Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Amsterdam Market

It’s the end of summer and I’m happy to be back in New York. I always love it here but Labor Day through Christmas is especially exciting as everyone returns from the country or beach and Manhattan starts to bustle again. This past Sunday I kicked autumn off by going to the New Amsterdam Market at the South Street Seaport.

The market, inspired by Paris’s Les Halles and London’s Borough Market, is the beginning of what many of us in the city hope to be a year-round public market featuring “purveyors who source food directly from farmers and producers whom they trust to be good stewards of our land and waters”.

It has previously been held once a year since its founding in 2005. Sunday was the first of four market meetings planned through this fall; the remaining three will be on October 25th, November 22nd, and December 20th.

The weather on Sunday was beautiful and a large, friendly crowd showed up to sample amazing treats (almost all for free) from close to 80 small, sustainable Northeastern food purveyors. I had a chance to taste and/or buy cheese, bread, butter, pasta, pickles, oysters, beef, bison, sausage, vegetables, jams, chocolate, yogurt, ice cream -- I could keep going. Did I mention you should come hungry?

The quality of the products far and away surpasses anything you will find in a grocery store. Think of the gathering as an outdoor, organic version of Dean and Deluca or Eli’s. I missed the first market in 2005 but have attended the last three and each time, while it has gotten bigger and bigger, the range and caliber of vendors has remained consistently high and impressive.

Sunday was the first time at New Amsterdam for Maple Hill Creamery, home to “small batch old fashioned dairy products” made with milk from local, 100% grass-fed cows. I tasted all their yogurt flavors and bought a few delicious Orange Crèmes to take home.

The Bent Spoon from Princeton, NJ was back with plenty of incredible ice creams and sorbets made from seasonal, locally grown ingredients. So was Fleisher’s butcher shop, sellers of pasture-raised, organic beef and member of Saveur magazine’s Top 100 of 2008.

Regional Access is a distributor of specialty and natural foods, many from the Finger Lakes region of New York. There aren’t many local sources for dried beans in the Northeast but they had them here, grown by Ithaca’s Cayuga Pure Organics. The timing could not be better; I’ve just started to feel a little nip in the air and it's got my mind thinking about making soups. No more bags of Goya beans for me!

A crowd watched as People’s Popsicles made shave ice by hand using a big, beautiful block of ice and dousing the fine powder with fruity, herby syrup. They had local fruit popsicles, too.

If you haven’t been, I’m telling you -- life is good at a New Amsterdam Market! Mark October 25th on your calendar and come to the next meeting with an appetite and a few hours to spare. Admission is free and it’s a straight walk east from the Fulton Street subway station.

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