Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Smorgasburg Opening Day 2012

A crisp breeze and an azure sky, what could be more a perfect setting for the opening for Smorgasburg, the weekly food-centric market on the Williamsburg waterfront that launched its second season today.  The design of the market is a bit different from last year’s with all the vendors in a double row ringing the perimeter of the lot.  The center interior space, I was told, will become a beer garden at some point during the season, featuring locally brewed beverages.  A few intrepid friends and I gathered this morning and literally ate our way around, taking in samples and noshing on some great treats.  (For a more complete look at our edible excursion, see my Flickr album.)

The debut of Guava flavor by Danny Macaroons – just a little snack while waiting for my friends to arrive

Brooklyn Cured‘s handmade pastrami, delicate and rich, perfect with their robust mustard, which made a special appearance for this opening market day.

“Why hasn’t anyone else been bringing these to the markets?” I thought when I saw these portable, flavored Soy Milks from the brand new Soy Hound.  The Matcha was creamy, nutty, and refreshing.

Saucy By Nature – the Cilantro Lime was definitely a zingy “Ka-Pow” of flavor, the Spicy Pumpkin Ginger was a bit strong for me on its own but would be wonderful on a sandwich, and the Polish Kimchee is beautifully smoky with umami notes and would give a fabulous punch to a hotdog or sausage.

D’Vine and Olive – I overheard her wowing some new fans with her delicious oils and vinegars

Small, indulgent, tasty bite-sized cakes with full-size flavors from Bitemecheesecakes

Krumville Bake Shop‘s gluten free items were a big draw.  I really enjoyed the savory goat’s cheese and zucchini foccacia.  Others around me were chattering about her chocolate chip cookies.

Best Summer Vietnamese rolls

At this point, we were so hungry that a couple of us split a hearty Lonestar Empire sandwich.  Perfectly-cooked, pull-apart moist meat and a drizzle of spicy barbecue sauce accompanied by crunchy sour pickles and sweet-tangy pickled onions.

I just love that S’more Bakery toasts marshmallows to order at the market.

One of the other new things to see is that this year, Smorgasburg has a trash separating system so that items can be put into recyclables and composting.  Many of the vendors are also using eco-friendly utensils to serve up their dishes.

The Good Batch – I’m loving this Compost Bar of “leftovers.”  Next time, I’ll get one of their amazing ice cream sandwiches made with stroopwafels.

How convenient that they were next to Grady’s Cold Brew – smooth, caramel-toned iced coffee was a great pick-me-up

Chicken Bastillas from Nadia’s Kitchen – so tasty with thin, sweet crust wrapped around savory, spiced succulent chicken.

Mrs. Kim’s Kimchi – everyone was diving in for samples of this spicy, vinegary concoction

With barbecue season approaching, I think We Rub You‘s sauce might need to go to a cook-out with me.

Anarchy in a Jar – I picked up a jar of Triple Berry Jam for this week’s breakfasts

Spicy ‘n Sweet – a jar of their tangy, tomato-y, kicky Red Pesto would make a nice sandwich spread, especially paired with some fresh mozzarella

Buckeyes from Granola Lab – we treated ourselves to these sweet, peanut-buttery, chocolatey sweets

Salty Road Taffy – fragrant, floral Bergamot and buttery Salty Caramel Apple

Ish premium horseradish – your gefilte fish has been begging for their Beet Ish.  The Citrus Ish was an explosion of heat, fruit, and nose-tingling flavor.  I’m looking forward to sampling their other versions the next time they are at the market.

Mighty Quinn’s brisket sandwich

One thing hasn’t changed from last year, which is that this vendor has the longest line at Smorgasburg, and with good reason.  The brisket is tender with a great smoky flavor and a caramelized crust.  Add some pickled onions, a splash of sauce, and pile it up on a soft roll.

I’ve always opined (and have been backed up on this) that Washington, DC has better Ethiopian food options than NYC.  With Taste of Ethiopia, whose lentils were a favorite of one of my friends, I might have to change that tune.

Baby Mash – something healthy for the teething set to munch on

Runner & Stone‘s tempting baked goods are something I’ll look out for at the next market, too.

What Easter basket would be complete without Butter + Love‘s spicy Ginger Bunnies?  Their almost-decadent, fragrant Orange and Cardamom cookies would be perfect with a cup of steamy, milk tea and their buttery shortbread cookies filled with jam would be a great reason to take a mid-afternoon snack break any time.

First Prize Pies‘ S’mores Pie was a hit at Pie Party Live last year.  On Allison’s advice, I picked up a Shaker Lemon one to try at home.

Blue Bottle Coffee

The second longest line at the market today was also a return vendor: Blue Bottle Coffee with their hand-brewed beverages.

I think I maxed out on taking photos today for just a single market visit, so I created a slide show on Flickr to capture all of the hustle and bustle going on today.  Full of great food and caught up on the latest goings-on in our respective lives, after a few hours, we all headed our separate ways to finish up Saturday errands and projects.  I can’t wait to try some more fantastic foods and to discover some other amazing finds on our next trip.

Buon appetito!

The Next BIG Small Brand Award 2012

Last night a group of hungry folks and local artisan food producers were on hand at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for the final round of the battle between two culinary-focused cities: San Francisco and New York.  The prize, aside from bragging rights, was The Next BIG Small Brand Award, a package of design, PR, and retail placements structured to launch a start-up food brand into the next level of development and success.  This is an incredible opportunity for those who are trying to make a business out of creating and selling edible items so it is no wonder that there were some amazing things to try at this event.

Planet Fuel – New York

Planet Fuel Juice Display

These juices were created by Tom and Amy Barnouw to give their children (and others) an alternative to sugary, artificially-sweetened, juice-type beverages.  The ingredients?  Juice and water, that’s it, put together in colorful, kid-friendly bottles.  I sampled their Rainforest Rita’s Organic Tropical Punch, which had a gorgeous floral and bright fruit taste.  This is miles away from the super sweet Hawaiian Punch Fruit Juicy Red or any of the Hi-C drinks my mother let us have as a child.  I can definitely see why these products are a huge hit with parents, and I would definitely pick these up to have on hand for any little visitors.  If you live in Connecticut, Amy was saying, they are already in some of the middle and high school cafeterias there.

Amy Barnouw

Pie Corps – New York

Pie Corps pies

I don’t think I can rave enough about how delicious Pie Corps pies are.  If you look throughout this site over the past year since I discovered their incredible creations at the New Amsterdam Market, you’ll see photos of their delectable, hand-held pastries scattered throughout my market jaunts.  Eccles cakes, a lemon tart, a fried caramel apple pie, all of them have that perfect balance of flaky, buttery crust combined with sweet (and sometimes tart) filling.  Their savory items are no less tasty as well.  It’s no surprise to me that their table had one of the longest lines all night long.  The best part about seeing one of my favorite local food vendors having their hard work rewarded by this nomination was hearing them confirm that they will be at New Amsterdam again this season.  That means more pie all summer long!

Cheryl Perry and Felipa Lopez

NY Superfoods – New York

Chia Chargers in spicy, regular, and espresso flavors

This New York City-based company was completely new to me, although I’ve been watching the buzz build on Twitter about chia seeds and their properties, so I was intrigued to see these morsels packed with nuts and seeds.  I’m not a big energy bar eater, mostly because I don’t think they taste all that good or have too much artificial stuff in them.  One bite of the Chia Chargers, made with oats, agave, chia seeds, nuts, fruit, and other things I recognized with their gooey, chewy, crunchy, slightly sweet texture, and my mouth was like, “Where were these to combat that mid-afternoon slump when I worked in an office all day?”  They also produce a line of nut butters – the chocolate-peanut one would be great on crackers or bread – and granolas to kick your day off right, all with chia seeds.

Catherine Mangan Walsh

Big Dipper Baby Food – San Francisco

Samples of Big Dipper Baby Food

Duck Liver?  Bone Marrow?  These aren’t the typical things that most babies are fed when they start eating puréed food.  These are only a few of the ingredients that go into Big Dipper Baby Food‘s selections, all of them with an emphasis on healthy, flavorful combinations that give growing babies the nutrients that they need to develop.  Apprehensive about a baby food tasting at an adult event, one bite of their Baby Doll (lentils, roasted bananas, coconut oil, blueberries) with its hearty flavor and balance of sweet and savory reassured me that this is pretty sophisticated fare for the younger set.  I didn’t get a sample of the bone marrow one, but the duck liver, apple, carrots, and caramelized onions could pass for a high-quality pâté, it was that good.  The next time I have to go through dental surgery and can’t eat proper food for a week, I’m going to see if I can track down some of these products.  There’s no reason to let the babies hog all the good stuff.

Claire Hoyt

Black Jet Baking Co. – San Francisco

Mini Chocolate Cookies, Caramelized Coconut Macaroons, Devil-dog style cake-cookie

Another long line at this event was that to try the assortment of sweet treats from Black Jet Baking Co.  When I managed to make my way over there, I was rewarded with a chewy, buttery-rich macaroon, a moist deep chocolatey devils-dog cake with a sweet, creamy center, and probably my favorite of the lot, a mini chocolate chunk cookie with sea salt – just a bright pop of it to go along with the cookie’s toffee and cocoa notes.  I can see why their products are such a hit in their hometown.  These are the kinds of baked goods that we all aspire to make, and it made me realize that I’m long overdue for a West Coast trip with a stop at their shop on the itinerary.

Max Newman and Gillian Sara Shaw

Dandelion Chocolate – San Francisco

I’ve tasted quite a few bean-to-bar chocolates since I began this site, as single-origin bars have made waves in the culinary world and appeared at different events.  What always strikes me is how different they all can be in taste, texture, and perfume, much like wine.  Dandelion Chocolate wowed me last night with its selection.  Each of the samples that they brought had a completely different and equally complex profile.  The Madagascar, I could have sworn was a milk chocolate blend, with its creamy mouth feel and fruit-like aroma.  Not at all, I was told by Todd Masonais, the company’s co-founder, all they use is chocolate and a bit of sugar to make their bars.  My brain took a while to process all the wonderful flavor components that each sample contained.  This is chocolate to savor one bite at a time, letting all its possibilities develop on your palate.

Todd Masonias and chocolate

Kombucha Brooklyn – 2010 Winner

Kombucha Brooklyn’s flavor samples

Along with the current crop of competitors, the previous years’ winners were on hand to chat with their fans and to share their experiences since being named The Next BIG Small Brand.  I dropped by to say hello to the guys at Kombucha Brooklyn, who were trying to repair their trophy with electrical tape.  They are also vendors at several local markets and stores in the New York City area making it wonderful to see how they have grown since they started their journey.  One item of theirs that I mentioned in my holiday markets round-up was the do-it-yourself Kombucha Kits, for the avid fan.

Sweet Lorens – 2011 Winner

Sweet Lorens’ tasty treats

When I walked by the table with 2011 winner Loren Brill’s brownie and cookie nibbles, I couldn’t resist.  I know, I know.  I was supposed to be looking for the 2012 competitors, but I just couldn’t pass them up without trying a bite.  These are products made with whole grains and natural sweeteners and don’t use dairy or preservatives, and they taste great as well.  Her Chewy Oatmeal-Cranberry are still one of my favorite cookies from her line, but I wouldn’t pass up any of her other items either.  Since winning the competition, we were told in the remarks before this year’s winner was announced, her business has increased 400%.  She’s also now in every Whole Foods in the Northeast, up from just eight stores at the beginning of last year.

People’s Choice Award – Black Jet Baking Co.

Chocolate chip cookie with sea salt

Throughout the evening, I’d heard lots of folks buzzing excitedly about the sweet things they’d tried from this entrant, so it was no surprise to me that they won the audience’s vote last night.  They’ve also inspired me to try to fiddle with my own chocolate chip cookie recipes to see if I can capture that terrific salty-sweet flavor balance that their version has.

The Next BIG Small Brand Winner 2012 – NY Superfoods

Chia Chargers

This unique product was named the winner of this year’s Next BIG Small Brand.  As I’d mentioned above, this product made me really re-think what a good, healthy energy bar-type product could taste like.  I can see lots of potential for the company’s growth (one of the criteria for the award) not just among the athletes which form a core component of their current market.  I’ll be waiting to see this arrive on store shelves in the not-to-distant future.

Thank you to First Press PR for the opportunity to cover this event.  For profiles of all the contestants, to hear about their companies, products, and stories, please visit Food. curated to see Liza de Guia’s fantastic videos.

Buon appetito!

By Brooklyn

Yesterday, taking advantage of a cool spring day, a friend of mine and I decided to go exploring on Smith Street in Brooklyn.  After meeting up at the Brooklyn Flea and taking a stroll along Atlantic Avenue, including perusing several antique shops, we headed over to By Brooklyn to check out their selection of locally-made products, both edible and non.  The store just turned one year old last week, which means my trip to it is long overdue.  Right away, I found some of my favorite artisan food items, which made me feel right at home.

Sodas by Manhattan Special and Fresh Ginger with tonic from Q Tonic sharing space with the terrific caramels by Liddabit Sweets

P&H Soda Co. – see the seltzer bottles peeking out from behind the display

These are some other syrups from Royal Rose that I’ve been interested to try. 

My friend was eyeing these bitters by Bittermens.  With summertime coming up, it’s time to think about some new cocktail ideas.

And we also spotted one of our favorites – Morris Kitchen – with their fantastic syrups.

Another of our favorites which had space on the shelves is the fabulous Anarchy in a Jar.

The Jam Stand also has some tasty flavors to try.

I didn’t see the buttery-sweet Caramelized Apple preserves by Maiden Preserves, but this one sounds delicious, too.

They had two kinds of granola available – Granola Lab and

Early Bird Granola – both of which would make a great breakfast to wake up to any morning.

Time to find some space in my fridge for these jars from D.P. Chutney Collective for some lazy summer meals.

These sauces remind me of the incredible dishes that I had at Saucey Sauce Co.‘s barbecue last summer.

These pickles from Brooklyn Brine Co. are perfect to go along with some of those summertime foods.

As are those from Sour Puss Pickles.

And don’t forget to include Tin Mustard on your list of condiments.

You could use a board from Brooklyn Slate, to display all of these goodies.

I really like these old-fashioned style hard candies from Brooklyn Hard Candy.

I was so tempted by these yummy-looking pralines by Sucre Mort –  for the moment sold exclusively at By Brooklyn.

This Pistachio Crack from Davis’ Famous’ looked amazing as well.

Oh, I so love these Stroopwafels from The Good Batch!  (They also carry some of her other products as well.)

Then, there’s the always incredible chocolate bars from Raaka.

Give yourself a treat and help out animals at the same time with Rescue Chocolate, created with Tumbador Chocolate.

Wonder how those might taste with a little extra sweetness from Spoonable Caramel drizzled on top.

Another snack option is one of my beach trip favorites: salt water taffy.  I’ll need to grab some of these from The Salty Road for my next trip to the ocean.

Or maybe I should grab a bag of Kings County Jerky Co. to take along with me instead.

Tuckfields Teas would be a perfect way to kick back after all this walking around and exploring.

The folks behind By Brooklyn have amassed a nice collection of some of the borough’s well-known food artisans.  It was wonderful to see some of the products that I enjoy keeping in my own kitchen or noshing on at the various markets that take place around the city all in one place.  I’ll definitely drop by again when I’m in the neighborhood again to discover what other Brooklyn treasures they have on display.

Buon appetito!

BK Swappers 2nd Anniversary Swap

Do you swap?  I didn’t grow up with swap meets, so they are kind of a novelty to me.  Today was the second anniversary gathering of BK Swappers at Third Ward, an education and co-working space in Brooklyn.  I headed over there to check out what was going on and to hang out with some other great food folks.

Jackie Gordon

Chocolate-Sesame Bark

One highlight of the afternoon was the demos given by people sharing their expertise.  Jackie Gordon, aka The Singing Chef, gave a lesson on how to temper chocolate.  I didn’t get myself together today in time to make the lesson itself, but I managed to arrive to see the results, this delicious dark chocolate-sesame bark.  Why I didn’t end up trying it at the Chinese New Year’s Potluck, I’m not sure, but this time, I managed to snag a piece of it, savoring each deep, dark, nutty bite.

Emily Hanhan

Brown Rice Syrup Bourbon Brown Sugar & Plum Lemon Jam Marshmallows

Another very talented cook, Emily Hanhan of Nomnivorous, showed everyone how to make her Plum Lemon Jam Marshmallows.  I sampled her Bourbon Brown Sugar ones, which reminded me of one of my favorite bits to sneak off of the sticky buns my mother would make as a special treat for us.  I love the extra-crispy caramelized sugar pieces, and her marshmallows brought that taste back to me.  I think I need to make an appointment to fit in her next how-to class at Brooklyn Brainery.

Discussion with Liza De Guia of Food. curated

In addition to the demos, part of the day featured discussions by and with food artisans.  I missed the earlier talk about launching an independent food business with Granola Lab‘s Alex Croiser and Electric Blue Baking Co.‘s Anita Shepherd, but I did get there in time to hear Liza De Guia of Food. curated chat with – in the order seated in the photo above – Keavy Blueher (Kumquat Cupcakes), Liz Neves (Raganella), Ulla Kjarval (Spring Lake Farm), and Vicky Oh (Arirang Kimchi) about their work.  Liza’s mission is getting to know food producers and producing videos about their stories and their businesses.

What is wonderful about watching Liza’s videos is seeing the way that she captures the passion and artistry that these individuals put into their creations.  She herself said that she didn’t realize the impact that her stories would have on promoting these enterprises, but she’s heard from many of the folks she’s profiled that her work has helped bring to light all of their efforts and has helped new customers to find them and their products.  For Liza, it has also been about making new friends.  For her subjects, they say it has helped them to find each other, bringing together a strong community of people dedicated to developing small food-focused businesses so that we all get to eat better.

Kicking off the swap

Shortly after the panel ended, Jane Lerner, the co-host of BK Swappers, gave the assembled crowd a chance to check out what was swappable before starting the official part of the event.  Here’s some of the guidelines for how the swap was to go.  Everyone had labeled what they’d brought and had this bid card by their offering.

Smoked Paprika Cumin-Spiced Walnuts from Justcook NYC

A completed bid card looks something like this one for Arirang Kimchi

Here’s what the swapping looks like

I hadn’t come prepared to swap anything, so I didn’t participate, but I saw several incredible-sounding things, like caramel sauce from @spatulaqueen, cider, chutney, soaps, and soda bread.  Next time, I’m going to come more prepared with something delicious to exchange with my fellow food folks.  Thank you to BK Swappers for an informational and inspirational day and a chance to connect with some amazing people.

Buon appetito!

Smorgasbrewery!

Slogging through the slushy, grey remnants of Saturday’s snowstorm to Williamsburg, the Brooklyn one, not the Virginia one, I made my way over to the Brooklyn Brewery for Smorgasbrewery on Sunday.  This weekly event that runs through March features several of the amazing food vendors who had made their summer home at Smorgasburg on the Brooklyn waterfront last year.  In the frigid temperatures, I really wished that I was heading to the market on a sunny summer day.

Solber Pupusas

Once inside, however, the yeasty, slightly acrid tinge of fermentation from the brewery tanks hit my nostrils as I headed over to the tables to see who was there this week; the vendor rotation changes each time.  My first stop was to check out the selection at 2011 Vendy award winner Solber Pupusas, which always seems to have the longest line at Smorgasburg.  I picked up one of the chicken and cheese variety and one of the bean and cheese.  My favorite of the two had to be the chicken and cheese as that filling seemed to stay moist while inside the corn masa patty.  These came with a spoonful of tomato sauce, a dollop of sour cream, and a pile of pickled onions to give a tangy, crunchy accompaniment to the soft, warm cakes.

Bite Size Kitchen

With a slather of slightly spiced, pungent hoisin sauce, the oniony crunch of scallions, a fresh slice of cucumber, and a fluffy bun playing host to perfectly-tender, juicy, braised pork belly, this succulent sandwich was the perfect small-bite meal to have with a glass of Brooklyn Brewery beer.  In fact, I liked it so much that I went back for seconds.  I really hope that this makes an appearance at next summer’s market.

Bon Chovie

So far, I haven’t been brave enough to try these.  Next time, I’ll bring along one of my foodie wing people so we can split an order.  I’ll probably need their coaxing to eat these raved-about anchovies, which were another hit of the market season.

Handmade Pretzels

The hardest table to walk by today was that with all the great-looking goodies made by the baker at Commerce Restaurant in Greenwich Village.  Not only were there these gorgeous, soft pretzels (which I mentioned to them would be perfect with some mustard on the side), but there were these beautiful salami and cheese rolls, too.  These looked like they’d be the ideal thing to have on a cold winter’s day alongside a cup of something, say, maybe a glass of the IPA.

Salami and Cheese Rolls

It was when I spotted the basket of freshly-baked cookies, however, that I was completely sunk.  I mean, look at them.  How could anyone resist finishing up a meal with one of these beauties?  Well, I couldn’t, so I selected a Maple-Bacon one.

Cookies!

You know what?  The smoky-sweet buttery flavor ended up pairing really, really well with the smooth, dark caramel notes of the Brooklyn Brown Ale that I’d selected to drink.  The flavors of the cookie and the mellow but slightly bold taste of the beer came together in surprising harmony.  I mentioned to the folks at the Commerce table that I thought a beer and cookie pairing might be an idea for next time.  Hey, if beer and ice cream work together, why not try out that combination as well.  It could be the hit of next year’s outdoor food markets!

Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale

 Buon appetito!

Brooklyn Flea Moves Indoors

Even if the weather felt more like it was spring, this weekend was the opening of the Winter Flea, the Brooklyn Flea‘s new location for the next few months.  I met up with a friend to check out the stands at One Hanson Place, the site of the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank (which was still a bank when she first moved to the city).  This building is ornately decorated and gorgeously festooned so it is worth a visit just to see it.  The down side is that the lighting isn’t all that great for food photography in many of the nooks and crannies where the vendors sit.  Oh, and the food items are mostly organized in one area – The Vault.  I know that there’s lots of fantastic food items being made in the city but do they really need to be stashed down there for safekeeping?

Brooklyn Slate – I picked up one of their gorgeous boards for my home

A Cheese Survival Kit from Brooklyn Slate – who will get this for Christmas?

You could start of your explorations with something refreshing by Brooklyn Soda Works

Or recharge with some coffee from Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle also sells baked goods at their stand at the entrance to the Flea

Biscotti di Vecchio display – the cookie base is terrific tasting with just the right texture and crumble

Fragrant, spiced, citrusy Lebkuchen by Leckerlee in a gorgeous tin would be another great holiday gift

Or head over to the savory side with McClure’s pickles, chips, and Bloody Mary mix (which is delicious)

Grab some great-tasting jams (including flavors like Quince) from the folks at The Stand

Or savor a luscious chocolate bar (try the Bonbon) from Fine & Raw

How to choose?  All the donuts from Dough look amazing!

How can you resist all that gorgeous crackling that goes into a Porchetta sandwich?

Or how about a platter from Vendy Award winner Solber Pupusas?

One of my favorites is Asia Dog.  The Vinh is what I usually get.

Next time, Chonchos Tacos might be my snack of choice to refuel at the Flea.

Buon appetito!