Brooklyn Flea enters its fifth year this weekend, fresh off being named one of the world’s best markets by Fodor’s, being featured on the Cooking Channel’s “Unique Eats,” and with more than 400 vendors set to sell at three weekly markets: The Flea in Fort Greene (Saturdays) and Williamsburg (Sundays) and the Smorgasburg food market (Saturdays in Williamsburg). Attracting approximately 5,000 people to each market, the Flea and Smorgasburg have emerged as one of Brooklyn and New York City’s top weekly shopping, tourist, and family destinations.
Starting April 21, Smorgasburg teams up with The Brooklyn Kitchen cookware store and cooking school, which will curate a monthly series of food-related events and demonstrations. (Brooklyn Kitchen business partner Meat Hook is a food vendor at the market.) The first event, Smorg vs. Smorg, offers attendees the chance to vote on vendors’ best bites, which will also be submitted to a panel of culinary judges. Winners in sweet, savory, packaged and “wildcard” categories will be awarded kitchen equipment and free Brooklyn Kitchen cooking classes. Future events include: Cinco de Mayo (May 5); a Daisy Flour Pie Contest, open to vendors and the public (June 9); a National Ice Cream Day showcase for local frozen-dessert makers of all kinds (July 21); a live knife-forging demonstration by Kikuichi’s Master Craftsmen from Sakai City, Japan (August 18); a Smorgasburg Harvest County Fair (Sept. 29); and a pumpkin-carving contest (Oct. 20).
In late May or June, SmorgasBar will make its debut, providing a platform for Brooklyn’s burgeoning community of beer, wine, and spirits producers. Pending State Liquor Authority approval, the bar will feature Brooklyn Brewery, Kelso, and Sixpoint beers; Brooklyn Winery wines; and Breuckelen Distilling Co., Kings County Distillery, and New York Distilling Company spirits inside a restricted area at the center of Smorgasburg. Special and small-batch varieties will be served regularly, and other local and regional producers will also make appearances.
Having generated approximately 55 tons of solid waste in 2011, over the winter the Flea created an ambitious new garbage plan to drastically reduce its landfill waste, increase recycling, and launch composting. Starting this weekend, every food vendor will transition to using 100% recyclable or compostable serving items (plates, cups, forks, etc.), and to composting all relevant food waste. New public waste stations with clear signage will also debut at both locations. In addition, at the end of every market day vendors will collectively donate surplus food to the soup kitchen/food pantry at Greenpoint Reformed Church.
The Flea continues to attract the best restaurants/chefs, antique dealers, and handmade artists from across the city and region. New vendors making their debut in April include: Takumi Taco, Derek Kaye and Bond St. chef Marc Spitzer’s Japanese fusion–Mexican street food stand; Miss Lily’s jerk shack; former model Mika Soleimanpour’s Rice & Miso, with Japanese rice balls and organic miso soups; Gowanus baker Peter Endriss’ pastries and breads at Runner & Stone; Uttapam & Co., Indian lentil cakes by Roberta’s pizzaiolo Paul Hine; fresh-made chai tea mix by Valdet Demiri alongside dosas by Dino Restaurant owner Thuri Rajamani; Best Summer, a summer-roll stand by former An Choi chef Dennis Ngo, also of Flea booth Lonestar Empire BBQ; Brooklyn-made cutting boards, shelving units, and bike racks by Gowanus Furniture; vintage furniture and housewares from the 1800s to 1960s from Upstate NY’s Quarry Road Vintage; vintage clothing, records, and psychedelic ephemera from Williamsburg’s Grand St. Bakery; and handknit bike-lock covers from Lock Sock.
At this weekend’s Smorgasburg and Williamsburg Flea, the subway band The Connections will make their Flea debut, performing live from Noon to 2:00pm outside the North 6th St. entrance. “Discovered” by Eric Demby of Brooklyn Flea recently on the Broadway-Lafayette platform, guitarist Tyrone Barnett and singer Carl Dennis Foye play gritty, bluesy renditions of classic soul tunes.
The Flea’s partnership with Brooklyn Brewery continues past its original March end-date, as SmorgasBrewery will feature a handful of Flea/Smorgasburg food vendors every Sunday at the Brewery’s Williamsburg Tasting Hall, from Noon to 5pm. Admission is free, beer and food are not.