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Dekalb Market Opening Weekend

It was a double market opening weekend!  Saturday, I was at Smorgasburg, enjoying the Brooklyn waterfront and all the delectable food vendors that were there for the first day of the season.  Yesterday, I decided to head to Dekalb Market, which had opened the day before.  From Twitter, I saw that it had been a hectic scene with several vendors selling out of food.  On Sunday, it seemed full but calm with a live band, petting zoo, mimosas, and quite a few baby strollers being navigated among the food stands, picnic tables, and shopping areas.  Hanging out for a few hours basking in the spring sunshine enjoying the music and great eats, it was a perfect end to the weekend.

So, the Easter Bunny forgot to leave me a basket this year.  No problem, this amazing Caramel Macchiato Cupcake (chocolate espresso cake, caramel macchiato buttercream, and caramel and espresso ganache drizzles topped with chocolate-covered espresso beans) from Robicelli’s with its deep, rich, chocolatey cake and frosting along with the sweet accents more than made up for my not getting my annual fix of chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and those things that seem to be candy-coated gum but have an equal chance of being malted milk eggs (which is so unfair).

The cupcake gave me more than enough buzz to kick of my market adventures, but I was tempted to pick up some extra fuel from Joe, the stand across from Robicelli’s.

The Cuzin’s Duzin folks were a popular stand last year at Dekalb and looked no less busy yesterday, with their fried, sweet treats.

Nile Valley, with its great vegetarian dishes, also had a crowd gathered to try out its tasty menu.

There were also these delicious-looking sandwiches at Kallabash Cuisine.  By the time I decided to head out of the market, they were packing up their table, meaning, I guess, that they had sold out of everything.

These tofu and tomato skewers from Tofumato would have been a good option for my lunch at the market today, but then I spied folks walking by with lots of other great sandwiches and my tastebuds pulled me in another direction.

After many months of not crossing paths with these small, powerful-tasting morsels, I was very happy to see Mighty Balls at the market.  My favorite flavor combination – lip-tingling spicy while being sweet, tangy, meaty, creamy, salty – it is the Pork Meatball Slider with Spiced Feta and Jalapeno Jam.  I highly recommend trying this combination the next time you bump into these guys.  They’ll be at the markets and, I was told, at BUST Craftacular next Saturday, where last year they had the longest line of any of the vendors.

Basting the bread with olive oil, garlic, and herbs before putting the slices on the grill gave these sandwiches a beautiful aroma.  Next visit, I’m treating myself to an ooey-gooey, cheesey concoction by these guys at Mrs. Dorsey’s Kitchen.

On the healthier side were these bars from Grassroots Granola.  They are vegan and gluten-free.  The sample I tried of the Fruit and Nut bar was not-too-sweet, chewy, and studded with fruit and nuts.  These would be great to keep on hand for the mid-afternoon slumps or for when you need that extra burst of energy.

The table from Red Hook Lobster Pound is a sure sign that summer is definitely on its way!  I’m a big fan of both the lobster and shrimp rolls and will need to keep track of their truck when it is nearer to my Upper East Side neighborhood as that will be my dinner one of those evenings when it is too hot to cook.

While I was taking the photo of the sign at Red Hook, I got a holler from Simon of Macaron Parlour, who was at the stand next to them.  Immediately, I spied this colorful Lemon-Basil macaron from among the array of beautiful creations.  The delicate shell held a lightly-sweet citrus cream that had a hint of herbaciousness from the basil.  Everything blended together in perfect harmony like a cool, summertime drink made using the same refreshing flavors.

One of the greatest edible trends to come out of any of the food markets, in my opinion, has been the resurgence of hand-held pies.  Portable and largely utensil-free, easy to pick up for a quick meal, perfect for munching on while strolling around, these just seem tailor-made for outdoor venues.  I’ve enjoyed the ones from Dub Pies several times.  Check out their hearty Shepherd’s Pie filled with seasoned meat and topped with a creamy potato crust or their Thai Chicken one stuffed with chunks of tender poultry seasoned with citrus and Asian spice notes.

Maharlika is another stand that is on my list to try on my next visit.  I wasn’t sure if they were open at first, as they were next to the masses of folks at the next stand.

This was the longest line of the day, at least until they stopped serving the $1.00 Mimosas.  The Dekalb Market bar was definitely a draw as folks sipped on brunchtime beverages and cool beers while enjoying their meals.

Little Muenster‘s grilled cheese stand was just the ticket for my lunch yesterday.  I went with the Gruyère, Fontina, Proscuitto, and Membrillo sandwich.  Nutty, stringy cheese paired with salty ham balanced by a sweet and savory quince paste all warmed together between two crunchy, buttery slices of bread. This might just be  the best ham and cheese flavor combo I’ve ever eaten.

From the reviews on Yelp, it seems I missed out on a great opportunity to try Pan Latin Cafe when it was open.  Now, the owner has started doing catering and will have a stall at Dekalb Market this season, which is great news for the fans of her flavorful cooking.  I saw several folks with her Alfajors sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche.  She let me sample the last bit of a pan of her signature Guava and Cream Cheese Bread Pudding, which was light, creamy, and had wonderful tropical, floral fruit flavor throughout every bite.  She told me that her menu will expand throughout the season, so I will definitely be stopping by to try more of her delicious food.

Most spring-like display of any of the stands goes to Pasticcio, with their crisp, fresh salads and warm paninis.

It’s not a surprise to me that the folks at Mayhem and Stout sold out again yesterday.  I saw folks lining up and then walking away laden with several of their sandwiches at once.  The gorgeous aroma of braised meats wafted through the air at the market beckoning everyone to their stand.

I wish I had seen this table earlier in my market explorations before getting filled up on the other amazing things at the market, so I hope that Brookie Cookie will be back for another round.  Her chocolate and pretzel combinations and crème pie looked so delicious and decadent.

Another return vendor from last year is Arancini Bros., with their delicious filled rice balls.  These are great for sharing with friends and perfect for enjoying while touring the market, although if you find their Mascarpone and Pumpkin one on the menu again, I recommend keeping that all to yourself.

Madhouse Bakery also attracted a bustling crowd yesterday, as market-goers wandered around the more crafts-oriented section of the market.  Just looking at their baked goods, I wished I was having folks over for company so that I could gather up a selection of them to serve to my guests.

Next Door Organics has a locally-sourced menu along with a pantry (available for purchase) of some terrific food artisans like Granola Lab, Sour Puss Pickles, and Spicy ‘n Sweet.  It was also neat to see their version of my Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce on their menu!

Keep an eye out for the terrific treats being cooked up by Eat Me Sweetly, with their farm-focused ethos and creative minds.  While chatting with Craig and Jessica, I noshed on one of their Deviled Eggs with its cool white hugging the perfectly-balanced, mustard-mayo filling.  They also offered up a sample of their unique, floral and sweet, Dandelion Jam, which is featured as a filling in their moist Country Cake.  Throughout the season, their offerings will reflect the local harvest, like the Potato-Asparagus Salad in the photo, taking advantage of all the abundant produce available in our area.

Formerly in the front part of the market, Tea by Tiffany has found a cozy new home in a space nearer the crafts section where patrons can dip in to have a breather from the hustle and bustle of the market crowds. I treated myself to one of her specialty fruit tea blends to revive my spirits at home after a long day.

At this market stall, I couldn’t even get close enough to their busy entrance to take a proper photos.  Folks were jostling each other just to get a look at the menu, which must be a sign that they were cooking up something fantastically delicious.

If you wanted to make your own tea party, these cookies might be just the thing to add to them.  Vegan O’Brien Baking Company brought their popular Chocolate Chip and new Lemon varieties with them to the market yesterday.

What better way to cap off a market recap than with a bit of hot sauce?  Tucked away from the rest of the food stalls I found the folks at Piñata.  As their website promises, the sauce starts out sweet and light on the tongue before hitting you with a punch of searing heat.  Samples of the sauce itself plus versions of it combined with cream and tossed into a salsa showed how versatile and tasty this condiment is.  With my brain still absorbing all the explosions of flavor, I grabbed a bottle to take home with me for future recipe development.

It’s great to see Dekalb Market back in action again for this season.  Although the music got way too loud at one point, I think that having a band there contributed to the festive atmosphere and people were definitely gathering to listen to them while enjoying beverages and snacks.  The energy of the folks who were there and the enthusiasm of the vendors, both food and non-food, makes this a vibrant and lively place to hang out for a leisurely afternoon.  In addition, the market managers have come up with a whole slate of special events and activities to check out which is sure to make this a destination venue for this summer.

Buon appetito!