New Amsterdam {Pedaling, part ii}

Find the shortest, simplest way between the earth, hand and the mouth.
~Lanza del Vasto

South Street Seaport, Manhattan
If you have a bike, and a buddy, one of the best ways to spend a Sunday is pedaling around town bound for your local market, particularly if you local market happens to be the much-lauded New Amsterdam Market in New York’s historic South Street Seaport. Inspired by Paris' Les Halles, and London's Borough Market, the New Amsterdam Market is a collection of savvy, sustainable producers that inspire, educate and sell some of the most thoughtful food products in New England.
Of the dozens of producers at the market, there are as many stories worth telling, and something noteworthy about each and every purveyor at the market, hand chosen for their integrity, their stewardship of the land and waters, and their appreciation for the local commerce and communities their products nourish. I couldn’t possibly name every delight or detail, but in the spirit of awards ceremonies {and high school yearbooks}, here are a few of my favorites.
Best in Show: Those who know New York food know that Queens has the best bakers, and Brooklyn has the best brewers. In my opinion, the top baker’s toque in town is Pain D’Avignon. Their Cranberry Walnut Bread {baked down the street from us in Long Island City}, like all their breads, is an instant portal to yeasted utopia.
Best Educator: Nova Kim, of Wild Gourmet Food, lover of all wild edibles, won my heart when I told her I’ve been foraging all summer, to which she said, “Repeat after me. I do not forage. I wild craft, I collect, I gather.” Foraging implies scavenging. Gathering edibles in the wild requires knowledge and a skill set, along with the respect that one should leave the area in better shape than one found it. Got it. Go forth, and gather. Or let Nova and partner Les Hook gather for you, and join their Wild Foods CSA {Community Supported Agriculture}.
Best Cult Following: Tie between Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea and Mother In Law's Kimchi.
First to Sell Out: Nordic BreadsFinnish Ruis Bread, also baked in Long Island City, was gone well before we arrived. So, I’m guessing it was good. What did I tell ya’ about those Queens bakeries?
Most Popular Guy: Luke’s Lobster rolls, perhaps the city’s most talked about lobster roll {and that’s saying something}, had folks in a titillated state. I don’t do lines, but I dig their motto: It's the only roll that's traceable from the sea floor to your plate.
Best Dressed: Imagine you have a brother, and both of you have fine taste in clothing and chocolate. So you stir up a little handcrafted chocolate business in Brooklyn, wrap your bars in handsome vintage paper and sell, sell, sell. Because people love them {not just for the paper, the chocolate is really, really good.} That’s Mast Brothers Chocolate.
Best Innovation: Brooklyn Oenology owner Alie Shaper blends wines in Long Island, christens them with clever names like Motley Cru, then commissions local artist to design their labels. None of those details would be worth mentioning if her wine wasn’t also wonderful. Even more impressive? Those labels peel right off, for us nostalgics. Finally.
Best Nickname: The Piggery, from Trumansburg, NY. But actually, that’s not a nickname. That’s their real name. Local, old-world style charcuterie. Enough said.
Most Incestuous Local-Love-Fest: Liddabit Sweets, caramels, candy bars, lollies and jellies made from the best little bits from a handful of local, artisanal producers like Brooklyn Brewery, Martin’s Pretzels, and Salvatore Bklyn. But you don’t have to be local to try a liddabit. Get some here.
Best Historical use of Space: W&T Seafood, and Stella, like New Amsterdam’s original market vendors, shuck oysters as fast as folks can swallow them, making mountains out of oyster shells, which, for the record, is far, far more delicious than making mountains out of mole hills.
Best Free Sample: Wild-caught crab claws from Port Clyde Fresh Catch, who used them to lure me in to their Community Supported Fishery club {think, Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, for fish}. I’m in.
Biggest Head Turner: Louisa Shafia’s new book, Lucid Food, had me at hello. The seductive cover photography {of rhubarb, a personal fave}, its tagline, “Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life,” and Louisa’s 80 alluring recipes speak my language. And if her pumpkin bread {or the success of her catering company} is any indication, the gal can cook. The book hits stores this week.
Best Find: Hudson Valley Seed Library, a collection of local, heirloom seeds cultivated in the Hudson Valley, is sold in packets featuring commissioned artwork worth holding on to after the seeds hit the soil.
Best Service: Valet bike check, by Bowery Lane Bikes. Covetable bikes too, with a rear rack and wooden crate big enough to tote home all your loot.
Best Story: When I asked James Andela of Krugerrand Farms how many goats he had, after I tasted his mildly sweet 90-day-aged raw-milk goat cheese, he told me a story. “This is a 4-H project that got out of hand,” he said. “When my girls went to college, they told me I could sell their goats. They pictured the goats grazing on a dairy farm, I pictured them becoming a one-night stand at a bad Indian restaurant, so I kept them.” Good move. 10 years later he and his wife run a sustainable farm and produce four memorable artisan cheeses.
That is exactly why I shop at local markets. I want the 4-H story. I want to know the names of the goats who give milk for my cheese, or the brothers that handcraft my chocolate. I want food with heart, with history. Food that for the miles it has not traveled, and the care with which it was crafted, tastes so much better than everything else.


Bowery Lane Bicycles said...

Well, first off, we would like to thank Karl Drais von Sauerbronn for first inventing the bicycle, without him, we could not be where we are today. I would also like to thank mom "hi mom!" for really helping us transition from Big wheels to Bicycles.

Lets see if we can repeat next year!

-Bowery Lane Bicycle Crew

Sarah said...

God bless Karl Drais von Sauerbronn. I'm looking forward to seeing you all again next season!

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.