Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chelsea Market

This past weekend, I went to New York City with a couple of friends and then met up with some friends in the city to do a little bit of food tourism. Of course, one of the places that we visited was Chelsea Market. Don't know what Chelsea Market is?

In New York City's Meatpacking District, there is a large warehouse type of structure that was, in the past, a large bakery. Over time is transformed and today it is called the Chelsea Market. Chelsea Market is essentially a large enclosed, upscale food court located between 9th and 10th avenue. Inside the market, are shops including Ronnybrook Dairy (with it's famous milk bar), Lucy's Whey (a cheese shop), Fat Witch Bakery (which specializes in brownies), and Amy's Bread.

I found one of the most interesting places to visit was The Filling Station. Located in the middle of the market, this little shop has different flavors of salt, oil, and vinegar. This might not sound like the most exciting venue, but everything was available for tasting.
I've read many recipes that involve fancy balsamic vinegars and salts and occasionally grapeseed oil or such, and I've never had any idea what flavor these ingredients would impart upon a dish. Until I went to The Filling Station.
With my friends, I tried Himalayan pink salt, black truffle salt, white truffle salt, grapeseed oil, black truffle oil, Blood Orange oil, ginger honey vinegar, champagne vinegar, pomegranate balsamic vinegar, fig balsamic vinegar, and many more. It was quite an experience.
I was so hooked on the black truffle sea salt, I ended up buying a small container for about $10, and my friend fell in love with the Cinnamon Pear balsamic vinegar and ended up purchasing a bottle for herself, also at $10. The prices, we felt, were very reasonable.

While exploring, we also spent a good amount of time in a little shop called Chelsea Market Basket. Besides selling, yes, baskets, this shop also had an extensive collection of candies and chocolates. We were allowed to sample one free chocolate (Leonidas) or caramel each, and following the recommendation of one of the workers behind the counter, we tried the sea salt caramel. It was delicious. I've have salted caramel before, specifically the well known French caramel beurre salé, but this was different. The caramel was sweet, but there were actually crunchy flakes of sea salt within the chewy candy. It was a delicious surprise. We liked it so much, we ended up buying a few to take home. They also had cheese to sample and buy, which my friends enjoyed but I obviously did not partake it. (I don't eat cheese)

Very close to the Chelsea Market Baskets, in a little back corner, we saw L'Arte del Gelato. The flavors looks very good, and so we decided to share a cone with two scoops of gelato. Ultimately that flavors we settled on were Williams Pear and grapefruit. Both were incredibly fragrant and delicious. The pear was full of flavor and was absolutely true to the scent of Williams Pear. The grapefruit was very strong and sour, but it was fullbodied in a way that wasn't (surprisingly) at all overbearing.

On our way out of Chelsea Market, I decided to stop by Jacques Torres's shop for some of his famous hot chocolate. I got the Wicked hot chocolate, which is flavored with cinnamon, sweet ancho and ground chipotle chili peppers. It was thick and dark with a little kick at the end. It wasn't as spicy as I expected it to be, and although I am a lover of dark and bittersweet chocolate, I actually put in a packet of sugar because I felt that the drink wasn't sweet enough. In all honestly, it was probably not worth the ticket price (roughly $3.50), but my opinion may be affected by the fact that I drank the hot chocolate slowly and it became more tepid and lukewarm as time passed.

There are many more shops to explore in Chelsea Market which I didn't even begin to describe, and I do think I will be returning on my next trip into the city. So many great places to explore all packed into one space... What more could you want?

Location: 75 9th Avenue (Between 15th and 16th Streets), New York, NY 10011
By Subway: to 14th Street and 8th Avenue on the A, C, E, or L
Hours: Mon - Sat: 7am to 9pm, Sun: 8am to 7pm

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