The much anticipated annual Unfancy Food Show was held this past Sunday at East River Bar, celebrating all things local, organic, sustainable, artisanal and Brooklyn. Organized by Annaliese Griffin and Tom Mylan, the show included nearly twenty vendors supplying a vast mouth-watering and curious mix of edible goods from raw chocolate and rooftop grown vegetables to authentic kimchee and peppery beef jerky. It was a packed mosh pit scene with sweat trickling from the pores of both skin and tongue. I arrived too late to sample Marlow & Sons’ brisket and whitefish sandwiches, or Salvatore’s freshly cut prosciutto sandwiches, but I left content at having tasted some of the best produce, cheese and sweets on this side of the East River.
Best In Show award undeniably goes to Mama O’s Kimchee, where Kheedim Oh (of The Beatards) and his mother have successfully created an authentic kimchee which isn’t overwhelming to the unfamiliar, while maintaining the pride of a Korean foodie such as this writer. I was stricken with a nostalgia upon sampling the kimchee that was just the slightest bit undercured and salty, maintaining the perfect balance of crunch and spice. You may get some at Marlow & Daughters, Foragers, and Jeffreys.
I stood bug-eyed when a woman told me the Queens County Farm began in 1697 and joked that she ages well. Up for grabs were the ever-delicious mulberries and fresh and crispy cucumbers. They can be found at the Union Square Greenmarket on Fridays.
Taza‘s Guajillo Chili Mexicano is to die for. The smooth and creamy start leads to a punch of spice that leaves your tastebuds in a blissful coma.
The philosophy behind Liddabit Sweets is local, artisanal, and seasonal. The owners, two women, who met each other in the pastry program at the French Culinary Institute, have come up with one of the most delicious sweets I have ever encountered. “The snacker” a peanut and nougat delectable wrapped in dark chocolate, was simultaneously soft, crunchy, smooth and rich, and left me faint and guiltily wanting more. They can be found at Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays.
Greenpoint’s Rooftop Farms provides all organic and fresh vegetables to a few restaurants and lucky pedestrians, picked and cared for by two urban farmers. Such meta-local efforts are sprouting throughout Brooklyn and this 6,000 sq ft agricultural haven will surely be a model for future like-minded foodies.
The Greenhorns are a non-profit group educating and recruiting young farmers in America. Their efforts will be turned into a documentary film, and their influence will affect the urban Brooklyn farmers of the future.
Lastly, there is my new obsession: Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream. The lemon-yellow truck can be found on Bedford Ave parked anywhere between N5th and N8th streets with anticipating adults lined and begging for some handcrafted, orgasmically flavorful ice cream. Strawberry with fudge topping has been a repeat for this visitor.
There is a proud and triumphant artisanal food movement rippling throughout Brooklyn, but without the collaborative and community-building efforts like this show, both suppliers and demanders would be hungrily lost and wandering.