This Week in Food: Prohibition Repeal Day, Restaurants That Changed America, Raaka Party

Prohibition Repeal Day
Analogue (19 West 8th Street)
Monday, 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Toast the historic repeal of Prohibition with a menu of classic cocktails like Bee’s Knees, Sidecars, and Sazeracs. In addition to live jazz performances, a full food and drink menu will be available.

Paul Freedman, Ten Restaurants That Changed America
The New York Society Library (53 East 79th Street)
Wednesday, 6:30 PM

Join Author Paul Freedman as he discusses his book Ten Restaurants That Changed America, which includes New York favorites like Delmonico’s and Sylvia’s. Admission starts at $10 and advanced registration is required.

Food and the Chinese-American Journey: A Conversation with Anne Mendelson and Kian Lam Kho
Museum Of Chinese In America (215 Centre Street)
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m

Author Anne Mendelson and food writer Kiam Lam Kho will lead a conversation on the origins and development of American-based Chinese food. Tickets ($40 for general admission) include admission to the museum’s current exhibition and a reception which will feature dishes from Kho’s book, including red cooked pork in steamed buns.

How NYC’s Public Markets Drive Bakeries Forward
Essex Street Market (120 Essex Street)
Thursday, 6:30 p.m to 8 p.m.

Learn the real stories behind New York’s beloved bakeries at this free talk and tasting that champions bread. Get an in depth look at food production and distribution, with a focus on the role public markets play in NYC’s food system. Guest speakers include Gene Davidovich from Davidovich Bakery and a special guest from Eataly.

Holiday Chocolate Gift-Making Party
Raaka (64 Seabring Street, Brooklyn)
Friday, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Enjoy kid friendly and “adult” hot chocolates courtesy of a Raaka Chocolate and Van Brunt Stillhouse before creating chocolate gifts for your friends and family. Guests will be able to pour, design, and wrap individual chocolate bars, bark, and other holiday-themed sweets.


Essex Street Market Vendors Take Trader Joe’s Announcement in Stride

The new Essex Crossing, a 1.9-million-square-foot labyrinth of shiny retail bliss (not a mall, developers insist) under construction between Essex and Delancey Streets, is getting a Trader Joe’s. The chain, known for fresh, cheap produce, is set to open at 145 Clinton Street in 2018 and will be housed in a 30,000-square-foot basement.

This is pretty good news for a neighborhood with limited grocery options. But for the small-business owners at the historic Essex Street Market, which has struggled with advertising, foot traffic, and management in recent years, reaction to the news is a mixed bag.

“It’s a big amenity for the community. There are a lot of grocery chains they could have picked. I think Trader Joe’s is a good pick,” said Anne Saxelby, owner of Saxelby Cheesemongers, a ten-year market tenant and chair of the Essex Street Market Vendor’s Association.

But others seemed more ambivalent. “Why are they doing that?” asked Emilie Frohlich, who has worked at Formaggio cheese shop for several months, and previously worked at other market stands that have since closed. Trader Joe’s sells a lot of cheese.

Frohlich said that many of the market stands offer culturally specific foods, like exotic fruits and roots, that shoppers aren’t likely to find at Trader Joe’s. But “there are some items they might offer for less [money],” she said, namely everyday grocery items that New Yorkers are constantly looking for a deal on. “I don’t think it’s good for us, but this area could probably use something at a different price point,” said Frohlich.

The historic market was opened in 1940, the brainchild of former mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, in an attempt to move street vendors indoors and clear congestion in the street. The market has evolved with the changing demographics of the neighborhood; it began by catering to the area’s Italian and Jewish residents, and eventually shifted to accommodate the many Puerto Ricans who came to call the area home beginning in the 1950s.

Today, the market is managed directly by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and is home to a diverse array of business owners, including Korean and Latino grocers, fish and meat markets, and cheese stands. The last original tenant, a butcher, closed shop in 2011.

Vendors at the market are slated to move from the north side of Delancey to the south side, in a new, 30,000-square foot space, twice as big as the old location. Below the public market, which will continue to be managed by the city, will be an additional, 700-foot long, privately run market called “The Market Line.” The entire development will include a series of massive glass-walled buildings that will house a bowling alley, movie theater, and a Planet Fitness gym, among other businesses. The new development is an attempt to bring the neighborhood a successful central, public market on par with Philadelphia’s Reading Market or the West Side’s Chelsea Market.

Saxelby went to bat for the vendors, with concerns about lackluster oversight from the city EDC, at a contentious community board meeting in 2015. Since then, the city has made good on promises to help the vendors get by until the move, including the painting of a colorful mural to improve visibility and more posters and promotional materials (though the New York Times reported that it took six months to produce them).

Saxelby insists that the market vendors have so far been taken care of, as they’ll be set up with new, street level retail space (and the promise of graduated rent increases) in one of the city’s most prime locations, what she called a “sweetheart” deal. And ultimately, the arrival of a big, shiny corporate development might make the market, a “mom and pop” community experience leftover from an old New York that is rapidly disappearing, all the more attractive.

The move will allow the market to expand, and will include a test kitchen and large mezzanine. “That’s something Trader Joe’s could never do. It’s not in their model,” said Saxelby.

She went on: “You can’t find many [of these] places in New York anymore and when you do, you have to patronize them. Hopefully people will pick mom-and-pop. It’s going to continue to be a challenge but Essex Street Market has an advantage because of its history.”

Rona Economou, owner of a small Greek food stand called Boubouki, echoed Saxelby’s calm, and spoke hopefully about coffee stores that have thrived in the wake of the arrival of a neighborhood Starbucks.

“There are thousands of people waiting in line [at Trader Joe’s]. Maybe they’ll want to come upstairs and buy something from me,” said Economou. “You never know how these things work out.”


Four Great Food Markets to Visit Right Now

There’s no doubt: New York is a buyer’s market. At least where food is concerned.

Stroll through the souk-like stalls of our city’s great markets as you scarf down spicy, chicken pigs-in-blankets from Brooklyn Piggies and a chaser of Grady’s Cold Brew, and revel in these first breezes of fall as you chat with vendors. Is that kimchi made with local, seasonal ingredients? Why yes, yes it is! And can you try it? Of course, just ask.

For those who prefer to shop indoors, we’ve also included a few indoor, brick and mortar markets, full of specialty vendors. And while they might not have the cache of their outdoor counterparts, they are equally stocked with now-that-you-see-it-you-need-it goods (like those buttery but crisp rugelach from Ruthy’s).

Here are five of our favorite food markets in NYC right now:


All Good Things
While it would be easy to write off this oversize hallway of a space as merely containing some good things, the recently-opened Tribeca market can actually take care of your weekly grocery list. Pick up a drip-to-order from Blue Bottle Coffee before strolling around the seven other sellers. Worth sampling are the meat-happy offerings at Dickson’s Farmstand and the jelly doughnuts filled to order at Orwasher’s bakery. 102 Franklin Street (212) 925-5081


Chelsea Market
Was that Bobby Flay checking out the wares at Bowery Kitchen Supply? Possibly. This former factory now houses over 30 places to shop for groceries, housewares and super chic vegan juices. And it’s below The Food Network offices and test kitchens, which makes spotting a TV chef even easier than making a 30-Minute Meal. The space is also home to Buddakan and Morimoto. 75 9th Avenue (212) 206-8338

New Amsterdam Market
There should really be an asterisk here, with a note that South Street Seaport is not just for tourists anymore. In addition to regional farmers, New Amsterdam Market is home to dozens of local bakers, distributors, chefs, ice cream makers, and other specialty vendors selling artisanal prepared foods. The space evokes an old-world market (i.e. sellers might actually remember your name — or at least what you bought from them). The stands change annually but this year’s group includes dairy and meat from Finger Lake Farms, philanthropically-minded baked goods from Hot Bread Kitchen and “bean to bar” chocolates from Mast Brothers. And don’t be intimidated by the line that seems to be perpetually running around her Flying Fox stall: Maggie Nescuir’s hand-picked fruits are well worth the wait. Sundays, 224 Front Street, (212) 766-8688

Brooklyn Flea meets Brigadoon at this weekend-only, serious food fair. Hungry hipsters congregate at outdoor vendors to snack on cheekily-named specialties like Anarchy in a Jar marmalade and Bon Chovie seafood (their tagline is Swim Fast. Fry Young . Really.). Make sure to head over to Williamsburg soon, however, as the market moves indoors on November 18. Saturdays, Williamsburg Waterfront, North 6th and North 7th St. at the East River; Sundays, Tobacco Warehouse 26 New Dock Street

Don’t see your choice spot listed below? Give it some love in the comments, and remember to tell us what you buy there!

Read the most recent posts on our food blog or check our longer weekly reviews. Follow the writer @malstuch .


Heritage Meats Is Replacing Jeffrey’s Meats at the Essex Street Market

Though the Essex Street Market faces a somewhat uncertain future at the corner of Essex and Delancey streets, there are some positive developments taking place between its 71-year-old walls.

As The Lo-Down reported earlier this weekend, both the Heritage Meat Shop and Brooklyn Taco have taken over the space that Jeffrey’s Meats occupied for seven decades before closing earlier this year. Heritage Meats, which should open next week, is run by Heritage Foods, Patrick Martins’s Brooklyn-based sustainable-meats company. Befitting the company’s mission, the shop will sell humanely raised meats and cured meats from producers like Salumeria Rossi and Seattle’s Armandino Batali; According to Diner’s Journal, there will be an emphasis on pork.

Brooklyn Taco has already soft-opened in the former Jeffrey’s office, and will have a grand opening in a few weeks. The Lo-Down also noted that a new Japanese deli is coming to the market. Whether any of this will help prevent the possible relocation of the market remains to be seen, but in the meantime, at least there are even more reasons to support it in its present home.