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“Feasting at the Brooklyn Flea”
If you’re a fan of street food, vintage clothes, antique furniture, and young indie designers, you’ve probably heard of the new flea market in Brooklyn, appropriately called, well, Brooklyn Flea. The flea market takes place every Sunday from 10am to 5pm (rain or shine) in a 40,000 square foot cement playground surrounded by chain link fencing out in the back of Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Fort Greene (Lafayette Ave. between Clermont and Vanderbilt Ave).
The Flea features a rotating list of 200 vendors, and while I was impressed with the wares (I found a few vintage Bakelite bowls and casseroles, and a couple of pair of shoes I’d have taken if my foot were just a tad smaller), most of what Craig and I did was eat. We had planned on hitting a new place in our neighborhood for brunch, but instead, we fueled up on coffee and went on empty, looking to get filled up. And we did just that, sharing a buffet from the street vendors on the cement bleachers of the High School yard. I felt like I was an extra in Grease.
In terms of eating, your first stop should be the Martinez Food Vendors of Red Hook, familiar to those who are regulars at the Red Hook Ball fields. The line for huaraches is long, but altogether worth it. But what most people don’t know is that there’s a separate (virtually non-existent) line for their pupusas—sort of like oversized arepas, stuffed with cheese and jalapeno, chicken and cheese, or plain cheese ($2.25 each), and served with a heaping mound of cabbage slaw and pickled vegetables. What you’ll probably see when you arrive is one long line, but that’s the one for huaraches. March straight up to the front of it, on the right and you’ll find a small orange sign that reads “Pupusa Line.” And you’ll see that there’s no wait for those wonderful pupusas, griddled until golden and piping hot and ozzing with bubbly cheese. So get yourself one of those first and then you’ll have something to sate you while you wait in line for your huarache.
While they serve tacos ($3) and quesadillas ($6), they’re made from store bought tortillas. The only tortillas made fresh are used for the huaraches ($6), which are sort of oversized oval tortillas, made fresh on the griddle so they’re almost like Mexican crepes, and then filled with your choice of highly seasoned pulled pork or shredded beef, and fully loaded with toppings like soft tangy queso fresco, fresh salsa, guacamole, and sour cream, and green and red hot sauce to taste. These are delicious—the warm corn tortilla wrapped around the wildly flavorful fillings infuses every bite with the soft sweetness of masa, and the cool sour cream and cheese add the right tang. It’s a full on party in the mouth sort of dish. The only problem is that these are scarfed down in a fraction of the time it takes to wait for them. They’re really gone too fast, so you might want to get two, though they are quite large and you may want to save room for an ear of corn rubbed in cheese and chiles and mayo that’s applied generously, like sunscreen to an arm.
This weekend there were also Cuban sandwiches from Pilar, piled high with pork, cheese, pickles and chiles ($4), and a wide charcoal grill turning out barbecued short ribs ($5.50), sausages ($4), and steak sandwiches ($7.50).
Dessert can be a scoop of Blue Marble organic homemade ice cream or a pie from LaCrosta, an Albany-based pie shop that’s been making their fresh fruit pies for 35 years. Our favorite was the brambleberry, made from a mix of blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and rhubarb, though they don’t sell it by the slice, just by the pie, so you will have to make a commitment. I think you can handle it, but if you’re looking for something a bit more portable, try their Pie Cookies—rounds of flaky pie dough filled with lemon, blueberry, apple, and raspberry, so they’re like little mini pie raviolis that you can eat in a few bites. (Or just one if you really must.) They also make a pie called the Drunken Monkey, which is layered with caramel, pecans, walnuts, and chocolate, topped with Belgian Fudge. This one’s for chocoholics only.
In between eating, you’ll probably find a few things to buy. There’s a really well-edited selection of vintage shoes and tops and dresses, impressive young designers showing off a nice line of dresses and chemises, and a great vendor selling bolts of beautiful colorful vintage and contemporary fabric if you’re a crafty type. How I wish I were.
In the meantime, I’ll be eating pupusas and huaraches while shopping for some vintage finds. I can’t think of a better combination.
For more on Brooklyn Flea visit http://brownstoner.com/brooklynflea/.
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