If you want to capture some sense of what Brooklyn is or what Brooklyn is becoming, the Brooklyn Flea Market is a good place to start. The Brooklyn Flea is now the largest outdoor market in the city with about 200 vendors set up every weekend. While antiques and handicrafts are the main focus of the market, the dozens of food vendors lure me on their own. They’re reason enough to come and hang around and ponder over this weird sponge that Brooklyn has become. I consider the borough the foodiest place in America. There is more going on here than one would expect: organic rooftop farms, farmer’s markets, distilleries, indie bakeshops, Bacon Marmalade, sustainable butchers, Kombucha making classes, and of course Red Hook Soccer Tacos. New gastronomic ideas are being created every day in Brooklyn and the Flea is ground zero.
On Saturday’s the flea is in Fort Greene at 176 Lafayette (corner with Vanderbilt), while Sundays are indoors at One Hanson (at Flatbush) in Fort Greene. This season 25 food vendors will be on the scene:
Asia Dog (www.asiadognyc.com)
Asian Hot Dogs. Do I need to say more? There’s a Vietnamese Banh-Mi style dog, one with Kimchee and Seaweed flakes, and one with Chinese BBQ pork belly and onion (plus a Korean BBQ Bulgogi Burger). Dogs come in Beef, Organic Beef, Chicken, and Veggie. The popularity of the stand has allowed Asiadog owners to seek out a permanent storefront downtown.
Blue Marble Ice Cream (www.bluemarbleicecream.com)
Blue Marble’s Farm Fresh Organic Ice Cream comes from their shop in Boerum Hill and is served from a tricycle at the Flea. Flavors include Ginger, Maple, Pistachio Almond, Green Tea, Sweet Tea, and the standard Vanilla, Strawberry, and Chocolate.
Red Hook Lobster Pound (http://redhooklobsterpound.com)
When the Lobster pound first burst on the scene in 2009 there was a long wait at their stand. Their lobster rolls are my fav, though I’ve heard the whoopee pies aren’t bad either. This year they’ll be steaming whole lobsters to eat on the spot or take home.
Pizza Moto (www.pizzamotobklyn.com)
A portable wood fired brick oven is the secret to this mobile pizza shop that turns up at the flea, as is the sourdough starter made from the wild yeast found on local apples. Pies are small, Neapolitan style.
Choncho’s Taco’s (www.chonchostacos.com)
A simple stand selling Baja Fish Tacos of lime, corn, beer battered Mahi-mahi, red cabbage, onions, cilantro, fresh cream, and hot sauce. A beautiful thing on a sunny day. $5 for one, $9 for two.
McClure’s Pickles (www.mcclurespickles.com)
Spicy Pickles, Garlic Dill, Relish, and Bloody Mary Mix in jars.
People’s Pops (http://peoplespops.com)
Fresh, local fruit popsicles: Strawberry Rhubarb, Blackberry, Cantaloupe and Tarragon, and Watermelon Basil.
Salvatore Bklyn Ricotta (www.salvatorebklyn.com)
Fresh whole milk Ricotta and Smoked Ricotta…how awesome is it to find that at a flea market?
Fine + Raw Chocolates (www.fineandraw.com)
Chocolate bars made with Raw Ecuadorian chocolate mixed with Raw Blue Agave, Raw Coconut Oil, and Raw Himalayan Sea Salt. Readers of this blog will appreciate their Lucuma & Vanilla Bar.
Kumquat Cupcakery (www.kumquatcupcakery.com)
Cupcakes are the new Macaroons…or is it the other way around? Regardless, Kumquat’s fine flavors like Maple Bacon, Coffee Caramel Bourbon, P.B. Banana Honey, and Lemon & Lavender are some of the more interesting in town.
Rick’s Picks (http://rickspicksnyc.com)
Pickled everything: Beets, Pickled Okra, Corn Relish, Red Bell Peppers, Asparagus Spears, and, of course, pickles in many forms.
Red Hook Food Vendor’s (www.redhookfoodvendors.com)
Select vendors from the Red Hook Ball Fields (Soccer Tacos!!) serve pupusas, arepas, tacos, and other Latin creations at the Flea too.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.