Month: August, 2007

Englishtown Flea Market

Sunday, August 19th, 2007 | All Things, Family

We hit the road early Sunday for the Englishtown Auction – known more commonly as the Englishtown Flea Market – which without traffic, is just an hour’s drive from the city.

The family-owned and run market dates back to 1929, when the grounds serves as a meeting place for farmers to buy, trade and sell livestock, farm equipment and produce. Englishtown Auction continues to operate year-round, rain or shine, on Saturdays and Sundays. By 9AM, the parking lots were already filling with cars; we opted to pay the $3 premium for a spot in the lot directly across the street from the main entrance.

Englishtown flea market

Forty acres of open-air field were divided along rows with names like “Canal Street,” “Times Square,” and “Fifth Avenue.” The ambience was a mix of tag sale, Jersey Fresh farmers market and one of the less-exciting NYC street fairs with its fried foods — even a BBQ truck! — cotton tube socks, cell phone accessories, rugs and brassieres. Five larger buildings (identified by color: brown, yellow, red, blue and green) housed up to 300 additional merchandise and food vendors, though the booths this morning were only half full.

Englishtown flea market

Englishtown flea market

Englishtown flea market

Englishtown flea market

It all felt very familiar somehow.

A fine change of pace for a Sunday morning, but the fact that this was voted best flea market in New Jersey — 8 years in a row! — made us wonder about the competition. Largest, very likely… but best?

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Back to the buffet

Saturday, August 18th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Family

Oof. How did we end up back here so soon?

Note: “Sushi is meant to be eaten with the rice. There will be an extra charge for leftover sushi rice.” Growing up, I recall sushi being less widely available, and hence, more expensive: all-you-can-eat was an astounding concept, and articles were written about how diners would try to game the system by just eating the pricey fish and hiding their sushi rice in the darnedest places, so as to maximize the value of their buffet tabs: tucked into napkins, slipped into pockets, discreetly dropped onto the floor under the table, hidden under dinner plates. Bathroom attendants at the end of the night would find the wastebaskets overflowing with discarded vinegared rice pellets.

Unethical diners? Somehow, it does not surprise me at all.

Harvest Buffet sushi

Harvest Buffet table

Harvest Buffet table

Harvest Buffet meats

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Looking to the baked goods

Friday, August 17th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Friends

The thing about eating the black and white cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate. And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.

– Jerry Seinfeld, The Dinner Party

Ah, the black and white cookie. Beloved by generations of New Yorkers, this ebony and ivory treat is technically not a cookie, but a flat, thinly frosted drop cake. The icing is half white (vanilla, sometimes spiked with a hint of lemon), half black (dark chocolate) giving the cookie its descriptive name.

It was just the thing to bring to SYB’s “Half and Half”-themed dinner. My back-up would have been black and tans – known as “half and halfs” in the U.K. — but Shandies and possibly Arnold Palmers were already on the menu. Some guests only had to bring themselves.

I picked up my black and whites from a bakery on Columbus Avenue that make a “mini” version — actually, by normal cookie standards: just slightly oversized, as opposed to the standard black and white, which runs 4-6 inches in diameter.

Black and Whites

I’d always thought these cookies were specific to New York City, but according to one upstate New York native at dinner tonight, the black and whites are popular in Utica, where they are known as “half moons.” Uticans know the best place to get them are the Hemstrought Bakery chain of stores, local favorites since the 1920s, and the subject of a feature article that appeared in Saveur in 1999.

The upstate version is similar, but not identical, to its city cousin, made instead with a cookie base of chocolate, spread with double-thick icing—half fudge, half buttercream vanilla. Intriguing! Hemstrought Bakery offers shipping of their most popular item to New York City: $32 for two dozen half moons, as of when I called the shop this morning. Taste-off, anyone?

We’ve read reports of Mother Teresa appearing in a cinnamon bun, or Jesus on a fishstick. If the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich can fetch $28,000 at auction, what price for Buddha in a bundt cake?

Buddha Cake

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