Smorgasburg DUMBO

Summer may be de facto over, but we're gonna keep on celebrating New York and Brooklyn's bounty until way into the fall. One way to do that is to visit Smorgasburg Williamsburg or the newer (and in some ways better) Smorgasburg DUMBO! We did just that this weekend and found a few gems.

Smorgasburg started out last year as an extension of the Brooklyn Flea, taking place on Saturdays in the summer and fall, in Williamsburg (smörgåsbord + Williamsburg = ?).  This year, Smorgasburg gained a new location in DUMBO in the Tobacco Warehouse on Sundays.  When I heard this, I was wary: why is a food market held in a warehouse.  For tobacco.  But then Alex told me what the Tobacco Warehouse actually is, and I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, we'd been there before during my cousin's wedding to take grungy/artsy photos.  Right under the Brooklyn Bridge, in front of the Carousel, there is an expansive enclosed space.  Essentially, it's a few brick walls that look like a fort, and the whole structure is open on top. In a space that presumably once sold tobacco, there are lots of delectable goodies to be eaten!

We visited on a beautiful Sunday, graced by blue skies and puffy white clouds, and entered a venue of market sights, sounds, and smells.  It was truly exciting.  We looped around the booths to see the offerings. Among the participants were: BITEME mini cheesecakes (sadly, they didn't have the limoncello cheesecake that Alex was jonesing for), Bon Chovie fried anchovies, Porchetta, and Asia Dog (which we had last year and loved).

I had a panko-breaded chicken cutlet sandwich in a pretzel roll with cucumber relish and caramelized onion mustard from Schnitz.  Although the sandwich was a bit over-mustard-ed and the cucumber relish didn't contribute much, I really liked it. The chicken cutlet was fried to order and the panko was dark and crunchy.  The winner in this dish was the pretzel roll, though.  It was hearty enough to withstand the heavy toppings, yet was soft in texture and rich in flavor, very reminiscent of a big New York City soft pretzel (minus the drench in a salt mine). 

Alex wanted to try the teriyaki balls from Mimi and Coco, a vendor specializing in the popular Japanese street food.  In general, teriyaki balls are made of a pancake-like batter poured into a hot plate with many hemispherical grooves.  Then, a tasty morsel of filling is dropped into the batter, and as the plate heats, the batter cooks around it.  The ball-maker uses special implements (a.k.a. chopsticks) to rotate the par-cooked batter balls until they form a nice round shape.  One of the most popular teriyaki ball dishes is takoyaki: bits of octopus filling, topped with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo (KEWPIE!!), and bonito flakes.  Alex, never a fan of octopus, had the day's special filling, hickory smoked ham (actually, Mimi and Coco didn't offer takoyaki, maybe because octopus would be way more expensive and way harder to store out in the sun).  The teriyaki balls were...interesting.  Not bad, not superb.  The batter was quite fluffy, but a little awkward to chew - you couldn't really take a solid bite because the batter was maybe too soft.  I didn't get any ham in my half-ball either, so it was sort of a downer.  Nonetheless, a unique eating experience.

For dessert, Alex craved Kelvin Slush.  The über-long line was indicative of Kelvin's popularity on such a sunny, warm day. A machine cranked out a slush (what else?) in two flavors: citrus or Arnold Palmer (lemonade-iced tea).  Then, you can pick from a variety of fruit syrups like guava, mango, or raspberry.  Our combo was an Arnold Palmer with white peach. My enthusiasm for Kelvin a bit muted because the slushies are extremely sweet.  If not for just a few mouthfuls, I might find the sugar overwhelming and cloying, but as a refreshing treat in such weather and after eating salty fried foods, Kelvin was certainly appropriate.

Finally, I wanted to try some People's Pops shaved ice...only to find their big ol' block of ice had disappeared (melted?). The shaved ice flavors were lemon and watermelon, either of which would have been amazingly thirst-quenching. However, I settled for a pop instead.  The three flavors were: peaches and cream, plum chai, and nectarine chamomile.  I had the nectarine chamomile and was not disappointed!  The orange pop was certainly composed of frozen chunks of nectarine, skin and all.  It was pleasantly sweet, but not cloying.  Interestingly, I didn't get the chamomile flavor until the bottom of the pop, but it was definitely there!  Yum yum!!

Finally, we bought a box of macarons from Vendome Patisserie.  These brightly colored macarons were a littly melty after being in the sun all day, but a quick chill in my fridge afterwards revived them.  I got one of each flavor and of the few that I have had so far, I made a few observations.  First, the bubblegum flavor...was ghastly.  I'm personally not a fan of bubblegum at all, but I picked a bubblegum macaron just for completeness's sake Alex.   However, their champagne & strawberries macaron was fantastic, in fact it was very alcohol-y!  I was amazed that you could impart the taste and feel of alcohol into a macaron, but Vendome has done it!  This morning, I had a passionfruit macaron after breakfast and it was great: sweet, tart, and very yummy.

I think Smorgasburg DUMBO is better than its original in a few ways.  First, the scenery is amazing.  The Brooklyn Bridge is literally overhead (the Tobacco Warehouse is roofless).  The new Brooklyn Bridge Park and Carousel are beautiful, and there are plenty of park benches for resting your weary feet while eating.  In contrast, Smorgasburg Williamsburg is in a large lot with a less scenic view (although still nice - it overlooks the Manhattan skyline).  Second, Smorgasburg DUMBO was sized just right and organized well.  I felt a bit overwhelmed at Smorgasburg Williamsburg because the lot was so big and the booths were seemingly sprawling in every direction.  I can't recommend Smorgasburg DUMBO enough!  Do yourselves a favor, set aside a Lazy Sunday to visit soon before they close in November!