We drove to Washington D.C. and back last weekend. We weren’t even there for the weekend, really. We left at 6am on Friday to attend a wedding that evening (which was really lovely, but also set in a stately, picturesque, and totally un-airconditioned – read 105 degree – church, and the ceremony was not a short one.).
We danced into the night and had the requisite midnight snack of soggy, greasy pizza in slices the sizes of our head (does that happen to you too? I always find I’m starving by the time a wedding is over because I’ve been dancing the last 3-4 hours since dinner), went to sleep, and then dragged ourselves out of bed at 6:30 the next morning again to drive back up to Boston.
We listened to far too much news on the radio, which always winds up making me upset and dour about the state of the world. And we listened to Paul Simon, which made me feel better. And we just generally spent way more time in a car than one should reasonably spend over the course of two days.
The full throttle approach to the road trip was my fault. You see, I had decided that since we were going to be driving through an area ever so vaguely in the general proximity of Brooklyn, we needed to make sure that that happened before 2pm on Saturday because I was going to go to Smorgasburg, come hell or high water.
Very happily, neither hell nor high water came. And to Smorgasburg we merrily went. For those who haven’t been following its inception and growth, Smorgasburg is an outdoor food market being held each Saturday in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, right on the waterfront.
There are many dozens of stands selling handmade, extremely well-made, food ranging from the amped up standard ( think, hot dogs smothered with brisket or with pickled Asian vegetables and pate) to the borderline haute (oysters, marinated vegetables with perfect handmade mozzarella), to the quirky and trendy (sundaes made with blended frozen bananas, stuffed dough balls that are a traditional Japanese street food…).
I am not known for my organizing skills, but let me tell you, when I decided that our road trip was going to detour to Smorgasburg, I started to do some research. I read and pondered and created a detailed list of things I wanted to try.
But, by the time we arrived there I had low blood sugar, my hands were shaking, I was hangry, and there were some lines I was not going to stand in. (New Yorkers seem to be exceptionally well trained at standing in line.)
We bee-lined for the stand toasting up flaky biscuits by the dozen, and Joel and I split a jam-slathered biscuit while waiting to receive our carnitas and avocado cemita (sandwich) from another. We took this out to the crowded, slightly bedraggled lawn and savored it. Carnitas is very fortifying, it seems, and by the time the sandwich was eaten, we felt up to the task of diving in for more.
The second pass through the food stands allowed us to look more closely at all of our options and seek out some of the foods I had been particularly dreaming about (two of which had been the biscuit and the cemita, to be honest). Alas that I have but one stomach. However, it was a job well done. And happily, between Joel and myself, and my younger brother (who also happened to be passing through, headed to Minnesota), and his friend, I tried bites of a porchetta sandwich (slow roasted pig, thou art perfection itself!), nibbles of a thoughtfully brined pickle, a corner off of a plum-tarragon popsicle, and a chunk off of the airiest most ethereal donut (chocolate-lavender glazed) that I have ever encountered. I will be fantasizing about that donut for some time, and I don’t even like donuts. We also walked away with a jar of grapefruit & smoked sea salt jam, and fresh citrus-herb pasta.
Was it worth cramming 17 hours of driving into a 35 hour time frame? I’m not actually going to answer that, except with the words of a mouse from one of my favorite Norwegian children’s books, “what’s done is done and what’s eaten is eaten.” And it was delicious.
But there were some foods I had expected to see that I never found. There was neither fin nor scale to be seen of the fried anchovies. Nor did I turn up the ice cream sandwiches made with stroopwaffles. And, I couldn’t find the stand I had heard about that sells corn schmeared with delicious toppings like chili and cheese. And, now this might be something I imagined, but I swear I read somewhere about corn with smokey peach butter. I had really wanted to try that.
But, why let the lack of schmeared corn at a market stop me from eating it? I decided to give it a whirl at home.
This is really an inordinately simple preparation – just swirl some peach preserves in with good butter and a pinch of flavored salt. But, the flavors come together like something else. The grilled corn gets to carry the day – as something as marvelous as grilled corn should – with its tender kernels, lightly charred, and enough crunch left to make it fun to eat loudly, like in a cartoon. But, the smokey peach butter turns it into something you want to crunch, and lick, and savor with wild abandon. Buttery, sweet, jammy, salty, whoooowheeee. That’s some spread.
Oh, and it also tastes marvelous on a biscuit. (I made Marion Cuningham’s cream biscuits for breakfast this morning, using half ap flour and half sprouted spelt flour. It’s nearly embarrassing that something so easy can taste so crumbly and good. Molly has a recipe for them here.)
Grilled Corn with Smokey Peach Butter (serves 3-6)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 2 tablespoons (generous) really good quality peach preserves
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked sea salt, plus more for sprinkling (you can also use plain sea salt, you just won’t get the smokey flavor)
- 6 ears of corn, shucked
- olive oil
- In a small bowl, stir together the butter, peach preserves, and smoked salt. Taste and add more salt to taste. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it, but take it out a bit early to soften.
- Fire up the grill. Rub each ear of corn with a little bit of oil. Then, grill over high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on the outside and the kernels are just tender, about 12 minutes.
- Serve slathered with smokey peach-butter and sprinkle with additional smoked sea salt, if desired. And, if you really want to make sure the butter gets mixed in well, cut the grilled corn kernels from the cob and mix them with the butter in the bowl.