Cancel your brunch plans and start fasting Saturday night because this Sunday, June 23rd the New Amsterdam Market is back!
We’ve already told you how much we love the carefully curated open-air market that draws local farmers, innovative artisans and enlightened eaters to an otherwise-forgotten area at the old Seaport. In recent years, the market has operated every Sunday summer through fall, but this is the only market til September, and we intend to eat a whole season’s worth of pesto, porchetta sandwiches and popsicles before the day is done.
As contributing editor Rachel Wharton so poetically put it in her feature last year, New Amsterdam curates butchers, bakers, sandwich makers, charcuterers, cheesemongers, fishmongers, farmers, foragers and picklers who set up stands on a shaded stretch of South Street blacktop at Peck Slip. They sell perfect little shell peas, heritage pork, and big, briny oysters; rounds of crusty miche made from Hudson Valley grains and North Fork grape must; soft, runny rounds of Calkins Creamery’s Noblette, a curd rarely seen outside Pennsylvania. But unlike Greenmarkets, they also offer food that’s ready to eat: bowls of chile-flecked tomato soup given a glug of local pumpkinseed oil; butter-soaked Maine lobster rolls; extraordinary ice creams in flavors like cajeta and hay; or grilled cheese layered with ale-washed Vermont cheddar, hard-boiled eggs and pickled celery sourced from Queens’s only remaining farm.
And the market’s mission goes way beyond taste or even sustainable agriculture. Founder Robert LaValva, a New School professor and Harvard grad who ran the city’s early composting pilot, says our city deserves its equivalent of the world’s great food hubs, a public space dedicated to culinary commerce. “Market halls,” reads the project’s first brochure, written back in 2005, “have long served as the meeting point between the country and city, and in so doing create and foster true community.”
It’s no accident that he located the market near the longtime home of the Fulton Fish Market, which has housed a public market for centuries, since ye olde days when New Yorkers bought buttermilk and bear meat there. Now the storied buildings are slated for high-end development, which LaValva likens to allowing luxury high-rise construction in Central Park (shudder). He’s focusing on fighting the development plans (which is why this weekend’s is the only market til fall) and will host a rally Sunday to tell elected officials New York needs a waterfront public market that empower small businesses, not capitalism’s behemoths. Sounds like nourishment for the mind as well as the mouth. See you there.