Shop: Brooklyn Flea + Eat: Smorgasburg (Ramen Burger, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ & Dough), New York, USA

So, while we’re visiting New York, we have to actually get out of Manhattan to do two of my favourite things – market trawling and eating! And believe me when I tell you there is absolutely no better place to do both of these things than at Smorgasburg + Brooklyn Flea Market!

 

Brooklyn Indoor Winter Flea Market + Smorgasburg
1000 Dean St (between Classon & Franklin), Brooklyn
http://brooklynflea.com/
http://www.smorgasburg.com/

Ok, so let’s go with the shopping component first – the flea market part. You can read more on the website above, but basically what they’re all about:

Founded in April 2008, Brooklyn Flea has grown into one of New York City’s top attractions, operating flea markets every weekend of the year that feature hundreds of top vendors of furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, as well as a tightly curated selection of jewelry, art, and crafts by local artisans and designers, plus delicious fresh food.

If that doesn’t get you excited to visit, then we’re just not on the same page! Basically, it’s a giant market with both shopping and eating to be done, which is the best of all worlds in my books. In the warmer months, the market is held outdoors, but we visited in the depths of winter which meant that instead of calling it off, they thankfully just move indoors until the snow lets up! As you can see below, it’s in a gorgeously big warehouse-style space, with both antiques/vintage and new handcrafted wares. It’s pure heaven for someone like me, with fantastic bargains to be found if you’re happy to meander around the place for a while and dig around. And don’t think the winter cold stop the crowds migrating across the river for this; by 11:30am, the place was packed, so get in early!

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After a bit of shopping, we were getting hungry, and made our way to the other part of the party; Smorgasburg. Think indoor food hall with a few different stalls to choose from, obligatory long lines of hipsters clambering for delicious food (and yes, we shamelessly joined in!). And you know what? Totally justified – the food here is great, the atmosphere is fantastic, it’s seriously just so much fun! As for what we ate, it was hard to narrow it down, but we went with….

 

The Original Ramen Burger
http://ramenburger.com/

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I don’t care what anyone says – believe the hype. This was amazing. Golden fried noodle buns, juicy beef patty, just enough spring onion and sauce to give it a little kick, it was everything that was promised and more. I want another.

 

Mighty Quinn’s BBQ
http://www.mightyquinnsbbq.com/

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This is serious BBQ. Holy wow. They take good quality meat and treat it simply and respectfully, bringing together traditions and methods from Texas and the Carolinas to create some absolutely mind blowingly good product by barbecuing it the old school way – low and slow. We ordered a serve of brisket (above, centre), burnt ends (top left) and pulled pork (top right). The pork just fell apart as we ate it, and the brisket – I mean, you can see the perfectly rendered fat in that picture, it literally melted in your mouth! And those burnt ends were something else… Oh my GOD I would eat tray after tray of those and never get sick of them!!

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Dough
http://www.doughbrooklyn.com/

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Naturally, you gotta finish on dessert. And everyone raves about Dough. There were SO many incredible looking donuts to choose from but it was the dulce de leche covered in toasted almonds that caught my eye. The dough was somehow both dense AND light at the same time, the glaze was delicious, and plenty of toasted almonds – a truly perfect donut specimen in every way. One of my biggest regrets in New York was not going back for a second one.

Click to add a blog post for Dough on Zomato

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Sunday dreaming… Old Fisherman’s Village Night Market, Koh Samui, Thailand

Old Fisherman’s Village Night Market

Koh Samui, Thailand

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I can’t remember how this came up, but husband and I were reminiscing about some of the best markets we’ve visited on our travels, and this one was close to the top of both our lists. If you find yourself in the very fortunate position of being in Koh Samui on a Friday night, do yourself a HUGE favour and hail a tuk tuk, and ask your driver to take you to the Old Fisherman’s Village Night Market. They won’t need an address, just that name. If you’re staying somewhere along Chaweng Beach like most visitors to Koh Samui do, you’ll find it a pretty quick 10 – 15 minute ride away, in the Bophut area of the island, and it’s the absolute best way to spend a night!

The market is incredible, full of the best street food on the island, which you’ll be wanting to wash down with a freshly mixed cocktail, which you can sip on while you’re shopping for little trinkets and souvenirs. There’s occasionally live music and heaps of little bars and restaurants you can stop at if the heat and crowds get a bit too much to deal with, as well as super easy access to tuk tuks when you’re done and ready to head back to your hotel. Remember to bring cash (notes in smaller denominations will serve you best), comfy walking shoes, and an appetite to try some strange but delicious stuff you might not ordinarily see on the restaurant menus!

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Frenchmen Art Market, New Orleans

Frenchmen Art Market
619 Frenchmen St, New Orleans
http://frenchmenartmarket.com/

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It’s not an enormous market. It’s not world renown. It’s not packed to the proverbial rafters every Saturday morning. But it is an absolute must visit in New Orleans.

The Frenchmen Art Market lives, funnily enough, on Frenchmen Street. It’s only about a 10 minute walk from the heart of the French Quarter, and it opens nights only – Thursday nights through to Mondays, from around 7pm. It is truly an artist’s market, with everything sold there coming from the talented creative local community, and the added bonus of being located in amongst some of the best live music venues any city has to offer.

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Get out of the French Quarter’s main hub for the night, take in a jazz set (d.b.a. and Blue Nile are both great!), and then head over to the Frenchmen Art Market to buy a one of a kind piece to remember your trip by 🙂

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Kensington Market, Toronto

This is one of my favourite photos from our recent trip, and every time I look at it, it makes me smile; I had not just one, but two awesome days wondering around Kensington Market in the snow, and it was one of the best parts of my time in Toronto…

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Husband worked with a guy from Toronto quite a few years ago, and they became really good friends really fast; fortunately, they’ve also stayed in touch, and he was the big reason for our wanting to visit Toronto. We were there over New Years, and before the celebrations started that night, the boys went to watch a hockey game in the afternoon, leaving us ladies to entertain ourselves. As tends to happen when ladies are left to their own devices, we went shopping.

Kensington Market isn’t a market in the traditional sense of the word; rather than a heaps of stalls in a common area, it’s basically just a really cool, very multicultural area of the city. It seemed to pop up in every guide book I picked up on Toronto, and it sounded like a pretty cool place, so I was stoked when our friend’s girlfriend offered to show me around the area while the guys were at the hockey.

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The “market” area is spread out over a few streets, with the majority being food and second hand stores, covering the full gamut from genuine vintage to absolute junk. When you visit, it’s best to go closer to lunch time, as a lot of shops don’t open up particularly early. Also, bring an appetite – there are so many tempting food spots in the area, particularly being so close to China/Korea town!

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You can take the subway to the College stop, or if the weather is friendly and you’re feeling energetic, you can walk from downtown Toronto in around an hour, like husband and I did when we re-visited the area the morning we left. The “Kensington Market” area itself is bordered by Spadina Ave, Dundas St, Bathurst St and College St, not far from Chinatown (read: more good food!).

There are some really great finds if you have the time and patience to look, things like old sports jerseys, second hand leather shoes, hand made hair accessories and new winter coats. It’s a really great way to spend a morning or afternoon in Toronto, even in the cold and the snow – there are plenty of cute little cafes and restaurants to stop at and warm up/re-fuel in between treasure hunting. And the street art is amazing, too!

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Eat here: Eggslut & Tumbras at Grand Central Market, LA

Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway, Los Angeles
http://www.grandcentralmarket.com/

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Another weekend, another opportunity to sit back and relax and brunch in peace. Even more so this weekend, given that it’s a long weekend for Easter! Hooray for extra lazy breakfast days! Wish I was back in LA to enjoy another breaky at the market…

Our arrival into LA was somewhat, well, mental. We flew into LA from Australia, landing at around 7am, went straight to our hotel in Anaheim for a quick shower and change of clothes, and went straight to Disneyland. We had 3 days there. Then we hired a car, after 3 Disney days, to drive from Anaheim to LA. Mental!

Being Aussies, driving on the other side of the road was interesting. So was getting used to the fact that over there, people drive through red lights, legally, if they want to turn right and no one else is coming. Also, husband gets motion sickness, so he drove which left me to navigate. For someone with absolutely no sense of direction, my map reading game is surprisingly strong; what the maps don’t tell you, however, is which areas are safe and which are kinda dodgy. I may have navigated us through some of the dodgier areas. Anyway, we made it to LA with minimal fighting and no real wrong turns. Our hotel room wasn’t gonna be ready for a while (we left first thing in the morning) so we drove straight on to Central Market for breakfast; I’d heard that Egg Slut was amazing, and I wanted it.

 

Egg Slut
http://eggslut.com/

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First stop for “real” food (AKA not Disneyland food). All the hype surrounding this place seemed to come to life when we got there – solid line around the stall (took us around 25 minutes which wasn’t too bad, considering) and a film crew; standard morning at the market!

I felt like a complete tool asking the lady for a “slut” when she asked for my order, but that’s what all the cool kids were getting… As you can see up top, the Slut is a  perfectly coddled egg on top of a smooth potato purée, poached in a glass jar and served with a demi baguette, for USD$9.00. I thought that as pretty pricey when I ordered, but it was a deceptively filling meal and a decent sized baguette. And it was amazing! Seriously, I can’t remember eating a better egg breakfast in recent memory… the potato was so smooth and creamy, the egg yolk was the perfect sauce, even the baguette was perfect!

The other beauty you can see is the bacon, egg and cheese breaky roll. I didn’t eat this, someone else did, but it was so attractive and sat right in front of me at the counter before someone came to whisk it off to it’s rightful owner, I thought it needed to be documented as well.

Truly delicious breakfast, fantastic service, wish we’d been able to go again!
Eggslut on Urbanspoon

 

 

After breakfast stop number one, which I really didn’t share much of, husband took a turn to pick the next stop – tacos.

Tacos Tumbras a Tomas
http://www.grandcentralmarket.com/vendors/36/tacos-tumbras-a-tomas

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We noticed this place on the way in and figured it must have been amazing because the line was long, but moved quickly, and we couldn’t overhear anyone speaking anything but Spanish. We got a pork and a beef taco,  for all of a few dollars, and they were magic. Super soft meat and a LOT of it, unbelievably tasty, extra soft tortillas which they doubled up on (thankfully), quick service, amazing meal. Don’t overlook this place – you really need to try the pork tacos!

 

Tacos Tumbras a Tomás on Urbanspoon

 

As for Grand Central Market itself, it’s a fantastic little market area with the most incredible range of food, both ready to eat and fresh produce to take home. The heavy Hispanic influence is obvious from first entry, reflected in the great selection of meats, fried fruits, exotic spices and the like available. It’s a great place to spend the morning, and as a traveller, I’d have loved accommodation with a kitchen so I could have taken some of the produce home to cook up! Absolutely loved this market 🙂

Dong Xuan Night Market, Hanoi, Vietnam

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Having a bit of a take-me-back moment after flicking through some of the photos I took in Vietnam last July when I visited with my baby sister over the weekend, and talking food & travel at the Zomato blogger meet up last night (more on that later today!). It’s another world, and I mean that in the absolute best possible way…  Anyway, I stopped on the page of the photo book from this particular night in Hanoi, and it made me smile 🙂 There’s not much I love more than a bat-sh#t crazy market in a foreign city, which doesn’t make much sense for an introvert like me. I don’t know, there’s just something about being able to get caught up in the mayhem and lost in the crowd and unfamiliar surroundings that gets me… Markets are the best places to be when you’re in a city you’ve never visited before, because that’s the place to see it at it’s most real.

The Dong Xuan Weekend Night Market in Hanoi is one of those perfect examples. It’s not set up for tourists, it’s set up for the locals. Haphazardly, at best; at the time we were told by our hotel receptionist that the market started, tables and clothing racks were still being casually walked up the main street for set up. It’ll be ready when it’s ready, no sooner. The signs, for the most part were in Vietnamese. Hardly any of the vendors spoke English. If you’re anything like me, good luck buying clothing – this stuff is made for the more slender builds of the Vietnamese, not “big” Western girls like myself; I was able (to my shock) to buy myself a tight fitting dress in America in a size small with still a little room to spare, but an XL shirt didn’t fit me in this Vietnamese market. Go figure…

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When you’re in Hanoi, you want to be getting down to the west end of Hanoi’s old quarter – it’s bordered by Hang Khoai and Cau Dong Streets. Best way to get there is to ask the no doubt helpful and lovely staff at your hotel or hostel for directions, and put on comfy walking shoes! While it’s concentrated on one main street, you’ll also find “stalls” like the one below set up off side streets. We were looking for food, we found taffeta and sparkles. What’d we learn from that? Don’t bother looking down the side streets for food, eat at the street vendors dotted around the market! And remember to grab a fried donut on a stick – they’re amazing, and absolutely everywhere!

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As for the shopping? Super, ridiculously cheap, as you’d expect. Prepare to barter, don’t expect it to be in English. You’ll be using either their calculator or the one on your phone; just establish first whether they’re giving you the price in Vietnamese dong or US dollars. Enjoy the shopping, eating, and generally chaotic market fun!

New Maxwell Street Market & Rubi’s Tacos, Chicago

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Our last day and night in Chicago 😦 I have to say, I’m going to be really sad to leave this city; I’ve really gotten to like it here. This morning we ventured out to find the New Maxwell Street Market, having heard it was a nice way to spend a Sunday morning. We had an initial misadventure, having visited the old market site instead of the new one (it’s been relocated by the city a few times) and eventually found it at 548 W Roosevelt Rd (blue line to Clinton and a short walk!). We’d gone off information that the market is basically 1 part food to 2 parts trash-n-treasure; it was more a 10/90 ratio.

Perhaps it was the very cold temperature (somewhere around the -3 degree Celsius mark), or maybe it was the fact that we’re between Christmas and New Years, but it was super quiet! Held in what looked like an older industrial area, there were maybe two dozen stalls that resembled a giant garage sale, and only 4 food stalls that we could count; we only needed one.

Rumour had it that Rubi’s tacos are the must-eat dish at the market, so that’s what we had for breakfast! We tried the tacos al pastor (pork) and wow they were amazing… Little squeeze of lime, fresh tortillas hand made as you wait, perfect! I can see why the line was so long and people say it’s worth the wait; when a taco place is full to the brim with local Mexicans, you know it’s gonna be good!!

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The market wasn’t worth visiting for the shopping, but was more than worth visiting for the tacos at Rubi’s!!