The idea of a farmer’s market in the middle of New York City seems a little counter-intuitive. But the country is awfully close to the borders of the city and that country contains some of the oldest cultivated land in the US.
The green market at Union Square is not huge, but it was full of the fall harvest; lovely root vegetables and greens, late tomatoes, and apples, apples, apples. I picked up some “roof top honey” for a friend. Seems the guy keeps bees on various roofs around the city. Turns out NYC is full of flowering trees, and Central Park is practically farmland from a bee perspective. Also picked up some ginger jelly. Yummy.
In addition to the edibles a host of artists have their tables up, selling original prints and photos, CDs, jewelry, old prints, Obama paraphanalia, and whatever might bring in a buck, including fortune telling.
Most of Union Square itself was closed off for repairs, but kitty-corner was a restraunt called simply Coffee Shop. I was feeling peckish, so I decided to check it out.
Inside it was…Trendy. Aggressively retro fifties decore, all muted turquiose and tarnished gold, with the wait staff all young and mostyl in black. I think I spotted the aspiring actress.
I was seated promptly and paid attention to. I ordered the corn chowder and a de-caff cappaccino, because I’d really overdone it on the coffee at Cafe Cluny. I watched the group of students recovering from the late night in one booth, the guy advising a young person about their resume, and the tourists getting the suspected-actress to take their photo.
The chowder was good, rich and fresh. The cappaccino was excellent, not watery at all as de-caff can be.
Much refreshed, I decided to check out the Chelsea Market, which is in the same building as the offices of The Food Network. So, off I went.
It was a pleasant day for walking in NYC and I strolled at an easy pace, looking at how the buildings fit together. Checked out a couple of thrift stores I passed. Didn’t find any clothes, almost bought this cool purple velore bag, and deeply regretted having nowhere to put several pieces of furniture. Passed a Belgian cafe called Le Petite Abeille that advertised Couque Mousieur on the menu. I must not have gotten enough ham and cheese at lunch, because that sounded REALLY good, despite the chowder. But I decided I would check out the market first, in case there was someplace really cool in there to eat. So, on I went.
Now, first thing, THERE IS NO SIGN ON THE CHELSEA BLEEDING MARKET. I had to ask some of my fellow pedestrians as we waited for a light. They pointed to the brick building on the other side of the street that I had already walked passed, and remarked how they really should put up a sign. I agreed.
The Chelsea Market is kind of an indoor food mall. There’s butchers and bakers and confectioners (didn’t see a candlestick maker). A coffee bar, of course, and a sea food market and a “green” resteraunt. Most of the places have a take out counter and offer soups and sandwiches. It was pricy, even by the standards of an NYC lunch, and just plain didn’t look either as much fun as the green market or as interesting at that couque mousiuer. But my feet hurt and the thought of trudging all the way back without lunch was daunting.
So I did what any good New Yorker would do; I hailed a cab back to Union Square and from there got back to Le Petite Abeille.
Le Petite Abeille is a cute, narrow little cafe with blue and white check table cloths, French-speaking waiters and a whole lot of Tintin paraphanalia in the decore. Again, I was seated promptly and paid attention to. I strained my restraunt french and think I amused my waiter. I got the couque mousieur and it came with a HUGE pile of STUNNINGLY GOOD fries. Then, although it was late in the afternoon and I was due to meet Susan for dinner at 5:30 I could not resist the chocolate mousse.
It was small, it had fresh whipped cream, it was thick and dark and totally and completely nomulent.
I waddled out of there. I regret nothing.
But I was a bit worn (NYC will do that to you), so I decided to hang out for a bit at the big Barnes & Noble, kind of catch my breath. This I did. Then it got to the point where it seemed about time to head toward Washinton Square if I was going to walk. My feet felt recovered, and so walk I did, from Union Square down to the land of one of Henry James’s many depressing long-winded novels. I stopped in the park for a bit to hear the street music and watch the fool hand-feeding squirrels and once again marvel at the number of small dogs that populate NYC.
Once again refreshed, it was down to 4th and Bleeker (an area my DH calls Folk Music Ground Zero) to meet Susan at Trattoria Monte
This, folks, is the Ur-Italian restraunt of NYC. It’s been there approximately forever. You walk down a flight of stairs to get there, there’s pictures of Sinatra and the Pope on the walls and they play opera on the stereo. Susan was there, and as a regular was well known. The owner stopped by our table to say hello. The waiters were all big, beefy Italian men who were clearly fixtures of the establishment.
And the the FOOD! OMG, that FOOD! I love northern italian food. I love the simplicity and freshness of it. Still kind of overfed from the Belgians, I didn’t eat much, but I shared the roasted asperigus with parmagiano; simple and perfect (oh, and the bread was fresh and fantastic), and a 1/2 grilled chicken with pan juices. Perfectly cooked Just exactly what I wanted.
And then, with some trepidation, I decided I couldn’t leave without trying dessert. I chose the cheesecake. Am I ever glad I did. It was light and creamy with just the right amount of lemon. It was a pure delight.
Oh, and then there was one of those New York moments, when the 84 yr. old lady at the table behind us overheard that I was from Michigan and spoke up to say she had come out of the Keelenaw peninsula when she was a young woman. That’s a big copper mining area, or at least it was, and her mother wanted her girls to get an education so she sent them east, and this lady went to Barnard and never looked back. Kinda cool.
Owner was there to say farewell and shake our hands on the way out. I told him that I had just had the best cheesecake I’d ever eaten, and the man hugged me. Italians. I ask you.
We set out to find a cab, and it turned out a cab found us. Guy spotted 2 tired women and pulled up to the curb almost before we could signal. Took the 59th St. Bridge (famed in song and story) and was indeed feeling groovy, if tired, and so arrived back in Forest Hills and slept like the dead until the next morning.