Monthly Archives: July 2011

Northside Market Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Even the creeping crawl of the downtown Lexington Avenue subway lines and the L line rerouting couldn’t keep folks away from checking out the new Northside Market and taking in the Ice Cream Day at Smorgasburg today.  The hot weather was a perfect excuse to indulge in some creamy treats and to check out some great food vendors.  I came home with a whole bag full of goodies to cook with this week from both markets, well if the next heat wave doesn’t hit us that is.

I’d been hearing a lot about the Northside Market summertime pop-up to be held in Williamsburg not far from the waterfront from Robicelli’s Twitter feed.  It was a nice way to start off my day, and I found some really great edible items to sample there.  As it is also a craft market, too, you will want to plan to have separate bags to carry away the food vs. non-food goodies that you pick up.  I saw the cutest clothes for babies and toddlers, some beautiful jewelry, and other really interesting things with which to start building my holiday gift list.

In planning out my day to be able to get to Smorgasburg, I realized that both markets were only a few blocks away from each other, so that I could indulge my cupcake fandom and also have ice cream.  When Allison posted that they were bringing out one of their winter flavors from the secret recipe vault, I knew I had to make a pit stop to pick up the Crème Brulée, a vanilla cupcake with custard-flavored frosting and lots of crunchy sugar bits on top.   It completely mimicked the taste, aroma, and texture of breaking into a heavenly dessert.

Crème Brulée (left) and L’Orange Noir

The Yvonne and L’Orange Noir

All New!

Robicelli’s does Brownies!  Introducing The Moverly (left) and The Maltz (right), both of which have a liqueur-tinged profile in addition to deep, fudgy chocolate.

Drinking Vessels for Mate

Drinking straw-type instruments for Mate

The market also introduced me to some new folks, too.  I am familiar with Mate only because I had met someone a while back who had done a Peace Corps stint in South America and who carried it around with him since then.  This is the first time I’ve seen these items for sale in a general market here in the city.  Packets of yerba mate leaves (which is used to make the drink, much like steeping tea) were also for sale.

Beyond Kombucha

Another brewed drink which has become very popular over the past few years, and which shows up regularly at the local markets is kombucha.  It is a fermented tea-type drink which some say is very beneficial.  For me, I don’t really enjoy the taste of it, however, it does seem to be very popular, with several locally-produced varieties for sale.  The Beyond Kombucha folks, who are based in Astoria, had some refreshing-looking glasses for sale to help everyone combat the day’s rising temperatures.

303 Salsas samples

Then, there was the option of eating spicy food in hot weather to manage one’s body temperature.  The sauces from 303 Salsas, which just started production, are perfect candidates to try for this.  The green version is a vinegar-based sauce made with five types of green chilis.  I picked up a jar of this to have on hand at home.  Drizzled over my morning eggs, it packed a hefty punch, powerful enough to get my day kicked into gear.  I also enjoyed the oil-based garlic and red chili sauce, which would be an ideal marinade or basting sauce for a barbecue.  The thick red chili sauce is more typical of what you might find in a restaurant served with tortilla chips, and was rich and flavorful.  I’m looking forward to tasting some more of their products as they build out their line.

You’ll Eat it and Like It

Custom-baked goodies outlet, You’ll Eat it and Like It was another contender for my sweet tooth yesterday.  If it wasn’t that I had to walk around for a bit more in the scorching heat, I would have looked a bit more closely at picking up some of their breads and pastries to take with me.  On my next visit, I think I might have to bring a larger carrying bag to try to fit some of their items into it.

Mini-tastes from Meunier Gourmet

More items from Meunier Gourmet

If you were a bit more interested in having something for lunch at the market or in picking up other treats to have at home, Meunier Gourmet had patés, rillettes, and other items to pick up that would be perfect picnic-style food.  They were also selling beignets and mini-quiches which all looked really delicious.

Gorgeous sandwiches from Le Comptoir

The sandwiches from Le Comptoir looked amazing, just waiting for me to make a decision on them to take away for my mid-day meal.  I wish I’d had someone with me to share them so that I could have bought one of each.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t until later on that I ran into some guys whom I knew, and they’d already maxed themselves out on ice cream.

Dub Pies pies

Thai Chicken Curry

Another set of folks who had been talked about on Twitter were the guys behind Dub Pies.  Hand-held pies were actually the working man’s (it was just men then) quick lunch of choice in an earlier century.  We’ve gotten away from this in favor of sandwiches and salads and those hot food bar takeaway places.  I sort of think that the hand pie should make a comeback, especially with ones that were as delicious as these Thai Chicken Curry ones (photo).  Tender chunks of chicken in a lightly spiced, herbal-citrus sauce in an edible, portable container (i.e., the crust) made this the perfect thing to carry me on my way off to find ice cream.

Buon appetito!

Summer Fancy Food Show 2011

For the past few weeks, maybe even a month or more, some of the folks I’ve seen in the NYC food world have been buzzing about the NASFT Summer Fancy Food Show taking place in Washington, DC this week. Usually, this conference has been held at the Javits Center in New York, so this geographic shift has been a bit dislocating to those based in the Big Apple who are usually accustomed to popping in and out of the show while also keeping to a regular workday schedule. For those who made the trip down to our Nation’s Capital, there were some really great products to check out and some very nice people to meet.

On my site, I try to cover the local, artisan food items created by those who live in the New York City area and which are usually found at the markets held in various spots around town. What was really thrilling was to see how many of these folks were displaying their wares here this year. For some of them, I know it was the first time that they’d been at the Fancy Food Show, which is a testament to how well-crafted and delicious their products are that they have the confidence to jump onto a larger stage.

 Nuts+Nuts Spicy Mix

For regular readers of the site, you know I’m already a big fan of Nuts+Nuts, Schoolhouse Kitchen, Rick’s Picks, and Brooklyn Salsa Company. When I arrived on Sunday at the show, I made sure to pop by each of their stands to say hello and to let them know a friendly face was in town. This also gave me a chance to catch up with everyone to find out what is going on with them. Cyrilla of Nuts+Nuts is creating some new gift packaging options for those who are looking for delicious and unique presents to give.

The Sun from Brooklyn Salsa Company (photo from their site)

Rob and Casey introduced me to their Japan-inspired The Sun salsa, which I had known about but hadn’t yet sampled. Its fragrant notes of citrus with ginger and a little spice would be perfect on grilled fish or poured over a veggies and wrapped in parchment, letting all that great flavor infuse into them. This is definitely on my shopping list to pick up back in the city.

Coconut Citrus Vinaigrette from Schoolhouse Kitchen (photo from their site)

Another couple of terrific tasting products that I sampled were Wendy’s new vinaigrettes. I am still dreaming about the Coconut Citrus one. It would be perfect to marinade pork or chicken (or both) in preparation for grilling for satay. I’d pick up fellow show exhibitor Peanut Butter & Co.‘s Smooth Operator to make a tangy peanut sauce to go along with it. I also really loved her Poppy Seed Vinaigrette for its light, delicate finish. It would be amazing drizzled over grilled fruit and served with some vanilla gelato or coconut sorbet.

Brooklyn Slate Company from Brooklyn Uncorked

What was nice about this trade show is that I also got to see a few folks that I’ve never quite managed to connect with at some of the markets. I’ve eaten off of Brooklyn Slate Company’s gorgeous trays at a few Edible magazine events. It was so nice to meet them in person and to talk to them more about what they do. Their products might end up under the tree for someone this year, I have a feeling, or maybe I’ll treat myself to one instead.

“The spread” from Brooklyn Brine Co. (photo from their site)

Shamus from Brooklyn Brine Co. had his fabulous pickles on display and seemed to be winning over quite a few new fans when I stopped by. They are working on a new tasting room, so I’m hoping to get over there and check that out when they are ready. In the meantime, I’ll just have to figure out another excuse to entertain so I can introduce my friends to his tasty nibbles.

McClure’s Pickles from “Rolling in Dough or No?

The pickle front was also represented at the show by McClure’s. Their relish is just begging to be paired up with summertime fare. Wonder how it would work with Les Trois Petits Cochons sausages or patés? I was told that the former will be available at the Edible Manhattan Good Beer Event on the 26th, so perhaps it might be possible to bring those two tastes together.

Chozen Ice Cream at Smorgasburg

Washington, DC’s infamously steamy summer weather did not fail to deliver a few muggy, scorching days to its out of town guests. Fortunately, the folks from Chozen Ice Cream were there to keep everybody cool. I first met them at Smorgasburg a few weeks back. They’ll be there for the ice cream festival this weekend, so you can have a chance sample their unique flavors there.

Sir Kensington Ketchup at Smorgasburg

Sir Kensington Ketchup, another vendor I’d met at Smorgasburg, was also at the show, mustaches and all. I’ve got a jar of their sauce on my counter that is waiting for me to open it up to slather on a burger or dip some fries into it. On my next trip, I think I’m going to grab a jar of the spicy variety. Both are great condiments sure to liven up your next cookout.

Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream (photo from their site)

There were some tasty and really intriguing products that I tried that haven’t yet made it into the markets or shops in the city. Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream, which uses milk from New York dairies, was a different taste profile from the usual frozen treats, somewhat like the red wine-chocolate gelato I tried earlier this year. The Peach and White Zinfandel had a nice creamy flavor that picked up the floral nature of the fruit and delivered a pleasant wine-tinged backnote. The Port would be fantastic with walnuts in syrup on top, perhaps the Pecans in Adirondack Honey from The Well-Dressed Food Company, another New York State exhibitor who had some wonderful-sounding products, including an herbal Rosemary-Riesling Jam made with Finger Lakes wine.

My Dad’s Cookies (photo from their site)

Gluten-free products seemed to be a growing trend that I saw this year. I don’t remember seeing quite as many at last year’s show. I tried a couple of them. Do you remember the flavor of Hydrox? That’s what the Chocolate Sandwich Cookie from My Dad’s Cookies taste like.  They have a wide range of other types and styles of treats, too, so that those who are staying away from gluten won’t have to sacrifice their sweet tooth.  I’ve been told that they also do a good slice, so I’m going to have to stop by the next time I’m around the Madison Square Park area to check it out.

Happy Baby Happy Morning breakfast pouch (photo from their site)

The folks behind the Happy Baby brand of organic baby food brought with them some new items from their Happy Family line, designed for busy folks on the go who would still like to fulfill their morning nutritional needs.  These are also gluten-free items. Wholesome-Kitchen (unfortunately their website is not yet active) was another gluten-free
vendor that I saw.  I
 think they have an interesting-sounding product line of pre-mixed quinoa varieties.  You can find some of them here, but they had far more items on display at the show.

The Ultimate Fish Sauce by The Saucey Sauce Co. from Hester Street Fair

They didn’t have a table at the show, but I also managed to connect with Ken and Toan of The Saucey Sauce Co and makers of The Ultimate Fish Sauce. I first met them at the Hester Street Fair and completely fell in love with their products.  These will perk up all sorts of dishes and make great dipping sauces for whatever you are serving.  Laurie Pauker from Lush Candy, another one of my favorites, and I hung out together a bit as well, as she was also a show attendee.  She had come into town a bit earlier to take part in a chocolatier’s event.  As a plus, she brought samples of her wonderful toffee with her.  It was great to see them all there, and I’m predicting that they’ll each have their own place on the floor next year.

Overall, it was just wonderful to see New York’s artisan food community represented by so many fantastic and varied products and people. It has been such a pleasure getting to know the people behind these brands. Seeing them with their industry peers at the Fancy Food Show is kind of a neat experience, I have to say, especially when we are usually used to hanging out shooting the breeze at some local market or other. I really hope that the show was a good experience for all of them, and I look forward to hearing about it the next time we meet up in the city.

Buon appetito!

Off to Washington, DC for the Fancy Food Show

This weekend, I’ll be joining a few hundred or thousand other folks at the Summer Fancy Food Show being held this year in Washington, DC.  It will be very interesting to see the vendors who will be displaying their products in the hopes of being picked up by distributors from national chains, small boutique stores, and other retail and wholesale outlets.  Having been for the first time last year, I can also say that it is a bit overwhelming as well to try to absorb all the information and the tastes available.

While I’m down there looking at all the different food and drink items, I thought I’d leave everyone with some links to articles that I’ve written that have been posted on other sites.  I had a chance to cover a fantastically informative day during Internet Week New York that focused on Food 2.0.  It looked at the ways that we learn about food, decide what to eat out or cook in, and how our food gets distributed to us.  That weekend, I wrote up an article about one of the panels during TECHMunch, a food blogger’s conference, that talked about how websites find their content to share with you, their readers.

Another site I’ve published some articles on is the award-winning Woman Around Town.  Here, you can read about an interview that I did with Jael McHenry the author of the entertaining and delightful book The Kitchen Daughter.  A few weeks ago, I also took part in the first public food walking tour held by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.  If you’ve never paid a visit to it, I highly recommend it.  Even my father, who has been dragged to more sites and monuments that he can remember, said that it was probably one of the most fascinating places that he’s been.

Hitting all the museums on the Upper East Side?  Why not take a break and grab an iced coffee or a Mars bar (or both!) at The London Candy Company?  This newcomer to the neighborhood has already become a favorite with the locals, young and old alike.  Or, if you are doing a staycation and looking for some new recipes to try, you might want to check into Guy Fieri’s cookbook Guy Fieri Food.  I was at the release party hosted by The Food Network and had a chance to try out some really great nibbles from the recipes found in its pages.  It’s now sitting on my shelf waiting for me to have an excuse to make them for friends!

A New, Delicious Way to Experience the Lower East Side,” Woman Around Town (06/28/11)
Jael McHenry’s The Kitchen Daughter,” Woman Around Town (06/20/11)
Sweet Treats from the UK come to NYC,” Woman Around Town (05/21/11)
Guy Fieri Food Kick-off Party,” Woman Around Town (05/05/11)

The Social Kitchen at Food 2.0” Food+Tech Connect (06/20/11)
Future of Food Reviewing at Food 2.0” Food+Tech Connect (06/20/11)
Open Source Food at Food 2.0” Food+Tech Connect (06/16/11)
Food 2.0: Sharing & Making Use of Restaurant, Menu and Farm Data” Food+Tech Connect (06/13/11)

What’s New in Food: Understanding Trends to Enrich Your Content,” TECHMunch (06/15/11)

Buon appetito!

“Liguria: Flavors between Sea and Sky” at The International Culinary Center

This photo is a bit faded, as it is more than a decade old, but the sentiment it represents, the beauty of Italy and the culinary riches of one of its provinces, Liguria, are registered in my memories forever.  A couple of weeks ago, I was able to attend a seminar called “Liguria: Flavors between the Sea and Sky” about this region sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission and the Regione Liguria.  For a few short hours, as the speakers walked us through the history of the area and gave us olive and olive oil tastings, I was transported back to this stunningly beautiful land where the sea rolls out its welcoming deep aqua carpet while the mountains snuggly embrace the towns along the coastline.

Fred Plotkin

One of the two main speakers for the event was Fred Plotkin who, as I’ve mentioned before, is one of my favorite culinary personalities due to his love of Italy and his great passion for and insights into its food and culture.  If you don’t have his informative and gorgeous book Recipes from Paradise: Life & Food on the Italian Riviera, I strongly recommend that you add it to your collection.  It is more than a cookbook, it is a recording of the food history of the area and explanation of how some of the most recognized dishes from Italy came into being.

Pesto from one of the Ligurian representatives

Pesto, as he discussed in his presentation, is correctly made with parmesan cheese, pine nuts, basil (the tiny leaves), and olive oil from Liguria, no other kind will do.  When put in a jar for storage, it is sealed with a layer of this same olive oil.  Like grapes grown from wines, olives pick up the characteristics of the soil in which they are grown, which is why the flavor can differ so much from region to region in Italy.  In this part of the country, the foods take on the characteristics of the saltiness of the sea, the perfume of the flowers, and the aromas of the herbs that are all found there.

Trofie con pesto (with potatoes and green beans)*

Plotkin also asked us to remember that Liguria is one of the oldest regions and has some of the most ancient mills for grinding wheat.  Focaccia, dressed with the olive oil from the area, is a bread with historic origins that date back to the Roman times.  The Ligurian women created an onion version of this bread in order to make sure that their sailor men were not snapped up at their next port of call, Plotkin added.  It is this history and tradition that comes through in the dishes of the region, many of which are still made in the same way today.

Focaccia and Farinata

The sea-faring ways of the people of this region also aided in the distribution of its food culture to other parts of Italy and the world.  As inhabitants of an area with plenty of sunshine but not that many acres of arable land due to the mountains around them, the Ligurians became adept at the art of preservation.  Pesto is not the only example of this, with the local people preserving fish in oil, sun-drying tomatoes, and finding other ways to make their crops sustain them throughout the year.  Ravioli made in the Genovese fashion could be folded up and taken out to sea.

Samples of olive oils and olives

We were also treated to a lesson in the production of olive oil and how that from Liguria differs from ones produced in other regions by Antonio Fasolo, Olive Oil Expert.  While it is generally rare to have a bottle of olive oil that contains the liquid from a single varietal, one made with pure Taggiasca olives from this region is one of the most important in the world, with its delicate, clean flavor.  It is best used as a finishing oil, a condiment, rather than in cooking.  In tasting an olive oil, the first thing to do is to smell it: It should smell fresh.  Then, cover the cup, holding it with your hand to warm it a bit and taste it.

Antonio Fasolo

A flavor of bitter almonds mean that the oil is bad or has gone rancid.  Oil that tastes vinegary has been exposed to high sugar content or been heated and has started to ferment.  Does it have a musty aroma?  Then, the oil has likely been kept in too damp a place or been stored for too long.  None of these sound very appealing and feel even less so on the palate, as we discovered when trying the samples put before us.  I could definitely pick up the lighter, more floral feel to the Ligurian oil in this setting.  When tasting the olives themselves, their delicate aroma came through event more, especially as compared to the more cured and brinier versions that we were given as an alternative to try.

Olive Oils from a Ligurian producer

Like making wine, olives are pressed and the resulting liquid is decanted; each step in the process can have an impact on the final results.  Olive oil should be used within one year of its production.  As the saying in Italian goes, “New oil, old wine.” (Another saying is “Wine when it is born begins to live; oil when it is born begins to die.”)  The lightness and beauty of the Ligurian olive oil that I tasted and the amazing freshness of the foods of the region that I remember from my own trips there made me appreciate this sentiment even more.  It really is a land that captures the essence of living between the sea and the sky.

Buon appetito!

*for a recipe similar to this one, please see Pasta alla Liguria

Thank you to The Diva that Ate New York for the email alerting me to this event and to the folks at CRT/tanaka for putting it together and allowing me to participate. 

July 4th Last Minute Appetizer Recipe Round-up

Roasting Marshmallows in the Backyard

I love barbecues and grilling. Growing up in Virginia, eating outside in the summertime was just a natural part of life and the rhythms of the seasons. It’s one of the things that I’ve mentioned a few times that I really miss about living in New York, much as there’s a thousand or so other things I enjoy about city life.

Option B, given that I can’t fire up a habachi or a Weber in my apartment or even on the roof deck of my building, has been to try to perfect my picnic skills when I get a chance to exercise those.  It comes in handy, then, that I have a bunch of recipes that I think would work out really well to kick off the festivities whether you end up celebrating the 4th of July on a blanket at the beach or a park or if you are lucky enough to have access to someplace where you can cook up your meal over coals or a flame.  Any way you decided to celebrate it, I hope will be with family, friends, and loved ones on this Independence Day!

Buon appetito!

Endive Spears with Sweet Potato Bacon Chives Sour Cream

What could be easier to serve than Endive with Sweet Potatoes, Bacon, Chives, and Sour Cream with its edible container and no utensils needed?  You might want to keep the sour cream in a cooler to be added at the last minute.

Wintertime Guacamole

Ripe tomatoes not yet in your garden?  No problem.  Make this version of a tomato-free Guacamole instead.  I don’t think that the Chili con Queso recipe in the same post will work as well for an outdoor party, but you can try it.

Guacamole with Tomatoes

If, however, you have been able to get your hands on some early in-season tomatoes, here’s a version of Guacamole to make using those.

Salsa or Pico de Gallo

The base of the recipe is this colorful, zingy Pico de Gallo, made spicy to your (and your guests’) tastes.  It is also perfect served on its own with the non-tomato Guacamole alongside of it.

Rosemary-Garlic White Bean Dip

Looking for something other than the usual hummus to serve with veggies?  Try this Rosemary-Garlic White Bean Dip.  It has the same consistency and brings the flavors of Italy to the table.

Homemade Pita Chips/Crisps

What to use to scoop up some of these great starters?  Well, if you can stand to heat up the oven for a little bit, what about making Homemade Pita Chips/Crisps?  These can be made in advance and will travel well to wherever you will be feasting today.