Looking Forward to Lemon Ricotta Cake and Caramel Bacon Pretzels

In sweet anticipation of the New Amsterdam Market.

EM8-LowRes2Oh, how we love the Greenmarket, even this time of year. We leave laden with rutabagas and pears, pearl onions and pork shoulder, then spend the rest of the afternoon turning it all into dinner. But while we’re actually shopping, the market’s respectable, rock-solid rules mean snacks are scarce.

The overall uninspired baked goods leave us cold, so we often ward off hunger with a hunk of cheese and a half dozen raw scallops.

Thus it is with ravenous rapture that we anticipate the New Amsterdam Market. On the third Sunday of every month in the former footprint of the Fulton Fish Market, the city’s dusty old public marketplace comes vibrantly back to life with a collection of the most exciting, heartfelt, handmade— and often ready-to-eat—victuals we can remember. Taking its cue from Paris’s famed Les Halles, this expertly curated market provides the region’s most inspired purveyors with a picturesque place to sell their delectable culinary inspirations to hungry, happy hordes, taking at-market munching far, far beyond hot cider and a cold doughnut.

The rows spill over with epicurean snacks aplenty, all cooked, cured, simmered and sweetened by hand, with so much heart that it feels like an eater’s dream from which we never wish to wake. Loaves of caraway challah and sesame lavash from Hot Bread Kitchen are piled high, Anne Saxelby cuts memorably sharp wedges of artisanal American cheese, Jake Dickson serves thoughtfully spiced sausages that burst as you take a bite, the Bent Spoon scoops seasonal sorbets, and slices of lemon-ricotta cake follow caramel-bacon-pretzels. All of a sudden someone is handing you a homemade marshmallow; a moment later a nibble of chocolate-covered honey nougat is dissolving on your tongue.

Clear your palate with an heirloom apple and try to remember what’s missing from your cupboards. Kimchee? Kombucha? Cornmeal? In a city of near-endless gourmet shops, this out-of-the-way cornucopia is truly exceptional. It’s tough to order oysters, taste-test olive oils and balance a pork sandwich all at once, but we bet you’ll be up for the challenge.

Photo credit: Robin Riley

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Jeanne Hodesh is a Brooklyn-based writer, eater, Greenmarket regular, and home cook. She grew up in the kitchen of her parent’s bed and breakfast on the Penobscot Bay in Maine where she squeezed fresh orange juice and fell in love with the rhythm of restaurants. An only child who used to amuse herself by telling tales, she always knew she wanted to write. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College, and upon graduation dove into the media-happy town that is New York City. After a year working for an art magazine company she realized people in the food industry have much more fun and always know where the parties are. She has written for Saveur, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan, Edilble East End, and Time Out New York. She started the e-newsletter Local Gourmands in the winter of 2008.