I spent a little while this afternoon at the New York Unfancy Food Show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A direct response to the Fancy Food Show taking place at the Javits Center today through Tuesday, the Unfancy Food Show featured local artisanal cheese, pickles, grass-fed beef, honey (from South Bronx bees), coffee and tea.
I wasn't sure what to expect from the premier event. What I found was a pleasant bar, situated in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, whose backyard held an assortment of tables. For a suggested $5 donation, attendees could sample the goods. There weren't quite enough vendors for a grazer to make a meal of it without being kind of obviously rude, and I was too hungry to trust myself to get a beer and still retain enough self-control to hang onto any of the cash I have allotted for the week, so I stayed for less than an hour. That was time enough to learn that there really is a huge flavor difference between grass-fed and corn-fed beef; that honey harvested at different seasons will be quite different in color and flavor; that bees have a range of three miles and the bees of Bronx Bee Honey include the Botanical Gardens in their territory; that you sure can pickle a lot of different vegetables and have them taste good; and that if I had consulted only my own appetite I would have eaten an outrageous share of the cheese that was available to sample. Conscience prevailed; other attendees were in luck.
I do hope this is the first in a yearly series, or even two or three times a year, and that they can sign on more vendors. I also hope other cities can follow this example; it's really fun to find out what kinds of local, natural foods you can find in the local farmer's markets, shops and restaurants.