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I’ve been itching to check out the New Amsterdam Market since its 2009 debut in September.  The New Amsterdam Market is a self-described “public market”  in the tradition of London’s Borough Market, which is hands-down the finest food market I’ve ever had the privilege to visit (Program Note: I picked up some gorgeous stinky French cheese there that, if we hadn’t inhaled it for dessert, had all the elements of a primordial goo for a brilliant future civilization. It was truly exceptional, but sadly my delicate American gut was not properly colonized for such otherworldly things. Alas, I could not stomach a homemade full English breakfast the following morning).  Well, Borough Market it’s not, but I’m totally down with the aspiration.  Perhaps with time it will become a contender.

The market emerges once a month on South Street, where the old Fulton Fish Market once stood.  It’s different from a greenmarket in that it welcomes “butchers, grocers, mongers, farmers and provisioners, bakers and distributors, brokers, importers, and sellers of cooked foods”.   The goal, in part, is to incubate small, local, food producers and introduce New Yorkers to the bounties being hand-crafted right in their own backyards.  I was happy to see that Brooklyn had a strong presence.

As much as I enjoyed the market, I do have a criticism. While I acknowledge that most food is far cheaper than it should be and doesn’t fully reflect the social and environmental costs of producing it, the New Amsterdam Market was not designed with a low to moderate income person in mind.  Perhaps this is in the works, but unlike most NYC greenmarkets, using your EBT card was not an option.  It felt more like a rustic fancy food show rather than a public market, which, I think,  should increase access to locally-sourced, high quality food for the general public.  Most items were priced and geared toward upper-income food snobs (which I guess is me, sans the upper-income component).

With that said, here are a few highlights:

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Freshly shucked Robins Island oysters

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Wild Gourmet Food- Fairlee, Vermont. This guy had all kinds of strange mushrooms and medicinal herbs. They're foragers. I heart Vermont

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Porchetta - some of the most delicious roasted pork. Ever

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Aimee (left) and me enjoying magical bratwurst from The Meat Hook - so good you can't see it. Regretted not bringing a pack home

Honorable mention goes to the tremendously creamy and smooth ricotta we tasted from Narragansett Creamery in Rhode Island. Luke’s Lobster also turned out some fine lobster rolls: toasty buttered potato rolls loaded with lobster.  You can check it out for yourself at the next market on Sunday, November 22nd. Photos by Tim Kelley.

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As far back as I can remember, food has been a singular focus in my life, and I carry the emotional scars of years of shopping in J.C. Penny’s  husky girl department to prove it.  My most prized childhood possession was a Holly Hobbie Oven – a faux cast iron competitor of the kitschy Easy Bake, and I drove my cash-strapped mother bananas begging for over-priced mini cake mixes that fit perfectly into my teeny, tiny, two-bite cake pans.  That was just the tip of the iceberg. I secretly hoped that our old Chevy Malibu would stall like it did that one time when we got to eat in a fancy restaurant and my grandmother gave me my very first taste of shrimp scampi.  It didn’t matter that I had to pee in a cornfield and drip dry on the way to that fateful meal, the thought of that garlic-buttery goodness consumed me for years. When my morbidly-obese aunt June came to visit from Texas and made her legendary lasagna, I stuffed myself like a foie gras goose, despite the fact that my tummy felt a little funny all day, and proceeded to hurl all over my bedroom for the rest of the night.  It was worth it.

My parents were advised to monitor (read: restrict) my food intake and I endeavored, hopelessly, to keep my perseverations in check.  As I got older, I learned to channel my thoughts into something productive, healthy and, frankly, more socially acceptable than a chubby girl stuffing her face –- cooking.  Instead of merely thinking about my next meal, I focus on researching recipes and sourcing ingredients….and enjoy sharing fruits of my labor with family and friends.  My obsession with eating and cooking has naturally grown into an interest in the issues surrounding food production, consumption and sustainability.

So, Think, Eat is a collection of musings on all things food – from posting recipes and recollections from a recent dinner party to attending a lecture on permaculture at a local food conference. Stay tuned.

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