Sunday, October 21, 2012

Market Eats | Smorgasburg

This past Saturday, Marcus and I met up with Lisa, Jess, Jen, Jill, and Evan for some outdoor grub over at Smorgasburg, a food market run by the folks of Brooklyn Flea. Smorgasburg "features packaged and prepared foods as well as purveyors from New York City and across the region, and other food-related vendors (kitchen utensils, housewares, etc.)." On Saturdays, Smorgasburg can be found on the East River Waterfront (between North 6th and 7th Streets) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

{1,2,3} We arrived a little after 11 AM, and it was already crowding up with lots of hungry eaters.

Before committing ourselves to just any food vendors, our group took a loop around the Smorgasburg grounds and compiled a list of places we wanted to try.

{1} The first vendor we tried was Mighty Quinn's, {2} mostly because of the long line that was forming that was longer than all the rest (after all, aren't long lines for food a solid determinant of really good stuff?!).. The menu had two options for protein -- barbecue pulled pork or barbecue beef brisket -- available in two sizes, a little slider or a big one. {3} The pulled pork was pre-pulled, while the {4} beef brisket was hand-carved. {5} Marcus and I both thought it'd be best if we each ordered a little slider of each to share -- pulled pork on the left, braised brisket on the right. Wow-ee! These barbecue sliders boasted the moistest, tastiest, and most flavorful barbecue style pork/beef that I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying. If there's one place you do hit up at Smorgasburg, it's definitelly Mighty Quinn's. {6,7} I also sampled some kickass ramp vinaigrette (inspired from the ramps' pickling juices) from Right Tasty, a company started by Duncan Adams and Josh Mizrahi, which led me to immediately purchase a bottle. Cannot wait to try some of this in my own kitchen! {8,9} The next spot we hit up was Brooklyn Piggies, a vendor that specializes in pigs-in-a-blanket using top tier sausages and incredibly flaky puff pastry. They certainly lived up to our hype of stumbling upon Brooklyn Piggies (with options such as original, spicy, and chicken).

For some intermittent third quenching, {1,2} I got a homemade cream soda from Brooklyn Soda Works -- which had the perfect balance of carbonated sweet and creamy flavors -- {3,4} while Jill and Marcus each had freshly lemon shaved ice from People's Pops. {5} A little later, I finally made my way to the highly anticipated Yuji Ramen, especially having been on my list of places to try for the past year. {7} Its specialty is mazemen -- new style of ramen that is served without broth, consisting of flavored oils, tare (i.e., concentrated soup base), and various toppings{6,8,9} Lisa and I were all over the uni miso mazemen, which had chilled ramen topped with uni, sea urchin sauce, shredded shiso, and shredded nori. It was everything I thought it would be and more. Seriously amazing stuff that they're cooking up here at Yuji Ramen. I cannot wait to return back to Smorgasburg to try their other original creations!

{1} Another vendor Lisa and I were sure to check out was Brooklyn Oyster Party which sells sustainably harvested oysters. {2} The vendors shucked the oysters upon us ordering a half dozen of them -- one of each kind offered that day for each of us -- that came with complimentary lemon slices. {3} Beginning from the top left going clockwise, we went in the order of briniest to sweetest: the Fire River from Richibucto in New Brunswick, Canada; the Wellfleet from Wellfleet, Massachusetts; and Caraquet from New Brunswick, Canada. The Fire River was super briny (described as complex liquor, custard-like texture with an unmistakable sweet finish), while the Wellfleet was a little less briny (described at plump and clean with a good balance of creamy sweetness and brine) but still intense. Our favorite was the last one -- the Caraquet -- as it was the sweetest, richest in flavor (described as sweet, buttery, and juicy with a high salinity). I think the first two would have been a little more palatable with some good ol' hogwash. {4,5} For dessert, Jess, Lisa, and I had doughnuts from Dough. Jess had the toasted coconut (not pictured), I had the simple cinnamon sugar, and Lisa had the dulce de leche with almonds. These doughnuts were HUGE -- both airy and fluffy. They were fried to the perfect collapsing, doughy consistency, and the designated flavors were just a little sweet so that they could be easily enjoyed without a crazy sugar overload. I wish I weren't so full at the time so I could fully savor it even more. These doughnuts would be great with coffee for breakfast. {6} Lisa, Evan and I also had fresh fruit smoothies from Salud (Lisa and I had the Mango Tango -- mango, pineapple, and orange juice -- and Evan had the Brazil Thrill -- açai berries, blackberries, bananas, and apple cider). They were all well-blended with super fresh fruits -- solid quenching beverages! {7} I noticed Blue Bottle Coffee Co. was there, but I didn't have an opportunity to try anything, but these dripping coffee contraptions certainly looked cool!

Other places our group checked out were Asiadog (the Wangding hot dog), S'more Bakery (assorted cookies), and Milk Truck Grilled Cheese (the Classic grilled cheese) -- all hits as well.

Me with Jen, Jill, and Jess at Smorgasburg.

Lisa and me at Smorgasburg!

Findings: I cannot believe it took me so long to get my butt over to Smorgasburg -- I was undoubtedly missing out on some quality bites here! I've been to the Brooklyn Flea last August which had a fraction of the food vendors as Smorgasburg did so I had a glimpse of what was to come. The key to optimizing any visit to Smorgasburg is to do a walkthrough the entire marketplace, noting which places you'd be inclined to check out, and then reassessing this list once the walkthrough is complete. Then the rest is strategic -- i.e., how much your stomach can take before it explodes, which appeals more to personal tastes, which is more economical in value, which is worth the splurge, etc. I am happy to report that all of our eats were all worth the pretty pennies we paid. The major highlights for me were Mighty Quinn's, Yuji Ramen, Salud, and Dough

I hope we can make this a seasonal thing (once in the spring, once in the summer, and another time in the fall) so we can get a better picture of the 250+ vendors that are signed on with Smorgasburg. There are some exciting things happening over at Smorgasburg, and I can't wait to bear witness of how much more it'll explode in growth. 

Thanks to my awesome friends for trekking out there with me!

Price point: $3 for each small barbecue slider from Mighty Quinn's, $9 for each bottle of ramp vinaigrette from Right Tasty, $3 for five pigs-in-a-blanket from Brooklyn Piggies, $4 for each soda at Brooklyn Soda Works, $2.50 for each shaved ice from People's Pops, $10 for each bowl of uni miso mazemen from Yuji Ramen, $16 for a half dozen of oysters from Brooklyn Oyster Party, $2.50 for each doughnut from Dough, $6 for each smoothie from Salud.

--October 20, 2012

Brooklyn Flea
East River Water Front (between North 6th and 7th Streets)
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Mighty Quinn's
103 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Right Tasty

Brooklyn Piggies

Brooklyn Soda Works

People's Pops

Yuji Ramen

Brooklyn Oyster Party

305 Franklin Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

1308 Avenue H
Brooklyn, NY 11230

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