Day 16: Summer Street Fair 1.0 (3rd Ave Festival)
One of my favorite things about summer weekends in the city is being able to walk down the very same streets normally bombarded by bumper to bumper traffic during the week. With summer festivals, entire avenues are closed off to cars, usually from 11-6, so pedestrians have an entire day to enjoy the delicious sights, sounds, and smells from local street vendors. There’s also something refreshing and liberating about strolling down a car-less street. It’s relaxing and comforting, and you don’t have to worry about that cab running you down just to catch a fare. It also affords a different perspective of storefronts and facades - you’re no longer just rushing by them; the distance offers you more time to soak in all the distinctive characteristics of the neighborhood. Your pace slows down, and you begin to see things you might otherwise not have. You also start noticing the people around you, and may very well begin making new friends with them.
While vendors like the Italian Sausage carts, Arepa stands (not to be confused with the Arepa Lady!), and Crepe carts have become staples of these venues, you can also find unique local vendors that sell artisan cheeses, baked goods, and even wine. At the June 16th 3rd Ave. Summer Festival, I found refuge in delicious cookies from Sweet Chef Southern Styles of Harlem. I bought 3 humongous cookies at a mere $1 each, and finished them all in one shot. The triple chocolate chip had pieces of dark and white chocolate chips and was buttery, sweet, and moist with a decent chew factor. The chips were large and fun to nibble on, and the tops had a very thin layer of crisp, almost like a brownie, and the insides were similarly rich.
I sampled the oat chocolate chip next, which had the best chew factor of the bunch. Tiny milk chocolate chips partied along side fresh crunchy oats balanced with soft chewy insides and super crispy bottoms – exactly everything I look for in a proper cookie. My third was a coconut pecan that had a light clean taste and more crumbly texture. Copious amounts of shredded coconut were stuffed inside a sugar cookie and topped with a crunchy pecan. All three were delicious, but my favorite was definitely the oat chocolate chip. Many of you know that I’d gladly eat dessert all day if I could, but it was noon, and I was craving a little salt in my system, so I hovered on over to a Thai stand. I ordered two skewers, chicken and beef, with a plastic wrapped ball of coconut rice.
The chicken was super dry, and if not for the peanut sauce, I’d probably have fed it to the little pigeons stalking me from behind. The beef was tender, and slightly peppery, which I loved so this hit the spot. The coconut rice was sweet and of the sticky variety – glutinous and heavy, but paired with the beef, felt balanced and yummy. There was more food to be had, but I had to save room for the GrubSpot #2 – the Waverly Place Festival by Washington Square Park.