New Amsterdam Market

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On a miserable December day, two years ago, Ashley and I went to a market that set a new standard for what a locavore, sustainable market could be. The New Amsterdam market was amazing. Most impressive to me were the oysters from Peconic Bay–which were plump and full of nectar. Ever since that first Winter Market, I’d been hoping for a chance to go again. Thankfully, the weather today was beautiful–sunny and bright with no freezing rain to speak of! We made our way downtown, to under the Brooklyn Bridge.

The market was set at the former site of the Fulton Fish Market. There had been a market there, at the tin building, since the 1650s when farmers crossed from Brooklyn at the narrowest part of the east river—now the site of the Brooklyn Bridge. But since the fish market moved up to the Bronx about four years ago, the space has remained vacant. The people behind the New Amsterdam market have proposed that a new permanent market move in–following the traditions of the Burough market by the Thames in London and that of the now mourned Les Halles in Paris. The market is different from the greenmarket in that it is full not of growers and farmers themselves (necessarily) but of purveyors who source directly from growers and farmers–purveyors like the Saxelby cheesemongers that bring cheeses from local dairy farms.Vendors ranged from bakers to butchers, from cheesemongers to candy makers–making candy from local ingredients like Brooklyn ale in their beer pretzel caramels.

The Bent Spoon came and and offered some amazing ice cream. I thought the bourbon and sea salt caramel was the best, but Ashley thought sweet-potato pecan was the winner. They were both pretty incredible.

We stumbled upon this beautiful tart, made with whipped goat cheese, poached pear, and fried sage…

…and joined the many others walking around eating pickles on sticks.

With the recent revival in old world butchery, it was no surprise that some of the top players were there. We had pre-ordered three pounds of grass-fed beef when we heard that Fleischers would be there–they partner with local farmers who raise their animals on a grass-based diet or according to organic standards. Besides appreciating their company’s ideals and long tradition in the region, we’ve found the grass-fed burgers we’ve had (at places like Back Forty) to have a distinctive, wonderful flavor and I’m excited to make some at home.

And thankfully, the oyster man from Stella was back–with his thick brogue–shucking succulent oysters, four for $5. It was hard not to get more!
Though we were tempted to grab a lobster roll from the Luke’s stand or a ham sandwich from Porcetta’s, we weaved back though the cobblestoned streets behind the market slip, picked up a coffee from Jack’s, and headed back uptown for a late brunch at Frankies to round out the afternoon.
The market is still hoping to get approval for a permanent institution; for now, it has become a monthly routine–although the last one for this season is December 20th. Hopefully it’s been a successful season (sure would appear so) as it would be a wonderful sort of return to a 350 year-old tradition. 

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