Grocery shopping in Manhattan is painful. It’s all about geography. I love Fairway, don’t get me wrong, but it’s up in Harlem, which makes it a long bike ride and I can’t buy the super saver pack of toilet paper because there is no way it will fit on my bike.
Of course I have other options. The very nearby Gourmet Garage is so staggeringly overpriced that I don’t understand why anyone goes there...except there is nothing else in the ‘hood’. Today’s special: $7.99 for one of those plastic clamshells of Driscoll strawberries. You thought I was kidding? I’m not.
There is the wacky Essex Street Market and a giant Whole Foods, but they also involve the bike, and blogging doesn’t exactly pay well enough to make Whole Foods my go-to grocery store.
Besides, there is something off-putting about a place that is just soooo wholesome, and organic and sustainable, and PC and, and, and.... I confess, I’m not a Food Saint and it’s all so seriously sanctimonious that it makes me want to eat a can of Pringles right now.
But, I had to break down and buy some food. All I had in the fridge was a lone bottle of Bud that my nephew had left there over the summer, and Budweiser just doesn’t work as a coffee substitute in the morning. Maybe for some of us...
I decided to head over to Chinatown where there is a slightly scary Chinese grocery store. It’s cleaner than it used to be and I think it’s now called Hong Kong Market. The name changes every once in awhile, probably when the tax audit man comes around. It’s a little scary because you’ve got butchers whacking away at various animal parts, crazy dried stuff hanging over the frozen food section, and you can’t ask anyone a question because no one speaks a word of English.
As I’m walking down Mott St., checking out the vegetable stalls to see what looks good, there is a spiffy looking new storefront, aptly called: “New York Mart”. It looks intriguing, so in the name of neighborhood research, I wander in.
Right at the entrance, there are two very long rows of open freezer cases with the usual Chinese dumpling suspects. Nice, but not earth shaking. It does however have the wildest video security screen I’ve ever seen. Are you going to tell me that anyone can spot a bad guy on this screen?
When I get to the end of the freezer aisle, I realize the place has a whole other wing. I pass the very intriguing pots and pan section on my way into the hot prepared roasted meats area take-out area. The smell is amazing and I’m breaking rule no 1 of grocery shopping: never go shopping when you are hungry.
This opens up into to a massive fresh produce section, which is bordered by the enormous fresh meat selection and fresh fish area. They actually have live fresh shrimp, which are only in season for a short few weeks and are so, so delicious. Score!
Holy moley...I realize I have a real neighborhood grocery store! There is even a respectable looking bakery department.
No cheese section, but that’s OK.
There is nothing coy about calling this a place of “Whole Food”; if you want head, feet, tongue, tail...name your animal and the whole beast will be there.
The bad news: I still can’t ask anyone a question. I have got to learn Mandarin one of these days.
The good news: I once again give thanks to the Goddess Serendipity because grocery shopping just got a little less painful.
New York Mart, 128 Mott St.