Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hester Street Fair

On Saturday afternoon I met up with friends at the Hester Street Fair. The open-air market is a new addition to the Lower East Side and is located adjacent to Seward Park at the intersection of Hester and Essex Streets. The brainchild of several Lower East Side residents (including MTV correspondent Suchin Pak), the Hester Street Fair is slated to run every weekend from April through December, opening at 10:00 a.m. and closing at 6:00 p.m. With participating vendors (most will rotate on a weekly basis) selling vintage wares and neighborhood eats, the event has been touted in the press as Manhattan's answer to the Brooklyn Flea.

We arrived in the early afternoon, when the rectangular tree-lined space was crammed with people- many huffing and puffing and pushing their way to check out every table situated in each of the two narrow aisles. The majority seemed confused and agitated by long lines and food merchants that were clearly not prepared for the high demand. We were aware of the buzz surrounding the event, so we knew to anticipate a large crowd before walking through the wrought iron entrance gates. We looked past the congestion as we were happy to spend a sunny day catching up with local foods, handmade jewelry, and vintage goods.

My suggestion to any individual with an aversion to crowds- wait until the novelty of the event dies down. I predict either:
1. Vendors will realize the avid curiosity people have for a novel, well-publicized event and will be better prepared in the coming weekends;
2. The crowds will dissipate once Memorial Day weekend hits and would-be fair-goers want nothing more than to spend the weekend outside of sticky Manhattan.

An Choi is a Vietnamese eatery known for banh mi sandwiches and pho noodles. $4 half baguette sandwiches came with aioli, picked carrots, daikon, cucumber, jalapeño and cilantro

The banh mi nem nuong- grilled pork basil meatballs topped with sriracha for an added kick

The banh mi tau hu- lemongrass tofu with spicy sriracha. In a twist of fate, we were served the last sandwich before sales were suspended while workers ran for reinforcements at the nearby An Choi eatery

Stapled to Broadway East's business card was a packet of seeds and instructions to grow your own green bibb lettuce

Unsweetened iced tea and fennel lemonade (I am generally not a fan of lemonade but this was surprisingly good) from Broadway East

Finding a seat at one of the few crowded picnic benches was out of the question

Allison Kave, founder of First Prize Pies, shared a table with her mother, Rhonda Kave (proprietor of Lower East Side favorite Roni-Sue's Chocolates). Below is a shot of her award-winning bourbon ginger pecan pie

The selection at Alejandro Alcocer's green brown orange (green catering, brown café and orange épicerie)

The last $5 slice of a frittata packed with goat cheese, asparagus and this spring's darling- ramps

Misspellings didn't stop the sale of snow cones

The snow cones were actually snow cups with straws

Kumquat Cupcakery's bite sized dark chocolate cupcakes

The maple bacon and lemon lavender were sold out before we arrived

We stood in line for a lobster roll at Luke's Lobster because the smell wafting from the booth was too good not to indulge

After a 20 minute wait (give or take) $14 bought us a bag of salt and vinegar chips and a toasted roll packed with large chunks of fresh, buttery lobster meat

Mile End is a Jewish deli located on Hoyt Street in Brooklyn

Carved salmon- about to become part of "The Beauty"- a bagel sandwich with salmon, tomato, red onion, and capers

Malbon Bros. Catering had plenty of Pig Pickin Billy's BBQ Sauce, but no pulled pork to pour it on

Pain D'Avignon sold several varieties of fresh baked breads. The cranberry pecan is one of my favorites

A tower of cookies from Sarivole organic bakery shared the table with Roni-Sue's Chocolates

Toogood traders, from Silkstone founder Ben Towill, made its debut at this weekend's Hester Street Fair with veggie packed omelettes and a variety of fresh juices

The Full Monty omelette- eggs, herbs, kale, spinach, asparagus, tomato, avocado, cauliflower, and other add-ons

Sadly, there were no pretzels at Sigmund Pretzelshop when we arrived

We bought the second to last oversized peanut butter chocolate chip cookie studded with pretzels from Sigmund Pretzelshop


  1. That food looks so good.

  2. Sweetheart, did you mean April through December?

  3. You should change your name from "mother" to "grammar police"- I changed it just for you- even though the other way made perfect sense and was grammatically correct!!

  4. I was planning to go on Saturday, but couldn't go. Glad I didn't due to the mob. Lucky it's opened every weekend from now on. Where would you sit to eat the food though?

  5. To thoughtfulplate's comment- There is plenty of open space in Seward Park (the Hester Street Fair is adjacent to Seward Park). I saw a lot of people heading there with their food and ultimately eating on the lawn. We ate while standing and got lucky in that we were able to use empty tables (the vendors with no food left) to rest our sandwiches/drinks.