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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!