Sunday was the much-anticipated market day for the New Amsterdam Market. At one time, I’d seen it advertised as the opening day for the summer season for this market, but it turns out, it is going to be the only one held for the next few months. I wrote here previously about the hearings that took place at City Hall in support of the market, as the city reviews a proposal by developers for how to revamp the entire South Street Seaport area. There is overwhelming support for the market from New York City residents, farmers, food artisans, and chefs, many of whom came out in droves on Sunday to shop, buy, eat, and to hang out and to catch up with friends.
P&H Soda Co. – Candy Cap Mushroom and Toasted Almond Egg Cream
One of my first stops was to grab a soda from P&H Soda Co. to pick up something refreshing to drink. While there, I ran into Anton Nocito’s wife Erica and their adorable little guy. Anton had on display his new book about how to make syrups and sodas at home using seasonal ingredients and experimenting with flavor combinations. I also saw some of the group from Serious Eats hanging out nearby, enjoying some market treats, too. I asked them what they recommended, and they pointed me in the direction of Lonestar Taco.
They did not steer me wrong. Although there was a bit of a wait for the taco, as they were one of the busier stands on Sunday, it was well worth it. I opted to go with the Carnitas Taco with lots of perfectly-seasoned, rich chunks of pork nestled in a corn tortilla and dressed with mouth-puckering pickled onions and a sprinkle of cilantro which balanced out the rich, luscious meat. It was great to see them doing so well at the market, like so many of the other prepared food vendors. Several folks, like Luke’s Lobster and Mosefund Farms also had lines and sold out of many items before the end of the day.
The market on Sunday also highlighted many local farmers and food producers. At one end, there was a bread pavilion with displays from Hot Bread Kitchen, Orwasher’s Bakery, and Runner & Stone, to name a few vendors. There were cheese selections and other dairy products to sample and for sale, lots of gorgeous fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables from area farms, and even regionally-caught fish to take home. It was also wonderful to catch up with some of my favorite food entrepreneur folks like Jen and Liz from Liddabit Sweets, Cyrilla from Nuts+Nuts, Scott from Brooklyn Cured, Chris from Kings County Jerky, and Leana from Anarchy in a Jar. This was a terrific chance to stock up on some of their terrific products, which I had been used to seeing on a weekly basis at this market the past couple of seasons.
The energy and the vibrancy of the market was palpable on Sunday, and its contribution to the community, to feeding it and to creating and fostering it was really in evidence to anyone who stopped by. Everyone seemed really happy to be a part of this effort to revitalize the downtown area, which was so hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. It was almost as though it was a reunion with vendors, food writers, photographers, bloggers, NYC-ers, and first-time visitors all milling around enjoying themselves amidst all the vast selection of products and nibbles to try, lots of hugs, and tidbits of local news being exchanged. This is one of the truest expressions of how New York City is really just a large small town at heart with folks coming out to lend support to the folks who make this a more enjoyable place to live.
At the same time, however, as I slurped down my last bite of the day, the fantastic ice cream by Fany Gerson of La La Newyorkina (who also had to rebuild her business after the storm), I felt that this gathering was somehow bittersweet. Several of the folks with whom I spoke also seemed a bit wistful, too. The future of this wonderful market and all the hard work that has been done to keep it going is still in jeopardy. I don’t know that there’s a fixed date for another session, although from what I heard, there might be another one in September. The fate of the Fulton Fish Market and the old market buildings is still being disputed as well. I’m definitely keeping my hopes up for my friends who are vendors there and for all of us who enjoy being able to eat great food and to be able to talk to the people who produce what we consume, that there are many more wonderful days for the New Amsterdam Market like the one on this past Sunday.