Tag Archives: Hester Street Fair

Melt Bakery Opens Storefront on Orchard Street

Melt Bakery‘s new storefront

At a little before 12:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon, I showed up at 132 Orchard Street, probably just a little more excited than a kid at Christmastime, in eager anticipation of the opening of Melt Bakery‘s new storefront location.  I’ve been following these guys around (literally) since I fell in love with their ice cream sandwiches with that first bite of the Jack (pumpkin ice cream nestled between two crisp, spiced molasses cookies) at the initial Grub Street-Hester Street Fair food festival in 2010.

The Lovelet (Red Velvet Meltcakes with Cream Cheese Ice Cream)

Since then, I’ve gotten to know co-founders Kareen Hamady and Julian Plyter and have watched from the sidelines, usually while nibbling on a Lovelet or a Morticia, as they have taken their business from a single cart at the Hester Street Fair to an additional spot on The Highline to participating in local food events, like the upcoming Cook Out NYC, with their fan base growing by leaps and bounds along the way.

Cart on The Highline

It’s no wonder that their followers keep coming back for more of these sweet treats.  Julian’s well-crafted, perfectly formed cookies with their mix of crumbly and chewy textures combined with cool, dreamy ice cream in bold flavors, make these the ideal snack to indulge in while shopping in the markets or taking a stroll in the sunshine.  It’s not a surprise, then, that each season their creations appear on the must-eat lists of the local magazines.

The Morticia (Crackly Chocolate Cookies with Malted Chocolate-Rum Ice Cream)

“We’re excited to be here and have opened after a two-week delay,” Julian told me, a stop-work order on the storefront next door indicating a potential explanation as to the reason for that.  As I ate my first Morticia of this ice cream season, I watched passers-by, families with strollers, hip young things, clothing hawkers, and tourists stop by the brightly-labeled ice cream cart to take a peak at their selections and to talk to them about this new neighborhood locale.  “That red velvet was f-ing fantastic!” exclaimed one customer, returning to the cart just to express his delight.

The ice cream cart outside of 132 Orchard Street

“How many calories?” another one them asked.  “More than an apple and bigger than [a fast food burger],” replied Julian.  The customer sighed, sly child-like grin on his face, and picked up his ice cream sandwich, heading on his way.  “Oh, man!  I’m going to come back,” said another, “Ice cream sandwiches.”  It’s really great to see that the Melt Bakery guys have found a home and some more ardent fans on this ever-changing stretch of the Lower East Side.

Kareem Hamady with their first customer – from the shop next door

Buon appetito!

Grub Street Food Festival 2011

As a follow-up to their wildly successful event last year, the folks at New York Magazine partnered with the Hester Street Fair to entice hundreds of food fans to head down to the Lower East Side on a beautiful autumn day for yesterday’s Grub Street Food Festival 2011.  This year, I did not drag my friends out of their warm, comfy beds to show up at the 10:00 a.m. at the start of the activities, that pleasure I reserved just for myself.  Getting there at the beginning meant I got to check out the entire scene before it got really busy and bustling.  Last year, one of the criticisms from the event attendees was that at a certain point, the market got too crowded and folks couldn’t move.  Vendors also ran out of food early in the afternoon, underestimating the influx of hungry patrons and level of demand.

Setting up – the calm before the storm

This year, it seems like the organizers took all of that feedback to heart, and from my perspective, moving the majority of the food stands to the neighboring lot while keeping just a handful of them plus a new Biergarten in the main Hester Street Fair area helped quite a bit to keep traffic flowing smoothly and without everyone being all crammed together, allowing for strollers, kids, dogs, and everyone to treat the day as a nice, leisurely fall festival-style activity. My early start time gave me a chance to hang out and chat with some of my favorite food artisan folks before the crowds started to arrive.  I also discovered some new items that brightened up my day and crossed a few things off of my long-standing need-to-try list.

Lush Candy‘s delicious English-style toffee and brittles

My first stop, as they were located near the entrance, was to say hello to Laurie Pauker of Lush Candy.  She had her range of English-style toffees and her new selection of brittles out for folks to sample as well as to pick up to take home, if any of these terrific tasting products made it that far.  Her husband and nephew were helping out at the table yesterday.

Macaron Parlour‘s gorgeous display

If you aren’t drawn into the colorful display by Macaron Parlour, you should definitely be lured by their delectable flavor combinations.  Nutella, Passionfruit & Milk Chocolate, and Candied Bacon and Maple Cream Cheese are only a tiny few of the ones from which to choose.  All of them bring together perfectly constructed soft cookie with a little bit of give to the exterior with the rich taste of filling on the interior.  After a quick chat with Simon, one of the owners/bakers, I started off my day with one of their Strawberry Buttercream ones, which was just the right mix of fruit and creamy vanilla tastes.










Robicelli’s Butternut Spice Cupcake and Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pie

The flavors of fall were evident on Robicelli’s table, with squash and pumpkin treats.  That said, I went right for their Chicken & Waffle cupcake, which I hadn’t had in ages, as it is only one of their 100s of flavors that they rotate in and out of the daily selection.  I chatted with Matt, one half of this culinary duo, about the festival and about where everyone else was who they knew who was there yesterday while savoring the delicious harmony of the cake, frosting, and small, fried piece of chicken on top of it all.  Allison, the other half, and I exchanged hellos, too, while it was still quiet enough to drop by to visit with folks.  They wrapped up their stand at Mad Square Eats on Friday, but they are still at the Dekalb Market.

Danny Macaroons‘ selection

Just about diagonally across the way from the Robicelli’s was Danny Macaroons.  I was first introduced to these bite-sized marvels via Twitter when I saw his name pop up time and again as folks got their hands on his sweet treats and raved about them.  Hands down, I think his Sea Salt Caramel one rules the roost, but all of them are really tasty.  While it is still around, check out the Pumpkin Spice one that he has out now.  It is like biting into a delicious and fragrant coconut-topped pumpkin pie.

Anton (l) of P&H Soda Co. and his brother (r)

P&H Soda Co.‘s Chocolate Soda

After all these sugary delights, I needed to think about eating some real food for lunch/brunch/second breakfast.  I had passed by P&H Soda Co.‘s table shortly after I arrived to say hello to owner Anton and his brother, who was helping out for the day.  Anton had given me a preview of the sodas he would be serving yesterday.  I’m a huge fan of their extremely seasonal Concord Grape soda, now available; however, last week at New Amsterdam Market, he’d told me he had developed a Chocolate soda that he would be serving only at the Grub Street event.  Seriously?  Wow.  That’s exactly what my brain and tongue said, too, when they had their first sip of it.  Sweet carbonation at the front and then a punch of cocoa flavor to follow.  This could become my new favorite of theirs.

La Sonrisa‘s Pulled Pork Empanadas

On the recommendation of Anton’s brother, I headed over to La Sonrisa to try out their Pulled Pork Empanada.  Super juicy, tender meat in a crisp, soft crust, this made the perfect street fair/food festival bite.  One of the guys on line behind me ordered at least one of every kind that they had.  I wish I had picked up a few more of these to snack on throughout the week.












 Bark hotdog plain (l) and dressed with their condiments and Bark Sauce (r) Chocolate Soda from P&H Soda Co.

One of the things that has been on my to-try list for a while has been one of Bark‘s hotdogs.  The dog itself is really tasty and meaty.  What I liked about it is that it was not overly spiced or smoked like some of the ones that I’ve tried lately.  I’m not a big hotdog fan in general, so it takes quite a bit to convince me that one is good.  What was also incredible was their selection of toppings.  I piled on their cucumber relish, red pepper relish, sweet-n-sour onions, and Bark sauce which made a glorious meal with the soft roll and hearty hotdog.

Filled with Sweets‘ Honey Jasmine cupcakes

After a few savory items, I was ready to head back to trying some sweet things.  During the summer, I had swung by the Elizabeth Street Night Market in Nolita where there had been some great Asian-inspired bites to try.  One of these was Filled With Sweets, who makes cupcakes and other treats with flavors inspired by her cultural background.  Cupcakes and frosting perfumed with Honey and Jasmine and filled with Tart Raspberry Jam or how about her Black Sesame Seed-variety that mimics the tastes of Asian desserts.  It was really a pleasure to see these unique items at the market.  Terry also has a Kickstarter project going on right now to help grow her business.

Melt Bakery‘s Ice Cream Sandwiches

If you’ve been following this site for the last year, you know that I completely fell in love with Melt Bakery‘s ice cream sandwiches from the first bite of the Jack, which I had at this event last year.  How can one resist cool, creamy pumpkin ice cream sandwiched between two crisp, spiced molasses cookies?  Now that these are back in season, it was hard for me to pass one up, but I you’ll see why I went the way I did from the photos that follow.












Melt Bakery‘s Fried Apple Pie

Fried Apple Pie.  What could be more seasonal?  Julian brought out the big guns (and his wonderful artistry) to yesterday’s event with this treat.  Perfectly cooked and dressed cinnamon-sugar crust balanced impeccably with sweet-tart apple filling, each bite was an explosion of the most amazing fragrance, flavor, and slight crisp from the crust.  I tried to eat it slowly to take in every delicious bite.  When it was done, I looked at the empty wrapper with a contented sigh, would it be too much to get another one right after consuming the first?  Fortunately, as he told me, they will be serving these on the High Line as well (where they’ve been selling their ice cream sandwiches this year).  I foresee lots of field trips to that part of town in the coming months.










Heat Sweets‘ Spicy-Sweet Fruit Leathers, Jellies, and Preserves

Before we leave this culinary adventure, however, I want to let you know about something that I discovered there that wiped away the cobwebs from my sometimes-jaded palate.  When I was running around looking for folks to say hello to them before the festivities really got underway, the colorful display above caught my eye.  I stopped, walked over to the table, and took a look.  There, the very nice people behind Heat Sweets explained their products to me.  Mango and Jalapeno fruit leather?  Or how about Strawberry and Habanero?  This is not your ordinary 1980s lunchbox staple, which was evident from the samples they were handing out.  Full-on fruit flavor at the beginning leads to powerful, but not overwhelming, spice and heat, with the taste if it all wrapping around your tongue hitting every taste point there is.  They also do jellies and preserves with spice and fruit and handed out some recipes to go along with their creations.  I might have to clear off some more room in my fridge for these.

As the sun cleared the earlier clouds away, it was evident that the weather was going to be perfect to stick around and enjoy some more eats and drinks at the Grub Street Food Festival.  Unfortunately, I had to pull myself away to go to another appointment further downtown, but I could have hung around all afternoon taking in the atmosphere and checking out some more wonderful dishes.  Next year, I think I will get my foodie wing people out of bed early on a weekend morning so that we can all take part in this feast.

Buon appetito!

For additional photos and a longer recap, check out Grub Street’s post about the day.

Hester Street Fair Sunday Picnic and Egg Rolls & Egg Creams

Hester's Sunday Picnic PosterAfter spending yesterday inside all day at the TECHMunch conference, it was good to get outside and visit a couple of the many food events going on around town today.  This year, the Hester Street Fair is only on Saturdays, so the Sunday Picnic theme of today’s event was built around local food, games (ping pong, badminton), and lively music, with tables down the center of the market space to encourage hanging out and enjoying being outside while eating some great treats.

After that, a few short blocks away, the folks at the Museum at Eldridge Street were holding their annual Egg Rolls & Egg Creams festival, which celebrates the cultural diversity of the neighborhood.  Chinese and Jewish foods, games, and activities were available for families along with tours of the museum itself.  Seeing an egg cream on the side of a table of folks who were playing Mah Jong, just reinforced how amazing it is that all of these groups of various immigrants were thrown together over time and have created their own traditions.

Hester Street Fair Sunday Picnic

La Newyorkina signLa Newyorkina brought her tasty Ice Pops

Dora Coffee

Dora Coffee from the neighborhood

Guss' Pickles - full and half soursGuss' Pickles - peppersAs are Guss’ Pickles – another favorite

Dumpling DivaDumpling Diva getting ready to feed the crowds

The Jam Stand JamsIt was great to discover The Jam Stand with all their wonderful flavors

The Jam Stand - Dog Treatsand Sabrina and Jessica didn’t forget about man’s best friend, either!

P&H Soda SignHow could I resist stopping by P&H Soda Co. to visit with Anton and his brother?

P&H Soda - bottles for saleYou can take their syrups home to mix your own sodas

Or, if you can’t resist, you can get a soda to go – like this Hibiscus & Lime one

The Saucey Sauce Co.Another new fantastic product that I tried were these tangy and spicy sauces from The Saucey Sauce Co.

Macaron ParlourMacaron Parlour had a beautiful display as usual

Spatzi's GranolaI first met Spatzi’s Granola at Hester Street‘s opening weekend.  They look amazing.

Brooklyn Farmacy signTake one part Brooklyn Farmacy

Adirondack Ice CreamAdd a scoop of New York-made Adirondack Creamery Ice Cream

Ice Cream Float signand whip up a Farmacy Float!

CemitaSo that’s what a Cemita is – it looked tasty

Purple Yam - Chicken AdoboChicken & Rice from Filipino restaurant The Purple Yam

The Purple Yam - SaladAlong with this beautiful-looking salad

Peels s'mores cakeSo hard to resist Peel’s tempting S’mores Cakes and Graham Crackers

CurrywurstOr something rich and spicy – Currywurst from Clerkenwell

PoffertjesI did cave, however, when it came to the Poffertjes (mini Dutch Pancakes)

Poffertjes with powdered sugarKind of like little funnel cakes – they also served them with strawberries and cream

Daisy Dukes BBQAnd I also had this cool, hearty pulled pork sandwich from Daisy Duke’s BBQ.  The meat comes from his uncle’s pigs in Pennsylvania.

empanadas by La SonrisaI heard great things about La Sonrisa‘s empanadas

Arancini BrosI’ve also been a fan of Arancini Bros. flavorful riceballs

Teologist DisplayThe Tealogist had this gorgeous display and was serving hot and cold beverages

Mighty BallsMighty Balls had lots of meatball and sauce choices to match up

Mighty Balls saucesThey even had some of their sauces for sale

Les Enfants TerriblesLes Enfants Terribles was serving up some French-inspired treats including this raspberry chocolate mousse

Bruce Cost ginger aleWhich you could have washed down with these ginger ales by Bruce Cost

The Shaved Ice CoThe Shaved Ice Shop had photos of their gorgeous, delectable, sweet options

Melt Bakery displayBut, the guys from Melt Bakery had one of my favorites – the Morticia out today – so ice cream won

Hester Street Sunday PicnicWhich was best eaten at one of the picnic tables that were set up at the market

Hester Street Sunday Picnic bandWhile listening to some great live music from the Red Hook Ramblers

Egg Rolls & Egg Creams Festival

Egg Rolls & Egg CreamsThen, it was over to Eldridge Street for the Egg Rolls & Egg Creams Festival

Egg CreamsWhere people mixed up Egg Creams

Egg Rollsand noshed on Egg Rolls

Making dumplingsKids got to make Chinese Dumplings

Jewish kreplahand Jewish Kreplach (here with a little help from dad)

Mah Jongand where you could see other examples of the blending of the cultures of the Lower East Side

Buon appetito!

Hester Street Fair Lower Feast Side Food Festival

Today was opening day for the Hester Street Fair which featured a Lower Feast Side Food Festival in conjunction with the other events going on for the New Museum’s Festival of Ideas, which wrapped further west on the Lower East Side around the Bowery.   In a slender space at the intersection of Hester Streets and Essex Streets was a varied collection of crafts vendors with adorable stuffed toys, handmade purses, terrariums, and bath and beauty products as well as some terrific food vendors.  Bringing a bright ray of sunshine into the lives of New Yorkers after a particularly brutal winter this year, people came out with dogs, strollers, babies, and friends to chat with the merchants, pick up some things, and enjoy a sunshine-filled day outdoors.

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Grub Street Food Festival / New York Magazine

Today was the much-anticipated Grub Street Food Festival at Hester and Essex Streets at the site of the Hester Street Fair on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The weather being on the sunny, if slightly cool, and very windy side, this was the perfect kind of fall day and combined with one of the only excuses (food!) that would make me suffer through the ever-changing MTA weekend subway schedule, I made the trek downtown.  I had planned to meet up with Nora at Amateur Foodie Adventures and some friends to check out what was on offer, which was another incentive to venture south.

I know that some of my companions could not figure out the reason for dragging them out of bed to be able to meet me at the un-civil hour of 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday, but once it hit noon, they soon understood why the dedicated food festival goer always tries to be one of the early birds.  The photo above was taken just as it all started.  The lack of crowds gave us ample time to execute my tried-and-true methodology of plotting out my attack strategy: circle around once; make a mental note of the options; eat.  This way you can create your “must eats” list and your “maybe I’ll go back later if there isn’t a line” list.  Given the packs of people who have been at the same events as I have this year, this seems to work just fine.

On to the food.  Our crew was great at getting tastes of most of the items, and there were plenty of great things to try.  What was also nice about this food festival was that in addition to some of the established restaurants like Pies n Thighs and Ditch Plains, there were also some food truck folks like Wafels & Dinges and Kelvin Natural Slush Co. and some real artisanal food purveyors like P& Soda and Melt Bakery.  For me, this is what New York food is currently about: layers of different types of people expressing themselves, their passion, and their creativity through the kinds of food that they love and then sharing it with the rest of us.  I hope that this trend continues for a long, long time to come.

Here are some of our pictures.  We also shared a table with some really nice folks who let us photograph their food, too.  Hopefully, this will be an annual event (hint, hint Grub Street folks).

Buon appetito!

Freshly ground coffee from Kickstand was at the start of the festival

Followed up by filled fried rice balls by Arancini Bros.

We tried the tuna and the pumpkin-mascarpone ones.


Follow these guys!  They should have a dessert truck.  


Oh, who am I kidding.  I pre-sserted.*  Loved the Molasses Cookies with Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream.

Nora tried the Fried Pumpkin Pie (only the 4th person in NYC to have it!).

Grilled Cheese with Tomato Jam and Red Onions from The Smile

Pies n Thighs had a great spread


Pain d’Avignon had this gorgeous bread


Which could be a great vehicle for this Bacon Marmalade


Not sure how it would work with this Cheese and Truffle Pretzel with great mustard from Sigmund Pretzel Shop.


But it would be great with a handmade Grape Concord Soda from P&H


or one from La NewYorkina


Maybe it was time to return to the sweeter side with Wafels & Dinges


or this gorgeous palatte of macarons from Macaron Parlour

I should have had this sandwich from Nijiya Market


Instead I went for the Pork Buns from Purple Yam (others loved the ribs)



I also got to sample a bit of the wonderful pastrami from Mile End Delicatessen




While someone else went for the Chili Dog at Ditch Plains



Another person wanted to sample the Panna Cotta with Balsamic from Il Buco



We also checked out the treats from Hot Blondies Bakery



and watched the guys making amazing shaved ice treats at Bao Bing



There was still enough room for a delicious Short Rib Taco and Pulled Pork Slider from the truck at Mexicue



and don’t forget to get something for Man’s Best Friend.



*To Pre-ssert = to start a meal by eating dessert first; not to be confused with a snack.  Courtesy my little brother.