Food treasures in New York City

Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg


If you like street fairs like the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival, then you will love Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg. Founded in 2008, Brooklyn Flea takes place every weekend and features vendors of antique and repurposed furniture, vintage clothing, and collectibles, as well as  jewelry, art, and crafts by local artisans and designers. For food lovers, it also offers an array of interesting cuisines from refreshing beverages to hearty burgers, with many delicious options to sate your sweet tooth.

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From April through Thanksgiving, Brooklyn Flea takes place outdoors: on Saturdays in Fort Greene and on Sundays in Williamsburg. From Thanksgiving through March, the market moves indoors to Skylight One Hanson, an event space in the landmark former Williamsburgh Savings Bank.

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If you want a 100% food experience then visit Brooklyn Smorgasburg which takes place in two locations every weekend: Saturdays at East River State Park—Kent Ave. and N. 7 St.—on the Williamsburg waterfront; and Sundays on the DUMBO waterfront at the Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Smorgasburg has stands selling packaged and prepared foods as well as beverages from about  75-100 vendors ; many are local producers or from nearby areas. Smorgasburg is open through November.

July 17, 2013 Posted by | event, Food | , | 1 Comment

Nolita Sweets

nol;ita map

Nolita (north of Little Italy), is a small neighborhood that is bounded on the east by the Bowery; the west by Lafayette Street; the north by Houston; and the south roughly by Broome Street. But it packs a wallop when it comes to food. There are many restaurants to try but I went there recently in search of Brazilian Gelato and discovered rice pudding too.


Located on Elizabeth Street near Prince, A. B. Biagi uses farm-fresh milk and sugar from Brazil to “spin gelato in a traditional vertical batch freezer, the Cavttabriga EFFE, the first of its kind in New York.”

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Antonio Barros Biagi, owner of the shop, first fell in love with gelato while growing up with his Italian family in the Brazilian countryside. Their gelato recipes were adapted to Brazil’s tropical weather, using local fruits and naturally lower fat milk to create lighter frozen desserts that could stand up to the heat. The store offers a range of flavors including: cinnamon, white chocolate, hazelnut and goat cheese with anise. You can also have Brazilian coffee.


On my way to Biagi’s I discovered a NY Culinary Find that I hadn’t been looking for — Rice To Riches. Located on Spring Street between Mulberry and Mott, this store only sells rice pudding.

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The pudding choices all have amusing names like: hazelnut chocolate bear hug, almond shalmond, coconut coma and , “category 5” caramel, among others. Owner Peter Moceo has put a lot of thought into every detail of the shop. The rice theme is brought to life from the front glass window to the shape of the plastic bowls the pudding comes in. A 4oz. bowl is available in 4 flavors but the average selling size is 8oz. When I was there, I saw groups ordering a 3-dish bowl for sampling and sharing. You can even order the rice pudding online for delivery the next day.

July 10, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores, sweets | , | 2 Comments

LIC Flea and Food


If you’re looking for something fun to do one summer weekend, check out the newly opened LIC Flea & Food, not far from Vernon Boulevard and 46th Avenue in Long Island City. It’s easy to get to by subway and it’s open every weekend this summer from 10am-6pm. It feels more like an enclosed street fair than a flea market, and the food vendors take up at least half of the tents. You can find everything from gluten-free cookies and artisanal ice cream to local pizza and smokehouse barbecue.  There was a stand selling bibingka, “a new twist to the traditional Filipino dessert,” and one with a variety of pickles. There were two food vendors that I found were fun and different.

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The first was Ice Riders — shaved ice created in an environmentally friendly way. Shaved ice cones are Hawaiian-style snow cones with a finer shave than traditional snow cones. The Ice Riders create this finer shave by a bike-powered machine.  The ice is then flavored with a syrup of your choice or a combination, including blue raspberry, green apple, and Southern style sweet tea.

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The second was TornatoUSA, a spiral potato snack. A potato, or another vegetable is put on a stick and inserted into a machine that cuts it into a spiral. The potato is then dipped in a batter and deep fried. Tornato offers a wide variety of spices and sauces that are served with the spiral snack.

Different vendors may come on different weekends, so you never know what culinary surprise you may find.

July 3, 2013 Posted by | Food, international | , | Leave a comment

DIY “NY Culinary Finds” Tour: Williamsburg


Williamsburg is an eclectic Brooklyn neighborhood bordering on Greenpoint to the north and Bed-Stuy to the south. It is both gentrified and industrial, and has a diverse population of Hasidim, Latinos, and hipsters. Not surprisingly, there are many culinary finds in this neighborhood. While you can eat at a wide range of great restaurants, including the newly re-opened Motorino’s Pizza, our tour focuses on other culinary options. The best way to get to Williamsburg is to take the L train to Bedford Avenue, the first stop in Brooklyn.

Inside Handsome Dan's

Inside Handsome Dan’s

When you get out of the subway, you’ll be on Driggs Avenue. Head Northwest towards Bedford Avenue and turn left on Bedford Avenue until you reach218 Bedford Avenue (near North 5th Street). Head inside the mini-mall and find Handsome Dan’s. Like Economy Candy on the lower east side, Handsome Dan’s is a trip down candy memory lane. While Handsome Dan’s doesn’t offer the variety that Economy Candy has, it does sell refreshing snocones with unusual flavors like thyme dream, earl grey cream, orange blossom ginger, rose pomegranate, and chili passion fruit.

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So buy a snocone and continue down Bedford Avenue towards North 4th Street. On the other side of the street, at 229, you’ll find The Bedford Cheese Shop. While not quite the size of Murray’s Cheese in the Village, The 10-year old Bedford Cheese shop “works directly with farms in order to select cheeses at their perfect peak.” They also sell other interesting products that you might like to have along with your cheese, including flavored mayonnaise, fresh made ravioli, and chocolate cubes to melt into hot chocolate.

Chocolate bars from Mast Brothers

Chocolate bars from Mast Brothers

For locally produced chocolate, continue heading North towards North 3rd Street and make a right. Walk down the street to Mast Brothers at 111 North 3rd.  You can watch the chocolate bars being made which start with locally roasted cacao beans. And you can sample some the products before buying them. You can choose from interesting flavored bars, like ones with chili peppers; or you can choose pure bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate.

Sketchbooks at the Brooklyn Art Library

Sketchbooks at the Brooklyn Art Library

If you have time, don’t miss the Brooklyn Art Library just a few doors down from Mast Brothers at 103A North 3rd. The Brooklyn Art Library is home to the Sketchbook Project, a global, crowd-sourced art project. At the library you can look at sketchbooks submitted to the project from amateurs and professionals; young and old; from nearby Brooklyn to China and Russia. It’s a rare opportunity to not only see an eclectic assortment of art but also to hold it in your hands.

From here, you have two options: If you like walking, you can walk to the Williamsburg Bridge (15 min from where you are) and over the bridge into Manhattan’s lower east side. Or you can head back to the subway station. Either way, you want to turn around and go back to Bedford Avenue.

To walk over the Williamsburg Bridge make a right on Bedford Avenue and keep walking until you reach South 6th Street where you’ll see an entrance to the bridge. When you get to the other side you’ll be on Delancy street. If you walk a few blocks on Delancy you’ll reach the F train or continue onto to Allen Street where you’ll find buses.

To return to the L train make a left on Bedford Avenue and head towards North 7th Street.


July 1, 2013 Posted by | culinary tours, Food, stores | | 2 Comments

DIY “NY Culinary Finds” Tour: Lower East Side

Last time I described a DIY NY Culinary Tour that took you through the west side of Manhattan. Here’s another DIY tour that gives you a taste of some NY culinary finds on the lower east side of Manhattan. The MTA trip planner can help you choose the best way for you to get there.

East Houston Street

Start your tour at Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery at 137 East Houston Street between 1st (which becomes Allen Street south of Houston) and 2nd Avenue. Yonah_Shimmel_Knish_BakeryThe store has been selling knishes since 1890 and looks like it hasn’t changed much since then. There are communal tables with cups filled with mismatched cutlery and plastic table clothes — all part of the charm. You can order knishes filled with potatoes, including sweet potatoes; kasha; or vegetables, like mushrooms, broccoli, spinach or cabbage. If knishes aren’t your thing, move on to Russ & Daughters, just down the block at 179 East Houston.


A family-owned business that’s been around since 1914, Russ & Daughters is your quintessential “appetizing” store. Inside you’ll find counters with cheeses, breads, and pickled, smoked and cured fishes all made in-house.

Now it’s time to leave East Houston and head south east to Rivington Street. Walk down East Houston until Allen Street (transformed from 1st Avenue South of East Houston). Make a right and walk South to Rivington Street. At Rivington make a left and head to Economy Candy at 108 Rivington.

Economy Candy

Economy Candy

As I wrote back in March,  Economy Candy is known as “The Nosher’s Paradise of the Lower East Side.” It’s been around since 1937 and sells hundreds of kinds of chocolates, candies, nuts, dried fruits; including halvah and candy I remember from childhood. There are traditional American products, like M&M’s and Bazooka bubblegum, as well as candies from other countries like Japan and Israel. You can buy candy and nuts by the pound or individual items you crave.

Streit's factory on Rivington Street

Streit’s factory on Rivington Street

While you’re on Rivington Street, you can also visit Streit’s Matzo Factory and Store, located at #148-154. But call ahead (212-475-7000) because their hours change when it’s not peak Passover time.

pickle guys

If you’re not going to visit Streit’s then from Economy Candy at 108 Rivington, head east towards Essex Street until you reach The Pickle Guys at #49 — it’s just beyond Grand Street. If you know your lower east side culinary history, then you’ll recognize this spot as the former location of Gus’s Pickles. The pickles from “The Pickle Guys” taste as good and you can still point to each barrel to choose the ones you want.

Your next two stops are practically side-by-side, so turn around and go back to Grand Street and make a right, heading east.

The first is Kossar’s Bialys at 367 Grand Street, another store that has been on the lower east side for years (65 approximately). Kossar’s is famous for their bialys but they also make bulkas (like heroes), pletzels, and sesame sticks. In 1998, they also started baking bagels.  If you can, get one of these hot from the oven.

If sweets are more to you liking, then two doors down, at 379 Grand Street, is Doughnut Plant.  As I wrote in April, Doughnut Plant is nothing like your typical “donut” shop. They offer both yeast-based and cake-like doughnuts with fruit, chocolate and many other kinds of fillings. I’m partial to their blackout chocolate cake doughnut. Buy some for your next day’s breakfast.

There are many ways to get home from the lower east side. If you live on the east side, walk west on Grand, back to Allen Street and make a left. There, you’ll find the M101 Limited/Express bus which goes up First Avenue. Or you can find nearby subways. If you still have energy, you can cross over Allen Street and you’ll be at the tail end of Chinatown.

The Next DIY “NY Culinary Finds” tour will take you to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section.

June 27, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | | 1 Comment

DIY “NY Culinary Finds” Tour: Manhattan’s West Side

With summer here, being outdoors is very appealing. If it’s not too hot, a great way to enjoy the weather is to take yourself on a New York culinary tour. While there are several companies in NYC that, for a fee, will take you to various neighborhoods known for their cuisine, why not “do-it-yourself.” If you enjoy walking, you can do these all by foot. But if some of the distances between stops seem too great, then just hop on a bus and continue that way.

The Westside Culinary Tour

Start your walk with breakfast at Amy’s Bread (672 Ninth Avenue Between 46th & 47th Streets).

Amy's Bread on 46th and Ninth

Amy’s Bread on 46th and Ninth

Choose from a variety of caffeinated and non-caffeinated hot and cold beverages and enjoy it with some sweet pastry or savory breads I’m partial to Amy’s variety of breadsticks. Buy a few to have later in the day.

So many breadstick choices

So many breadstick choices

Then head down Ninth Avenue (on foot or by bus) until 30th Street and walk west to 10th Avenue until you see the entrance of the Highline.  Stroll south on the Highline until about 17th Street. Stop for an ice pop from People’s Pops which uses locally grown fruit to make their frozen desserts or have a Mexican ice cream at La Newyorkina. Now it’s time to leave the Highline (exit at 16th Street) and head indoors to Chelsea Market. There’s an entrance on 10th Avenue between 15th-16th Street.

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Chelsea Market is best enjoyed slowly so leave yourself enough time to eat, drink and shop. My favorite spots for snacking on location include: gelato from L’Arte del Gelato; vegan sushi from Beyond Sushi; or grilled panini from Lucy’s Whey. If I’m shopping to bring dinner home, I’ll pick up fruits and vegetables at Manhattan Fruit Exchange, fish from The Lobster Place; interesting oils and vinegars from The Filling Station; and pasta from Buon Italia. If you exit at the east end of the market, you’ll be on Ninth Avenue.

In my next post, I’ll describe a DIY “NY Culinary Finds” Tour of the Lower East Side.

June 24, 2013 Posted by | Food, restaurants, stores | | 4 Comments

Vegan Doughnuts “Dun-Well”

dunwell outside

If you love doughnuts but are committed to a vegan way of life, then Dun-Well Doughnuts is a great way to satisfy your sweet needs. Located on Montrose Avenue (right near the L train stop), Dun-Well  is named for founding partners, Dan Dunbar and Christopher Hollowell. Dun-Well offers 200 flavors of vegan doughnuts, though not all available at the same time.

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I chose a Butterfinger doughnut which was served on a clever “bark” plate. While I prefer a non-vegan doughnut, this had great texture and flavor and was slightly less sweet than a traditional doughnut. Thanks Adam for the recommendation.

June 11, 2013 Posted by | Food, sweets | , | 2 Comments

Asian Market in the Heart of Soho


If you’re looking for traditional Asian ingredients, then you’re most likely to seek them out in one of the many stores in Chinatown or Koreatown. But a really good resource if you’re into cooking Chinese, Japanese, Thai and other Asian foods is The Sunrise Mart on Broome Street.

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Not only does the store sell familiar products like tofu, soy sauce, and rice; but also less familiar products like dashi (Japanese stock), natto (fermented soybeans) and a wide range of Asian candies. Because they know that not everyone is familiar with these products, Sunrise Mart helpfully displays signs explaining what the products are and how they are used. Even if you visit the store as a “tourist,” you’ll be inspired to try your hand at Asian dishes.

Sunrise Mart also has stores on East 41st Street and in the East Village on Stuyvesant Street.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | | 2 Comments

A Cheese Cornucopia

outside murrays

Whether you like hard or soft cheeses, mild or smelly, foreign or domestic, you will find it at Murray’s Cheese on Bleecker Street. Murray’s has been in business since 1940 when it was founded by Murray Greenberg. It was bought in 1990 by Robert Kaufelt who broadened the store’s cheese offerings and, over the past decade, expanded the store’s offering to include cured meats, beers, pasta, breads, and condiments.

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Murray’s tagline is “We Know Cheese” — simple but true. The people who work behind the cheese counter are knowledgeable, patient, and excited about the cheeses you can select. Not sure about what kind of goat cheese you like; you can sample a few until you find the right one. Trying to put together a wine and cheese party; Murray’s helpful cheese mongers will recommend an appealing and affordable selection.

Each cheese at Murray's is labeled with a story about the cheese you have purchased

Each cheese at Murray’s is labeled with a story about the cheese you have purchased

May 28, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | | Leave a comment

If You’re Passionate About Peanut Butter


Peanut butter is my “go-to” spread for a sandwich of if I want to liven up an apple or banana. I used to buy Skippy or Jif but in an effort to eat healthier, I make my own peanut butter by grinding peanuts at my local Fairway. When I heard about a little shop in Soho called Peanut Butter & Co., I had to check it out.

Inside Peanut Butter & Co. is very comfy

Inside Peanut Butter & Co. is very comfy

Located on Sullivan Street between Bleecker and West 3rd, PB&Co. is a sandwich shop that offers “classic” peanut butter sandwiches and “gourmet” sandwiches. Among the classic ones are, of course, a straight PB&J but also a “Peanut Butter BLT” which has fresh cut bacon;  a “Peanut Butter Cup” which includes Nutella; and a “Pregnant Lady,” which is topped with pickles!  The “Gourmet” sandwiches include: “The Bees Knees” with apple butter and wheat germ; and “White Chocolate Wonderful” sandwich with white chocolate peanut butter and orange marmalade. One of the fun parts is trying and choosing your favorite flavor peanut butter. There’s white and dark chocolate, cinnamon, honey and maple syrup. You can also choose among jams and jellies and types of bread.

My PB&J Club with maple syrup PB on one side and cinnamon PB on the other

My PB&J Club with maple syrup PB on one side and cinnamon PB on the other

There are also peanut butter centric desserts like sundaes and brownies. And you can go home with a peanut butter cookbook or jars of the peanut butter flavors the shop offers.

Things to take home from Peanut Butter & Co.

Things to take home from Peanut Butter & Co.

May 21, 2013 Posted by | Food, restaurants, stores | , , | 1 Comment