Over Independence Day weekend, Angela suggested making a visit over to the Brooklyn Flea over in Fort Greene. I knew the food scene there would be interesting to check out, so I was definitely game (Marcus, too). After some initial perusals of some vendor shops, food was calling for us. There were so many food stands to choose from. Marcus made his initial assessment, leading us to Asiadog.
Asiadog offers hot dogs with Asian-inspired toppings. Co-founders Steve Porto and Melanie Campbell, along with their love of NYC, "wanted to push the limits of one of its most popular street foods by adding their own personal touch with super-fresh ingredients." The pair's mixed Asian backgrounds (Mel is half Chinese/half Australian while Steve is half Korean/half Italian) inspired their celebration of "NYC's diversity by incorporating flavors found in China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, etc." through their fun, playful fare. They began their little venture back in 2008 while in the backyard of a friend's bar "with the basic principles of good food, good friends, and good fun." Asiadog has come a long way in the past three years, with a "brick-and-mortar" shop in Nolita as well as store fronts appearing at Brooklyn Flea and Central Park SummerStage.
The chalkboard menu with all of Asiadog's eclectic Asian-inspired dogs as well as its signature burger and pulled pork "sammy." After much debate of which two Marcus and I would try, we were finally decided.
We brought our hot dogs over to the concrete steps behind the front line of food stands, where it seemed most market-goers snuck out to chow down on some street grub.
Marcus and I shared the wangding (left) and the mash (right).
The wangding was a beef hot dog with Chinese barbecue pork belly in plum sauce and a cucumber slice, topped with scallions. This was amazing -- probably the most interesting and delicious hot dog-topping combination I've ever had. The pork belly was really tender (no troubling chewiness), and the plum sauce gave it a little more depth of flavor. The cucumber was a nice addition for good measure -- entirely clean, crisp, and juicy, which added a cooling contrast to the heartiness of the hot dog and porkbelly.
The mash was a beef hot dog topped with sweet and spicy ketchup, jalapeño mustard, and crushed potato chips. If you're, at best, a handler of mild spice alone, I wouldn't recommend this. The spicy ketchup paired with mustard (with jalapeños, no less) is not just kicky -- it's more like multi-faceted kicks coming at you all at once.
We were such fans of the wangding that we had a double encore of them, only this time, we opted to try the organic beef hot dogs. With a $2 differential per hot dog, Marcus and I didn't really see the appeal in opting for the organic one if only just for health reasons. In all honesty, we thought the organic one tasted a little bit different (couldn't put our finger on what it was), causing us prefer the original beef hot dog we had in our first round of hot dogs. Nevertheless, the flavors were consistent and very satisfying for our famished stomachs.
Marcus was still hungry, so he made a stop at Porchetta, the eponymous street food enterprise created by Sara Jenkins and Matt Lindemulder in 2008. Porchétta (pronounced as por-ketta in Italian) is of Roman cuisine, comprised of roasted pork with crispy skin that is highly seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices, garlic, sage, rosemary, and wild fennel pollen. In other words, it is "slow-cooked Italian fast food." In fact, it is "traditional street food of Central Italy" usually sold from a cart or truck (sliced to order and served in a sandwich), where the the porchétta is typically made from a whole roast pig, boned out and stuffed with the liver, heart, and other entrails mixed with savory herbs and then slow roasted in a wood oven.
In the case of Porchetta, Ms. Jenkins and Mr. Lindemulder wanted "to bring this classic food of their childhood" to the streets of New York City. But, instead of whole pigs used in the traditional Italian fashion, the duo "sources whole loins with the belly and skin still attached, in the same cut the mad butcher of Chianti, Dario Cecchini, taught Ms. Jenkins to use." Their version of porchétta is slowly roasted at various levels of humidity and dry heat yielding "meltingly soft and juicy" pork loin. Porchetta's mission: to "offer up the sandwich with a little bit of everything, or pork three ways" (or as Mr. Lindemulder likes to say -- "fatty belly, crispy skin, lean loin, and of course, plenty of aromatics").
While the pork loin is especially selected and sourced (differently than it is in Italy) from Niman ranch (where the pigs are raised humanely with no growth hormone or antibiotics), the pork is kept warm, sliced, and assembled to order just like they do in Italy. And the verdict of the porchetta sandwich we ordered? The pork loin didn't disappoint -- it certainly lived up to Mr. Lindemulder's word. It was undoubtedly crispy on its skin, lean on the loin, succulent from the fatty belly, and hauntingly aromatic as a result. Only letdown was the bread was a little tough and difficult to chew, but I'm attributing that to being traveling vendor at an open market with limited supplies and equipment. I would love to stop by the joint's brick-and-mortar shop in the East Village to give the bread a fairer chance.
To soothe the craving of our sweet tooth (or is it teeth?), we made a necessary at The Good Batch, which offered ice cream sandwiches at its vendor stand. The Good Batch began with "a simple mission: bake pure, not overly sweet, delicious food." Chef Anna Gordon, the founder and pastry chef behind The Good Batch, was influenced by the many Dutch people in her life, all of who eagerly requested that she make fresh stroopwafels for them -- one day, she finally decided to take the plunge "to get the texture and taste fully saluted by her Dutch counterparts," taking her "several months, dozens of batches, and countless taste testings" to create the classic stroopwafel! So ever since the first "good batch" in early 2009, Chef Gordon has been "satisfying sweet tooths in and around Brooklyn" with the "same mission, same passion, and new creations" ever since!
There were two offerings -- the Goodwich consisting of oat chocolate chunk cookies with sea salt, vanilla ice cream, and dark chocolate fudge at the center and the Classic consisting of two spiced waffle cookies (best known as stroopwafels in Dutch) pressed together with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce in the middle. While the Goodwich was super tempting, it was very similar to the Chipwich (one of my all-time favorite childhood desserts, especially the ones with the chocolate chips entirely coating the ice cream center!), Marcus and I felt the Classic was unique from other ice cream sandwiches we've had in the past.
Here is the Classic ice cream sandwich from The Good Batch! The cookie ends, as I've already mentioned, are stroopwafels -- Dutch spiced waffle cookies with a caramel filling. The history of the cookie (thanks to The Good Batch for the background!) dates back to early 18th century in Gouda, when bakers combined bakery scraps to make a treat that would eventually become the country's most beloved cookie. However, handmaking these treats are no easy task. Their yeast-based dough is pressed in a special iron, then immediately cut into a perfect circle and carefully split in half for the hot caramel filling. Right out of the oven the cookie is chewy and aromatic. The traditional method of enjoy the stroopwafel is to place it over a hot beverage so that it heats the caramel within the cookie.
So our verdict on the Classic? Marcus and I were pleased with the ice cream at the center but were a little bit on-the-fence about the stroopwafel. I've never had one before, so I think my expectations for its taste differed from its actual taste. It was heavier and thicker than the light, crispy, and wafer-like texture I was expecting. The salt caramel sauce was hard to taste, too. I would love to try this again on another occasion as well as the Goodwich, which sounds very good.
Our last stop was at Blue Marble Ice Cream, co-founded by Alexis Miesen and Jennie Dundas. "Borrowing its name from Earth's playful moniker," Blue Marble prides itself on its premium ice cream, as its dairy ingredients are sourced from "happy, healthy cows" of local New York State farmers. The ice cream maker, "convinced that nature doesn't need much help to be delicious," keeps its flavors "simple and elemental instead of clouding them with sugary and preservative-packed mix-ins (i.e., avoiding the use of artificial coloring/flavoring and corn syrup).
Thought the tag line "Spread the Love" was cute here.
Waiting for our ice cream to be scooped.
I kept it simple that day and ordered a scoop of strawberry -- the classic favorite that brings back memories of my pink-laden childhood days (where strawberry ice cream reigned superior). Creamy and fresh goodness right here -- Blue Marble undoubtedly upheld its aim to create "simple and elemental" ice cream. Loved the chunks of strawberry infused in the fresh cream. I would definitely be up for another trip to Brooklyn to hit up Blue Marble's actual shop to try other seasonal flavors!
Findings: I enjoyed our market eats over at the Brooklyn Flea -- the market definitely offers a wide array of varying cuisines and street food fare. Among the most unique and creative, Asiadog is definitely up there, drawing influences from Asian cuisine as hot dog toppings. While I enjoyed Porchetta and The Good Batch, I would definitely want to return to them (either at the market or elsewhere) to give a better, more informed assessment on their offerings. On the other hand, Blue Marble was impressive, offering pure flavors and good ol' simple ice cream -- the kind you remember from those days your parents would take you out for a special treat. All in all, I recommend making the trek out to Fort Greene to check out the food vendor lineup with the chances of discovering some new and delicious things. I'll definitely be hitting it up again this fall for People's Pops and Kumquat Cupcakery (among others) for sure!
Price point: two Asiadogs for $7, two organic Asiadogs for $9, $10 for a porchetta sandwich from Porchetta, $5 for each Classic ice cream sandwich from The Good Batch, $3 for a single scoop of Blue Marble ice cream.
--July 2, 2011
176 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
open Saturdays, 10 AM - 5 PM
rain or shine through November 19, 2011
66 Kenmare Street
New York, NY 10012
available on Saturdays at Brooklyn Flea, 11 AM - 5 PM
for other locations throughout the week, check here
110 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10009
The Good Batch
every Saturday at Brooklyn Flea
for other locations, check here
Blue Marble Ice Cream
196 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
available every Saturday at Brooklyn Flea, 12-5 PM
plus various other locations during the week