As I mentioned in the posting about judging my first food contest at the LIC Flea, deciding on the best anything was next to impossible because EVERYTHING WAS DELICIOUS!
So I wanted to show you some of the other wonderful food I tasted that day. At food markets, you simply need to toss out any notion of order (savory then sweet) and just head for the line that is shortest at the moment. Odds are that whatever it is will be scrumptious and memorable.
General Tso’Boy Po’ Boy Chicken Sandwich: Served on a soft role and covered in a delicious sauce, this crispy fried chicken thigh sandwich with an Asian twist is surprisingly light and delightfully crunchy.
Bill’s Balls: Food in the shape of balls! It’s a trend I’m writing about soon. Bill’s Balls makes amazing savory meatballs, and they recently launched a vegetarian eggplant ball. The Upstate is a Buffalo chicken ball with a blue cheese sauce. It is perfect.
An Artistic Taste: Maybe the most unusual and unique thing for me at the LIC Flea was this plate from An Artistic Taste: Brussels sprouts with mission figs, halved grapes and walnuts with a dollop of mint fig. It was a sweet and savory delight.
Iced Tea Shaved Ice from Ice Riders: As a tea lover, their sweetened iced tea shaved ice is absolute heaven for me, especially on a hot day, and especially while dining on meatballs and fried chicken. And by the way, in our fair city, it is “shaved ice,” contrary to popular belief that “shave ice” is the only correct term. Try all their other flavors too. And watch how they make it!
Tea ‘n Milk: As I said above, I drink hot tea and iced tea almost exclusively. Tea ‘n Milk creates a wonderfully creative array of teas, including bubble tea, tea with milk, apple green tea with chia seeds, and the one I tried, which was a light hibiscus peach tea with fresh peach slices in it. In wintertime, they serve lovely hot teas too.
Café Patoro’s Pão de Queijo: Pão de Queijo is a small ball of dough, generally flavored with cheese. These bite sized snacks are typical of Brazilian fare, and Café Patoro puts a lovely spin on them with additional flavorings, including these ones with sundried tomato or olives. They are perfect for popping in your mouth as you stroll through the market.
Industria Argentina: Moving on through South America, two sisters from Argentina will serve you the tenderest, most succulent grilled meats and sausages, topped with chimichurri sauce. Argentinians know their way around a piece of beef.
Butcher Bar: It has been a brisket filled summer for me, especially during my recent visit to San Antonio. But this brisket was something special. The care and concentration that goes into creating it is astonishing. And the result melts in your mouth. It is cooked right on site at the market and sliced for you on a huge wooden block.
Coney Shack: You may know that I am a fish taco fiend. Ever since my mom moved to San Diego, I’ve loved them. I’d have them every day when I visited her and my sister there. And now I’ve found Coney Shack, creators of plump, luscious fish tacos, savory braised beef tacos and cheesy yucca tater tots. You can find them at the LIC Flea and at their regular address on West 8th in Coney Island, right near the Aquarium.
Kings Kolaches: I’ve heard of Kolaches, but I don’t think I’ve ever had them. Unless it was in Texas with my dad when I was a kid. Anyhoo, they are semi-sweet dough balls from Texas, of Czech origin, filled with delicious savory and sweet concoctions. I tried the black bean one, which is a lovely snack. The Nutella Banana is next on my list!
Jam Jar Bakery Pies: Pie in a jar! These individual sized pies come to you in a pretty glass jam jar. Don’t hesitate to pop it open and have a sweet, mouthwatering bite. I had the Monkey Madness, “layered with a short bread crust with toffee, candied pecans, topped with a moist layer of banana cake soaked in a light Amaretto syrup.” Yeah, it’s rich. This one jar covered two of us for two days. You can re-seal it and keep it in your fridge. The packaging is beautiful too!
Old Fashioned Donuts: I have to wrap it up with this apple filled donut. It looks fairly unassuming, but I have to tell you that it was soft yet substantial, and the apple filling was just sweet enough. I was so stuffed from all the other tastings, and yet this entire donut charmed itself into my belly.
There are still more delicious treats to discover in Queens at the LIC Flea & Food Market (Saturdays) and the Astoria Flea & Food Market (Sundays). And these vendors had many other dishes and treats on their menus too.
The fact is that I did almost explode by the end of the competition. So I really can’t offer any advice other than bringing a friend or three along to share everything with you. That way, you’ll all get to try lots more things and all be uncomfortable together on the subway ride home.
As I said, the food vendors participating in the LIC Flea’s Favorite Food Competition really were all winners in my book. And in my stomach. And I blame them all for making me have to loosen by belt by a notch. OK, two notches. (Totally worth it.)
~Karen Seiger, Markets of New York City