Thursday, December 30, 2010

Brownie's Best Food Moments of 2010

Patacon Pisao

What a year, what a year! Inspired by Blondie's year end review, here are my top five food moments from 2010...

Kelvin Slush
As always, the Vendy Awards were fantastic. Perfect day. Perfect weather. Perfect company. Awesome food.

Chicken and Biscuit from Pies and Thighs

Being a Yankee girl I've missed out on years of Southern cookery and things like Chicken & Biscuits for breakfast. Thankfully Pies & Thighs in Williamsburg has changed that. For a brief period these tasty darlings were available for lunch at the Columbus Circle Holiday market. If only we could get a permanent P&T outlet in midtown I would be such a happy luncher.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Flight


I'm pretty sure that 2010 was the year of the pie. And there are few better places to have it that the newly opened Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn. It was love at first bite back in June when I ventured out for one of Little B's early outings to try the special Tasting Table pie flight and discovered every last slice was more delicious than the next.

Little B's First Solid Meal


Ranking up there in my food memories for the year would have to be Little B's first meal of solid foods. At around 5 months the little man started showing the signs of readiness for first solid foods--including extreme jealousy when we ate anything. His first meal was mashed avocado and he practically dove into the bowl. At one point he literally grabbed the spoon and started feeding himself. Since then he's had carrots, spinach, squash, yogurt, hummus, pureed white beans with garlic and olive oil, multigrain cereal with cinnamon, roast turkey, roast chicken with Swiss chard, bananas, and most recently curried pumpkin soup. I can't wait to include Little B on our food adventures as he grows. First step, acquire teeth...

First Bagel with Lox

As much as I enjoyed seeing Little B making his own food memories, my top one from 2010 would have to be indulging in foods that are on the forbidden list for pregnant ladies after Little B made his debut. Blondie brought me Cashal Blue cheese, fruit and crackers--the first decent food I had since Little B's arrival. And of course, there are few things as contextually delicious as eating a bagel and lox from Russ & Daughters in the recovery room at St. Luke's I'd been craving lox my entire pregnancy. This bagel was 9 months in the the making and totally worth the wait.

Speaking of worth the wait, I can't wait to see what '11 brings. Until then, happy eating! Make those last bites of '10 count!
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Best Moments of 2010

Saddest Sign Ever
Another year is almost in the books, and as always it's been a whirlwind. We were blessed with Little B, and began contributing to Midtown Lunch among many other big events! I've heard time goes faster as you get older, I'm starting to believe it. It's always nice reminiscing over the days of your life: here are my top five favorites from 2010.

Burnt End Sandwich
5) I had the opportunity to go a few trips this year, twice to San Francisco and once to Kansas. Though my San Francisco trips were excellent, it's definitely a place every food person should visit at least once, it was the burnt end sandwich from Oklahoma Joe's that made me the happiest person. Not a week has gone by that I don't think about it, Kansas City should be proud!

What to do?
4) My favorite event was Food Parc at the New York City Wine & Food Festival. All the best trucks, food-celebs, great weather, a wonderful space, with more than enough seating-it was truly everything a food truck-ie could want!

Lemon Ice King Menu
3) We had some awful heat this summer, that I've been thoroughly missing in this frigid cold, and it was relief from that heat I was seeking when I stopped at Lemon Ice King of Corona. I've had Italian ices all over this great city, and none had topped Ice King in my opinion-it tastes sublime, and makes me filled with sentiment.

Tim HoHo's Canada Doughnut
2) I didn't hide my love of the doughnut this year. But my favorite doughnut had to have been the Canada doughnuts from Tim Horton's. A limited-edition in Canada only, my boss smuggled some across the border for me. They weren't the most delicious ever, just the funniest. I never did find out who stole one right off my desk!

Fried Apple Pie
1) Of the latest outdoor markets, Hester Street Fair is one of my favorites. You can shop and eat, or grab some food and eat in the park, or sit at one of the benches during a break, because their vendors rotate enough to keep you on your shopping and foodie toes. Melt Bakery's Fried Apple Pie was in my final mouth-watering moments there, and there were quite a few moments there. I can't wait for spring when I can enjoy the Fair again!

Happy New Year everyone! I'm going to go eat some doughnuts now.
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Brooklyn Mac Brings the Cheesy Goodness!

Brooklyn Mac's Kings County
A little over a month ago, my corner of Greenpoint was blessed with a special event: the opening of Brooklyn Mac! I've always been jealous of the East Village having 'Smac, and now we had our own macaroni and cheese goodness.

Brooklyn Mac's Kings County
This is a medium serving of their Kings County, a blend of American and Cheddar. It has a sufficient mix of cheeses, and I LOVE their baked crust. Though I could easily eat this entire pan especially if my willpower wasn't so strong, I did make two servings out of the $7.75 portion. You can choose from their recommendations or make you own from a plethora of options. And those who want gluten-free or vegan can join in the action, both of those specifications are available. No too expensive, delicious, and easy to pick up during these super cold days!

Brooklyn Mac
77 Norman Ave
Greenpoint
(718) 706-9MAC
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Shrimp Pasta

I love holiday traditions. It never ceases to amaze me the many wonderful and unique ways that different groups can commemorate and celebrate the same event. As a kid I had a book about how Christmas is celebrated around the world. I remember being particularly captivated by Christmas spent on the beach in Australia. This past weekend Lawman, Little B and I celebrated Christmas in Connecticut with my family. We do up Christmas Eve Southern Italian style with a Feast of the Seven Fishes...


Seven Fish Feast Give Or Take a Few

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is believe to trace back to when Advent was a period of abstinence for Roman Catholics. Leave it to Italians to figure out how to get their party sans meat and dairy. In a traditional Southern Italian American home you're likely to find Baccalà (salt cod) and fried eel, but my family bucks tradition and we include lox among our seven. This year's round up included: lobster fra divalo, shrimp cockail, lox, smoked oysters, seafood salad (with calamari and crab), and stuffed clams. My best friend's Lithuanian family does a twelve fish dinner, though in recent years they've gone the sushi route to help hit their twelve (pretty brilliant if you ask me).

How does your family celebrate Christmas Eve?
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Potato Chips in a Cookie?!

Compost Cookies a la Blondie
Over the past few months, I've made more than a few trips to Momofuku's Midtown Milk Bar. During these trips, I was usually forced to pass the wall of cookies in search of other delicious sweet treats. With this unfortunate situation in the back of my mind, I started my holiday cookie planning. Yes, between the savory and the sweet, my kitchen has been a high-traffic area. As I scoured the internet for cookie ideas, I came across Momofuku's Compost Cookie. Bells, whistles, we had a winner.

Making Compost Cookies
The first recipe I used was the real one from Christina Tosi's visit to Regis & Kelly, and it made some saucer size cookies. A lot of dough, a lot of time, for cookies that, though very delicious, could not be transported easily. It needed adjustments. Lucky for me this is a popular recipe, and others had already done some hard cookie work to make this recipe for smaller cookie. Behold Cookie Madness's version which gives you the same delicious taste, but for a smaller cookie.

Making Compost Cookies
For all of my batches this month, and there have been to date five, I've used pretzel sticks, Munchos potato chips, butterscotch, and chocolate chips (Guittard at first, Callebaut later on.) They were passed out at Serious Eats' Cookie Swap, and won my office cookie exchange. They're pretty fantastic, these recipes are bona fide successes. Best part of them is, you split the work over two days. You make the dough one day-which only takes about a half hour, shape the dough into balls, pop in the fridge, to take them out to pop in the oven for 10 minutes another day. Complex taste, easy cookie. Also helps that you can modify the sweet and savories to your liking. Friends, expect various versions of these in the years to come.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cranberry Sage Pie, Just Another (of Many) Reasons You Should Hit Up Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Cranberry pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds

The lovely ladies of Four & Twenty Blackbirds never cease to amaze us with their delicious and distinctive pie combinations. Case in point, their brand new Cranberry Sage, available just in time for Christmas...

Yesterday, after I took Little B for his flu shoot booster, I headed over to treat my mom to a slice of pie and I couldn't resist trying their Cranberry Sage. Cranberry? In a pie? With out its good friend, apple? Very interesting.

A lot of times cranberry dishes are oversweetened, killing all of the natural tartness.
This filling was tart with a touch of sweetness and a hint of sage. It was everything an awesome whole berry cranberry sauce would want to be. Wrap that up in a tender butter crust and you have a new holiday favorite. If you love cranberries, you'll love this.

If you don't already "like" Four & Twenty Blackbirds on Facebook you should get on that. As of now they don't do twitter so FB is the best and most up-to-date place to get all of your pie news. Unfortunately they are sold out of pie pre-orders for Christmas, but the good news is that unlike at Thanksgiving time, the pre-ordered pies are for pick up during certain windows instead of all day long and they are still serving slices.

If you're in a slice mood, you'd better get yourself over there pronto. The shop will be closed for a well deserved break from December 25th until January 3rd, open again on Tuesday, January 4th.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 Third Ave. at 8th St,
Brooklyn, NY 11215
718-499-2917
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mark Your Calendars for Choice Eats

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2011 hasn't even kicked off and we already have two important dates for you to add to your calendar. The Village Voice tasting event, "Choice Eats," has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at the 69th Armory on Lexington Avenue in New York City. But near term the most important date to remember Wednesday, January 26th, the day that tickets go on sale...

There will be a limited number of early bird ticket prices of VIP ($70) and general admission ($35) and regular full price tickets there after will be VIP ($80) and general admission ($45). Mark our words, these tickets will SELL OUT. These tickets ALWAYS SELL OUT.

Here's the VIP vs. regular breakdown:
VIP ticket holders get to skip the line and have access to an exclusive VIP room one hour early at 5:30pm where there will be a sampling from selected restaurants, complimentary beverages "and other surprises."

General grant you admission for the sampling from 6:30 - 9:30 and complimentary beverages.

Two additions to next year's Choice Eats that we're super psyched about are the special "Choice Sweets" dessert tasting hour and "Choice Streets." For "Choice Sweets" VIP ticket holders can try out the selected treats and sweets in the special VIP room while regular attendees can grab desserts in the lobby on the way out.

For "Choice Streets" some of the city's most popular food trucks will be parked along the front of the Armory and "guests will be able to sample some snacks while waiting to gain entry to the main event--free of charge." Pretty sweet since the line to get in if you don't go the VIP route can be super long.

Check out our wrap ups from Choice Eats '09 and Choice Eats '10 for more reasons to get your tickets.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

So Many Cookies! Deliciousness.

Plate of Cookies
I was fortunate enough to get the chance to visit the Cookie Takedown last night at The Bell House. I was sad to miss out on it last year, especially since it's the opportunity for me to just enjoy some cookies without having to bake a few dozen. Eating all the delicious cookies, there were over 25, was a little overwhelming, but it was worth it.

Almond Coffee Toffee #23
There were cookies of every taste, sizes, textures. One of my favorites was #23, Maine Coon Style Almond Coffee Toffee, it involved heated melty toffee goodness. Hard to make beforehand, but well worth the effort. They won 2nd place from both the judges and the people!

PB I Love You #6
The judges, the wonderful guys behind Baked, awarded their first prize to #6: PB I love You Thee! Peanut butter cookies sandwiching more peanut butter! I believe there was jam secret chocolate mix added in there, but it's the great taste of the peanut butter and chewy cookies that stand out in my memory. And their added bonus for winning: they can give the recipe to Baked and have their cookie sold there for a year! One more incentive to get me to Baked.

Chocolate Chip a la Mode
The People's Choice Winner went to Chocolate Chip a la Mode (#25 or #26). Yes, a chocolate chip cookie with chocolate ice cream on top. Another contestant that couldn't completely make theirs ahead of time, but definitely worth the game time effort.

Congratulations to all the winners! All of the participants did get to go home with some pretty sweet consolation prizes, so everyone was a winner!
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Calexico's Ready!

Calexico
I was walking around my neighborhood this weekend when I noticed that Calexico, the 2008 Vendy Winner, was putting the finishing touches on their first second brick and mortar store. Right in Greenpoint, mere steps from my doorstep! What will the old Poles think?!

Calexico
Well, they better get their thoughts together because this baby opened yesterday, and by the time I passed by (at 9:30pm) the place was hopping. The legions inside looked happy and warm, eating their tacos and drinking some tequila-I can't wait to be one of them. Word is the restaurant will be open everyday except for Monday, 11:30am to 4am. Tacos all night long!

Calexico
645 Manhattan Ave (at Bedford Ave/Nassau "G" stop)
(347) 763-2129
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cupcake Pebbles, Surely a Sign of the Apocalypse

DSC00056
Somehow I missed when the ladies at Cupcakes Take the Cake covered Post Cereal's Cupcake Pebbles back in February, so I was surprised to find these on my grocery shelf...

Let me rephrase that, the grown up part of me was surprised. The kid inside was delighted. In the end the grown up Brownie reminded Little Brownie that she hates (and always has hated) both Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles, but I'm still somewhat intrigued. According to the folks at mrbreakfast.com: "The excitement of eating cupcakes for breakfast wanes quickly as you realize spoon after spoon of cupcake flavor is both overwhelming and unexpectedly boring at the same time."

What sugar cereals of your childhood do you remember fondly? My loathing of Pebbles aside, I ate plenty of junkie cereals as a kid. Let see there was the Swedish Chef Crunchy Stars Cereal, Rice Krispy Treat Cereal (yes, a cereal made of Rice Krispy Treat pieces), Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs, French Toast Crunch (IMHO vastly superior to Cinnamon Toast Crunch on account of the syrup flavor + toast shape), and what I consider the king of all breakfasts, Spiderman Cereal--a sweetened Chex-like cereal (those were Spidey's webs natch) with marshmallow pieces. Heaven in a bowl. Unfortunately it's off the market, but if they bring it back for the next Spiderman movie (and I mean bring back the real thing, none of this fruity flavored web cereal shit), I'm so going to stock up.

As for Cupcake Pebbles, I think I'll stick to eating real cupcakes for breakfast. Why go for just the flavor when you can have the real thing instead?
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trying Out Holiday Bites from Saveur

Cheese Straws
About a year ago, I decided that a Saveur subscription was non-negotiable. I needed it so that I may be inspired in the kitchen to create crazy dishes in my spare time. We're not going to discuss my lack of spare time, or the few dishes from the magazine I've actually made this year, but I did find some flavor inspirations that transferred to my regular cooking. But at the beginning of this month, I decided it was time to break the cycle, I was going to make some of their recipes for one of the parties I'd been invited to. The winners: Cheese Straws, and Pissaladières (Onion and Anchovy Tarts).

Cheese Straws
My love of cheese runs over into a love of cheese straws, but for some reason I always thought they was some complicated process in making them. For the most part, they ended up being a bit easier than the tarts. You can easily make the dough in a food processor, roll out the dough, cut, and twirl. Easy, but tedious, especially in the cut and twirl part. And my raw straws didn't take to twirling very well, at least once half a tray add made itself flat again before going into the oven. There has to be some trick I'm not aware of to prevent this! The end result though was well worth it, cheesy goodness, perfect for snacking, appetizers, and maybe placing in a few cookie tins for holiday treats! I could have eaten this whole batch if I wasn't responsible to actually bringing them somewhere.

Pissaladières
The tarts proved a little more difficult. They involved making puff pastry "shells" to rest the onion and anchovy goodness on top. Easy enough since you can buy puff pastry as sheets-yes, I can cheat a little. I did this the night before, thinking that the morning onion-caramelizing and anchovy-slicing would go on as planned. Except my onions didn't caramelize. Instead they tenderized and then become really sweet from adding sugar. And anchovies are tiny little suckers to slice, it ended up being more like tear and hope for the best. The friends who did try it seemed to enjoy it, the few I assembled were gobbled up. Not a complete failure, but not a complete success like the cheese straws.

You can get both recipes online at Saveur.com: Cheese Straws (from Joseph E. Dabney's The Food, Folklore, and Art of Lowcountry Cooking) and Pissaladières.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

'Tis the Season to Hit the Holiday Markets!

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Those of you who still have Christmas shopping to left to do (and I include myself) can rejoice that the food options at this year's holiday markets around the city are better than ever. Blondie checked out the Sigmund's Pretzel's at the Bryant Park Market and Chris from Midtown Lunch took a lunchtime look at the Columbus Circle options (hello, Pies 'n' Thighs Chicken biscuit sandwich!). I was only able to visit the Union Square Market very briefly, but in my short time there I discovered some excellent cookies...

DSC00016
The Rubyzaar booth sells not only lovely fair trade items, but also delicious cookies flavored with Vietnamese coffee, sun dried peaches, mango, and crystallized ginger among other goodies. When I got there late-ish on a Saturday night they were nearly out of cookies. I settled for a "Cherchez Renee" which was sundried cherries and dark chocolate chunks. The cookie was soft and chewy with just the right amount of sweetness. As a testament to its tastiness, please not that the above photo is of a cookie that is 2/3s gone.

You can find Rubyzaar at the Union Square Market from now until December 24th.
Monday-Friday: 11:00-8:00pm
Saturday: 10:00-8:00pm
Sunday: 11:00-7:00pm
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Winter Comes to Shake Shack!

SS Heat Lamps Not On

We already reported that the heat lamps have been sighted at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. And with a week like this one, you'll need them, if you want to enjoy your Shack Burger al fresco. But yesterday we saw some other exciting winter news from the Shack...

According to their official Facebook Page, Shake Shack is serving up Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate. Om nom nom! That sounds so good right about now.

Before you go, keep in mind that it's winter hours at the Madison Square Park Location: daily from 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM.


Shake Shack
Madison Square Park
www.shakeshacknyc.com
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Doughnut Plant Has Some Holiday Options!

Doughnut Plant
A few weeks ago, I was talking about a craving for Shopsin's when a friend mentioned she had always wanted to go, but had never been. An after-Thanksgiving lunch date was planned, and it all went down on Sunday. Three of us sat at the counter eating a "Moe" and two Petes, shooting the breeze with Kenny and Zach as they closed up for the day, it was a quite perfect Sunday lunch. Afterward, I found myself walking down Essex, hoping that the frigid cold had kept the Doughnut Plant crowds away. I was wrong.

Gingerbread Bread Doughnut
Though there was a wind chill in the mid 20s, there was still a half hour OUTSIDE wait to get into Doughnut Plant. The only reason why I even toyed with the idea of staying on this line-I did make a valiant 7 minute effort-was for the Gingerbread doughnut. Brownie talks about it every year, and I secretly wondered why she's become so infatuated with it. The sign outside promised that inside delicious holiday treats were awaiting me-Chestnut was also available. Unfortunately, a freezing sensation in my digits put the kibosh on such ideas. Maybe one of our Midtown Doughnut Plant outposts will come through!

Doughnut Plant
379 Grand Street
(212) 505-3700
www.doughnutplant.com
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Get Your Sufganiyot Before Hanukkah is Over!

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Hanukkah crept up on me this year and it's almost over! Must take advantage of the last days to enjoy fried foods, especially sufganiyot aka traditional Hanukkah donuts...

DSC00037

Sunday night we were indulging a craving for Di Fara's and as we waited for Dom to make our pies, I ran across the street to Isaac's Bake Shop for a little dessert. I was intending to get a chocolate babka, but when I saw these beauties in the window, I couldn't resist picking up an assortment of donuts.

We tried the raspberry jelly filled, custard filled, and caramel filled sufganiyot as well as the plain cinnamon sugar. The were all soft and delicious, but the caramel was the dark horse favorite. It had just the right amount of sweetness and wasn't at all cloying. The chocolate drizzled, custard filled one (a Boston Cream sufganiyot, if you will) was also quite good, though it could use some more chocolate. The lady behind me in line had the right idea when she asked the baker to give her the ones with the most chocolate on top.

The gentleman behind the counter told me that they only have the doughnuts at Hanukkah (or if there is a special order), so you'd best get yourself over to Avenue J.

Isaac's Bake Shop
1419 Avenue J
Brooklyn, NY 11230
(718) 377-9291
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh Yes, It's Cookie Season Again

Cookie Takedown
'Tis the time of year for wreathes, trees, and cookies. I've already made one massive batch, a recipe test for my office cookie-off, and plan on making at least three more. If it wasn't for those batches, you'd find me at The Bell House at 6pm on Sunday, the 19th, hawking my cookies to the masses. Hopefully, I'll be able to get there to enjoy what would have been the competition.

The Bell House is once again the setting for a food competition, this one being the annual Cookie Takedown. There aren't any spots left for cookie makers, but you can eat yourself silly for $15. Plus there'll be free spiked egg nog for the first hour! Last year's winners included a "Salted Brown Butter Pecan Butterscotch Chocolate Chip" cookie, and a Nacho cookie, so you can best bet that it's anyone's game this year. Buy your tickets by clicking here.

Cookie Takedown at The Bell House
Sunday, December 19th 6pm
149 7th Street, Brooklyn
www.chilitakedown.com
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hot Suppa Now Serving Supper!

French Toast at Hot Suppa

Hot Suppa is one of my new fav places for brunch in Portland, Maine. They make some excellent pancakes and eggs. Despite their name, they were exclusively a breakfast and lunch spot, until now...

Just taking a peek at their dinner menu is making me hungry...

Fois Gras Poutine? (Yes, we're talking seared fois gras, Pineland cheddar cheese curds, and brown gravy over hand cut fries, ohhhhh yeah). This could be a poutine to rival the poutine of my dreams from Portland's own Duck Fat.

With all of the holiday rush, unfortunately the soonest I'll get to try their dinner menu is sometime in '11. Hey, Lawman (I know our blog is in your RSS)...how about a New Year's trip to Maine?

Hot Suppa
703 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04102-3303
(207) 871-5005
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Three More Weeks of New Amsterdam!

Ledgenear Farm Maple Syrup
During this year's Foodbuzz Festival, Foodzie made an appearance at the Tasting Pavilion to highlight the focus of their site and some of the products offered. Foodzie is an online food marketplace for small-scale food vendors, for a wide-range of products. Prior to meeting them, I had heard of them in passing, but now I'm totally hooked! Especially because I was turned onto one of New Amsterdam's vendors!

New Amsterdam Market
Over the past year, I've gotten a little more than addicted to maple syrup. I put it in everything including Greek yogurt. So when I saw Ledgenear Farm's Maple Syrup, I took a sample. Their Grade A Medium Amber Syrup was unbelievable in terms of sweetness and maple taste-as close to the most perfect syrup I've tasted recently. I made a mental note that they were also selling at New Amsterdam, and knew I had to stop by soon. When I did get the chance to pick some up, they let me know that though this Sunday, the 5th will be their last for year, next year they'll hopefully have Grade B! The darker color means more maple flavor, and most use it primarily for baking-I could drink it with a straw.

As for New Amsterdam Market, they have three more weeks of selling this year. This weekend is Winemakers and Accordians!

New Amsterdam Market
Sundays, 11am-4pm
South Street & Peck Slip through December 19th
www.newamsterdammarket.org
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