Yesterday marked the triumphant return of the New Amsterdam Market to the South Street Seaport. The market, which was last held in June 2008, brought together some 80 regional food and wine producers underneath the FDR Drive. Robert LaValva, New Amsterdam’s founder and director, is planning to hold the market on a monthly basis through the end of the year, and hopes to extend it further into 2010. If yesterday’s voracious crowd of locavores and happy, discriminating gluttons was any indication, LaValva shouldn’t have a problem finding support for a longer-term engagement.
The market boasted an impressive array of prepared foods, meats, cheeses, and produce. Saltie turned out some hellishly addictive focaccia with aioli and grilled peppers, as well as olive oil cake, lavender shortbread, and pound cake. The guys from Dickson’s Farmstand Meats grilled some terrific sausage and assured customers they’d be opening their Chelsea Market store in three weeks. Other local purveyors included Saxelby Cheesemongers, Hot Bread Kitchen, and the Redhead, the latter of whom were selling bags of their crack-like bacon peanut brittle. Among the multitude of bread vendors was Pain d’Avignon, the Long Island City bakery that is planning to open its first retail outlet in the Essex Street Market. According to the woman who was working the Pain d’Avignon table, the store, which is located in the old Roni-Sue’s space, will open in a couple of months.
All of the free samples at the market meant that it was possible to eat more or less an entire meal in the space of an hour, but aside from the aforementioned focaccia at Saltie, it was the ice cream from Princeton, N.J.’s The Bent Spoon (pictured below) that most made Fork in the Road want to kneel down and say a little prayer. The outwardly unassuming combination of their ricotta ice cream and nectarine sorbet was a potent and delirious one; the eye-rolling lusciousness of the ricotta in particular could spawn its own religion. It was so good that, even surrounded by some of the best of what the city has to offer, it inspired a traitorous thought: If ever there was a reason to forsake New York and its beautiful markets for New Jersey, this may be it.