Hester Street Fair | Hester & Essex Sts. | Malbon Bros. | Porchetta | Bunnychow | Roni–Sue | Boomtown Baked Goods | Macaron Parlour | Luke's Lobster

AND SO IT continues.... It was only a few years (and a recession-induced nostalgia movement) ago that the food universe started to embrace new trends. First was re-proliferation of comfort food (burgers, pizzas, mac 'n' cheese, fried chicken, then burgers again). Next was the exponential evolution and expansion of street truck/cart food ideology from hot water dogs and gyros to veal weiner schnitzel and Peking duck dumplings.

My visit to the Hester Street Fair earlier today seems to prophesize the next high-minded (if not broad-minded) fanatical foodie fad: finer festival food dining.

I got down to Essex and Hester Streets around none to find a decent-sized crowd already in attendence.

I had wisely skipped lunch, looking forward to enjoying the offerings of the larger-than-expected number of food/beverage booths. First up was the booth from a restaurant called Bunnychow (bunnychowny.com) featuring contemporary South African cuisine. I ordered the lamb bunnychow, that was served on a piece of bread and topped with peach chutney and coconut flakes.

This was absolutely delicious, almost surprisingly so, although I should have remembered how well spicy curry flavors and exotic seasonings go with tender meat and the perfect complement of sweet fruit. Having never heard of this place before, I have already made a note to myself to check out the restaurant firsthand.

Next was an almost newbie as well, never having heard of Malbon Bros. (malbonbrothersbbq.com | Facebook page), yet having read someone's rave of their pulled pork sandwich of the Hester Street Fair Facebook Page. I had to submit and ordered a deliciously, rich, vinegary barbecue sauce highlighting tender strips of pork, topped with a bright, crisp slaw, and panini-pressed into a sturdy bun. (And they kindly asked that I remind you that, contrary to rumor, Malbon Bros. indeed will have their booth at the fair every Saturday and Sunday until December!)

Big and flavorful, this sated me thoroughly, (and went very, very well with the outrageously delicious fennel lemonade from a stand whose name I don't remember) but ultimately highlighted a new problem. How was I going to be able to stay hungry when I was enjoying some great yet filling food?

The answer would come at the next booth I hit (another former stranger) whose table had one of many signs that caught my eye. It included the words "chocolate-covered bacon", and my response to anything food-related that includes bacon is immediately Pavlovian (yes, I'm one of those people!).

The booth was for a company called Roni-Sue (Chocolates) (www.roni-sue.com | Facebook page) and was also selling Bacon-Caramel Popcorn with Spicy Peanuts, Bacon Buttercrunch, and Maple Bacon Lollipops.

I ordered the Bacon-Covered Chocolate and Bacon Popcorn, and when Roni, of Roni-Sue, offered a sizable paper bag to put my new goodies in, I realized that I could order what ever food I wanted, and be able to take it home to enjoy, either later at home or with my coworkers at the restaurant where I work.

Having been told that I had missed the Bacon Marmalade stand by a day, I figured I had more than fulfilled my pork quota for the day, I figured it was time to check out the very enticing dessert stands that were peppered about. Two very attractive ladies sat behind a table of very attractive vegan and organic confections at Boomtown Baked Goods (www.boomtown-bakedgoods.com | Facebook page).

I asked for an assortment of things, including a chocolate and mint macaroon and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Roll, which were all raved about by my waitresses by the time I got back to the restaurant. (I forgot the names of the kind and friendly ladies who were working the stand, but they were worth the visit alone...!)

Knowing the whole time that the stands for Luke's Lobster ["Luke's Is On A Roll"] and Porchetta (www.porchettanyc.com | Facebook page) were present—and having already became longtime fans of them both—I decided I would likewise reward my friends with their signature sandwiches, the making of which I made a brief video of right here.

It was time to leave. I'd pick up a lobster roll, put it in my bag, and give a really nice treat to my fellow staff. But my plans were spoiled by a beautiful display of appetizingly colorful macaroons—including one flavored with maple and BACON! They belonged to culinarily creative Macaron Parlour (on Facebook).

I bought three maple bacon macaroons, which went into my paper bag, atop my Porchetta sandwich and the Boomtown baked goods. Suffering from porcine overload, I was happy to come across the stand for Luke's Lobster (www.lukeslobster.com | Facebook page).

There I would order a lobster roll from the people who, a few months ago, made the best lobster roll I ever had, and bring it back home to the Upper East Side, and have my unwitting comminglers be so impressed with the heady goodness of this indigenous Maine staple that they would look that much more forward to the upcoming opening of Luke's second outpost just a few blocks away.

Alas, that particular joy would have to wait. It was not until I got back uptown and into my restaurant—and had opened my bag to distribute its bounty to the two waitresses, the bartender, and assorted regular customers—that I discovered the horrible absence of lobster roll!

As I fought back figurative fears, the others welcomed the invitation to frenzy feed, making quick work of all macaroons, popcorn, and chocolate-covered bacon. I was able to save a slice for myself, and decided I would only give up one bite of my Porchetta sandwich, since I knew it would be the first thing I'd want to eat once I got hungry again.

Manhattan is rife with street fairs and festivals, and they have been selling the same sausage & peppers, mozzarella & corn cakes, and lemonade for decades. I implore the committees who are responsible for them to follow the lead of the forward thinking people behind the Hester Street Fair (which as well showcases many other cool and creative knickknacks that have nothing to do with food).

That would be more than fair.

Bun Apple Tea!


Hester Street Fair | Hester & Essex Sts. | Malbon Bros. | Porchetta | Bunnychow | Roni–Sue | Boomtown Baked Goods | Macaron Parlour | Luke's Lobster