Thursday, December 16, 2010
Gifted at Brooklyn Flea
Yesterday, I braved the cold and bone-chilling temperatures to head to the Williamsburgh Bank Building in Brooklyn to check out the Gifted holiday fair at the Brooklyn Flea. Once inside, there were several floors of stalls to visit. What I was looking for were some of the food vendors. My goal was to find some great foodie stocking stuffers to take back to my family in Virginia. I didn't even realize we were doing stocking presents until I got an email from my sister last week.
Off in a side room, I found some of my favorite local food makers. I think I went a bit crazy at the Liddabit Sweets table. There are going to be some sugar-high kids at my parents' house on the 25th, and I'm not talking about the grandkids. I can't reveal all, in the event that my siblings are going to take the time to read this post, but there's popcorn and brittle and lollipops, and candy bars in my goodie bag.
I also managed to make room for a couple of jars from Rick's Picks. If you've read any of my previous post about their products, you can probably guess which ones I bought. I also passed by Schoolhouse Kitchen's table to chat with them and to pick up their absolutely delicious Cherry, Blackberry, Sage, and Clove Spreadable Fruit. What was really great about the day, however, was also that I also got to meet some new vendors and to sample some wonderful new treats. Some of these should definitely make your holiday gift list.
One of the people I talked to for a bit was Jenna of Whimsy & Spice. I knew when I passed by her table that I'd seen the gorgeously-designed and very practical measurement conversion charts previously. She has it in wall format as well as as a tea towel. I was drawn to the beautiful cookies and sweets in various flavor combinations like chocolate and cardamom and pumpkin and ginger. I decided to pick up some Caramel Marshmallows to enjoy in a cup of steamy hot chocolate in an attempt to keep warm this weekend.
I didn't have to look very far to find a hot chocolate mix. Nunu Chocolates, which I'd first seen a the Union Square Holiday Market, was serving hot chocolate "shots" for $2.00 each. I was hoping that a taste of it might warm up my toes. At first sip, I savored the taste of smooth, creamy chocolate with a hint of cinnamon. Then came the kick of chili. This mix is flavored based upon their Mezcal Chili chocolate. They also have various boxes of caramels and other chocolates for sale at their stands.
Another item with which I fell in love was The Brooklyn Salsa Company's line. Made with mostly locally-sourced ingredients, the flavors in these jars are fresh and pack a big punch. Named after New York boroughs, each one has its own personality to match. The Queens would be perfect to have alongside a filet of some whitefish to give it a tropical flare. The Manhattan and Staten Island ones were good as eating salsas, but I could also see them being good to use to make a tray of enchiladas or to dress up huevos rancheros. I picked up a jar of the Bronx which, with its smokey, roasted eggplant and pepper layers, reminded me of Arthur Avenue and shopping in the Italian markets but with more of a kick. The Brooklyn was hot and should be on your list of things to buy for the person who likes spicy things. A seasonal flavor was the Sleepy Hollow, which I wished I know about for Thanksgiving. It would have been perfect to have on hand to finish off the last of that turkey.
The other two food stands that were in the same section were McClure's Pickles and Fine & Raw Chocolate. Having picked up a couple of jars at Rick's Picks, I knew that I didn't have any room for their Bloody Mary Mix. Next time, I'll have to correct that. I did try the Crystals + Sea Salt Chocolate and the Bonbon at Fine & Raw. The later was smooth and rich and almost truffle-like to taste. There was a mild aroma of coconut from the way that they process their chocolate which added to the luxurious mouth-feel of the sample I tried. The box of two was small enough to fit into my goodie bag.
On my way out of the market, a non-food stand caught my eye. I know, hard to believe that my foodie mission could be diverted, but these items are very cute and practical. Map Tote's environmentaly-friendly, locally-made, bags each feature a different city map drawn in a unique and whimsical design. I wish I'd discovered these earlier. They also had wine totes and t-shirts. Some of these might make it into the homes of friends and family. And, in a moment of filial solidarity, I voted that Minneapolis/St. Paul should be the next city designed.
So, if you haven't finished your holiday shopping yet or are just looking for some unique items to have on hand as gifts, I recommend that you get thee to the Flea before Gifted closes on the 23rd. Also, if you need other ideas, check out my original post for food-themed holiday presents for this year. Hope that you find some delicious ones!