Today, a friend of mine and I went to check out Smorgasburg. For me, it was a chance to meet some great new vendors. She’d never been there. She’s been my food and wine wing person on several excursions, so I knew that she’d let me drag her around the market to check out the wares on display. The pile of stuff in the top photo is an indication of what a great shopping day I had.
The reason I love going back to the markets in the city time and again is to discover what delicious new products might be available to sample that I might not have ever seen before. This trip was also to support a friend and food artisan, Laurie of Lush Candy, whom I’ve profiled on the site. She’d told me she was working on a new line of products to complement her delicious English Toffee, but I had no idea what fantastic things she’d created. These are the kinds of sweets in flavor combinations that make you fall in love with candy again.
She had great flavors for us to try out like the Cowboy Brittle (bacon, bourbon, molasses) and a Vanilla Hazelnut Brittle with Cocoa Nibs. I ended up getting a bag of the Spectaculoos, with bits of some of my favorite Belgian cookies nestled within a buttery, rich crunchiness. Her Indonesian Cashew Brittle has layers of citrus, spice, and nutty, meaty cashew nuts all wrapped up in that toffee shell. I feel I have to take a little credit for this last creation, as I introduced Laurie to Cyrilla of Nuts+Nuts. All of my foodie matchmaking should end up with such delicious results!
The market also gave me a chance to catch up with Jen and Liz of Liddabit Sweets. I’d run into Jen earlier in the week at a cookbook launch party, but I haven’t seen Liz in a while. The summer season has given her a chance to develop her awesome cotton candy making skills. The maple candy floss (as my British friends would say) is light and delicate and not too sugary. It’s a huge step up from the usual fun fair treat.
Of course, I couldn’t walk away from their table without picking up a little something to snack on during the course of the week. Usually, I’m a sucker for their bourbon-bacon-caramel-coffee popcorn combo labeled Breakfast of Heros, but this time I went for their caramels instead. The Orange-Ricotta ones are not always available, so I picked those to take home with me. They have a lovely citrus personality that perfumes each bite and marries perfectly with the creaminess of the candy itself. The ricotta just creates an extra layer of richness to the mix. I’ve already eaten two of them, so I’m not sure they’ll last longer than the next few days.
If you open up my fridge, you’ll find at least a few jars of Anarchy in A Jar‘s amazing fruit spreads. Don’t let the small size of the jars fool you, these have big, bold, fruit flavors that will perk up your breakfast toast and have it make the coffee for you. I really like all of their jams, so it was hard to stay on budget for this week and to pick just two of them. The Grapefruit & Smoked Salt marmalade had a really interesting deep-founded citrus profile with tart, salt, and sweet. The Hot Fireman’s Pear Jam is one I’ve been thinking needs to hang out with the others I have at home some day.
I decided to pick up another jar of the Blackberry & Lavender, with lovely ripe berries delicately perfumed with herbs, along with 3’s Company Triple Berry, which was one of my first favorite jams I tried of theirs. They get to join the almost-done jar of Strawberry Balsamic on the top shelf of the fridge. It is wonderful when combined with fresh ricotta cheese and grilled peaches, not to tempt anyone or anything.
At the table for Hot Bread Kitchen, I got to say hi to Robin, their new business developer, whom I hadn’t seen at a market in a while. She directed us to the demo they were doing of a bicycle-powered masa grinder. The results went into some hand-made tortillas which we were able to sample. They were filled with robust, fresh corn flavor had a slight crisp at the edge and were soft on the inside. They sell these at the markets and are definitely on my to-buy list for the future. I picked up one of their gorgeous pain de campagne loaves instead to go with all the jam that I bought.
As a side note, Robin asked me to let everyone know that they are currently taking applications for their incubator program for folks looking to start their own food businesses. I’ve been up to their space on East 114th Street, which was completely redone recently in conjunction with the re-opening of La Marqueta. The next deadline to apply is August 31st. They do wonderful work with immigrant women teaching them life and business skills through baking bread and are one of my hometown heros. Please spread the word to anyone who is looking to launch his/her own enterprise!
At the Food. curated screening a couple of weeks back, I’d finally had a chance to sample Dough‘s wonderful products. The donuts always look so enticing when I see them at the market, but I can’t chow down on a whole one of them and still have room for anything else. So, I was thrilled to see that they are also selling donut holes. They were the ideal sweet, soft, pillowy bite to have to keep us going during our visit.
The photo above has two of the sauces from Calcutta Kitchens, who was a newcomer to the market this week. We really enjoyed the Coriander & Coconut simmer sauce with its herbal flavor. It would make a great start to building an evening meal, although I would definitely want to add more chopped fresh coriander and a dash of grated ginger to it to give it some more zing. The Makhani simmer sauce was not as dynamic as I would have liked, but I could see it being a good base from which to construct one’s own canvas.
For snacking, we found that the Onion Bhajia with tamarind chutney from Dadar Station was a crunchy, not-greasy, light savory bite that was a great appetizer before seeking out lunch. These folks are really interesting. They have all spent time in India and decided that they needed to bring the great street food options that they had there back to New York to share with all of us. I could definitely go back to try out their Chana Chaat and Vada Pao on my next market trip.
I think the most incredible item that I tried in the market today had to be Crown Maple Syrup. They create single harvest maple syrups, segregating different batches of tapping during the maple syrup season. With this, they bottle their various “vintages.” We sipped their organic light amber, medium amber, and dark amber batches. If you are wondering why I’m talking about this as though it was wine, it’s because that’s the first thing that we thought of when we tasted the samples. The producers approach their product in this way, too, which has made this syrup one found in the kitchens of some of the highest end restaurants in the city. I indulged completely and bought a bottle of the medium amber to try out at home.
Before we headed out of the market, we checked out a table that had caught my eye earlier in the day. Q Ginger Ale was refreshing, fizzy, and not at all over bearing. I’ve been making ginger-lime sodas in the afternoons to cool off, and this will be great to mix up for that. They also have a Tonic which is flavorful and crisp and would be an amazing cocktail base.
In addition to all the goodies that I picked up to bring home with me, we had macaroons from Danny Macaroons (my friend might be a new fan of the Salted Caramel), a Doctor bar from Brewla Bars, a cemita sandwich, and a peach-basil drink from The Stand. We were lucky that the weather was in our favor today, as there have been times I’ve been there when it has been meltingly hot. The crowds seemed to agree as it got really busy just as we were heading out. I’m hoping that this bodes well for the rest of the season at Smorgasburg and that everyone buys as many things as we did to eat and to take home with them.