Sunday, September 6, 2009

Brooklyn Flea: A Cornucopia of Good Eats

Brooklyn Flea is an outdoor flea market that sets up in Brooklyn every weekend, Fort Greene on Saturdays and Brooklyn Bridge on Sundays. Besides the usual wares you would find at any flea market (old paintings and books, antique chairs and suitcases, tinted glasses), Brooklyn Flea is known for hosting some of the best food stands around.

On my Sunday Brooklyn Bridge visit recently, I cured my lunchtime hunger shakes first with the infamous Red Hook Lobster Pound lobster roll. There were two types: hot butter sauteed lobster with scallions (Connecticut Roll) and a cold lobster salad also with scallions (Maine Roll). Both were served on a toasted buttered bun. Yeah, lots of butter everywhere and that is a good thing! I took one bite out of the Maine Roll and decided it was the best lobster roll I've had in NY (including the Hamptons) and one of the best ever anywhere (including Cape Cod). The big chunks (and I mean chunks, as it whole claws in tact) of lobster meat was extremely fresh and perfectly seasoned with a light coating of creamy dressing and scallions, not the gobs of mayo + celery most other places have. And the generously buttered bun that was toasted on the skillet...perfection. At $13 a pop it was on the smaller side size wise, but definitely worth the trip.

Before I even finished the last bite of my lobster roll, I ordered the papusas platter from Soler Dominican, a famous Red Hook ballfield vendor that was a finalist in 2008. Two perfectly grilled papusas which are corn based flat bread tortillas stuffed with the filling of your choice: beef, chicken, cheese, vegetables or beans. I went with one chicken and one cheese, both had great flavors and reminded me of a thicker, more satisfying quesadilla. The pickled cabbage as a side added a great tangy taste and crunchy texture and the tomato sauce + sour cream and jalapenos gave it some punch. I am now resolved to check out all the Red Hook vendors before the summer is over.

Not deterred by my already full stomach, I then went for a Chonchos fish taco. The taco had a very large piece of cod, perfectly deep fried fresh on the spot with red onions, guacamole, red cabbage and creamy sauce with some salsa verde. I could have used a bit more sauce, a bit of salt and a little less batter, but the fish was very fresh and flaky. Certainly no match for the fish tacos of the West Coast but a good contender for best fish tacos on the East Coast. Quite pricey at $5 a pop but I guess that's NYC for ya.

Finally, dessert. I've read a lot about People's Pops, a greenmarket hand made popsicle stand that features creative flavors like Blueberry/Roasted Apricot and Watermelon Basil as well as shaved ice (literally hand shaved on the spot). My choice: Cantaloupe Tarragon. It was a great tasty treat for a full stomach...not too heavy, but refreshing and oddly thirst quencing at the same time. The flecks of tarragon are visible in the popsicle and went surprisingly well with the fragrant sweetness of the cantaloupe. I need to figure out how and when to try all the other flavors now...maybe they will deliver in bulk?

There were other food vendors there that I wanted to try but had no stomach room for including Moto Pizza and Blue Marble Ice Cream. Next time: Fort Greene and I'm bringing a friend to share the meals with so we can try more varieties.

The best part about the Brooklyn Bridge Flea on Sundays is that on a nice day like today, you can walk off all the calories you ate and get back to the Manhattan side via the Brooklyn Bridge walkway. Check out the views of the southern tip of the island and read about the trials and tribulations of those who built this landmark. These are the things that make NYC great: food and cultural adventures combined into one!

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