It may sound awful, but I’m sorry the tourists, tour buses, and food tours have discovered Manhattan’s Chelsea Market. (This food mecca’s tenants are mainly manufacturers or wholesalers who locate their small retail stores/stalls here.) My trips to the Chelsea Market to purchase big cookies from Amy’s Bread, fish from the Lobster Place, or chocolates from Jacques Torres, have to be early in the morning to avoid the crowds. And it’s not just that there a lot of people – there are a lot of camera-toting folks who walk three or four abreast in the narrow curving hallway of the Market and suddenly stop short to snap photos of the Market’s unusual waterfall.
I can understand why the Chelsea Market attracts tourists. I’m sure they’re captivated by the Market’s quirky layout, thrilled that the Food Network is based upstairs, and charmed by the market’s history. The Chelsea Market is part of the complex where The National Biscuit Company’s ovens turned out Oreos, Vanilla Wafers, Fig Newtons, and other goodies.
What I sometimes wonder if why so many “locals” shop there. While Manhattan supermarkets often have somewhat meager offerings, chains such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Fairway, and even Costco (one store in Manhattan!) make sure Manhattanites have plenty of food choices. I’m sure the Market’s proximity to the Highline – the abandoned elevated railroad tracks turned into a very popular urban park – doesn’t hurt.The definition of a market is a concentration of stores. It’s this concentration that attracts shoppers. And the Chelsea Market’s stores are particularly unique. Hankering for cookies and bread from Amy’s Bread? The whole Amy’s Bread “chain” consists of only three locations. Need Italian specialty food products? Buon Italia’s only location is in the Chelsea Market.
I know it’s the unique stores and tasty offerings that draws me to the Chelsea Market, even though the Market is not very convenient to where I live. And that’s probably the attraction for other New Yorkers.
Since this is a dessert-themed blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite sweet treats from the Chelsea Market.
I’m particularly fond of the “White Chocolate Cherry Chunker” cookie from Amy’s Bread. And from Jacques Torres Chocolates, my favorites are the “Love Bug” – a white chocolate square enclosing a key lime filling and the milk chocolate “Coffee Break” bar. To make sure you have enough of a caffeine buzz, this bar combines chocolate with coffee.