While I continue my brief albeit productive tenure in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City (I live in Morningside Heights, somewhat reluctantly work on the Upper East Side) I can’t help but further comment on what is definitely one of my three favorite refashionings of a structure in all five boros, the Chelsea Market (also contending are the Highline and Ft Tilden if that counts).
The Market is on the site of part of the old National Biscuit Company (NaBisCo) headquarters (w15th-w16th and 9th-10th aves) and consists of production offices on its upper levels (Google, MLB.tv, NY1, and The Food Network to name a few) and a pedestrian arcade-style shopping complex on the ground level.
The Chelsea Market boasts itself as a community of food artisans and certainly that’s true. While I may not have a vested interest in most the shops I can speak very highly of some.
While people in Hell’s Kitchen trumpet Stiles Farmers Market for its prices and quality (and they’re not wrong to), The Manhattan Fruit Exchange is definitely the best place to get variety and prices without the hassle (save for the lunch and evening rush when the salad bar seems to be a popular stop for people in the building). At the very least I will always check in to see what mushrooms are available. There is nowhere else that i know of that lets chanterelles go for under $40 let alone $20 (latest price $19.75/lb though it has been as low as $12.50). While they don’t compare to Dual Specialty Shop or Kalustyan’s, their selection of grains and spices is certainly nothing to scoff at and now that cash is not the only option it’s very easy for me to spend beyond my limits, but I never feel bad for it.
Kitchen stores are very easy for me to get lost in and the Bowery Kitchen Supply is no exception. Just west of the Fruit Exchange is a Chelsea Market outpost of this store. The Bowery has long been (and still remains somewhat) a source for restaurant supplies and lighting. The knife selection outdoes that of Williams-Sonoma (although lacking any W-S “exclusives”) and smartly camped out just outside the doors is Samurai Sharpening Service. Margery may not seem like an expert by looking at her, but there is nobody I trust more with my knives when the repair is beyond my capacity. She’s there Wednesdays and Saturdays from 12-6 and just recently took a nicked and tipless Shun Ken Onion back from the grave for a mere fraction of what it’s worth.
And goodness gracious, Ninth Street Espresso. The other day I ordered my favourite espresso in New York City (always triple) with my favourite Buzzcocks song playing in the background. Obviously not on ninth street (that one is between Ave B and Ave C. There is also one on 10th bw A and B), this is a no-bullshit coffee shop that offers a minimum number of things and they’re all done well. Cash only. No Internet. Thank goodness.
Every time I go to the Chelsea Market, I wish that the city had the good sense to theme their other projects in a similar way. How much I might enjoy my time wandering places where the grid vanishes such as the Meatpacking District and the South Street Seaport if these places weren’t simply glorified shopping malls. The Pike Street Market in Seattle comes to mind as what could have been for these places, but only the Chelsea Market comes close to approaching.
And hey.. While we’re at it some shameless self-promotion!