Tag Archives: New Amsterdam Market

New Amsterdam Market Floralia Celebration

Sunday, on a glorious, bright sunshiny day, the New Amsterdam Market held a celebration for May Day called Floralia, complete with Maypole (above). I’ve never been much for recognizing this pagan feast day or the communist-era counterpart. I’ve always been envious, however, of my European friends when they had this day off, as it seemed a bit random. Of course, we have our Labor Day in September instead, so I guess that counts.

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A-Brisket A-Brasket at Jimmy’s No. 43 for New Amsterdam Market

Ah, what to do on a gorgeous, sunny, crisp early spring Saturday in New York City?  Head to the East Village to a food-related fundraiser, of course.  Yesterday at Jimmy’s No. 43, Jimmy Carbone hosted a Brisket Cook-off, the proceeds of which went to support the New Amsterdam Market.  Several local chefs came together along with some other special guests to show what they could do with this cut of meat.

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New Amsterdam Market Valentine’s Market & Apothecary

If you, like me, have been having withdrawal symptoms fromthe New Amsterdam Market’s weekly gatherings of this fall, visiting theirValentine’s Market & Apothecary was a bright ray of sunshine for this coldSaturday.  Held in theireducational space on Front Street, this was a perfect chance to pick up someunique artisan gifts for the special people (or person) in yourlife.
I had a chance to see some of my favorite food folksincluding the ice cream geniuses at The Bent Spoon.  Flavors are available for purchase as pints or you can get an instant fix in the form of a small cone (similar to the ones at the Ice Cream Festival this summer).  TheStrawberry-Chocolate had a deep, dark chocolate flavor paired with an intense ripe berry freshness that felt like biting into summertime fruit.  The gorgeous redcolor is completely in theme with the holiday.  The Bitter Chocolate (seen above) was rich and darkly seductive, perfectfor the chocoholic in your life. My favorite, however, was the Olive Oil.  Creamy and smooth with a bright yellow-green flavor and a slightlynutty finish.  Made with a Spanisholive oil, the texture of the ice cream shines a warm, flattering glow on the oil’s features.  This was really fantastic andwould make a great ending to that meal à deux that you are planning to prepare.
Next to them were Cyrilla and Warren at Nuts+Nuts.  I picked up a packet of their SpicyCashews (my favorites from the New Amsterdam Holiday Market) and the HoneySesame Cashews, which were going fast today.  I’m a huge fan of these cashews, which are smaller andmeatier than the ones that you typically find for sale.  Cyrilla is passionate about herproduct, which is sourced directly from farmers in her native Indonesia. Theywill be at New Amsterdam tomorrow, too, but they are also at another market at145 Front Street in Dumbo, if you can’t get downtown this weekend to see them.
Liddabit Sweet’s Liz Gutman was behind the table at theirstand today (Jen King was at the Brooklyn Flea).  In addition to their delectable candy bars and silken caramels, she had aselection of their Jellies in a box that contains Cassis, Guava, Meyer Lemon, and BloodOrange flavors.  There were also special gift boxes of gorgeous Salted CaramelBonbons sprinkled with gold dust. You could opt instead to give your sweetie one of their beautifulCinnamon Heart Lollipops whose coloring comes from beets, not artificialdye.  Both the Lollipops and theJellies are vegan.
I don’t think I’ve run into P&H Soda’s Anton Nocitosince the Hester Street / Grub Street Food Festival.  At that time, he had his handmade Concord Grape sodaavailable.  Sadly, that is now outof season, but I’ve been told it will return again when local grapes areavailable.  He’ll also be bringingback his quince, cherry, strawberry flavors during their peak times, as well.  For this weekend, he has several of hisclassic syrups like Lime, Ginger, Hibiscus, and Cream available for purchase,to be combined with fizzy water to make your favorite sodas.  You can also catch up with Anton at oneof the classes he gives at The Brooklyn Kitchen.
When I was very little, I remember that every holiday seasonwe received a box of citrus fruit from Florida.  My great-grandmother and great-great-aunt had moved to St.Petersburg, away from the harsh Midwestern winters, and I think my grandparentsarranged for us to get this from them as a present.  Seeing Cee Bee’s Citrus colorful display of grapefruit, tangelos,and tangerines, brought back for me the excitement and wonder of opening thatpackage of orange and yellow orbs. A family-run farm, one of the few left in Florida, they pick and packtheir fruit to order with it arriving at your home 4-5 days off of thetree.  I had a sample of theirMonarch Tangerines, which were originally grown solely by the King of Morocco, he liked them so much as to keep them for himself.  With one bite, I could tell why, luscious juiciness flowedover my tongue with just enough sweet aftertaste and none of the metalliccloying I sometimes find in the supermarket-purchased variety.  I’ve heard murmurings of a pairing up between P&H Soda and Cee Bee’s Citrus so soda lovers be on the lookout for somethingspecial to happen.
Wild Food Gatherers had a display of black walnuts along withtheir tinctures and ginseng products. They had honey and ginseng combinations in male and female versions,which I understand are supposed to be taken alternately for best effect.  The tinctures are designed based upondifferent ailments.  I was evenshown a sample of what the different sexes of the wild ginseng look like, whichwas an interesting botany lesson on a lazy Saturday.  The wild ginseng for these wares are hand-foraged in thewild.
Next to that table were the delicious and gorgeous chocolatebars (photo left) from the Mast Brothers.  Myfriend had picked up a bar to tide her over while I walked around themarket.  I didn’t try any samplesfrom them today, except at the next stand I visited, Shandaken Bake, where Ipicked up a huge chocolate chunk cookie (photo right) that had Mast Brothers Dominicanchocolate embedded within it.  Iabsolutely loved the combination of the decadent, sultry chocolate chunksjutting out from the cookie that had slivers of chocolate dancing around thedough.  The cookie itself had theperfect combination of a crisp outer ring, with that burnt butter finish Ienjoy along with a chewy center. This is going to be one of those market finds I go back for again andagain.
In the non-food variety, there were these beautiful cardsfrom Robert Wagner.  I saw severalfolks buying these to have them personalized by Deborah Delaney in her gorgeous, scrolling calligraphy.  A gift ofone of these would be a Valentine’s Day gift to cherish in a keepsake album.
After the market winds down, however, it could be time toput your feet up and relax with a cuppa. With names like “Chill Out” and “Snowy Day” who could resist a bag ofherbal tea from Terra Cura Botanicals? The 100% organic ingredients are either grown by the owners themselves(about 30%) or sourced from small farmers and are naturally non-caffeinated.  They also sell a line of traditionalteas, which they source from China. I smelled the Jasmine Green Tea (one of their most popular), which had awonderful, deep, rich perfume to it.
Lore and Yewande Komolafe shared the table closest to thedoor today.  The former is a smallshop that is being incubated by this market.  There wereseveral pieces of cookware that caught my eye.  I’d have to figure outwhere on earth to put them in my tiny kitchen at this point, so I had to hold off on buying anything today. The latter vendor had the most beautiful-looking thumbprintcookies.  Buttery shortbread on theoutside with homemade jam dotting the center in either blood orange or Meyerlemon flavors.  I picked up asquare of moist, rich Basbousa, which is a semolina cake with honey, almonds,and orange.  The perfume of thecitrus syrup filled my mouth with warm happy feelings, taking the chill off ofthe day.
Midway through my market tour today, I ran into RobertLaValva, the Director of the New Amsterdam Market.  He shared with me how happy he was to see the turnout.  At that point, it was literallybumper-to-bumper people all checking out the different treats for sale andpicking up goodies for either themselves or their loved ones.  Doing something off-season in thisspace was a bit of a test for them to see how it would work.  As he said, he is “thinking about thevendors who support the market,” and “wants to have a good market forthem.”  If the traffic flow todaywas any indication, it was a great success.  I know of at least one vendor who was on the verge ofselling out of everything they’d brought for the day.  This is probably my favorite market in the city, so I, too,was glad to see how popular it was.
The New Amsterdam Market Valentine’s Market & Apothecary is open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, February 12-14, 2011, which means youhave a couple of more days to check out all the wonderful things that are downthere.  For a complete list of theactivities taking place, visit their website.  The best way to find out about the activities and scheduleof the New Amsterdam Market is to get on their email list, where they alsohighlight the vendors who are participating on market days.
Buon appetito!

More Holiday Gift Ideas!

Well, it’s getting down to the wire, so hopefully, you have all of your holiday gifts bought and maybe even wrapped.  I have an ever-growing pile of things to take with me to Virginia that I have to figure out how to pack.  So, really, when I was at the New Amsterdam Market’s last market of 2010 yesterday, I shouldn’t have bought anything, right?

Alas, I couldn’t resist.  Even thought I was heading to brunch only a little while later, I had to pick up a few things.  There were just so much great stuff.  It started at the beginning, at the info table.  There, Nils Wessell had these gorgeous, handmade butcher’s block cutting boards.  Made in Brooklyn of materials from Pennsylvania and glue from Ohio, these were just stunning, but practical, works of art.  The waste from production is composted at a local center.  Good thing I hadn’t seen these earlier, otherwise they would have been at the top of my Christmas list.  Well, there’s always my birthday next year.

One of the new vendors to me were the folks at Nuts + Nuts.  The nuts are produced in Indonesia by the owners’ family and local farmers.  Then, they are transformed and packaged into various flavor combinations.  I tried the Spicy flavor which is in the center bin in the photo.  Perfumed with kaffir lime leaves, spices, and peppers, the citrus hits your palate and then is followed up by the heat from the chilies only to return with more citrus notes.  The packets are perfect for that mid-afternoon snack fix, and the boxes would make great gifts for the cashew-lover on your list.  I didn’t try the other flavors but am looking forward to tracking them down again.

In mystroll through the market, I chatted with Jen from LiddabitSweets (glad to hear the shipping is done!), Vince at Cellars at Jasper Hill, and Grace at TableTales (who was doing a brisk business in the cold weather).  Weswung by NordicBreads to stock up on their wonderful ruis bread.  I also had a nice talk about Italy and their possible cooking school plans with the people behind Fresh Flavors Catering, who had this greatdisplay of New York-made Italian food items.

Then,on the last row, there were the folks from The Bent Spoon.  They had oneof my all-time favorite flavors at the New Amsterdam Ice Cream Festival last summer.  A friend of mine and I tried their deeply chocolatey hot chocolate.  I haven’t had cup this delicious, this velvety warm since I lived in Italy.  With a dollop of real dairy whipped cream and a wafer cookie, this cup could have been a replica of the cioccolata calda con panna that I used to treat myself to every so often during the winter when I lived in Bologna.    

Although they were really trying to push everyone towards the hot chocolate, we were all there for their amazing ice cream, no matter where the thermometer was hovering.  I got a scoop of Peppermint Stick and one ofEggnog, the holiday’s greatest flavors in one cup. The cool, mint flavor with chunks of candy cane and sliversof chocolate was perfectly refreshing.  Nothing at all like the little ice cream cups from elementary school.  The Eggnog managed to capture thebooziness and creaminess of this drink, all in a frozen confection.  I was so disappointed that I didn’tpick up a pint of each of them, as they sold out by the time I circled backaround the market to pick up the last of my holiday gifts.  I guess I’ll just have to plan betternext year!


New Amsterdam Market Smørrebrød Festival

One of the things that I really love about the New Amsterdam Market is that it features different kinds of food events and showcases the variety of the things that we eat in this city.  This was really evident in the Ice Cream Festival this summer and the Hudson Valley Harvest in October.  Today, we had a chance to dip into another part of the New York’s culinary heritage with the Smørrebrød Festival.  This was part food festival, part competition, as the participants were pitted against each other in a variety of categories.

Ulla Dubgaard and Maiken Tandgaard Derno from the Consulate General of Denmark were kind enough to talk with me at the earlier part of the event about how this came together.  For a couple of years, they have been working with well-known chef Trina Hahnemann and her Danish Rye Bread Project on a possible activity based upon the revival in cooking and in traditional fare that has become bigger and bigger on the food scene in general and also in Europe specifically (see Ireland and Darina Allen).  With Noma named best restaurant in the world earlier this year, they said that the timing seemed appropriate to launch this initiative.
Rye bread or rugbrød itself is something that is an intrinsic part of their heritage.  From farmers who used to take slices of bread layered with fat and salt to have as their lunch to workers in the industrial revolution days who ate it with potatoes, meats and whatever else was leftover from the night before to the modern smørrebrød shops similar to our hamburger stands, rugbrød is rich in fiber, provides good bacteria through its mild fermentation, and stands as a perfect platform for whatever flavors are placed upon it.  Baking the bread oneself is also part of their tradition, as Maiken explained that parents make it for their children’s lunches and university students use their dormitory ovens to produce loaves, even with good bakeries from which to purchase it.  It was clear in talking to them that they were honored to be able to bring this part of their native country to the market and that they were very impressed at the number of people who showed up today to share in this tradition.

With Chef Trina Hahnemann’s assistance and with bread baked by Nordic Breads using locally-grown wheat and rye from Cayuga Pure Organics, NYC chefs created thousands of pieces of this Danish specialty layered with regionally-sourced meats, cheeses, fish, and other products.  The beers were sourced by Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 and featured several from Denmark, which paired beautifully with the array of smørrebrød that participants could select for their meal.

Sandwiches from Saltie, GreenBrownOrange, and Trina Hahnemann (L-R)

A $20.00 ticket allowed you a choice of three of the sandwiches and a beer.  As you can see from the photos below, it wasn’t simple for me to choose from all the great-looking options which ones to put on my plate (seen above).  As Robert LaValva of New Amsterdam Market said, it wasn’t easy for the judges to decide either, so I felt better about my selections.  After today’s event, I can see very clearly why these delicious bites are worth keeping close as part of the Danish heritage.  Perhaps we can find some room to export them to the U.S, as well, so that we can enjoy them more often.

Smoked Venison with Onion Marmalade, Apple and Celery Root
Chefs Simo and Tuomas Kuusisto of Nordic Breads

I’m already a huge fan of their Finnish Ruis Bread (rye bread made with 100% rye flour), which has been on my breakfast table for a couple of weeks now, so I had no doubts as to how delicious things would be today from the start.  I had to make tough choices to pick my three sandwiches, so I didn’t get to sample this one.  If I’d had been able to make a fourth selection, or if my friends had come with me today, this would have been the one that I would have tried.  I’m going to put in a plug for them to have this as a sample to try with the wonderful bread that they normally have for sale at the market so that I can have another chance to taste it.

Winner: Most Interesting Flavor Combination

Braised Pork with Caramelized Onion and Caraway
Marlow & Daughters

I had a great time talking to the chef from Marlow & Daughters before everything kicked into gear.  He seemed really happy to be participating in this event and to see how it would all unfold.  This was another of the selections that really made me wish I had an extra ticket to try it out.  Again, my solution is just to try to track it down at another available opportunity.

Winner: Most Beautifully Simple Combination

Chicken Liver, Pork Shoulder, and Parsley; Yogurt, Crosnes, Sunchokes, and Currants; and CB & J (autumn berry)
Chef Patrick Connolly of Bobo

This trio of sandwiches would have made an interesting meal in and of itself with the different combinations and textures working with the bread.  I didn’t see any of these on the table to try when I made it to the head of the line to make my selections.  I suspect that he may have already sold out of them when it was my turn to eat.  What I really liked was that in his acceptance speech for his prize, he admitted that the ringer was his staff member who has a relative who works as a chef in Denmark.

Winner: Most Traditional Combination with a Twist (for the chicken liver one)

Beef Loin, Shaved Fennel, Sweet Onions, Yogurt Lemon Sauce
Chef Alejandro Alcocer of GreenBrownOrange

I’m not sure that any photo can do justice to how wonderful-tasting this was.  Succulent, tender beef on top of a creamy yogurt sauce with just the right tang from the lemon and the sourdough of the bread combined with the crunch and bite from the onions and the fennel, this was amazing and a worthy use of one of my precious tickets.  I would definitely have gone back for seconds and maybe even thirds.

Winner: Dairy and Meat Combination

“The Peck Slip” (Egg, Butter, Pickled Beets, Arugula, Herbs, Capers, and Feta)

Sweet, salty, creamy, tart, this hit all the notes in every bite.  As one of the folks helping hand out sandwiches said, “I want one of these, and I’m not even a vegetarian!”  He was totally correct.  In visual presentation alone, this one made my short list of those to try.  On first bite, it was obvious I’d made the right decision.  As the judges put it, it had many different flavors going on at the same time, but each one came across distinctively and in complement to the others.  Not seeing it on the website as yet, I recommend that they add this one to their menu.

Winner: Most Beautifully Complicated Combination

Long Island Scrod Brandade, Shaved Carrot Salad with Beets, and Narragansett Ricotta
Chefs Nathan Foot and Christophe Hille of Northern Spy Food Co.

This seemed like an interesting combination to me with the fish and cheese, but I didn’t get to try it, as by this time, I’d run out of tickets.  It looked lovely, and I can imagine that the beets and carrots would have given a hearty, earthy crunch to the sandwich, rounding out the other flavors on the bread.

Winner: Combination Using Seasonal Vegetables (beets)

My third selection was a sandwich by Chef Trina Hahnemann.  She made several of the smørrebrød, so it was hard to pick from just one of them.  The beet was very popular I was told, and the potato with leeks and cheese and walnut samples looked really good.  I opted, however, for the one which to me seemed very traditional: small, sweet shrimp wrapped in a dill sauce.  The salty shrimp and peppery herbs just melded together with the tang of the robust bread into the most wonderful flavors that seemed so appropriate with the waterside location of the market.  This was something that just fit with the tone of the day.

I also had a chance to try a couple of the Danish beers that were available.  On the advice of Jimmy Carbone, I tried the Mikkeller Pilsner, from a craft brewery in Denmark.  Light and refreshing, this is one that I can definitely see as a good pairing for many of the smørrebrød.  The second drink I had, though, was the IPA from the same brewer.  Stronger and more complex in flavor, this was what I really wanted to go with the sandwiches that I had picked for my meal.  I see from their site, that they also have a bar in Copenhagen, which would be someplace to visit the next time I can make it over there.

As Robert LaValva said in closing out the food festival, maybe this is the beginning of more events to feature cuisine from other countries that factor into the foodscape of the city.  With the support of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and District 1 – City Council Member Margaret Chin (both of whom were there today) for the market and its activities, I hope that can become a reality.  This was a great event for the perfect, sunny fall day that we had this afternoon.  It brought lots of people to downtown and the wonderful food and drink created the perfect atmosphere in celebration of the market.

Buon appetito!

Product Spotlight – Schoolhouse Kitchen

Growing up, I was always the odd one out in the family.  I couldn’t stand to have jelly on my peanut butter sandwiches, and I didn’t actually like jam or jelly in any form.  I also felt the same way about the jar of bright yellow mustard that lived in our fridge.  Fortunately for me, things have changed, and I have found something that I now really love to eat.  The amazingly delicious spreadable fruits, chutneys, and mustards from Schoolhouse Kitchen are light years away from these items and flavorful and intricate enough to make a convert out of the most staunch skeptic in the condiment department.
Product Display

I first encountered their products at the New Amsterdam Market during the Hudson Valley Harvest event, where I was able to taste several of them (one of the great perks of the market is that the vendors allow you to try before you buy).  The flavor and complexity of the Cherry Blackberry Sage & Clove spreadable fruit and Horseradish-Dill Mustard lingered happily on my palate and remained in the foodie sensors of my brain the entire way through our market tour.  Unfortunately, I neglected to pick up a couple of jars to enjoy at home.  The next Sunday, I went downtown as soon as I could break free from my errands and bought some as one of my first vendor stops.

For the past week or so, these two products have formed the base around which I’ve been organizing my breakfast.  I’m completely hooked on them.  Much like a great wine, the Cherry Blackberry Sage & Clove spreadable fruit hits your senses with its rich berry aromas and builds upon its notes of herb and spice to create a complex taste experience and round, full flavors that wrap around your tongue.  This is a graduate-school level treat. I can see this as a new cupboard staple whether it is spread on bread with butter, slathered on a sandwich, whisked with oil into dressing, or swirled into yogurt. The Horseradish-Dill Mustard is bold and daring, not for the faint of heart.  I’ve been using it as a spicy counterpoint to some smoked salmon, which is a great morning wake-up.  I have also been envisioning it stirred into mashed potatoes for a creamy kick at the Thanksgiving table or used to dress up a holiday ham.

Serving Suggestions

Wanting to know more about these products, I gave my card to the person who was working at New Amsterdam and asked if I could talk to them.  Wendy W. Smith, President of Schoolhouse Kitchen kindly offered to meet with me to talk to me about her company and its philosophy.  Yesterday, I traveled from Manhattan out to the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, Brooklyn, where she keeps her office. Started in upstate New York in a kitchen, her mother, an avid cook who is still involved in developing new ideas for flavors, began by making these products to sell at local fairs and fundraisers, the profits going to educational causes, as they still do today.

With the encouragement of her friends and family and armed with recipes that they’d shared with her over the years, Patsy Smith launched Schoolhouse Kitchen as a business.  Her daughter, Wendy, now runs the company, and the labels on the jars are designed by her son, Christopher.  This is a not only a family business but also a real community enterprise, something Wendy continues to promote through her involvement in their with their charitable work with The Farm-Based Education Association as well as her participation in local food-oriented projects.

Old American Can Factory, Brooklyn, NY

The quality and attention to detail in developing these food items is something that is apparent from the moment you open the jar.  The vibrant colors and aromas that waft up your nasal passages indicate that you are about to taste something special.  Wendy and I talked about this and about how that is the goal, to develop products that are unique and that awaken a whole new world of possibilities for enjoying food.  We went back to the idea of these products as being similar to good wines that build upon the taste points on your tongue with each sip (or in this case bite) to bring out the best of whatever you decide to eat with or on it.  If I had had these items in my parents’ fridge when I was younger, I wouldn’t have battled to keep them off of my sandwiches.

As we wrapped up our meeting, Wendy asked me if I would be interested in developing some recipes for their site and offered to let me have a sample of two of their chutneys: Squadrilla and Bardshar.  I had already thought about what else I could do with the flavors that I’d tried previously, so I jumped at the chance to play with something new.  As I walked back to the subway, my mind was just exploding with all kinds of great ideas for what I could do with these food items.  My train on the way back home got stuck (why do people unnecessarily pull the emergency break?), so I had ample opportunity to write down mini-recipes and combinations for the chutneys.  Stopping by Union Square to hit the Monday Greenmarket on my way back uptown, I unfolded my plan.


Topped with slices of tart Granny Smith apple, peppery arugula, and smoked cheddar cheese, the Squadrilla Chutney, named after a much-loved babysitter, allows all the sandwich components to shine with a citrusy pop and delicate spice.  Although completely vegetarian, this is a hearty meal similar to having that leftover Thanksgiving sandwich with all the fixings, only slightly healthier.  I paired the Bardshar Chutney, the recipe for which was shared by a family friend, with a creamy regular cheddar cheese and some applewood-smoked bacon to showcase its robust, dark flavor and deep sweet-spicy undertones.  Both of these would make amazing glazes for meats or for vegetables (check out the website for some recipes), but I’m really hoping just to instill some lunchbox envy at the next few brownbag meetings I have to attend.

More serving suggestions

Buon appetito!

Where to find it:

Schoolhouse Kitchen’s products are available at many stores and specialty shops.  There is a helpful map on the website to locate them in your area.  You can also visit their stand at the New Amsterdam Market to try some samples and to pick up your favorites or order from them on line.  If you can’t decide on what to buy, they also offer gift packs of several flavors, which I’d recommend so that you can get a chance to experiment with as many of these wonderful items as possible.  I’ve definitely got these products on my gift list for this year, whether to receive them (hint, hint) or to give them to the other food lovers in my life.