The Brooklyn Flea = love. It’s that simple. It’s two days of warm and fuzzy each week. When I went to the Flea for the first time over a year ago, I had no idea what to expect. Hell, I hadn’t even been to Brooklyn before. And boy was I thrilled with what I found there. Unique pieces of art, delicate handmade jewelry, furniture, and, of course, tons of vintage items – everything from clothes to flatware to sunglasses. But what stood out most to me was the selection of food, both pre-packaged treats as well as items to be eaten right then and there. I walked away from that visit with a beautiful piece of photography, a box of delectable chocolate orange cardamom shortbread cookies from Whimsy & Spice (they’re a must-try), and the desire to go back to the Flea again and again.
Now that I’m living in New York full-time, visiting the Brooklyn Flea has become a regular weekend activity. Since last summer though, the Flea has opened a second location, so now I have a choice between going to the quaint Fort Greene neighborhood on Saturday, or to the indoor Flea near Target in the Williamsburgh Savings Bank (also in Fort Greene) on Sunday. The respective food selection at each is what helps me make that decision. On Saturday, there seems to be more options as to what to eat for lunch, and there are also plenty of savory packaged foods, including buffalo jerky and salsa from the Brooklyn Salsa Company. On Sunday, there are fewer lunch options, but more packaged baked goods and sweets, such as the candy from Liddabit.
For a full list of vendors, check out their vendor list. If you take a look at the portion of the list under the header “Tasty Treats,” you can see just how much selection there is. And let me tell you – not devouring everything in sight and, instead, picking and choosing between them all is nearly impossible. However, being conscious of both my budget and my waistline, I force myself to make these difficult decisions each time I go.
At this point, I have a few favorites at the Flea. I always go around lunchtime, and I make sure I’m especially hungry. My go-to food is The Vinh, a banh mi inspired hotdog from Asiadog. Topped with spicy aioli, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, fresh jalapenos, fresh cilantro sprigs, and pate, this is one incredibly tasty, super flavorful hotdog. The choice between beef, chicken, or vegetable hotdogs and the fact that they lightly grill the bun make these unique dogs even more enjoyable. The Asiadog hotdogs are also some of the most affordable food items at the Flea, coming in around $5.00 each with discounts if more than one is ordered. I’ve been curious about their other varieties of hotdogs, but not curious enough to order something other than The Vinh – it’s just that good.
Another absolute must are the popsicles from People’s Pops. Made with all fresh, locally grown fruits, these are truly grown-up popsicles, though I’m confident that kids will like them (and the shaved ices) too. Some flavors that they’ve had in the past are Rhubarb & Mint, Strawberry Basil, Sweet Plum, Plum & Sour Cherry, Blueberry & Cardamom, Blackberry & Cantaloupe, and Peach Tarragon. Is your mouth watering yet??? My favorite flavor of those that I’ve tried is the Apricot, Cardamom, & Lavender, though I’ve also had this without the cardamom and it was still very good. The popsicles are priced a bit high, coming in at $3.50 each, but you get a fairly large pop in a flavor you won’t find elsewhere. The flavor combinations are very vivid – there’s nothing watery or from concentrate here. And they contain actual pieces of fruit, not just fruit juice. Though I would have liked the cardamom flavor to stand out more in my favorite pop, I was still extremely happy with what I got. It left me feeling very refreshed and tempted to buy another. During this hellishly hot summer, I can’t get my hands on one of these popsicles fast enough upon arriving at the Flea – in fact, I usually stop by the People’s Pops stand first.
Now onto my favorite treats and packaged goods. The dips from Jors d’Oeuvres are interesting, but a bit of a mixed bag. Some are quite delicious and have interesting and well-balanced flavors, such as the spicy black bean and chipotle dip. However, others are a bit blander and some have an overly thick, gritty, paste-like texture.
Kumquat Cupcakery is another good vendor. $1 for a baby cupcake is steep, but they’re pretty darn good (and a bit bigger than those at Baked by Melissa). The Maple Bacon seems to be their most popular, but I found the icing to be a bit too thin, as the maple syrup had partially separated out. Furthermore, not only was there not enough bacon, but also, it wasn’t cut thick enough.
Their red velvet, however, was very yummy. The cake was moist and the frosting was smooth, thick, and the perfect cross between cream cheese and buttercream.
Liddabit Sweets is another fabulous vendor. I highly recommend the beer pretzel caramel. It’s soft and chewy, but not so sticky that it lingers in your teeth. The flavor is the ideal blend of sweet and savory. I love incorporating pretzels and other salty items into desserts, and these pretzels added a nice flavor and texture to the caramel without being overpoweringly salty or overly chunky.
A final favorite are McClure’s Pickles. I love a good, sour pickle, and New York is famous for them – but the people at McClure’s don’t just copy the traditional pickle. Instead, they’ve crafted several new, creative varieties. The spicy pickles have a nice kick of cayenne and habanero without being painful, and the garlic dill pickles are zesty and salty, but they don’t leave you worrying so much about having dragon breath. McClure’s also makes a pretty mean spicy bloody mary mix, but it still isn’t as good as the bloody mary’s I can get back home in New Orleans.
Basically, the moral of the story is this: go to the Brooklyn Flea! Even if nothing I’ve mentioned sounded tasty, you’re bound to find something you’ll love! Just make sure to bring cash.