Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New York's Essex Market

The Essex Market, one of New York's most interesting small markets, is on New York's Lower East Side, specifically on Essex Street just North of Delancey. As the Lower East Side has become chic, so has the Essex Market added some very upscale vendors to meet the demand of the new foodies in the neighborhood. At the same time, the market retains its character as a local market serving the local Hispanic community, and vegetables, meats and Hispanic items are available at amazingly low prices.

On a recent trip, I bought some excellent 3-year old parmesan and New York State honey from Formaggio Essex, several (expensive) artisanal American cheeses from Saxelby's (see my post of November 7, 2008 on this wonderful cheese supplier), but also a pound of jalapenos for a dollar, and a 7-1/4-lb pork shoulder for $9.99 ($1.39 per pound) at Jeffrey's, a very well-regarded butcher. I was a little embarrassed to buy the totally non-organic pork, but I could not find a more fancy shoulder with the skin on at any of my normal uptown haunts. I passed on the pigs', calves' and cows' feet, which must make some wonderful Hispanic dishes.

The jalapenos, together with green peppers and San Marzano tomatoes, turned into Michael Chiarello's "Damn Hot Peppers," and the pork was fantastic (better, I think, than the grass-fed free range variety) as the same chef's "Forever Roasted Pork." The aged parmesan joined an assortment of Italian and Italian-style charcuterie from Salumeria Rosi on the Upper West Side (see my post of January 22, 2009 for more on Rosi).

Sorry, only one picture. Photography is inexplicably prohibited at the market (although I took this before being shooed off), allegedly because the market is in real estate owned by the City of New York. Go figure.

Bobby Jay

Monday, January 4, 2010

Paris - La Cure Gourmande

A wonderful candy store, which began operations in Balaruc-les-Bains (near Montpellier) in 1989, is making a big push in Paris. It opened a branch a couple of years ago in Bercy, and recently opened its third branch near the Opéra, at 49, avenue de l'Opera (several others will open within the year). The shops are very attractive, as are the goods they sell, most notably the hard candies (berlindises) and spectacular lollipops ("Choupettes"), as well as cookies, chocolates and calissons (a kind of dense almond cookie). Most things are available in bulk but also are offered in charming decorated tins.

A great place to go for gifts or simply to indulge oneself.

Bobby Jay

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Paris - Sign of the Times

Here it is: a Japanese brasserie/tabac (although it calls itself a bistro). Many Japanese people live in Paris, and not just as representatives of Japanese corporations and banks. The neighborhood near the Opéra is full of Japanese restaurants, noodle shops (notably Kunitoraya, previously discussed in this blog) and food stores that cater to them. The Ventadour, pictured here, is different, being a traditional licensed tabac (which have concessions for tobacco and lottery tickets) attached to a corner brasserie but now serving Japanese food.

Paris has always been a magnet for people from around the world, and the Japanese appear to be there to stay.

Bobby Jay