Hello and welcome to the Lucid Food blog! This is our inaugural post. This blog is a place for a cross-section of ideas, including recipes, interviews with farmers and cooks, spotlights on regular people who are passionate about food, homemade holiday food gift suggestions, waste-free entertaining tips, and news about our cookbook, Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life. Stay tuned for adventures in fresh food, (mostly) healthy cooking, and sustainability in and out of the kitchen.
This past weekend we visited the New Amsterdam Market at the South Street seaport in lower Manhattan. The market is a beautiful example of how local and artisanal foods are being embraced with renewed passion.
The Amsterdam Market is on the site of the old Fulton Street Fish Market – in existence from 1822 until it was moved to the Bronx in 2005 – a requisite stop for all restaurants in the city seeking fresh fish, and a place rich with New York’s port city history. Now, the market is a meeting place for artisanal food producers, local growers, and the people who love them. The list of vendors will vary, but the vendors in attendance at the monthly market were from Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, as well as New York.
The market felt like a playground for food lovers. There were so many wonderful samples of food around it was hard to taste everything, and I’m amazed that after eating a crab sandwich, Kim chi, chocolate, chicken liver pate, herbed cheese, ice cream, pickles, and hot cider, that I didn’t have a stomach ache. A few tastes really stood out for me. Firstly, Luke’s Lobster shack from the East Village was serving sandwiches on hot buttered rolls of fresh lobster, crab, or shrimp. A simple menu, executed beautifully. I was excited to check out their food because their lobster comes directly from Maine fisheries that are strictly regulated in their method of trapping, the size of the lobsters they can keep, and the amount of lobsters they are allowed to take in each day. What’s more, Luke’s donates a portion of its profits to the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. Maine’s strict fishing rules are what turned around a once-depleted lobster population. The “butter-ing” machine they had on hand that slowly turns so rolls can be slathered in butter generously and precisely fascinated me. I was early so the wait was only 10 minutes. My reward was sweet, fresh crabmeat on a warm roll, seasoned simply with Luke’s special dry herb blend that included sage and thyme. I had a taste of the lobster roll and it was just as delicious but more rich.
I loved the ice cream from Bent Spoon in Princeton, New Jersey. I had a cup with two of their flavors: Chocolate/Rosemary and Creamy Pumpkin. Both were to die for and excellent together, so I had both. I don’t know that much about them, and the ravenous line forming behind me made it hard to ask many questions, but I see from their website that they use a lot of locally grown ingredients like apples, rhubarb, and mint, and they donate a portion of profits to helping to put gardens in Princeton public schools. The selection of flavors listed on their website is creative and inspiring, including Turkish Coffee, Burnt caramel Streak, and Brown Sugar and Clove. Time to get on New Jersey Transit for a visit to Princeton.
Lastly, I love the people at Wild Gourmet Food from Vermont who sell all sorts of seasonal wild foraged foods and handmade tinctures. I met them at the last market and was thrilled that they had black walnuts. They convinced me to buy milk thistle too, but I don’t know what to do with it so it’s still sitting in the frig. Nova Kim and Les Hook run Wild Gourmet, and you really have to admire that they do all this wild foraging and crafting themselves in quiet, rural Vermont, then drive down to Manhattan to encounter all these hyper enthusiastic New Yorkers, like me, who are fascinated by them and so full of questions that they barely get a chance to sell anything. I bought another couple dozen of their wonderful black walnuts, this time with the shell removed, with which I plan to infuse some cognac and possibly make some more black walnut ice cream (see my post about making black walnut ice cream on rachaelray.com). I was really excited to hear that Nova and Les are planning to arrange some wild foraging walks in Vermont. When I find out details I’ll post more.
The next New Amsterdam Market is happening on Sunday November 22, and I’ll be there with Basis Foods, a distributor that connects New York chefs with local farms, supplying them with meat, produce, dairy, and other foods that are 100% traceable. I’ll have delicious treats from my cookbook made with fresh food from Basis’ farmers. Please stop by if you’re at the market. To learn more about the market, visit their website.