I had the opportunity to live in Manhattan from 2006-2008. A couple of our clients are based there, so I still get up there about one a month. To true New Yorkers, two years makes you a visitor, but I approached my “stay” a little differently than most “visitors”. Determined to learn my way around the city like a native, I explored neighborhood by neighborhood and street by street. At our trade shows, I sought out our New York exhibitors and played the “do you know” game. I’m proud to say that I was able to go toe-to-toe with most of them, and sometimes even stumped them.
New York is full of paradoxes. My favorite barista at 9th Street Espresso (yes, I did sometimes travel 30 minutes by subway just to have coffee there), was getting her PhD in Linguistics at Columbia. The disheveled woman I met in the park while walking our dogs was a Broadway actress and (amongst other things) played the Justice of the Peace who married Miranda and Steve in Sex and the City – I watched a rerun to see her in performance mode. My doorman, Bob, is one of the most well-read people I’ve ever met, and always had an obscure historical fact for me.
Everyone in New York seems to have a story. It’s also on the cutting edge for producing artisanal homemade products, and many of these products got started in someone’s tiny apartment kitchen. Today I’m going to share some of my favorite “made in New York City” products. Why send someone a hotel-sourced fruit and cheese display or bottle of wine when there are so many other options?
Liddabit Sweets – the two gals who started this company are French Culinary Institute grads who use locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to produce delicious candies. Personally, I’m a little obsessed with the Beer and Pretzel Caramels and the Apple Cider Caramels, but I’ve never had anything short of amazing. Once you have a handmade candy bar, you’ll never want to impulse purchase at the grocery store again! I love swinging by the Brooklyn Flea on a Saturday or Sunday and picking up a few bags of candies, but you can order online as well. (Watch for their upcoming cookbook – I helped with recipe testing!)
Levain Bakery – it’s all about the cookies! But these aren’t just cookies, these are half pound mounds of warm, gooey goodness. The first time I had one right out of the oven (they only make them in small batches so the chocolate chips are ALWAYS melty), I thought I had died and gone to heaven. For those of you with a sweet tooth, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip is perfect in the evening, and Oatmeal Raisin makes a great breakfast. They ship, and you can also call ahead for larger orders. Cash only!
Anarchy in a Jar – yummy, creative preserves and chutneys. Laena learned jam-making from her mom in upstate New York, but I’m guessing her mom didn’t teach her recipes for Easy Like Sunday Morning Blueberry Preserves(blueberry and maple syrup) or Grapefruit & Smoked Salt Marmalade. She also makes more traditional flavors like Triple Berry Jam. Many of her flavors work with cheeses, others can be used as a glaze for poultry or fish, and some are just awesome on bread.