The Brooklyn Flea Markets have been infiltrating the Manhattan-facing shoreline over the past few years, working their way from the bridge to the latest popup in Williamsburg. What started as a menagerie of clothing, collectables and some consumables, has evolved into an exclusive upstream experience of all things edible. The new location is perfect. One hundred or so food stalls sit in an open space, edged between trendy Williamsburg and the shores of the East River, right next to the ferry landing. This is also something new, and much more scenic than the subway – the East River Ferry will pick you up from any of the landings between 34th and Wall Street and take you directly to and from Saturday’s Smorgasburg. You can have all the fun of the fair, without having to venture too far from the rock.
The markets are a snapshot of all the latest food fads, and give the impression that Brooklyn is one big kitchen, catering to meat eaters, vegans, sweet teeth, soy lovers and nostalgics alike. I tasted salted caramel coconut macaroons, intensely delicious ginger syrup from Morris Kitchen, ‘philosopher’s breakfast’ ice-cream ( cinnamon, oat & granola ) and an Arnold Palmer slushie ( the golfer’s favorite – ice tea and citrus ). I marveled at the clever branding of ‘Anarchy in a Jar‘ turning jam into a political statement with aprons & tattoos, where ‘the revolution starts in your mouth’. Then there was the reinvention of shaved ice by ‘People’s Pops’, and the cooking classes of the Kumquat Cupcakery ‘Baking with booze’…
The atmosphere was carnival like, with tents and tastings and lovely smells of barbecue and baking. Lots of people adjourned to the grassy surrounds to relax and savor a flavor before moving on. A great thing would be to take your bike on the ferry and ride on after lunch, exploring the dramatic waterside developments back to the Brooklyn Bridge and beyond. You could even pick up a flat white and lamington from Toby’s Coffee along the way.
Smorgasburg is thus far only open on Saturdays, but if you are hankering for a midweek treat, many of these artisanal producers have trucks with regular parking spots ( and regular followers ) around the city. Some days Union Square looks more like the Easter show than a neighborhood intersection. In fact trucks are the new store front, the latest flagship. Mr Whippy take note, there are new jingles on the block, Brooklyn is open for business!