.

So, when they announced last year that they would be opening up a store about ten blocks from me, I was giddy with excitement.  As readers will know, I try to pick up as much as I can in the Greenmarkets, but there’s items that I like to use in cooking that aren’t sold there or produced locally.  Olive oil is one of these.  Citrus fruits are another and so is coconut milk.  So I top up my farmers market shopping by visiting the grocery store.  When I first moved to the city, I was introduced to Fairway on the Upper West Side and have been a big fan of theirs ever since.

The same things that are great about the west side location have traveled to the east of town.  The cheese counter is amazing and carries New York State varieties as well as those from elsewhere, including uncommon ones like burrata.  The guys who hand-slice smoked salmon are always very nice and seem to really enjoy their work.  Navigating from the front of the store to the meat and fish counter can sometimes be a bit of a challenge at 74th Street as you hug the tomato sauce and pasta aisle.  This is much easier on 86th Street, due to it being a larger store in general.  What is also really nice is that when you walk into their stores, you enter to rows of fresh, colorful produce that just begs for you to buy it and make some thing wonderful in your own kitchen.

The Upper East Side location will have some living up to do to match the experience of the Upper West Side.  I’ve had a few celebrity and minor celebrity sitings there and on occasion run into people whom I know in the neighborhood.  Ask anyone about the extra bonus of seeing some of the NYFD guys shopping for provisions.  Once, I saw someone almost literally run over an older woman while trying to get a spot on the one elevator that moves between the floors of that store.  Everyone has a story about shopping there and about their strategy for maneuvering around the tight spaces.  It’s actually kind of a New Yorker Rite of Passage to have some tale about the drama of visiting Fairway, but in a good way.

I’ve always thought that the prices for the quality of the merchandise was quite competitive at Fairway in general, especially when compared to the limited selection at the stores in my own part of town.  When I was toting my bags back home from my trip to the Upper East Side location today, that was the one thing I was asked.  Rumor had it that the people handing out flyers today to boycott the store were from some of the competing groceries.  As someone else said, having Fairway open up in the neighborhood has made a few of them concerned about having to step up their game.  I don’t necessarily know about that, but I’m really glad that I could get so many great items that I need to cook with this week by taking a ten-block bus ride rather than a two-bus, twenty-plus block trip.  Welcome to the Upper East Side, Fairway!

Buon appetito!