Supporting Local Food Vendors at the Queens County Market
I admit, I tend to buy bigger brand name food products mainly because of the whole familiarity thing. When I encountered the Queens County Market (QCM), however, I told myself that I should really check it out and learn more about how I can support my local vendors. It’s a win-win situation: I give them business and they provide me with the means to indulge in delicious food! I venture to guess, though, that I am probably benefiting more here than the food vendors!
Last Saturday, my family and I headed over to Sunnyside Community Services to explore some good eats at QCM. This was a great event to check out mainly because it was a one-stop-shop to learn more about local food vendors I probably wouldn’t have known about otherwise. When I researched the list of vendors to be featured, I only recognized one so I didn’t know what to expect.
Queens County Market: A new market is aiming to bring foodies from all over the city to Queens for a taste of hand-crafted, artisanal and ethnic foods made in the borough.
It was a cozy venue (but thankfully indoors as it was hot out that day!) but plenty big enough to comfortably feature the 17 vendors. Friendly smiles and samples galore made it a very pleasant afternoon for us – the kids had a lot of fun introducing themselves to anyone who would listen (and be willing to give them a treat for sampling!)
The one thing that I appreciated learning most was how new some of the companies are – they’ve mainly been in operation for under a year (some have only been in existence a couple months!) Some of the vendors don’t have a storefront or e-commerce set up on their websites yet and some sell only in local food shops. They come to local food markets to “test” the waters and see what sort of response they get. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? And by the taste of it, I wish these local vendors much success.
Chulita’s Famous – All-natural sofritos and spices, easy-to-cook healthy and flavorful foods without the extras like MSG. Chulita’s Famous uses sea salt so her spices and seasonings like Adobo Sabroso are packed full of flavor (and not so much salt like some “bigger name brands” that you can easily buy in stores). That’s how the owner sold me. Oh and all she had to do is open up the jar and have me smell the fragrant Sofrito Verde – you can tell any food you season with this will be good! I was lucky enough to be able to take home some samples so after I’ve experimented, I’ll feature my creations in a separate post!
Cookie Fairy Sweets – My too smart-for-his-own-good 3 year old (R) never ceases to impress me. As we approached Cookie Fairy Sweets, R pulls me close and smacks a big wet kiss on my cheek. I looked at him…he looked at me…then he points. He points right to the cake dish holding a mound of scrumptious looking Whoopie Pies, smiling just like an angel. I relented and puchased a couple for the kids, not only because I wanted to support Cookie Fairy Sweets but because I wanted to teach my kids that I can indeed be bought. With love. Cookie Fairy Sweets features natural and organic sweet treats, currently offering freshly-baked frozen cookies (no preservatives!) Cookie Fairy Sweets is also planning on coming out with gluten-free cookies soon, so definitely check them out! (Note: I previously learned about Cookie Fairy Sweets at Mamas Expo and will feature them in a separate post)
Gustavo’s Salsa – Of course, my kids were drawn to this table because there were chips. Gustavo himself looked at them and warned me that the Spicy Chipotle Salsa is pretty spicy. My kids, determined that “this isn’t spicy for me!” tuned him out and insisted on trying the salsa. My older ones did (5 and 7 yrs old) and begged me to buy some. They loved it (and the spice!) I brought my husband over to try as he loves chips and dips and anything “sauce”, and he approved, as well. My husband commented, Gustavo looked liked he just came out of the kitchen and started selling his salsa in the same mortar bowl he used to make it in – you can’t get fresher than that!
Mel’s Melting Pot – A fuse of the owners’ Filipina and French Canadian hertiages, Mel’s Melting Pot offers homemade condiments and sauces with no preservatives, such as Spicy Fruit Ketchup, Sweet Fruit Ketchup, and Spiced Applesauce with Quince. My husband and kids taste-tested and approved and feel that these products would definitely bring a twist to certain foods when boring traditional ketchup just isn’t enough.
Sabba’s Spicery – I had a lot of fun opening up all the different jars to smell all the spices. I’m not a cook nor do I pretend to be one. My kids can be picky eaters but that’s probably because I don’t offer them enough variety during mealtime! (It’s no wonder why they probably enjoy the food market and all the samples more than me!) Sabba’s Spicery offers spice and herbal blends that are created from the freshest organic fair trade spices and herbs. The fragrant smell of all the spices has led me to believe that I can turn my next meal into something impressive with no effort on my part (except the little exertion needed to open the jar!) I picked up a jar that is made for seafood – this is also on the list of things for me to try cooking so wish me luck!
Unfortunately, I didn’t have an opportunity to meet everyone or sample/purchase from every table. However, you can view the full list of vendors here: http://www.queenscountymarket.com/meetthevendors.
The next Queens County Market will be in June (stay tuned to their website for updates on when and where) and if you’re in the area, I hope you get a chance to check it out. Make sure you go ready to eat! This and other local markets are great ways to check out local vendors who are easy to access and offer delicious, healthy foods. More importantly, you’ll also be able to support those in your own community.
For more information about any of these vendors (recipes, product availability, contact information, etc.), please be sure to visit their websites.