One bite of a fried anchovy at Bon Chovie and you'll see why a Saturday at the Smorgasburg flea market is the dining equivalent of a rock concert. Chow.com contributing editor Pervaiz Shallwani filed the following report.
Outdoor flea markets with great artisanal food have become a big part of the summer in New York City. Their buzz and popularity have given them a vibe not the different from outdoor rock concerts.
Most are well-curated, but none are as big as Smorgasburg, along the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn. Here, you can spend an entire Saturday afternoon chowing on dishes that range from ice cream sandwiches to a wonderfully pleasant soupless ramen, and not come close to trying all that’s available.
Smorgasburg is in its second year, and the offerings have improved greatly, with more than 75 food stalls that include established vendors and new additions, whose ideas have caught the eyes of market gatekeepers.
Not everything succeeds, but I found plenty to like.
At Cemitas, order a pork cemita, a Oaxacan crisp bread sandwich jam-packed with 10 layers including tender carnitas, chipotle spread, pickled onions, black beans and cheese.
You’ll also need a Handsome Hanks fried-fish sandwich, mammoth planks of fried-to-order whiting, served with hunks of Texas toast, and a choice of slaw. Go with the earthy and spicy Vietnamese.
Whatever path you take, just don’t skip the fried anchovies from Bon Chovie, a rare find in the city. I like the Jersey, which come whole -- head and all.
The fresh anchovies are breaded, fried until golden and served with homemade pickled sweet peppers and smoked paprika aioli.
The crisp shell gives way to tender meat with a clean taste of the sea. Pair it with a refreshing cranberry limeade that’s perfectly sweetened and filled with fruit, sangria-style.
Eat standing up, or grab a seat in the beer garden, or better yet, eat along the riverfront while taking in views of the Manhattan skyline. And don’t forget to bring a friend or two for maximum eating. Come mid-November the market goes into hibernation.
Smorgasburg is open Saturdays along the Williamsburg waterfront between North 6th and North 7th streets.
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