Last time I was in New York a friend told me about Smorgasburg. It’s a Food Flea Market that pops up in Brooklyn at weekends. – every Saturday it’s in Williamsburg and Sunday on DUMBO Waterfront.
Mario Batali chef owner of Babbo, Casamona, Esca, Lupa et al, described it as “the single greatest thing I’ve ever seen gastronomically in New York City. The Woodstock of Eating, a gluttons paradise.” Food entrepreneurs racking their brains for an idea could do worse than to pop on a plane to New York with a notebook and a smart phone, and to do a bit of reconnaissance at Smorgasburg. It’s easy to get there, just jump on the subway and hop off at Bedford Avenue Station.
The variety is mind blowing and I don’t use that word lightly, over 80 stalls each selling their own great food speciality. Talk about thinking outside the box. The passion and entrepreneurial spirit is palpable. Everyone was so proud of their product and eager to have feedback and thrilled by a compliment. Just shows if we provide a platform for young food entrepreneurs they’ll come up with ideas. It also helps to roll back the red tape and regulations. Let them get started, trial their products, the general public will soon give the answer. Do they love it, if so they will buy it again, if not, go back to the drawing board…
When I visited Smorgasburg on Saturday there were almost 90 stalls – There’s simply not enough room in this piece to mention all the great ideas. The enthusiasm was infectious.
There were picnic tables in the centre so one could relax and enjoy one delicious snack after another, only limited by ones appetite. So frustrating sooooo many delicious things to try, I ate for Ireland but there were countless temptations that I couldn’t manage to taste.
I loved Smogasburg for a myriad of reasons, not least the yummy food but also the buzz and opportunities it gave so many people to trial their product and follow their dream. The standard was astoundingly high. There’s no fear of America if this is a taste of what one area can serve, given encouragement, support and minimum interference.
Adobo Shack sells great hotdogs – America’s favourite fast food with an Asian twist. Big Bao had steamed Chinese pork buns to die for. Bite Me Cheesecakes – tiny version of the cheesecake – small and beautiful. Bombay Sandwich Company. Cemita’s Mexican Sandwiches and Tacos, sandwiches in every shape and form a ten layer Mexican sandwich. Brooklyn Cured sold baps filled with their own cured meat. There was also a queue for Brooklyn Bangers, great sausages in hotdog buns. Lots of home cured meats and charcuterie like King County Jerky, Porchetta – America’s love affair with the pig and pork products is still evident. Crazy Legs; a great name for a stall that sold drumsticks with different flavours. Home Frite : Just great chunky French fries made from organic russet potatoes fried to perfection served with duck confit, Bacon and vermont cheddar cheese sauce or Canadian Style with curds and gravy.
In the US there is a huge homesteading revival, every pickling and curing and jam making class is oversubscribed and Korean food is now hot. McClure’s Pickles. Mrs Kim’s Kimchi and Rick’s Picks all long queues. Kimchi is ubiquitous in Korea but Mrs Kim’s another innovative entrepreneur is introducing New Yorkers to Kimchi a semi fermented and spicy cabbage.
Rick Field was an out of work TV producer when he started his pickle company Ricks Picks in 2004. Nine years later he offers a whole range of pickles produced in season from locally grown vegetables, hand packed all natural pickles. He is now selling in many markets including Union Square.
The variety reflects the ethnic cultural mix that is America. Choncho Tacos NYC, Lumpia Shack, Landhaus, Parantha Alley. Noodles and ramen are many peoples favourite comfort food, Noodle Lane and Sun Noodle Ramen were both doing great. Sunday Gravy, Takumi Taco, Taste of Ethiopa, WTR Dosa Days, Solber Pupusas, Lots of handmade artisan chocolates, great coffee, craft beers homemade sodas and milk shakes and slushes. Great coffee from Blue Bottle and Teas at Thurslea Café stall. We’ve been testing recipes from Linda Ziedrich’s book on Pickling published by The Harvard Common Press, these ones we enjoyed a lot.
Recipes taken from ‘The Joy of Pickling’ by Linda Ziedrich
Linda Ziedrich’s Cherry Relish
Makes 2 x 7fl oz jam jars
Sour cherries are traditional and best in cherry relish. If you can’t get sour cherries, use sweet ones instead.
1 x 3inch piece of cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon whole cloves
10 whole green cardamom pods
700g (1 ½ lbs) cherries pitted, preferably sour cherries
100g (4oz) sugar
150g (6oz) golden raisins
150g (6oz) honey
350ml (12floz) cider vinegar
Tie the spices in a spice bag or cheesecloth. In a heavy saucepan, simmer the remaining ingredients with the spice bag for about 1 hour, until the syrup has thickened slightly. Squeeze and remove the spice bag into two half-pint kilner jars or one pint jar, leaving a ¼ inch head space. Close the jars with two-piece caps and process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Store the cooled jars in a cool, dry, dark place for at least 2 weeks before eating the relish.
Linda Ziedrich’s Hyderabadi Tomato Chutney
Makes 1 pint
Not really a pickle at all, since it contains no vinegar or citrus juice and should probably be frozen for long-term storage. But it is Linda’s favourite chutney, so I couldn’t leave it out. Traditionally served with Moghul dishes of lamb in yogurt sauce, the chutney is also delicious with roast potatoes.
12 garlic cloves
900g (2lb) peeled and chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon ground dried hot pepper
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
4 small dried hot peppers, such as japonés or de árbol, caps removed
80ml (3floz and 1 teaspoon) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon diary salt
Mash 4 of the garlic cloves and combine them in a bowl with the tomatoes, ginger, and ground hot pepper. Set the bowl next to the stove. Measure the cumin, mustard seeds and fenugreek into a small bowl and put it and peppers next to the stove as well.
Heat the oil in a large wide stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining garlic cloves; Fry them, turning them once or twice, until they are golden brown. Add the cumin, mustard seeds, and fenugreek to the pan and let them sizzle for 2 seconds. Add the peppers and stir once, they will swell and darken. Add the tomato mixture carefully; it will splatter a bit at first. Cook the chutney, stirring almost constantly for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is quite thick. Stir in the salt. Spoon the chutney into small jars or plastic storage containers and close them tightly.
The chutney will keep well in the refrigerator for a week or more. For long term storage, freeze the containers.
Linda Ziedrich’s Rhubarb Chutney
Makes about 1.8 litres (3 pints)
Here’s chutney for those lucky enough to have an abundance of rhubarb.
450ml (16fl oz) cider vinegar
425 g (15oz) firmly packed light brown sugar
470g (1 ¾ lbs) rhubarb stems, sliced ½ inch thick
600g (1 1/4lb) chopped onions
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
grated zest of 1 orange
1 x 4inch cinnamon stick
150g (5oz) golden raisins
½ teaspoon diary salt
In a nonreactive pot over a medium heat, heat the vinegar and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chutney thickens.
Remove the cinnamon stick. Pack the chutney into sterilized pint Kilner jars and cover immediately. Store the cooled jars in a cool, dry, dark place.
Moroccan Pickled Beets
900g (2lbs) cups diced (about ¼ inch) cooked and peeled beets
1 garlic clove, crushed
225ml (8fl oz) wine vinegar
75g (8oz) tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted and crushed in a mortar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Put the beets and garlic into a bowl. In a small nonreactive saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar and cumin to a boil. Pour the hot liquid over the beets. Let the bowl stand at room temperature, turning the beets occasionally, for several hours. If you won’t be eating the beets the same day, store the bowl, covered in the refrigerator. The beets should keep well for at least 2 weeks.
Just before serving beets, toss them with the olive oil.
Bunsen Burgers:- Tom Gleeson graduated from Ballymaloe Cookery School in 2009 he lived in New York for a year, trying all the street food and gathering ideas. He also gained valuable experience at La Bernadin restaurant in New York followed by a three month stage in Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire. He opened The Bunsen Burger in Dublin just two months ago and by keeping the menu simple – hamburgers, cheese-burgers and fries – and the quality very high he aims to serve the best burgers in Dublin and from what I hear, he’s off to a flying start! They also serve milk shakes and craft beers; Dead Pony Club, Sierra Nevada, Brew Dog, and Punk IPA. Find Bunsen Burger on 36 Wexford Street, Dublin 2 – www.bunsenburger.ie
If you are over for the weekend don’t miss Brockley Market, it’s in Lewisham College car park on Saturday from 10am – 2pm and is the London equivalent of Smorgasburg but with some fresh produce also. Seek out Moonsgreen salami and cured meats (moonsgreen.co.uk) and the Mark Hix boys do a crispy pollock fish finger in a hotdog bun with mushy peas and home-made tartare sauce – soo good. (Fishdogs.com)