At the new Fulton Stall Market, Fork in the Road stumbled on Chinese restaurant consultant Ed Schoenfeld buying strawberries.
Diehard New Yorkers love holiday weekends, when our wealthier neighbors seek out their summer homes in the Hamptons or Columbia County, and the rest of us are left with a half-empty city, where you can walk right into your favorite restaurant without a reservation, and the only obstacles in your path are tourists wandering aimlessly in the streets like the Undead. There were lots of food-oriented events this last Saturday, so I hopped on my bike and headed out around noontime.
jump to discover the scope of my adventures
The new Fulton Stall Market opened this week for the first time in a former fish market space just under FDR drive. It will be open on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer. It’s not quite like a farmers market, because it includes some food processors–a maker of miniature cupcakes, and a coffee roaster, for example–that might not fit the criteria of the farmers markets. We found 15 stalls, including a fishmonger from Jersey, the distinguished Catskillian baker Bread Alone, an olive oil presser from California, a greengrocer, and more. Fork in the Road also ran into coffee guru Jack Mazzola of Jack’s Stir Brew, who operates a branch of his coffee bar nearby. “This place is really busy on the weekends,” he noted, “but if it were open during the week, they’d have trouble getting enough customers.” I asked him about the long-delayed project called the New Amsterdam Market. “They’ve been trying to move in across the street for three years now,” he said, gesturing at the empty fish market main building across the street. “It’s a city building, you know, so there’s way too much red tape.”
One of the high points of the market is the organic produce from Sang Lee Farms
While not exactly local, the California olive oils from Stonehouse looked good, too.
I guess you could treat the Fulton Stall Market as a kind of outdoor luxury grocer, since there was none of the grit or duplication (allowing comparative shopping) that one expects from a true farmers market. Next, Fork on the Road jumped on the bike and headed out to the 2nd Annual Risotto Challenge at Jimmy’s #43. On the way, I passed a long line snaking around the south end of Tompkins Square, representing the city’s growing underclass, waiting patiently for soup.
The weekend bread line at Tomkins Square
The Risotto Challenge featured 16 contestants, who were organized into two different tastings, the first beginning at 1pm, the second at 3pm. Fork in the Road dropped in during the first, and immediately ran into judges Erin Zimmer (of Choice Eats), Mark Bello (of Pizza a Casa), and Cathy Erway (of noteatingoutinnyc.com), who were bearing plates of risotto. I found the risottos to be the usual mixed bag of food-contest entries; too often the contestants were trying to overachieve in a Top Chef sort of way. Thus some of the risottos featured elements like mango, candied ginger, white chocolate, and jalapenos, that really don’t belong in the risotto canon. A couple substituted the Roman grain farro for rice, which is something you can also find in Italy. One of the most interesting, both taste- and concept-wise was #7, called Urban Chicken Risotto. Poached eggs perched atop, and there were nuggets of chicken inside, flavored with leeks, gremolata, and anchovy butter. And imagine my delight in discovering that the chicken and eggs had been raised in a Brooklyn back yard. The Risotto Challenge was a benefit for Just Food.
Arin Kramer and Alyssa Casey serve up the Urban Chicken Risotto
Leaving the Risotto Challenge on the way to the Parked Festival in Brooklyn, I passed one of the season’s first street fairs on Third Avenue in the East Village. These fairs are the plague of the summer, but we spotted some luscious looking corn dogs, which had been renamed “dipsy dogs.” They were delicious anyway. We also spotted several fashion trends, including a couple clad in matching blue jerseys. They were probably from Jersey.
Twin jerseys may be the new look of the season
Next, Fork in the Road next rode over to Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal to attend the Parked Festival, which was held at a piece of property that’s recently been dubbed Brooklyn Yards at 400 Carroll Street. The odd round building right on the edge of the (fantastically polluted) waterway has been an art space for several years, but now the potential of the gorgeous park-like setting, lushly populated by poplar trees, is finally being realized.
The poster for the event had rather grandly promised “A Celebration of the City’s Best Food Trucks,” which was pretty much a total lie. There were only four entities serving food, including one Red Hook huarache vendor, the mobile pizza operation Moto (which Fork in the Road documented at the Brooklyn Flea), a juice truck that found few takers, and Van Leeuwen, the ice cream truck. Beer was readily available from a makeshift bar. Since only the huarache and pizza vendors were capable of furnishing anything like a meal, riduculously long lines formed at those institutions. We encountered our friend Matt Rossi (who makes his own absinthe!) standing in the huarache line, and had a second conversation with him an hour later, when he was still standing in the huarache line. He and his pals evenutally gave up and went to a restaurant on Smith Street. Oh, these over-promoted and under-conceived food events!
Nevermind. Everyone sat in the lovely sunshine, drank beer, and wished they had some food.
The Parked festival at least delivered a sunny day by the water
And some impromptu inter-species wrestling!