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#1 StephanieL

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 08:34 PM

As mentioned on the Brooklyn Flea thread, Smorgasburg is the food-only offshoot, held every Saturday in Williamsburg at the river and North 6th & 7th Streets. It's a mixture of booths selling prepared food and "shopping" booths (including some of the produce vendors and others from the Greenmarket, like Cato Corner and Ronnybrook Farms). A few vendors have stands only here, like the one who sells switzel, a West Indian drink made from blackstrap molasses, ginger, lemon, honey, and sometimes black tea.

I discovered today that if you get there before 11-11:30, you can do your shopping and sampling relatively free from crowds. I bought several varieties of dried pasta with herbs, homemade tonic and ginger ale, and some of Anarchy in a Jar's spiced beer spread, and very nearly got a jar of addictive peanut butter-chocolate spread. Yes, some of it is precious, NBC stuff, but it's worth going to just for the heck of it. Be warned that the crowds start coming for lunch, and it can be brutal on a hot, sunny day because there's no shade anywhere in the market, though the waterfront park next door is a nice place to take your prepared food if you can find room.
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#2 irnscrabblechf52

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 04:53 AM

i'll have a longer more complete post on this later, just a few notes:

1. Queen's Dahn Tu: the banh xeo was not good at all. it's a vietnamese crepe filled with shrimp and braised pork (I believe?). the crepe was a little undercooked (mushy), the shrimp tasted off, and the dipping sauce was basically just acidulated water. I ate about 1/3 of this and then pitched it.

2. pupusas vendor (solber?): better than the banh xeo, I didn't like this either. I had the chicharron. even though they were griddling or w/e them fresh, they served me out of a bin w/ 2 left in it. so it was saturated in grease, just unbearably oily. I had 3 bites, tried the (middling) accompaniments (pickled onion, peppers, sour cream, not really sure), and then pitched it. at this point I was starting to get pretty hungry.

3. king's crumbs biscuit (split with maple pimenton sausage gravy): I'm devastated that you can only get these on saturday in brooklyn, it was awesome. The biscuit is super light and buttery, topped with a sweet peppery creamy thick gravy that just makes you want to wake up all over again to eat it one more time.

interesting products I sampled

Q Ginger Beer--from the makers of Q tonic, it's not a bad attempt at a ginger beer. I don't like the "organic agave syrup" sweetener though, I like my ginger beer with a little more fruit kick.

City 'Lasses Switzel: this was interesting, I like the taste of blackstrap w/ ginger, one tiny little cup was enough for me though, it's still quite sweet.

People's Pops: I don't get it. This was about 30-40% better than one of those high end popsicles you get at the supermarket made from real fruit juice and unjustifiably more expensive. The strawberry rhubarb came with a strong endorsement from the dude staffing the stand, but blind taste tested against supermarket brands I don't think I could tell the difference, there was functionally 0 rhubarb flavor, a bright strawberry flavor and some rhubarb texturing, which I found unpleasant.

king's county beef jerky: Tasted the regular and the kimchi flavors, neither impressed me. There was a strange off taste on the finish, very leathery, almost tobacco-y. It was too tender, I like jerky that has more appreciable chew.

Granola Lab: not sure whether heat or humidity was messing with this product, but the texture was chewy, and I like a crunchier granola. People who like chewy granolas though might enjoy this product.

Tin Mustard: Mild mustard, great "caviar" texture, clean taste, I bought a jar of this and had it with gouda, provolone, bread, and pickles for dinner.

Morris Kitchen (ginger syrup): I'm a ginger fiend and thought this had a nice burn so I bought a jar. Later that night I was at bite club where a ginger infused mast bros ganache was served, and I found out that the ganache was actually flavored with this syrup.

Crown Maple: maple syrup from Dutchess County, NY. I liked it, had a mellow, buttery maple flavor, wish I had bought a jar.

Cato Corner Farms: They make Hooligan, which has made the rounds on various haute cheese plates. The fromage d'cow is much more pungent and fruitier (think apricots) than the Hooligan.

various pickle producers: the only one I particularly liked was the horseradish dill from Divine Brine. This would be great with gefilte fish etc.
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#3 StephanieL

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 04:14 PM

Thanks to a map, I'm able to recreate the prepared food I had:

--Skimkim, a kimchi vendor, also had lemon-tarragon deviled eggs, which were excellent.

--An A for effort but C for execution for Bite Size Kitchen. They were serving roast pork buns, grilled shortrib skewers, and lamb sausages with feta and fruit slaw. I got the sausages, and not only were they missing the feta ("delivery issues"), the sausages themselves were very undercooked. It might not have been a problem if they also hadn't been sitting around after being cooked. I had them redo some for me and so far haven't suffered any stomach issues. (They also gave me a free bottle of water.)

--Bep, another Vietnamese stand, had a very good cold salad of mango, white and red cabbage, carrots, 2 or 3 kinds of basil, and other herbs, plus shrimp chips. (I skipped the optional grilled pork.) It was refreshing on a hot day, and the only drawback is that there may have been too much basil.

--Dough has huge doughnuts in all types of interesting flavors (lemon poppy, dulce de leche, etc). They're really meant for two people, and should be eaten right away and not sit in a bag for a while on a hot day (i.e., don't make the mistake I did). I had the blood orange, which had great fresh, concentrated orange flavors.
"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." --John Steinbeck


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#4 nuxvomica

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 04:39 PM

i went the first week and it was pretty crazy so we didn't sample much but we did get a piece of a a fantastic bourbon wheat bread from SCRATCHbread - so delicious i'm actually going to hike to Bed-Sty one of these days when they sell retail (which they do once i week, iirc)
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#5 Wilfrid

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 07:37 PM

Why Smorgasburg? Why not Williamsbord?

#6 AaronS

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 01:15 AM

i went the first week and it was pretty crazy so we didn't sample much but we did get a piece of a a fantastic bourbon wheat bread from SCRATCHbread - so delicious i'm actually going to hike to Bed-Sty one of these days when they sell retail (which they do once i week, iirc)

They have a large variety of stuff in the Williamsburg Saving Bank Flea, and you can get stuff at Brooklyn Larder and Greene Grape Provisions. I really like the foccacia and their muffins, which are more like a brioche with bacon in it.

#7 Daniel

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 02:50 PM

This place is a literal nightmare for me.. I hate feeling like I am herded in with the masses.. And being led into a caged in area is definitely my idea of being herded... The ground that the Smorgasburg rests on is gravel.. There is zero to no shade.. They air is dusty from the gravel.. .There are long lines, the food options are kind of boring.. The biggest selling item appeared to be a plastic container of noodles.. The lines for tacos and papusas were long... Most of the lines were long and I feel like most of the vendors were more into posturing then actually selling food... I feel like the dudes with the beards behind the counters are more interested in being seen than there are into serving food.. It's all way too much for me to handle..

We walked in, I grabbed a shitty little empanada, Miss A tried a canalle, which was decent but, not as good as Michael Allen's, we went for the old faithful, the porchetta sandwich, and we broke out...

The place is horrific..
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#8 TaliesinNYC

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 04:12 PM

Yeah, I'm going to Brooklyn for a food fair held in some neighborhood I hardly ever go to where people stand in line for stuff. NOT.

Thanks for trying Daniel, so I don't have to.

Anyone who knows me well enough, knows that I absolutely HATE crowds which is one reason I avoid those situations like the plague. As it is, I barely tolerate events like the Pride March ... this year, as soon as the event was done, I headed home. I don't know how I managed doing it when I was in my 20s, but now that I'm older, I'm irritated easily. Slow-moving people, police and metal barricades ... recipe for disaster.

god, I've turned into a middle-aged person. :blink:

#9 Orik

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 04:37 PM

We went before the crowds, it wasn't any better.


eta: there's someone selling fried anchovies there - they use a household deep fryer to repeatedly fry anchovies in a breadcrumb cover (or something like that) - yet the DOH never shows up to give them a D-.
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#10 Lex

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 05:52 PM

Daniel has it right. We went yesterday on a perfect sunny day. The vast field of vendors is located on a gravel field. When the wind blows off the river a fine white dust blows over your clothes and into your lungs. You cough. Later on you have to brush off all of your clothes.

Some stuff looked reasonable. In particular a brat vendor had a variety of appealing choices for about $7 or $8 a pop.

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OK. I've run out of reasonable things to say. Think about those people who wait on the Shack Shack line in Madison Square Park. Then transport them to Williamsburg and add a dose of self righteous locavorism. Presto. Smorgasburg.

There are 20 minute lines to buy a cemita. Little ones for $9. You can get them with southern fried chicken carnitas or angus barbacoa. Obviously they are not going for authenticity here. Maybe the cemitas are good. At least they have some actual Mexicans making them although what passes for the FOH are all Anglos. (FWIW my cemita gold standard is sold at Tacos Matamoros in Sunset Park. It's twice as big and costs $7.)

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But at least the cemitas looked plausible. The self styled mini-burgers from the Dumont stand did not. They sure had the mini part right.

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Teensy weensy ones for $6. There was a line with about 30 people on it. Make me wait on it. I dare you.

I'm saving the best for last. Mighty Quinn's hand pulled lamb brisket. This picture doesn't begin to do justice to how long the line was. There must have been 50 people standing there patiently in the sun.

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The sandwiches could be consumed in 3 bites. At least they were $5 instead of $8.

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I walked up to the head of the line because it appeared to be moving especially slowly. Sure enough, I watched someone order a sandwich and then wait 3 1/2 minutes for it. Now it's not like preparing these sandwiches is complicated. They cut two little slices of lamb, put it on a small roll, and pour some gravy on it. The only other thing they sell is bottled water. (On the Smorgasburg website there's a picture of their sandwich which shows a generous thing with four thick slices of lamb. It's a lie.)

I walked around the side to watch the meat slicers.

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To say they work at a leisurely pace would be giving them way too much credit. They seem to be moving in slow motion. One guy does the actual slicing. As far as I can tell the other guy's job is to provide moral support and to hold up his end of a really funny conversation. They laughed and laughed. Sandwiches got made at a snail's pace.

If you want to while away 45 minutes on a sunny April afternoon then the Mighty Quinn line is for you. The sandwich itself will take 90 seconds to eat.

We didn't eat anything on Saturday because we had dinner plans. I suspect some of the stuff is decent if you abandon any connection between portion size vs the prices you pay.

“I have a dream of a multiplicity of pastramis.”

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#11 erha2

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:10 PM

And I bet most of these vendors are still barely making any money.

#12 Sneakeater

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:33 PM

Lex just must be living for the Great GoogaMooga.
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#13 Lex

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:48 PM

Lex just must be living for the Great GoogaMooga.

You know me well.

I mean, it's not like these giant food festivals don't have a track record. That big BBQ fest down by Madison Square Park. Ozersky's Meatopia. There are a bunch of other ones. The crowds are insane, the lines are long, the ambiance is unpleasant and the consensus is that they just aren't worth it. Sure, there are sometimes ways to game the system. Showing up really early seems to work but who the hell wants to chow down on big portions of BBQ at 10AM?

Really, the whole concept is fundamentally uncivilized. There's a really good reason why most of the people who attend these things are in their 20s. Once you get older most people have learned their lesson. They just won't put up with shit like that any more.

“I have a dream of a multiplicity of pastramis.”

"One of the Evil Twin beers I tried smelled like a foot." - LiquidNY

"I don't have time to point out all the ways in which you're wrong" - irnscrabblechf52


#14 irnscrabblechf52

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:58 PM


Lex just must be living for the Great GoogaMooga.

That big BBQ fest down by Madison Square Park.


Having showed up at 10 am to be the first person in line for Ed Mitchell's whole hog at Big Apple BBQ last summer, I can say it was worth it--maybe because the odds of me making it to Raleigh anytime in the near future are pretty low. Will I do it again? Probably not--am considering buying a fast pass this summer though
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#15 Lex

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 07:12 PM

Having showed up at 10 am to be the first person in line for Ed Mitchell's whole hog at Big Apple BBQ last summer, I can say it was worth it--maybe because the odds of me making it to Raleigh anytime in the near future are pretty low. Will I do it again? Probably not--am considering buying a fast pass this summer though

You come from the St. Louis are, right? A place where good BBQ is plentiful, convenient, and cheap. I guess the opportunity to sample other types is attractive but I'd weigh that against the cost. I just checked. The fast pass is $125. I guess if you split that with one or 2 people it would make sense.

“I have a dream of a multiplicity of pastramis.”

"One of the Evil Twin beers I tried smelled like a foot." - LiquidNY

"I don't have time to point out all the ways in which you're wrong" - irnscrabblechf52