Monthly Archives: April 2012

New Amsterdam Market – Opening Day 2012

Yesterday marked the opening of what is probably my favorite local market in New York City: New Amsterdam Market.  To kick off their 2012 season, they featured breads made with locally-grown grains.  I love to eat good bread, especially ones with personality and heft, so this was a wonderful edible exploration for me.  It was so difficult to choose only a few loaves to bring home at the end of the day, especially as I also had to make room in my shopping bag for the other fantastic-tasting items that were also for sale in the market.

 Local grains on display

For those bakers and chefs who are interested in finding out more about working with locally-grown grains and in learning additional details about how to source these products, there was a table at the market by Greenmarket Regional Grains Project and Organic Growers Research & Information Network.  Also check out the stand that Cayuga Pure Organics has at the Union Square Greenmarket.

Bakeri Baguettes

How cute would your bike look all decked out with one of these French baguettes from Bakeri in Brooklyn nestled in the basket?  A nibble of this bread might even make you feel as though you’d skipped off to Paris, albeit without the jet lag.

Bien Cuit Display

I haven’t yet made it over to this Brooklyn bakery, but I keep hearing rave reviews about it from the Twitterverse and others.  This was probably one of the most intricate baked displays that I saw all day.

BR Guest Rosemary-Raisin Rye Sourdough

One bite of this slightly tangy, deeply flavorful bread with woodsy and sweet notes combined, and my brain cells were musing, “So, could I really fit another loaf of bread in the freezer to have on standby?”  Alas, I couldn’t figure out how to do that just yet, but this bread is high on my list of ones to try to cram in there the next time I find it.

Lovely loaves from Bread Alone

I’ve long been a fan of the array of products made by Bread Alone, which I can find at the Greenmarkets, so I was glad to see them yesterday.  This Apple Cider Levain (made with local cider as well as locally-grown grains), would be idea for bringing along on a picnic.  I also encourage you to track down their other fantastic products as well.

Dean & Deluca Baguette Du Perche

Made of barley flour, this baguette had the perfect crisp exterior and fluffy interior.  It was light and delicate-tasting inside, and I never would have known that it wasn’t made with regular wheat.

Pane Integrale Regionale by Grandaisy Bakery

Hands down, one of my favorite, portable snacks to have when I’m on the go is a slice of potato, mushroom or zucchini pizza from Grandaisy Bakery in Soho.  Their whole wheat bread is tasty as well, so it was hard to resist picking up a loaf to tuck away in my freezer.

Fresh Tortillas from Hot Bread Kitchen

Almost every week, I stop by and pick up a Multi-grain Boule from Hot Bread Kitchen to keep on hand for toast and sandwiches.  They also have other kinds of breads, including another favorite of mine, the M’smen, and packets of tortillas, which would be a key ingredient to help celebrate Cinco de Mayo this weekend.

Ciabatta loaves from Il Buco Alimentari

Just looking at these incredible loaves of Ciabatta from Il Buco Alimentari, and I was whisked back to my life in Italy where a simple panino could be the tastiest of creations, especially when made on bread that looks as amazing as this.

Janet’s Quality Baked Goods Country Pain d’Oro

If I heard correctly when she was talking to one of my friends, Janet will be at New Amsterdam Market on other Sundays as well.  This is fantastic news as her soft, crispy loaves were another of the ones that I just wanted to pick up and stash away for later.  She said she also makes croissants and focaccia and other breads to sell at the markets.

Nordic Breads Finnish Rye Bread

This is another staple for my freezer, and I was badly in need of stocking up on some of the hearty and tangy Finnish Rye Bread by Nordic Breads.  Perfect with cheese, butter and jam, or smoked fish, these are a great platform for many culinary creations.  I used them as the base for the Smoked Salmon with Mustard Crème Fraîche appetizers for my holiday party last year.

Levain Locale by Orwasher’s Bakery

Would you look at these beauties?  Just seeing these incredible loaves made me stop in my tracks, even after I’d snapped this photo, to gaze at their loveliness.  It was a bit embarrassing as the person behind the table at Orwasher’s knows me from many a food event where they so graciously supply their rich, dense breads.  Eating locally?  This bread is made about 16 blocks from where I live, which is pretty local in this day and age.

Le Pain Quotidien‘s Sunflower Seed-Rye Fougasse

Perfect for grabbing a breakfast pastry or for having an afternoon coffee meeting, I’ve long enjoyed visiting Le Pain Quotidien‘s many locations in the city.  This is one bread I’ve never seen there, but after tasting it at the market, I’m going to be keeping my eyes peeled to find it again.  For those looking to learn how to make their breads at home, they are now offering baking classes.

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Brioche by Roberta’s 

I know it probably sounds as though I enjoyed all the breads that were at the market yesterday, and the truth is that every one I tried was pretty great.  That said, however, this Whole Wheat Olive Oil Brioche was in a league of its own.  It was phenomenal!  What didn’t hurt, of course, was that the samples of this fragrant, light, supple loaf were served alongside Anarchy in a Jar fruit spread.  What a perfect marriage of sweet and savory flavors!

Runner & Stone‘s Roasted Potato & Garlic Chive Levain

Dense and hearty, this bread didn’t have the super strong garlicy-chive taste I was expecting, which would make it a great all-around bread to keep on hand.  I’ve been tasting this company’s products at a few markets lately, so I was glad to see that New Amsterdam Market will be a regular location for them.  It will be interesting to see what they come up with next to tempt our tastebuds.

Pizza by Co. coming out of the oven

Remember the No-Knead Pizza Dough recipe I tested out several weeks back?  The creator of it, as well as the No-Knead Bread Recipe, Jim Lahey was at the market yesterday doing a pizza-making demo.  Looking at my photos now and comparing it to what was pulled out of their portable oven, I can see a real difference that technique makes in pulling together this dish.  It would probably also help if my home oven could get up to the 800 degrees Fahrenheit (no, that is not a typo) that the one they used yesterday can generate to get that perfect char on the crust.

As much as I love baked things, even I cannot live on bread alone. The market yesterday was also filled with local produce, jams, preserves, meats, fish, sweets, and other edible delights. It was so much that I created a photostream in Flickr so that I could share my excursion with you.

Buon appetito!

Ramp Pesto

I might have gotten a bit overly excited last week about the arrival of Ramps in the Greenmarket, but I don’ t think that I was the only one.  This green-stained table at Mountain Sweet Berry Farm’s stand is evidence of what the farmer there called a Ramp-age over this seasonal green (o.k. so we had a giggle about this).  By a little bit after 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday of this week, they were clean out of them.  No matter.  I was there buying potatoes anyway, I have plenty of Ramps for this week.  So many, in fact, that I decided to make Ramp Pesto.

Ramp Pesto

Ramps are pretty pungent, so a little bit goes a long way, as I mentioned in the recipe for Sautéed Asparagus and Ramps.  Like a traditional Pesto, this is very green and herbal in taste and texture.  It also has a strong flavor, so it is definitely for the garlic lovers among you.  It is perfect to mix with mashed potatoes, goats cheese, or into eggs for an omelette or fritatta for that punch of garlic-ness.  The flavor does mellow somewhat when you combine with other things, but there’s still plenty of zing left in it to spice up a dish.

Ingredients

Ramp Pesto

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Serving Size:  1/2-2/3 cup pesto

Ingredients:

1/3 c. Walnuts

10 Ramps

1/4 c. grated Parmesan Cheese

1/3 c. grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put walnuts in single layer on baking sheet.  Put baking sheet in oven and let cook for 10 minutes, until lightly toasted.  In the meantime, wash ramps, cut off the hairy ends, and remove the filmy outer layer.

Cleaning Ramps

Then, cut off the white end part from the leafy green part of the ramps.  Cut the whites and tough stems into about 1- to 2-inch pieces.  Do the same with the green part.

Cutting up white, stems, and green of ramps

When the walnuts have toasted, remove them from the oven to cool for one minute.  Put the walnuts and the whites and stems of the ramps in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to chop finely.

Walnuts, ramp whites, and ramp stems in food processor

Processed walnuts with ramp greens and whites

Add the Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses and the black pepper and pulse the food processor to combine the ingredients.  The mixture will start to resemble a coarse paste.

Walnuts, cheese, ramps processed

Now add the ramp leaves and 1 Tbsp of the olive oil to the food processor and pulse the ingredients to chop them finely.

Add ramp greens and olive oil

Add another Tbsp of olive oil and continue to process the mixture until it becomes a fine paste.

Ramp Pesto

The result of all this pulsing and chopping is a beautiful lime green colored creation flecked with kelly green pieces of the ramp leaves.  The finished pesto blended perfectly with the mashed potatoes that I made to test it with, giving the potatoes a garlicy lift with a back note of a grassy aroma, sort of like that from running one’s toes through a freshly mowed, damp lawn.

Mashed Potatoes with Ramp Pesto

Buon appetito!

“Undiscovered Italy: Le Marche” at the International Culinary Center

Getting ready to make Olive Ascolane (meat-stuffed fried olives)

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending a presentation about the food and culture of Le Marche given by Francine Segan at the International Culinary Center.  Hugging the Adriatic coast of Italy, it’s one of the provinces that is often overlooked by tourists, as it is west of Tuscany and Umbria and north of Lazio, where Rome is located.  I have to confess that I haven’t been there myself, which I realize is a huge oversight.  From Francine’s description, it sounds as though it is an undiscovered gem.

Chef Emilio Pasqualini of Cantina del Picchio with culinary students demonstrating making Olive Ascolane

Le Marche, she told the audience, has quaint medieval towns, beautiful museums, and historic Renaissance structures.  To one side of the province are the mountains and to the other is the sea.  In introducing the afternoon’s cooking demonstration, Francine raved, “The food.  The food.  It’s amazing.”

“Stringi, stringi!” Chef Pasqualini tells a culinary student to squeeze the meatballs to go into the olives

After introducing us to Chef Emilio Pasqualini of Cantina del Picchio, located in Offida in Ascoli Piceno, the chef began making Olive Ascolane, an olive dish from the region of Ascoli Piceno filled with a combination of beef, veal, and chicken cooked in carrots, celery, and onions.  Soft pecorino cheese and aged pecorino cheese as well as nutmeg are added to the ground meat.  Then, as the chef demonstrated in the picture above, taking about a tablespoon of meat, he squeezed it in his fist to get out all the moisture.  His instructions were to squeeze it (“Stringi!”) ten times, not more, not less.

Olive Ascolane

The olives are peeled in a spiral to remove the pit (demonstrated in the second photo).  The olive is then shaped around the ball of meat and squeezed (“Stringi!”) four more times (“quattro volte di piu”) before being tossed with flour, dunked in beaten egg, coated with breadcrumbs, and then quickly fried in hot oil.  One of the tricks to cooking them is to put them in a basket or wire sieve when frying them, chef explained, to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Sparkling Pecorino wine from Ciu Ciu Winery

Once my teeth broke through that hot, thin, crisp shell, tore into the olive’s tangy layer, and then reached the meaty, slightly cheesy center to be followed by a finishing chunk of briny olive, I knew I was experiencing a perfect marriage of flavors.  Served with Sparkling Pecorino wine from Ciu Ciu Winery, the acidity of the wine, along with its fizziness, complemented the dense, rich combination of meat, breading, and olives to leave a clean finish in my mouth.  As Francine said at the beginning of the demonstration, “This pairing had me at hello.”  Now, I understood completely what what she had meant.

Chef Pasqualini and Francine Segan talk about Maccheroncini di Campofílone

One of the pastas of the Le Marche is the super-thin Maccheroncini di Campofílone.  It is an egg pasta that soaks up lots of liquid, as Francine explained.  Bones and meat are cooked slowly for several hours in the sauce, which is seasoned with nutmeg and cloves, vestiges of medieval recipes.  The pasta is dressed with the sauce first and then the meat is added on top of that.

Maccheroncini di Campofílone al Ragù Piceno

Each bite of this dish is composed of multiple, distinctict layers of flavor.  The toothsome pasta picks up the sweet, tangy tomato sauce first,  then the heartiness of the meat and the chicken livers followed by the nuttiness and creamy notes of the pecorino cheese sprinkled on top of everything.  All the components have their unique identity; however, they come together harmoniously in every delicious forkful.

Solo per Te by Domodimonti

After the pasta, we were treated to a glass of Montepulciano made by Domodimonti, which produces natural, organic wines.  The smooth, round summer berry tones would have partnered well with the multiple flavors in the pasta dish.  Francine explained to us that the wines of Ascoli Piceno naturally have a very low level of sulfites, something to which she is extremely sensitive.  I completely fell in love with this wine, with its deep, dark garnet color and intense fruit taste.

Chef Pasqualini making dough for Pizza al Formaggio

For the final dish of the afternoon, Chef Pasqualini made a Pizza al Formaggio, a typical cheese bread of the region.  It uses what he called a lievito madre or what we would refer to as a dough “starter” and is left to rise, allowing the starter plus added sugar and the other ingredients to do their work.

Pizza al Formaggio with Olives from Le Marche

The result is a dense bread with the cheese melted into its interior.  It is generally eaten as a seated first course, we were told.  Here we had it along with several of the same kind of olives that were used in the Olive Ascolane.  Nibbling on the bread, I could almost taste the cured, fat-studded meats that would have been appropriate to go along with it.  Sipping the glass of Montepulciano that I’d been nursing, I could easily see why Francine was so effusive about Offida, Le Marche, and the cuisine of this region.  I will need to figure out how to get there on my next trip to Europe to sample some more of its delights.

Buon appetito!

For more information about Le Marche, included recommendations on where to stay and to dine, please see Francine Segan’s article in Italia Living.

Sautéed Asparagus and Ramps

Do you know what the first sign of spring is in these parts?  No, it’s not crocuses blossoming or daffodils blooming or birds trilling merrily.  It’s RAMPS!!!  This year, I caved into the excitement and picked up a bunch of them to try with another spring vegetable – Asparagus – to make Sautéed Asparagus and Ramps to celebrate the season.

Every year, when Ramps, also called wild garlic or wild leek, arrive in the Greenmarkets and start popping up on restaurant dishes, it’s like some frenzy or RAMP-O-RAMA takes hold in New York.  Ramp-Watch starts up shortly after Easter and then full-blown RAMP-A-PALOOZA happens shortly thereafter.

I’ve watched this for several years.  The Tweets go out that ramps have arrived in the market and which vendor is carrying them.  People line up, and the second the bundles hit the table, they are snapped up by the eager hoards.  Pickled Ramps, Spaghetti with Ramps, Ramp Pizza, Ramps dipped in chocolate and covered with sprinkles, Ramp & Bacon Cupcakes, Fried Ramps with Beer, you get the idea. (O.k., so I made the last three of them up, but it is just a matter of time before someone makes them, or even Ramp Ice Cream.)  Even Eater commented on it this year.

Personally, although I was pleased to see Ramps in the market when I dropped on Wednesday, I was even more excited to see ASPARAGUS!  This is a phrase my mother would have been shocked to see when I was a child as I wouldn’t go near the things, no way, no how.  My parents, however, used to eat frozen or canned asparagus which take on the same slimy, stringy consistency and grey-green color that canned green beans do, so I was always completely repulsed by them.  Then, as an adult, I learned that asparagus could be bright, crunchy, vibrantly verdant.  Now, each year, I eagerly gather them up from the moment they are in season, until I can no longer track them down anywhere at a local farmers market.

So, I decided to see what I could come up with if I paired these two springtime treats together.  The chronic issue I’ve run into when cooking Ramps in the past is that the bottom part takes longer to get tender than the leaves at the top.  My solution to this is to treat the white bulb and tougher part of the stem as I would garlic or onions.  The green, tender portion of the vegetable, I made into a chiffonade and used it as I would parsley or  basil or any other fresh herb.  That way, I could use all of the goodness of the ramps and bring out the white’s more garlic-y flavor and the top’s more grassy, onion-y contrast all at the same time.  Maybe Peas will come into season soon so I can see how well they work with Ramps, too.

Sautéed Asparagus and Ramps

Prep time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 2 portions

Ingredients:

5-7 Ramp bulbs with leaves (You will want to have 1 Tbsp. of the white part and 5-6 leaves of the green part for this recipe.)

14-16 Asparagus spears (the most tender you can find)

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Unsalted Butter

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground

Assembly:

Rinse any dirt off the ramps by putting them under running water.  Cut off root end of ramp and discard (or compost) them.  Pull off the extra skin that might be on the white part of the ramp, and discard or compost that part, too.  (It’s sort of like the papery piece that is on the end of scallions.)

Finely chop white part and any tough green part of the ramps.  Separately, slice the leafy, green part of the ramp in to strips or chiffonade.  You will want to have 1 Tbsp. of the white part and 5-6 leaves of the green part for this recipe.  Save any of the remaining green part for another dish.

Rinse the asparagus to get rid of any dirt or sand.  Trim the ends of the asparagus either by cutting the bottoms of them off with a knife or (my favorite method) bending them several inches from the bottom of the spear find the point at which it breaks off.  It will give a satisfying snap, sort of like popping bubbles of bubble wrap, where the tender part starts and the woody, harder to eat part ends.  Discard or compost those bottom bits.

Put a saucepan of water on to boil.  When it has reached boiling point, add 1/2 tsp. salt and let the water come back up to a boil.

While the asparagus are cooking, put a frying or sauté pan on the stove over medium-low heat (not blazing) and melt the butter in the pan.

Check the asparagus to see if they are ready.  The asparagus should be done by the time all of the butter has melted and is foamy.  A fork or knife should easily pierce the spears, but they should not start to come apart.

Add the white part of the ramps to the butter and toss to coat in the fat.  Cook for about 30 seconds, until you start to smell the an essence of garlic coming from the mixture.

Add the asparagus and toss them with the ramps and the butter to coat them thoroughly.  They don’t need much cooking, this step is more to incorporate all the flavors, so you can move immediately to the next step.

Add the green tops of the ramps.  These delicate leaves will cook very quickly.  Toss them with the asparagus and the white part of the ramps.  Season with the remaining 1/4 tsp. of salt and the black pepper.  Toss again to incorporate the seasonings.  Turn off the heat and serve at once.

The vibrant colors along with the delicate, herby aroma, sort of like the wind brushing through a field of onion grass, is enough to waken the senses from the sleep of winter.  This is delicious as a side dish, could be a perfect appetizer portion or (as I discovered with the leftovers) is ideal for folding into an omelette.

Buon appetito!

EscapeMaker Local Food & Travel Expo

This weekend, the EscapeMaker Expo at One Hanson Place showcased options for quick getaways for New York City folks, many of them only a few hours away from the hubbub of our busy urban environment.  The Expo highlighted “green” options for trips and demos about eco travel.  There were lots of wineries, small B&Bs, farms, and other venues from New York State, Vermont, and surrounding regions, each locale spotlighting why they would be the perfect destination for you and your vacation plans.

Among the other features of this year’s event was a “Made in Brooklyn” marketplace, a perfect opportunity to check out some very local products to gather up for those exercising the staycation option.  Several of these vendors also retail at places like Smorgasburg and Dekalb Market, so making those stops on your get-to-know-your-hometown style vacation could be options as well.  Smorgasburg, in particular, is right next to the landing for the East River Ferry, just as an extra incentive to check it out.  (The ferry also stops at Governors Island, too.)

One way to discover all the ins and outs of Brooklyn (and other areas of the city) might be to take up Urban Oyster on their custom tours.

For food folks, keep up with the everything going on in the world of edibles (and drinkables) with the presenters on Heritage Radio Network, based out of Roberta’s Pizzeria in Bushwick.

Think there’s not enough space for a farm in today’s over-developed urban areas?  Look up.  Brooklyn Grange is a rooftop farm, supplying vegetables to many businesses in the city and selling them at markets.  They also hold tours and have special dinner events.

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is another innovative farming center located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on the roof of a warehouse.  These sturdy buildings with their load-bearing capacity have made idea sites to help “green” the city.  They offer tours where you can find out more about their activities.

Fortunately, the expo also allowed everyone a chance to try some of the foodstuffs coming out of Brooklyn, too, like the dishes from Solber Pupusas.  Their stuffed corn cakes filled with meats, cheese, and/or beans accompanied by tart, crunchy pickled onions and tangy sour cream are a fixture at Smorgasburg and have appeared at Smorgasbrewery, as well, and have an avid fan following.

If you’re more inclined to find a place to go for a drink and hang out instead, Brooklyn Winery might be more your speed.  In addition to hosting private gatherings in their great space, where you can see the fermentation tanks, they also hold wine classes, music nights, and other events.

Founded upstate, the Empire Brewing Company set up in Brooklyn from their home in Syracuse to the delight of many a fan of their flavorful, food-friendly brews.  These beverages would liven up any celebration, even one you create just because you feel like having a beer.

Fans of high-quality, locally-raised, sustainably raised meat, have been doing cartwheels now that Fleisher’s Grassfed & Organic Meat has opened up shop in Park Slope.  Perhaps some of these would be just the perfect thing to add to the beers that you’d decided to have from the folks at Empire.

McClure’s Pickles products have been crowd-pleasers for years with their crunchy, sour pickles and their spicy Bloody Mary mix (on my shopping list for upcoming brunches).  I haven’t seen them in a while, but the potato chips that they did were also amazing-tasting.  These jars would make great gifts for the folks back home or even to go with the beers and sausages you’d already decided you were going to cook up from the above selections.

Or maybe you’d like to go with Rick’s Picks new With Relish instead?  This fresh, tangy, hint of sweet, pop of slight heat relish would be perfect with barbecued or grilled meats.  Mix it with mayonnaise for a quick tartar sauce or eat it straight out of the jar with a bit of New York State cheddar cheese.  I’ve got a jar of it in my fridge waiting for an invitation to a barbecue as we speak.

Not a pickle fan?  No worries, try some of these amazing creations by the folks at Saucy By Nature.  Bright, herbal Cilantro Lime, intriguing Polish Kimchee, exotic Spicy Pumpkin Ginger, any of these three choices will bring new life to your favorite dishes.

Don’t forget to pick up something sweet for dessert!  Robicelli’s cupcakes, whoopie pies, and brownies have had a huge following for years.  If you haven’t fallen in love with them yet, definitely pick up a brownie.  Better yet, grab a couple of them, as the first one will be gone before you know it.  Visit them at the Dekalb Market, too, where, for this week, they are donating a portion of their sales to Share Our Strength.

Maybe some chocolate for fondue or s’mores is another option for that barbecue.  Raaka Chocolate has dark, bold flavors, some of them with mellow, complex taste notes like the smoky, smooth Bourbon Cask Aged bar.

If you want to get (or give) a sample of the wonderful, edible treats that are being made in Brooklyn and other parts of the New York area, you might want to drop by New York Mouth.  Just a word of warning, don’t visit here on an empty stomach, as you’ll be liable to order one of every sampler collection that they have!

As far as stocking up on other locally-made food items, check out Moore Street Market, one of the indoor city markets that date back to the LaGuardia era when he moved the pushcarts off of the busy streets.  As with many of the markets that date to a similar timeperiod (Arthur Avenue, Essex Street), this one has striven to meet the needs of its ever-changing neighborhood population and is a great culinary resource.

It was interesting to see how Brooklyn has definitely become a destination for many out-of-towners who would have normally just seen the big sites in Manhattan with maybe a trip out to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.  I enjoyed seeing the folks who make wonderful products, highlighting the creative drive of the borough represented at this expo.  This helps me make my argument for a staycation, where I just go around and try all the terrific restaurants, bars, and food places.

Buon appetito!

BUST Magazine Craftacular 2012

Yesterday, I headed down to Soho to check out the vendors at the BUST Magazine Craftacular and Food Fair.  I’d been to their holiday fair back in December and was looking forward to seeing lots of great food vendors there.  So, with tastebuds at the ready and camera in hand, I got to 82 Mercer in time to…stand on line to get into the event.

While I was waiting, I saw the terrific vegan food truck The Cinnamon Snail across the street.  I also spotted Coolhaus‘ ice cream truck down the block so it was tempting to get off of the line and just go grab some snacks from them.  Instead, the line moved quite quickly, and within moments, I was inside trying to figure out how to navigate my way through all the stands.

Among the first folks I saw was Sabrina of The Jam Stand – whom I also saw at the Taste of 5 Boroughs expo a few weeks back.  I picked up a jar of Drunken Monkey – bananas, lime, a touch of rum.  This is going to be great slathered on toast, maybe with some peanut butter, too.

Next to her were the irresistible treats from FattycakesNY.  I saw these at the last BUST Craftacular, but didn’t get a chance to sample any of them.  Not sure if there was a theme going on, but I was drawn to The Drunken Piglet.  A sugary, crispy exterior surrounding a chewy, toffee-flavored center studded with smoky bacon.  Hitting all the right sweet-salty-savory notes, this could be my new favorite market treat.

How adorable are these?  Hairclips, scarves, mittens, all crocheted in food-themed designs.  Although not edible, these designs by Twinkie Chan are so cute and clever, I couldn’t just pass them by.  For cupcake lovers, she also had a tower of treats for you as well.

For folks looking to wrap themselves up in sweet indulgence, The Chocolate Swirl was the table to stop by yesterday.  When I went by it, there was a line of folks gathered to try their products and to talk to them about their truffles, brownie pops, and other items.

We eat with our eyes first.  A simple statement and, oh, so obvious that I think sometimes folks forget about it at food fairs where there’s so may things to try.  One stand I passed by on my first pass through that I regret not doubling back to visit, was Audrey’s Concerto, with her gorgeous, vibrantly-colored desserts.  Next time I see her at an event, I’m definitely going to try one of these.

As I rounded the corner to hit the second set of stands, my eye was drawn to these delectable-looking sweets collection by Jazz Brownies.  I instantly remembered sampling them at the NYC Chocolate Show in November of last year.  Their fudgey, rich, chocolate texture combined with combinations like orange zest, coconut, or spice, would make this box a welcome gift.

After all those sweets, it was time to switch gears and taste test some seasonings from Beautiful Briny Sea.  Made with organic sea salt and various other ingredients (mushrooms, herbs, spices), these products have a wonderful depth of flavor, and I could see buying several of these to keep on hand during barbecue season to perk up grilled meats and vegetables.  Not a fan of Old Bay but want some of those same smoky, seaside aromas to come through?  Try their Single Unicorn.  Looking to add an earthy, pungent note to your food?  How about their Truffle version (made with Brazilian sea salt).

Who could pass up these adorable designs from Abby Berkson Ceramics?  Fortunately, you can find her on Etsy, too, if you weren’t able to drop by the craft fair yesterday.  A set of mugs or a few plates decorated with her colorful animal designs would be a perfect way to perk up the breakfast table.

Vérité Catering displayed some tempting cupcakes and slabs of vegetable-studded focaccia.  They specialize in vegan catering, with services available in several major urban areas.  On their site, they even offer a special brunch in New York, taking place in various locations around the city.  That looks like a great option for a lazy summer weekend day.

I’ve had the pleasure of sampling Emily Hanhan‘s (aka Nomnivorous) incredible marshmallows in the past, so I was really looking forward to seeing what she would bring with her to the craft fair.  Her Triple Berry variety exploded with great sweet-tart flavor.  Her Smokey Bourbon Vanilla ones were seductively sultry with hints of smoke and wood barrels.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next as she grows her Sweet Tooth Labs business.

In another room at the event space, tables and chairs were set up for folks to sit down and enjoy some of the edibles that they’d purchased.  There were also a few additional vendors there, like Sweet Things Bake Shop sponsored by the Lower Eastside Girls Club.  Their table featured some crafts as well as these beautiful-looking slices of banana bread and bags of cookies.

I’ve long been a fan of Red Jacket Orchards refreshing 100% fruit juices for years.  They are a staple at the Greenmarkets where I’ve purchased their Grape-Apple and Raspberry-Apple flavors to help me stay cool on a a hot summer’s day.

Using lemonade as a base, Lizzmonade creates different combinations of fruit drinks using fruits and herbs.  I sipped on the cool Strawberry-Cucumber and the bold Blackberry-Pineapple samples.  I wished that they sold these concoctions in bottles, as they would make great bases for summer cocktails.

With several locations around the city, Two Boots is one of the staples in many folks’ diets.  They had a great selection of pizzas to choose from, which I saw many people enjoying while hanging out at the tables set up in the dining area at the craftacular.

The folks at Mighty Balls were another hit at this event yesterday, just like they had been at the holiday fair.  Even though I’d had their Pork Slider with Jalapeno Jam and Spicy Feta at last week’s Dekalb Market, I knew I couldn’t resist having that sweet-savory-heat-filled combo again.

To send everyone off on their way, the folks at Java Love were selling cups of coffee as well as packages of their beans.  The enticing aromas were drawing many people to their table to sample their dark, inviting brews.

Even though I’d munched, noshed, and sampled my way around all the great products inside the BUST Magazine Craftacular and Food Fair, there was still that little bit of extra room left.  What else could be more perfect than to fill it up with a Coolhaus ice cream sandwich?  The sweet-salty Potato Chip-Skorbar Cookie made a chewy-crisp nest for the cool, creamy, slightly tangy Brown Butter Ice Cream studded with Candied Bacon made a delicious end to this part of my afternoon.

Buon appetito!