As you read this, Mr. Oyster and I are in Italy, and I’m having no fun whatsoever. It’s just research, research research, struggling to come up with ideas to write about (just kidding). In the meantime, Christine from Fresh Local Best, a very talented writer and photographer (as evidenced here) graciously and generously offered to write something about what makes New York special. She elected to feature the New Amsterdam Market in New York. If you have not checked out Christine’s blog, I encourage you to do so. She is a true bi-coastal person having lived in San Francisco but now spends most of her time in New York City. She still manages to get back to San Francisco and get some research in. I had a virtual vacation with her earlier this year on her truffle adventure across parts of France, and let me tell you it was amazing.
These things often start in abandoned parking lots. Hard working people congregate early in the morning with packs of wooden crates, unhinging them with crow bars. Fold-out tables are set up to offer the real prize, fresh farm grown produce, and pretty soon it becomes an exchange. And what was formerly an empty parking lot over time becomes a lively center of commerce.
Hello, my name is Christine and I am the blogger behind Fresh Local, and Best, which is a blog focused on farmer’s markets. In New York City alone there at least 28 farmer’s markets, scattered across our small dense urban island. Some range from minute gatherings of as little as four stalls to the biggest one, the Union Square Farmer’s Market, which is held four times a week all year round. One particular market that has garnered impressive support and enthusiasm is the New Amsterdam Market. The market holds its weekly gathering under the FDR freeway on the parking lot of the original Fulton Fish Market in the South Sea Port and in one of the oldest neighborhoods of the nation
If you’ve ever visited Borough Market in London, New Amsterdam holds a strong resemblance in style. Local vendors sell their bounty of artisan products in a bare surrounding, bringing together a good balance of prepared foods, fresh meats and produce, which is in contrast to the Union Square Farmer’s Market where fresh produce is the primary focus.
And the prepared foods can be amazing! Some of the busiest local restaurants in New York sell their signature dishes out of narrow stalls, providing visitors with some of the best bites of Manhattan. From succulent lobster rolls by Luke’s Lobster to slow-roasted tender porchetta sandwiches from Porchetta, and shredded braised beef sandwiches with crème fraîche on brioche from Jimmy’s No.43, it’s a sure bet that you’ll find something that will suit your mood.
Local artisan products are the highlight of the market. Every week there are unique high-quality items made by passionate food creators such as kimchi by Mother’s-In-Law Kimchi, naturally fermented pickled vegetables by Rick’s Pick, a variety of chocolate bars from Mast Brother’s Chocolates and fruit-packed popsicles made from locally grown produce from People’s Pop.
There are also plenty of novel items such as chocolate covered bacon and beet chips from up and coming foodie entrepreneurs. And if you are still not enticed by the aforementioned, there are plenty of locally made cheeses from New York and New Jersey farms and fresh baked breads from Nordic Breads and Sullivan Street Bakery.
In the produce section, in addition to featuring seasonal produce, one of the more exotic vendors of the bunch includes the Wild Food Gatherer’s Guild that collects interesting and colorful wild mushrooms varieties, such as Hen of the Woods and Chicken of the Woods, Lobster mushrooms, and Yellow Foot Chanterelles. Although the guild does not make it every week, each offering at the market offers plenty of intrigue.
Now for Some History about Apples on the East Coast
As we head further into autumn the markets are priming for apple season, a time when many East coasters get excited about the prospects of apple-picking at local farms, a tradition which is a deeply embedded here. Although a visit to the farmer’s market more than makes up with abundant variety for those who can’t leave the city offering.
With all of those apples, everyone gets very busy churning out sauces and the oh-so-cherished apple pies. Apple pie is a well-integrated part of New England history and culture. In fact, during the turn of 19th and 20th century, apple pie became the symbol of American prosperity, leading to the birth of several expressions, “American as apple pie,” and “Upper crust.” If you’re confused by how the latter expression “Upper crust” came about, in early America, lard and flour were expensive and often reserved to make only a bottom crust. The more affluent families could afford to add a top layer over the pie, so those families became known as “the upper crust.”
The sheer breadth of apple varieties makes this season an interesting experience. Some of the popular apple varieties in New York that I’ve had an opportunity to try are:
Braeburn: Crisp light texture, juicy sweet and tangy with yellow flesh. This variety is great for sauces.
Cameo: This is an interesting bright red striped apple that has a creamy yellow orange flesh. Cameos are sweet, tart and crispy.
Honeycrisp: One of the crispest apple varieties on the market, dense and firm in texture, sweet with a hint of tartness; yellow flesh. This is a great snacking variety and is my favorite.
Macoun: This apple has a beautiful glossy red skin that sometimes is splashed against a bright lime green color. Macouns are a cross breed between the McIntosh and Jersey black varieties. Crisp, juicy lighter in density and sweet with snow white flesh, this is one of the most popular eating apples.
Paula Red: This variety is tart, juicy with a crisp light flesh. This is a good eating variety.
Red Rome: This is perhaps the most beautiful apples for their deep crimson red skin. Red Rome is a mildly tart variety with tender white flesh. This is variety is great for baking.
This year, like many of the previous years, will be another good apple harvest. We’ll be looking forward to all the wonderful apple creations this fall. Thanks for coming along with me to the New Amsterdam Farmer’s Market, and learning a bit about the local food out here in New York.