New York gets really crowded on the weekends. I guess that's to be expected - tourist roll in, and the teens and young adults from the surrounding areas flock to the trendy bars and restaurants. As a result, I have decided that I'm best served by doing all my schoolwork on the weekend, and having my free time during the week. Thus I avoid crowds and long lines when I visit the cool places. Really, it's a genius plan. I just need one or two other people to convert to it, since at the moment I do all my cool week activities alone, and have to disrupt my work on the weekends to socialize.
On Saturday I finally went to the markets that I've been meaning to go to - Union Square Greenmarket and the Chelsea Market. The Union Square Greenmarket is a farmer's market that takes place four times a week in nearby Union Square - famous as one of the best in the country. It was pretty impressive (Saturday is the biggest day), but I think in the future I'll go during the week when it's less crowded (See how I think?).
We have a farmer's market - one I'm quite fond of - in Charleston, so maybe that kept me from being too giddy about the Union Square experience. But we don't have anything like the Chelsea Market: a permanent market in the old Nabisco factory where the Oreo was invented. Parts of it still feel and look an awful lot like an old factory, and other bits have the flavor of a high end mall sneaking in. There's a shop run by a local dairy where you can get your milk, eggs, etc or buy a milkshake made with their farm fresh milk and ice cream. There's an Italian market where you can get lunch or browse the international meats, cheeses, and other ingredients. There are many bakeries, and several restaurants serving farm fresh food. I bought Spanish goat cheese and plum preserves from the Italian market. This is one of my new favorite places.
That evening I got dinner with my friend Rachel. We decided to head for Little Italy, since she was in the mood for "cheesy comfort food." However, we did not count of the Feast of San Gennaro. The Feast of San Gennaro is an 11-day festival held every year on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. Historically it is rooted in Catholicism and collecting money for the poor. These days it is more focused on free refill pina coladas (and allegations of mafia connections). Yes, we stumbled straight into New York's most popular party that night.
A rare break in the crushing flow of revelers
That's not to say I'm sorry we hit at prime feast time. It was definitely an experience. It was an amped up, bigger better version of everything similar I've seen. (Which is admittedly not much. The Azalea Festival? The Fair?) Sure, there were stands that sold funnel cakes and deep fried Oreos. But there were also massive steaks roasting over open flames and fresh high quality food being fried up in street stands. We got an outdoor table at one of the restaurants (from which the above picture was snapped), and enjoyed watching the waves of people go by as we ate our food.
Sunday I took a lunchtime break from my studies to attend a multicultural potluck lunch with Mario, Ji-Sup, and Dong-hyung Kim. We all contributed food that represented our cultural heritage, so I brought macaroni and cheese and deviled eggs. I felt a little vanilla when those were compared with the South Korean and Philippine dishes. But I guess I didn't need to. Mario, who'd had deviled eggs once before, was thrilled to see them, and raved to Kim about how "exotic" they are. Similar response to the oven baked macaroni and cheese, which was rewarding. Of course, I was much more excited about trying their food. We resolved to do it again as a dinner soon.