Tag Archives: Madison Square Eats

Mad Sq Eats Is Back!

With the arrival of some more consistently gorgeous weather, it is the perfect season for Mad Sq Eats to come back to town.  You can still catch this food-centric pop-up market for another couple of weeks.  I’ve passed through it a few times when errands and appointments have put me over in that part of town.

List of Vendors

There’s some vendors who have sold there in the past as well as a few different ones, bringing new and delicious flavors to this gathering.  The bright colorful Marimekko tabletop decorations and umbrellas add an extra air of festivity to the area and make this an almost vacation-like oasis at the meeting point of busy downtown several streets.

Mighty Balls – Pork Slider with Spicy Feta and Jalapeno Jam

Looking for a quick, hearty, spicy snack?  This photo was taken at the Dekalb Market, but I’ve had these at quite a few food events since I discovered how tasty their combinations are.  Definitely stop by the stand for Mighty Balls and grab one of their sliders.

Arancini Bros. selection

Another great quick bite to have is the crunchy, pillowy, filled rice balls from Arancini Bros.  These Sicilian street snacks come in sweet and savory flavors and are easily eaten on the go.

LaSonrisa – Coconut Curry Chicken Empanada

LaSonrisa empanadas are other delicious portable edibles to check out.  I’m a fan of their pulled pork one, however, the vendor there encouraged me to try out their popular Coconut Curry Chicken.  Tender chunks of meat dressed in a juicy, tropical-scented, lightly spiced sauce all stuffed inside of a crispy shell.  I think this one might be my new favorite of their product line.

Asia Dog – Slow-cooked Pork Slider with Ginger BBQ Sauce and Slaw

Usually when I stop by Asia Dog‘s stand at any market, I pick up the Vinh, a combination of heat and tanginess sort of like a mock banh mi in hotdog form.  This time, however, I decided to go with something different: the pork slider.  It somehow felt a bit more like barbecue weather.  Tender pork with spicy, zippy sauce and topped with crunchy pickled cabbage.  This hit all the right flavor notes.  Why not grab a beverage from Brooklyn Soda Works, which they are also selling at Asia Dog, to go along with it?

Red Hook Lobster Pound – Maine-style Lobster Roll

Sweet, briny chunks of Maine lobster, dressed in mayonnaise placed on a grilled, top-split roll with a bed of cool, crunchy lettuce.  This is an ideal summertime meal, capturing the essence of the seaside in every bite.  I could have almost been at the beach, if not for the honking horns and screeching brakes in the background.

Roberta’s Pizza – Kale and Ramp Pizza

I’m almost embarrassed to confess that I’ve never been out to Greenpoint to Roberta’s to try their amazing pizzas.  Part of the reason why is that I’ve been able to sample them elsewhere when they fire up the portable ovens and bring their pies to other parts of the city.  This Kale and Ramp one combined two of the “it” farmers’ market products of the season for a pizza that had a garlicky kick with a carpet of green over dollops of creamy, sharp pecorino.

Danny Macaroons – Sea Salt Caramel Macaroon

While doing my initial pass through the food stalls, my eye spied a display of Danny Macaroons‘ sweet treats.  The folks at Birch Coffee have trays filled with several of Danny’s flavors.  They also sell their cold-brewed coffee in growlers (jugs) for those who would like to stock up for the warmer season.

People’s Pops – Shaved Ice with Red Plum Syrup

Did you have a Snoopy Sno Cone machine growing up?  Yeah, neither did I.  So, seeing the folks at People’s Pops shaving the ice by hand and then drizzling them with syrups made from locally-sourced fruits and herbs.  I went with the sweet-tart Red Plum version to cleanse my palate.

Steve’s Ice Cream – Strawberry-Ricotta

Last summer, I discovered Steve’s Ice Cream.  They’ve closed up their shops in Brooklyn and Manhattan, so I was thrilled to see them here.  As it’s just turned into strawberry season, I went with the tart-tangy Strawberry-Ricotta which was like eating the berriest, strawberry milkshake ever.

Umbrellas at MadSqEats

This is just a small sample of all the terrific food items at Mad Sq Eats.  It’s a great spot to drop by for lunch (plan to go before or after the rush of office workers), a late afternoon snack, or even a quick dinner.  It closes on June 1, so you only have a few more weeks to get over there.

Buon appetito!

Mad Sq Eats Returns!

Today, Mad Sq Eats opened up again bringing delicious food vendors to a sliver of space across from Madison Square Park.  Having enjoyed some of the wonderful eats at this same event held this past spring, I’d marked my calendar to make sure I stopped by when it was up and running.  I had an appointment in the neighborhood this afternoon, which gave me an even more convenient excuse to head over there.

Before I even get to the food, can I just mention that these tablecloths and umbrellas are really darling.  This is probably the best-dressed street food fair I’ve ever seen.  On a grey, rainy day, these bright flowers livened everything up when contrasted against the washed-out buildings and concrete pavements of the city.  It could have almost been a watercolor painting.

Really, though, it was seeing what all the vendors had on display that I was interested in exploring.  As it was about dinner time, I knew I needed to make some important choices as to what to have for my evening meal at the market.  I was almost waylaid by waffles early on in my tour, as the guys from Wafels & Dinges were right there close to the start.  I also found out that they will be at several of the upcoming holiday markets in addition to their usual trucks around town.

The folks from NuNu Chocolates had some beautiful, delicious selections for sale as well as beer (also in growler form as in the photo).  Their store on Atlantic Avenue is a great place to take a break while shopping in that part of Brooklyn.  It was very convenient when the Brooklyn Flea was located at One Hanson Place.

Nearby to snack on while you tip back a glass of those suds (or wine, which they had, too), Sigmund’s Preztelshop has some of my favorites.  Their Cheddar and Truffle pretzels is on offer as well as the equally tasty Feta and Olive versions.  They had a Garlic-Parsley ones in another window along with a sweet Cinnamon Raisin.

For something more substantial, Flatiron locale Almond has a variety of sandwiches to tempt your tastebuds.  The hearty Moroccan Meatball Hero looked ideal for this dreary evening, but the Pastrami Sandwich and JB’s Jalapeno Cheddar Brat looked to be equally enticing dinner options.

To keep yourself going while trying to decide what to eat among all the wonderful selections from local food vendors, Coffee Connection is there with espresso drinks and various syrups to create your own custom beverage.  They were located next to Simon from Macaron Parlour, whom I haven’t seen in a while, so we took time to catch up.

He had so many gorgeous-looking things to sample, that I wasn’t sure that I could choose just one.  The Chocolate Chocolate Chip Fleur de Sel creation seemed so amazing that it is definitely next on my list to try.  Instead, I went with one of my favorites of theirs, the Nutella macaron.  The barest crisp of the exterior as your teeth bite into it yields to a soft, delicately sweet interior with a ribbon of hazelnut-chocolate richness waiting to hit your tongue.  It is pure perfection and the ideal small bite.

This section of the market must have been set up as dessert central, as a few stalls down from there were the folks from Cuzin’s Duzin, whom I first saw at Dekalb Market.  I was almost tempted as I saw these mini rings of fried dough coming hot off of the oil.  Then I turned as saw one my all-time favorite vendors who had the most enchanting display to signal the start of fall.

Cupcakes by candlelight, as the soft glow bathed Robicelli’s treats, what could be more romantic?  Check out the Pumpkin Spice Latte cupcake (pumpkin cake, espresso mascarpone buttercream, fall spiced chocolate covered espresso beans), as I did, to get you in the mood for the flavors of the season.  I’m not sure, however, that it got me thinking about hoe-downs specifically.  Check their Tumblr feed to see what I mean by this as well as for a list of the other amazing flavors that they’ll have available at this market.  They also have brownies and whoopie pies for sale as well.

On the other side of the market were other vendors putting together sweet treats, too.  At Bar Suzette, they were making crêpes to order.  Just look at the slather of Nutella going into this one.  It was definitely an option to be considered after I ate something that really qualified as dinner, not just a snack.

Nearby, on the same stretch of vendors was the stand for Stuffed Artisan Cannolis.  Not going to make it down to Little Italy to deal with the crowds for San Gennaro?  No problem.  Here’s a great way to get your cannoli fix without having to elbow up to the counter and scream your order.  They come in mini versions so that you can try more than one.

Not quite yet ready for dessert or have qualms about pre-sserting?  There’s plenty of savory options to choose from at the market as well.  This selection of Indian dishes from Junoon looked amazing.  It wasn’t quite what I was in the mood for for my own evening meal, but I think that they are definitely on my list to be considered during my next market visit.

The folks at Roberta’s Pizza had their oven fired and ready to go to serve hungry visitors, too.  I stopped by to watch them whip up a pie on the spot for some lucky customer.  The last time this market was held, they were one of the more popular vendors, so you might want to allow for a bit of a wait if this is what you are craving.

Speaking of craveable, it took all of my willpower to stay away from two of my favorite savory food vendors who are at the market.  Red Hook Lobster Pound‘s lobster rolls with succulent chunks of sweet meat or their delicate, flavorful shrimp roll with a zip of roasted-garlic and tarragon mayo will make you wish that summer would come back again, even with the steamy temperatures.  Fortunately, they are available in the city year-round.  Asia Dog, which I also skipped this time around, is always a win with great riffs on the classic hot dog.  The Vihn, a mock banh mi is still probably my top pick, with freshness from cilantro and carrots as well as a punch from the peppers and aioli, leaving a little bit of tingling on your lips after it is done to remind you how delicious it was.

A new set of folks whom I met there, were the people behind Perfect Picnic NYC.  I felt really bad that the gloomy, wet day wasn’t exactly the right fit for their concept, but I loved that they feature so many terrific local food artisans in their shop.  Click on the link above for their website to see what I mean.  On one of the crisp fall days that we have yet to enjoy, I can completely see calling on them to help pull together a hamper full of meats, cheeses, pickles, jams, relishes, and dips.  It was also delightful to see the owner’s daughter enjoying a very gooey, stringy-cheesed sandwich from The Milk Truck, which was located next to them.

So, in the end, I went with another favorite food vendor for my dinner selection.  I have to give a special plug to the guys behind Calexico Cart.  One afternoon, after dealing with getting new sheets and towels at a major department store’s sale, I was completely starving, having not planned very well about grabbing lunch during my errands.  They were pretty much shutting up shop at their usual perch in Madison Square Park.  Not a lot was left by way of selections, in fact, they had run out of most things and were short on ingredients.  This next part is what I really love about all the artisan, entrepreneurial-types who are a part of New York’s thriving food scene right now.

They threw together what they had left and made an amazingly delicious burrito creation just for me with black beans, carne asada, and a whole bunch of other good stuff wrapped inside.  When I saw them last night at the market, I knew that they had my dinner plans in their hands.  I was not disappointed at all.  Of the two tacos above, the Carne Asada and the Chipotle Pork, I have to say the latter won hands down.  Smokey, pull-apart tender meat with crunchy pickled onions, a bit of heat from the pico, and a mild cool-down from the crema.  It was the perfect flavor combination for me.   Now I get why they have lines of devoted followers at the markets when I see them.

I didn’t get to check out all of the vendor stands last night, and some of them were not open, perhaps because of the rain.  By the time I made it through my initial sweep, the wet stuff seemed to be coming down harder, and I was on the verge of being drenched.  Despite the weather, however, it seemed as though there were quite a few folks stopping by on the way home from work or en route to another evening destination.  It is a great hub of culinary treats that I highly recommend taking a detour to this part of the city to visit.  The market will be open until October 21.

Buon appetito!

Madison Square Eats

On a tiny sliver of pavement and park between Fifth Avenue and Broadway near 24th Street, about a dozen and half food vendors and a few craft stalls have been making their home and feeding the hungry local hoards for about the past month.  I stopped by Madison Square Eats yesterday to check out some of the delicious treats being sold there.  It wraps up this coming Friday, June 3rd, in time for Madison Square Park to turn itself over to the masses for the 9th annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party next weekend.

This was definitely an excursion where I didn’t stray from the foods that I’ve really enjoyed during the past year.  After taking a few photos, I treated myself to a Sigmund Pretzel Shop Cheddar Cheese and Truffle Pretzel and a hearty helping of their robust housemade mustard.  A soft, chewy pretzel with baked, crusty cheese and a dusty of earthy truffles dipped into the sea of spicy, golden mustard was the perfect snack.  They also have several other types available, including another of my picks, the Feta and Black Olive Pretzel.  I spotted a lunch special with something served in a pretzel bun but decided to hold out until I evaluated my other options.

Calexico was serving up gourmet Mexican street food from a truck at the entrance to the market.  They had a pretty long line, so I decided to see what else was on offer.   I could have gone the Italian route as Piccolo Cafe had several pasta dishes and gelato (ideal on a hot, sunny day).  There were also several choices of places to get sandwiches like Resto, Ilili (whose delicious, savory fries dusted with garlic and sumac I tried at the Columbus Circle Holiday Market), and Meunier Gourmet Specialties.

My next stop, instead, was the line at People’s Pops for one of their cool delicacies.  The midday sun had started to make me wither a bit, like the frailest of Southern blossoms.  I needed some refreshment before I continued taking more pictures of food vendors.  Most of the folks in front of me were interested in their shaved ice, which is done by hand from a solid block of frozen water.  From having talked to them at the Brooklyn Flea, I’d found out that they actually have this delivered to them by one of the few ice block makers still left in the area.

My heart, however, was set on having one of their renowned pops.  Blackberry and Mint was my choice for the day.  Cool berries blended perfectly with peppery mint so that each bite was filled with sweet-not-too-tart juicy fruit flavor.  The challenge was to finish it all before it melted completely and to keep all the purple goodness from dripping on my clothes.  Thank goodness I just managed to make it on both counts.

Then, I looped around to the other half of the market, hoping to be able to make a decision about what to eat for my main meal.  On the way, I saw lots of great things, like pizzas coming out of the oven set up by Roberta’s and burgers on the grill at Bar Suzette (where they were also serving crepes).  Eataly had delicious-sounding heritage pork ribs on their menu, but I wasn’t up for more messy eating after having had that pop.

On the sweeter side of things, there were plenty of choices.  Milk Bar had cookies, their famous crack pie, and other goodies for sale.  The folks sitting beside me at the picnic table where I finally grabbed a seat were sharing and enjoying one of the Stuffed Artisan Cannolis.  A new vendor that I haven’t seen at any previous fairs was Cookie Panache.  Some of the items in the case looked really interesting, but I was once again starting to feel the need for some liquids.

Beverage choices also cover the gamut at this food fair.  The folks at Breezy Hill Orchard have juices for sale (as well as some of their cookies).  Spices and Tease not only had dried herbs and mixes for sale but also brewed teas in several flavors.  More typically known for their chocolates (and for having a nice spot to take a respite while shopping on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn), NuNu is selling beer in growlers as well as by the glass.

None of these were really what I had in mind.  I’d tweet-promised Anton of P&H Soda Co. that I’d stop by for a drink at his stand.  Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to catch each other, but I had a chance to sample a flavor that I hadn’t tried before.  The Hibiscus Lime Rickey was all that a summertime refresher should be.  Lightly sweet, mildly tart, bright-tasting, with citrus-herbal fruit tones, and a slight fizz are all reminiscent of a great Rosé or a fresh Bellini, just without the alcohol.  I might have to track this down at every one of the markets at which I run into him this summer.

At this point, I also knew that it was time to make a decision about what to eat for lunch.  After much soul-searching and staring at other people’s food, I went again with something I’d had once before but was eager to try again.  Those of you who know me well have probably never seen me eat a hot dog.  There’s one simple reason for that: I don’t really like them all that much.  In fact, my father once had to threaten me with not giving me a ride home from a soccer picnic to get me to finish one.  This all changed when I had my first Asia Dog at the Brooklyn Flea this winter.

Loaded with great combos of fresh ingredients that lay atop your choice of beef, chicken, vegetarian or organic beef dog.  These are not the same limp meals in a bun that you’ll find on any street cart.  Once you chomp through the cool and spicy seasonings and relishes, you hit the snap of the exterior of the meat and your mouth is filled with a whirlwind of flavors that hit all of your taste points.  Each bite is better than the last with heat, crunchy, salt, sweet, savory, sour until you realize there is nothing left but a few specks of condiments that you greedily lick off of your fingers sighing in contentment.  Or maybe that is just me, after I’ve chowed down on one of their Vietnamese-inspired Vinh dogs (near one in the last photo).

Whichever meal that you chose at Madison Square Eats, I don’t think you can go wrong.  The only issue is that you’ll need to get there in the next week before this installment of the fair closes forever.  Just a slight warning, though.  It gets very crowded during peak lunchtime hours so it’s best to plan to arrive outside those times.  There are picnic tables and seating in the market area as well as in the street’s median.  As I walked by the park on my way back uptown, still feeling the slight sting of the peppers on my lips from my hot dog, I didn’t feel any envy at all as I saw the long line at Shack Shack snaking around the back of the park.

Buon appetito!