To Market, To Market – The Place Where Food Memories Are Born
On February 14th, 2012, in 213 Water Street, a gathering occurred — one of the food and imbibing kind. A team of young chefs (from I8NY), their friends, and with the help of several volunteers, worked together (in a very professional and seamless manner, might I add) to present a 5 course meal that embodied the warmth and love that food can so miraculously emit…
The gathering was a fundraiser for the New Amsterdam Market… A Rooster Supper, it was called… But for someone who has lived in NYC practically all his life (since I was 5), has been completely discontented with the corporate world, has found a love and nurturing embrace within New York City, it’s history, and food in general; this event was so much more… It was an exposure to a room of people, willing to be a part of the re-establishment of a vibrant, messy, food filled market… In an attempt to create a scene even more lively, more communal — a culinary landmark that is ready to establish itself in the history of NYC, with even more force then the Fulton Market did…
Through a series of courses — revolving around the main course, a Coq au vin (made in the refreshingly traditional manner, with Rooster as the French customarily do) the young chefs put out plates revolving around the produce of the NYC greenmarkets, and the treasure trove of bounty that is brought to them by farmers all around…
The course sequencing was stylized in a very French manner… Salad after the main course, cheese plate before dessert — above all else however, sound technique, and significant restraint… The Coq Au Vin featured a medley of (red, yellow, green, magenta) perfectly blanched carrots ; thick/crunchy/crispy cubes of bacon, juicy earthy mushrooms, delicate, sweet pearl onions, along with a braised drumstick, thigh, and several slices of perfectly roasted rooster breast with an amazingly buttery salty crunchy skin. A pool of the reduced braising liquid was poured into the bowl to be sopped up with bread created in the wood burning ovens of Robertas in Brooklyn.
The room itself, a part of the South Street Seaport Museum (which is now being run by the amazing people at the Museum of the City of New York — my favorite Museum in NYC) contributed the perfect environment. The candlelit, warm ambiance, stretched across the high ceiling/far reaching room. Towering, comforting, yet powerful wooden columns; homey/creaky hardwood floors, and a warm, convivial sense sheltered the guests, workers and volunteers alike, from the cold drizzle of the evening.
The attendees were graced with a splendidly genuine description of markets by Mimi Sheraton and Robert LaValva. Mimi Sheraton, spoke of the cultural impact markets have on the communities in which they arise from. She shared personal accounts of her own venturing in the Fulton Market, while Robert LaValva gave us an in-depth historical presentation on the Market. 25+ diff. variety of ducks, endless amounts of game meats — the idea of such an expansive market in NYC now seems like but a mere fairy tale.
The night flew by in the manner that can only be defined as a New York City minute — but their were several moments throughout the night that will remain as splendid snapshots in my memory forever. As I stood behind the makeshift pass, Mr. LaValva passionately presenting on the Market and what it was in its heyday — I felt everything I love, come together under this one roof. You know those subjects that just always manage to just stir up an overwhelming amount of love within you; that drive you to endless nights/weeks/months of what others see as “work” but you just see as motivating and inspiring. Standing there, I was at the intersection of all these roads, constructed by these random selection of passions, that have helped lead me to who I am today.
This blog has been in the works for longer then I can imagine. The idea was always for it to be a platform for me to share my food memories with others. The memories that in one way or another I constantly look back on — whether because of the food, the company, the place in my life I was in at the time, or an endless amount of other possible factors. But I Kept_Putting_It_Off. The Rooster Supper Fundraiser led me to stop doing so, for many more reasons then you would perhaps care to read. At the end of the evening though, as I made my way through the narrow streets back to the train station I found myself reminiscing on all the amazing memories I’ve had in food markets. A place where, for so many of us (outside of if you grow your own produce, raise and slaughter your own animals, mine your own salt, etc…) are where our food memories are first conceived. Whether its a local supermarket chain, a farmers market, the Korean deli, the Spanish bodega — it’s where our food memories our born to us. As we shop, whether we expect them to be momentous, or just merely a way of satisfying our physical need to continue moving forward, is unknown, but this is where our food memories are born — and this is to the telling and sharing of many more!