Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Liddabit Sweets Cookbook Giveaway

Cookbook display at Liddabit Sweets eventCookbook display at Liddabit Sweets launch party

It’s here!  Last night, I headed over to 61 Local for the launch party of the Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook and to see Liz and Jen, whose delicious candies are a special treat in which I indulge from time to time.  It was terrific to see them, hang out with some of their other fans, and to get my hands on this book, a product of all their hard work and wisdom as candymakers.  Better yet, I have a signed copy (by both Liz and Jen) of the Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook to give away to one of you readers.

Liz Gutman & Jen King – Liddabit Sweets

What I really enjoy about buying their candies (aside from getting to eat them) is the liveliness and joie de vivre that they bring to their confectionery.  Naming a candy bar after Dorie Greenspan, one of their ardent supporters and mentors.  Coming up with better-for-you alternatives to popular mass-market candies, made with locally-sourced ingredients and not all that unpronounceable stuff.  Creating caramels that melt in your mouth but are different enough to make your tastebuds say, “ummm, ahhhh, now this is what candy should taste like!” I’ve not only sampled many of their treats, I’ve also gifted them to others to enjoy their craftsmanship as well.

Liddabit Sweets at The Brooklyn Local

These ladies are confectionery geniuses and are really super nice people to boot so it is my pleasure to support all of their hard work via my pocketbook and this website.  I grew up with a mother who explored candymaking for a while when I was a child.  Lollipops, if I remember correctly, came out disastrously awful.  Still, I learned a lot about how to work with chocolate and about making toffees and caramel from her experiments.  It gave me a lot of admiration for those who can get it just right and can turn out incredible-tasting products.

Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook

This cookbook is not just about recipes.  It also gives you pages and pages of techniques, instructions, and real-life tips on how to make candy, layered with their pithy advice and stories about how some of their popular creations came about.  There’s lots of hints as to how to fix things when they go wrong and how to avoid having that happen in the first place.  They demystify the process of pulling together sweet treats in your own home kitchen, drawing from their expertise and experiments in creating delicious candies.  I’m sad to let this cookbook leave my hands, but I know that it will find a wonderful home with one of you.

The Rules (There have to be some of these, you know.)

Eligibility: U.S. mainland residents only

To Enter: Write a comment on this post with the answer to the following question: What is your favorite candy?

You must also have a valid screen name (NOT “Anonymous”) with a corresponding email address to enter this giveaway. I’ll need to be able to click on it in order to contact the winner. If you list “Anonymous” or do not have a valid email address with your comment, you will be disqualified. I do not share these addresses with anyone, and they are only for the purpose of entering this giveaway.

Deadline: Is Monday, October 15, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. EDT, based upon the date/time stamp on the comments. (I’m going to be very strict about this and make no exceptions.)

The Outcome: Only one winner will be chosen for this cookbook giveaway. I’m going to put all the entries into an online Randomizer (like this one) to come up with the winner.

Buon appetito!

The Brooklyn Local to benefit City Harvest

The Brooklyn Local sign

Hunger is still a big issue in New York and in the United States in general, even though we are a prosperous country with so many resources to draw upon.  City Harvest is one of the organizations in this city who strive to address this need and to try to get food to the people who need it the most.  Yesterday, in Brooklyn Bridge Park under azure skies, they held their second annual Brooklyn Local festival, showcasing food artisans, restaurants, and beverage purveyors from the borough.

Brooklyn Bridge – Brooklyn side

The glorious fall weather contributed to the lively, bright atmosphere.  In some ways it felt very much like a large, small town community fundraiser with the vendors stopping by each others’ stands to chat, swap samples, and just to catch up on the latest news.  Tables were loaded with samples as well as prepared dishes to eat there and packaged food products to take home to enjoy later.  I even saw Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz touring the market at one point during the afternoon.  I had so much fun just going around and talking to the vendors and nibbling on their wares, saying hello to folks whom I know from the local food scene.

Hotdogs with mustard by Brooklyn Cured

It’s hard to pick the highlights of this event, but there were a few things that I’d definitely go back and eat again if we had the chance to re-run the day.  Scott Bridi of Brooklyn Cured cooked up one of his hotdogs with his housemade mustard for me to enjoy.  I’m not normally a hotdog fan, not even at a baseball game, but if all of them were this delicious, I could be converted to liking them.  What I am a big fan of, however, is steamed buns, especially if they are as tasty and satisfyingly full of flavor as the ones that Bite Size Kitchen makes.  I missed out on their pork belly ones, which seemed to sell out in a flash, but I did get one of the hearty braised duck and one of the fragrant chicken curry.

Gluten-free bread by Free Bread Inc.

Another terrific-tasting item that I discovered yesterday was Free Bread Inc.‘s creations.  Karen Freer has a line of gluten-free croutons, too, that will also be available online as well as a recipe for stuffing on the back of the bag, to help you get ready to celebrate the upcoming holidays.  One of her soft, pillowy, cheddar-jalapeno rolls, the Jalaa, came home with me as today’s breakfast.  As a delicious treat, I picked up the The Blue-berry from the lovely ladies at The Jam Stand to have on hand.  Summer might be over, but this berry-licious, bourbon-tinged jam will let me hang onto some of its flavors for a while to come.

Spoonable Caramel products display

It wouldn’t have been possible for me to leave this market without a few desserts to take away, in addition to all the great things that I sampled when I was there.  I fed my Robicelli’s fix with a whoopie pie and a brownie.  Liddabit Sweets might have my new favorite candy, their Apricot-Chili Caramel.  Sweet with a nice kick of heat that just makes you keep wanting to eat more and more of them.  I also picked up a jar of Spoonable Caramel‘s lightly-perfumed, luscious Lavender Caramel.  All of Michelle Lewis’ caramel varieties are smooth and rich with a terrific balance of sweetness, dairy, and flavorings.  When she asked me how I’d eaten the jar of the fantastic salty-sweet Brooklyn Butterscotch that I’d obtained the last time I saw her, I sheepishly said, “With a spoon, dipped into the jar, and then put in my mouth.”  “That’s the best way,” she validated.

Pink Limeade Paleta from La Newyorkina

The Brooklyn Local put on by City Harvest was a thoroughly enjoyable event that I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for next year, too.   It was so nice to see the support in the local food community for this organization.  Even today, on Twitter and in person, folks I encountered were talking about it, exchanging greetings with the food vendors whom they met and commenting on all the great things that they had to eat there, always a good indication of a great gathering.  There were so many fantastic food folks there that I couldn’t fit them all into just one post so I put together a little slideshow of yesterday’s happenings, including plenty of pictures of lots of foodstuffs.

Buon appetito!

Thank you very much to Rubenstein Public Relations for arranging for me to have a press pass to attend this event.

Donut Crawl with Nicole Taylor aka the Food Culturist

Nicole Taylor - Food CulturistNicole Taylor – host of “Dive Into the Donut Renaissance”

A few months ago, early on a Saturday morning, I joined Nicole Taylor (aka Food Culturist) and other sweets-focused folks on a walk-about of donut places in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.  Nicole is also the creator of the radio program “Hot Greaseon Heritage Radio Network.  Her shows, which are downloadable for listening via podcast, cover a range of topics related to current topics in food and sustainability.  We’ve known each other for a while, but I’d had no idea that she was a such a donut connoisseur until I saw her boards on Pinterest.


We started our walk off at one of my favorite places Dough.  Their stand at Smorgasburg is on my usual must-visit list (their Hibiscus is my favorite, in case you are buying).  When I was growing up, there were two types of donuts in my world: dense, solid Entenmann’s and airy, light Krispy Kreme (yes, from the actual store that was the next town over).  Now, with shops like Dough, Doughnut Plant, and other smaller bakers around the U.S. there’s more choice in texture and in flavors.  It’s made me re-visit this childhood treat and I’ve become hooked on it all over again.

Dough – Blood Orange Glazed Donuts

The light-as-air creations from Dough (“We Fry in Bed-Stuy”) come in dozens of flavors, put together by an amazing culinary talent, Fany Gerson (aka La Newyorkina).  The Blood Orange glazed version is what some folks would call the best starter flavor, and is their most popular aside from the plain glazed one, with the tart-tangy, not-too-sweet topping working in perfect harmony with the pillowy, soft donut.

Dough – Lemon-Ginger Glazed Donuts

We also sampled the citrusy-spicy Lemon-Ginger glazed one which blended a mouth-puckering wallop of lemon (the perfect amount, in my opinion) with a hefty zing of candied ginger.  One of these for breakfast would definitely get me up and going in the morning.

Dough – Pink Peppercorn-topped Glazed Donuts

Not all of the flavors that we tried at Dough on our tour are currently available in their rotation.  We had a sneak peak at a few upcoming releases.  This Pink Peppercorn-topped one was definitely interesting, contrasting savory and sweet.  It wasn’t, however, my favorite of the day.

Dough – Olive Oil-Thyme-Sea Salt Glazed Donuts

That accolade goes to this phenomenal-tasting Olive Oil-Thyme-Sea Salt glazed donut.  These were the last to arrive at our tasting, so they came to us still a bit warm from the oven with the fragrant, sweet-salty glaze just barely set, dripping over the sides.  I picked up woodsy thyme notes as well as a hint of freshness from the fragrant lemon peel embedded in the dough.  Topped with the silky perfume of the oil, greenness from the thyme and brought together with a pop from the salt, this was the perfect savory-sweet, herbacious treat.  If you could capture the flavors of Italy in donut form, this is it.  I’m definitely going to be on the look out for this one the next time I see Dough selling at the markets.

Brooklyn Kolache Co.

In some ways, I think it was unfair of all the other things that we tried during our exploration that we started off at Dough.  On the other hand, having their treats as a benchmark for donut styles, gave us a baseline for our further sampling.  Not too far away from our first stop, we visited a newcomer to the neighborhood, Brooklyn Kolache Co.

Brooklyn Kolache Co.– Trays of Kolache

Loosely related to a Central European confection that has the same name, these hand-held creations are a rich, doughy, slightly sweet puffs.  They have arrived here by way of Texas courtesy an ex-pat from the Lone Star State and can be found at this shop filled either with savory items or more sugary fare, like jams and preserves.

Brooklyn Kolache Co. – Cheese, Smoked Beef Kielbasa, & Jalapeno

A couple of these with one of their coffees, and you would be completely set to start your day.  I enjoyed the taste and texture of the pastry as a base for the rich, hearty, spiced meat, cheese, and peppers.  Unfortunately, they were clean out of the sweet version by the time I went back to the counter that day.  I’d definitely be up for another trip to explore some of their other flavors, especially if I could grab a table on their back patio while eating them.

Clementine Bakery

Our last stop of the day was at Clementine Bakery, a vegan-organic spot that also offers gluten-free creations.  At this homey-feeling cafe, we gathered around the table to try out their regular donuts topped with chocolate and coconut or sprinkles, which will change your mind about how delicious vegan baked goods can be.  They certainly won over a few skeptics in our group.  These donuts are on the more dense side of the fence without being heavy and were super moist and cake-like.

Clementine Bakery – Raspberry Jam-filled donut & Chocolate-Coconut donut

The jam-filled donuts came in red or black raspberry versions.  These cakey confections had a lovely lemony lift to them whose tartness contrasted perfectly with the light dusting of powdered sugar and the sweetness of the jam.  If my errands take me close by this spot in the future, I’ll make a point of dropping by here again for an afternoon break to see what other wonderful treats they’ve baked.

Donut Case at Dough

The next “Dive Into the Donut Renaissance” is actually scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.  After going through all of my photos from this tour, I’m tempted to sign up for it all over again.  Note that we did share donuts on several of our stops so that we could maximize our sampling options without becoming overly full.  There was also an opportunity to take home the leftovers that we been offered and couldn’t finish on the spot.  This was a great way to find out more about the terrific culinary options in Bed-Stuy, which is a part of Brooklyn I don’t usually get to on my other jaunts.  For more opportunities to explore this neighborhood through the culinary lens of the folks who live there, please follow @BedStuyCrawl on Twitter or Bed-Stuy Crawl on Facebook.

Buon appetito!

Brooklyn Uncorked 2012 by Edible Magazine

Wednesday evening, the hallowed halls of the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, an event space now known as Skylight One Hanson, rung with the clicking of glasses at Brooklyn Uncorked.  This annual wine and food event features vintages from New York State producers paired with dishes created by local chefs.  Having been to it last year, I knew that there would be much delicious wine to drink and many tasty dishes to sample.

This was the crowd at one point

My methodology was to experience the wines through the various small plates that the participating restaurants had prepared.  In speaking to several of the folks at the food tables, they told me that they worked with the vintners to create dishes that would work well with the wines that would be available for sipping at the event.

Les Trois Petits Cochons

Before embarking on my first tasting, I visited the booth at the front of the hall to have a few bites of the products by Les Trois Petits Cochons.  The smooth, earthy Mousse Truffée, luscious Smoked Salmon Terrine, and woodsy Venison Pâté were a perfect way to get my tastebuds geared up for all the other wonderful things to come.  These incredible, locally-made products shared a stand at the front of the hall with Orwasher’s Bakery hearty breads, Schoolhouse Kitchen‘s fragrant spreadable fruits.


Grilled Spring Vegetable Salad with Sopressata & Asparagus & Whipped Goat Cheese

One Woman Wines

2010 Grüner Veltliner

The schmear of tangy goat cheese spread worked well with the rough, crunchy salad and sweet carrots piled high on the plate while the crisp, acidic wine finished cleanly on the palate.  The Grüner Veltliner provided a nice pairing with the peppery flavor of the greens and the zing of the cheese.  This beverage would match well with lots of summer fare.

Palo Santo

Grilled Liver, Heart, Kidney of Rabbit with Aioli & Greens

Roanoke Vineyards Wines

2009 Marco Tulio (Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend)

Grilled to order on the spot, this meaty skewer was not to everyone’s taste, not even to mine.  I did sample it (possibly the liver part?) along with the creamy aioli and crisp scallions and herbs.  The Marco Tulio was more than a match for the richness of the meat with its bold berry flavors.  At the same time, this wine was not overbearing at all, and I could see it as an ideal companion for many a grilled dish.

Northeast Kingdom

Poached Mussel with Ramp Aioli, Lemon Jam, Trout Roe, and Dill

Lieb Cellars

2011 Bridge Lane Rosé

I love the fact that Rosés are getting so much attention on this side of the Atlantic in recent years.  Lieb Cellars also has a special place in my heart because their light, crisp, very food-friendly Pinot Blanc is available on tap (yes, on tap) at one of the places in my neighborhood.  Their Bridge Lane Rosé with notes of ripe, luscious summertime berries (I think I caught some white raspberry flavor in there.) and a barely fizzy texture, complemented the briny mussel and the sharp, salty trout roe that topped the buttered toast round.

Five Points & Hundred Acres

Low-Country Pickled Shrimp with Cornbread-Fennel Biscotti & Yogurt

Dr Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars

2009 Dr. Frank Rkatsiteli

As with the pairing above, this one, too, had a lovely balance to it between the intense flavor components of the food and the wine’s ability to cut through it and harmonize all the different tastes going on in my mouth.  The floral notes and acidity of the wine were an ample partner for the plump, tangy shrimp nestled on a crunchy, licorice-perfumed base.

The Chocolate Room

Single-origin Flourless Chocolate Cake

Bloomer Creek Vineyard

2008 Pinot Noir

When I first encountered Bloomer Creek wines a couple of years ago, I got to know them via their lush, fruit-and-honey-scented Rieslings.  Their ruby-red Pinot Noir, full of the taste of cherries and other berries, proved to be ideal to cut through the dense, decadent flourless chocolate cake.

Gwynnett St.

Sweet Shrimp, Preserved Lemon, Daikon, and Dulse

Bedell Cellars

2011 Taste Rosé

This lightly fruity Rosé was a crisp, clean partner for the sweet, succulent shrimp dressed with sharp radish greens and salty dulse.  This beverage would be an ideal companion for those seafood platters that you might be dreaming up for casual summer get-togethers.

The Good Fork

Mung Bean & Kimchi Pancake with Gochujang-braised Berkshire Pork

Red Tail Ridge Winery

2009 Dry Riesling

Just looking at this photo of the above dish with a crunchy, fried mung bean and kimchi cake piled high with spicy, tender pulled pork and topped with thinly-sliced, salty pickles makes me wish I could come up with another plate of it right this minute.  This pairing was probably my favorite of the evening, with the crisp fall fruit taste of the Riesling melding beautifully with the velvety texture of the pork and the punch of heat from the kimchi and the gochujang.

Blaue Gans

Pork Belly with White Cabbage Salad and Spring Carrots

Wölffer Estate

Classic White Table Wine 2010

Silken slices of pork laid delicately over a bright, crunchy white cabbage slaw and decorated with at sliver of sweet carrot were a refined presentation of a classic Central European dish.  The wine was no less elegant with a nice acidity that paired well with the richness of the meat and the tang of the slaw and ended with a light, clean finish.

Trestle on Tenth

Smoked and Roasted Pork Shoulder with Red Onion Jam on Ciabatta

McCall Wines of Cutchogue

2011 Pinot Noir Marjorie’s Rosé

A hefty dollop of sweet red onion jam made a wonderful foil for the smoky, roasted pork in this slider.  I saw folks going back for a few of these nibbles.  For me, the wine pairing was more so-so.  I enjoyed the wine, but I just wasn’t completely won over by this match.


Lamb Belly Toast with Citrus Yogurt & Black Mint

Brooklyn Winery

2010 Zinfandel

The buttery, rich lamb belly with yogurt dressing fell apart gorgeously and just melted in my mouth.  A sip of the sweet, fruity zinfandel went with it perfectly, working with all the fattiness to enhance the flavor of the lamb.  I could have enjoyed several more helpings of this combination.

Gramercy Tavern

House-made Chicken “Mortadella” on Thyme Cracker with Caramelized Onions and Candied Pistachios

Channing Daughters Winery

2010 Blaufränkisch – Sylvanus Vineyard

Another pairing that I wasn’t completely charmed by was this one.  I enjoyed the big, hearty bold berry, cherry, and spice notes of the wine, but I wasn’t completely sure that it went with the mortadella-style chicken creation.  I felt that the food was somewhat overshadowed by the wine.

Tanoreen Restaurant

Mediterranean Baked Eggplant with Tomatoes, Potatoes, Caramelized Onions, and Spices

Paired with a 2009 Merlot from Merliance (no photo available)

Merliance is an alliance of Long Island Merlot producers who blend their wines together to produce a vintage that encompasses the characteristics of all of the vineyards of the region.  I picked up notes of purple plums and earthiness with a hint of spice and vanilla.  This was a terrific partner for the sun-kissed Southern European influence of the eggplant dish which had sweet, savory, and acidic flavors to contend with in every bite.

The Cleaver Co. & The Green Table

Savory Spring Bread Pudding

Shinn Estate Vineyards

2011 Rosé

This bread pudding captured the essence of what the word “savory” means: part salty, part buttery, part nutty-cheesy-dairy.  The herbs dotting the bread, the slivers of smoky bacon, and the brightness of the vegetables helped to balance out the richness of the other ingredients in the dish itself.  This summer-fruit-filled, light textured Rosé was the ideal partner for this plate.  I was tempted to go back for another go-around and end my tasting adventures at this table.

Osteria il Paiolo

Fave Beans with Pecorino

Osteria il Paiolo

Ricotta & Spinach Gnocchi with baby heirloom Tomato Sauce

After passing by several empty tables that had been completely wiped out of food for the evening, I came upon this one that had two Italian-inspired dishes for folks to try.  Meaty, freshly-peeled fava beans are a springtime staple.  The creamy-tangy pecorino is a great foil for the hearty beans.  My favorite of the two dishes was the pillowy-light gnocchi that just seemed to melt in my mouth with a pop of sweet-acidic tomatoes and an earthy backnote of truffle oil.  I could have consumed several platefuls of this dish, and I was so taken with all the incredible flavors working together that I forgot to get a glass of wine with which to eat it.


Another table that was empty of plates by the time I arrived at it was that for Colonie.  I was so disappointed as I’d been intrigued to see what this Brooklyn Heights locale was going to present.  Next year, I will need to plan a bit better so as not to miss out on their delicious fare.

Rose Water Restaurant

Meyer Lemon Crudot, Spring Onion, Spinach, Curry Cream

Ravines Wine Cellars

2011 Dry Riesling

The perfumed spice of the curry dressing combined with the dry, crisp finish of the Riesling made a delicious match for the ample slice of buttery tuna crudo in this dish.  This was the ideal cocktail hors d’oeuvre and one I’d like to try to replicate for one of my next parties.

PRINT Restaurant

Roast Strawberry Parfait

One Woman Wines

2010 Sauvignon Blanc

Although dubbed a parfait, by the time I made it to the table to PRINT for dessert, they were offering more of a Roast Strawberry Crumble instead.  After having eaten several heavier dishes throughout the evening, I actually welcomed this intense sweet-tart fruit with toffee-like crumbs just as it was.  The refreshing lightness of the wine was a terrific way to wrap up the evening’s tastings…or so I thought.

Brooklyn Oenology

2010 Riesling “Friend”

I realized that I hadn’t stopped by to chat with the folks I know at Brooklyn Oenology.  They still seemed very busy helping people sample their New York State made, New York State sourced wines.  I was offered a glass of their Riesling and then mused over what I could pair with this honey-scented wine.  I went back for the pork dish from The Good Fork.  At this point, there were no pancakes left so it was just plates filled with mounds of tender, shredded pork dressed with spicy sauce.  The Reisling’s luxurious fruit feel and slight sweetness was a perfect match for the bold meat.  That ended my eating adventures for this year’s episode of Brooklyn Uncorked on a very, full, completely satisfying note.

Buon appetito!

Thank you to Edible Manhattan for providing me with a press pass so that I could attend this event and cover it for this website.  The opinions and tasting notes are mine, as unrefined as they may be, and were not influenced by any of the food or beverage partners or by the magazine and its staff.

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!

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!