Ina Visich and friend, from the North Fork Plant Company. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM
On a recent Friday, a wedding party popped by the market to visit local vendors including Stacey “The Pudding Lady NY” Jean. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM
Squared GF’s Patricia Conforti embraces “The Market Kid” Ava. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM
A quick stop on your way along Route 58 in Riverhead can fill your home with local bounty. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM
Southold sisters Winter and Willow Wilcenski shopped at the market recently. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM
Marilee Foster’s potatoes at a recent East End Food Market. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM
Former manager Vivian Le presented East End Food Market keys to new manager Nicole Petti on April 30. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM
Liz Joyce’s Goat on a Boat Puppet Truck & Mobile Stage is set to perform at East End Food Market later this year. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM
North Fork Chocolate Company Chef Steven Amaral, left, is experimenting with using Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery moonshine in his award-winning chocolates. COURTESY STACYDERMONT.COM
The winter version of the indoor East End Food Market in Riverhead was so popular, it took a team of two people at the door to keep shoppers at the fire code limit of 78 people inside. Beginning in May, the market hours moved — and doubled — to Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. For the warmer months, some of the market’s vendors have moved their tables outdoors. This leaves more room to breathe inside.
East End Food Market is a night market, complete with local wines, cheeses, produce, baked goods, dog treats, handmade soaps, preserves and much more. Plus, local artists are all over the scene — offering everything from live music to a gorgeous array of paintings from the East End Arts Council to the Kids Craft Corner. Every market day includes information tables run by local nonprofits, such as Cornell Cooperative Extension and fair trade purveyor Sobornost for the World.
“We love the space and the location, both of which are ideal for showcasing the vendors representing a fantastic variety of local products,” says Art Ludlow of Mecox Bay Dairy. “We look forward to the market growing its customer base and to introducing more people to our grass-fed beef, heritage pork and artisan raw milk cheeses, all of which come from our farm in Bridgehampton.”
Located at the former Homeside Florist operation at the corner of Routes 25 and 105, the space was overhauled by the East End Food Institute last fall to welcome culturally diverse, local vendors. Each small business has a stall and the facility now includes a public restroom, an automated teller machine a seating area, and a stage. Ample onsite parking has made this farmers market a convenient one to visit.
“The Riverhead market is becoming a year-round destination for people looking for the best local foods and art,” says Ludmilla Benevides. Her local company, Milla’s Puffs, produces artisanal gluten-free cheese bread using tapioca flour, which is traditionally used to make the pao de queijo (cheese buns) in her native Brazil.
Spring Wednesdays naturally got off to a slow start, but have been steadily attracting more visitors and vendors. Wednesdays feel especially “local,” as Riverheaders and North Forkers take in some relaxing shopping midweek. It’s also a day when vendors have more time to chat about their products.
“I especially love connecting with people on Wednesdays,” says market manager Nicole Petti, a Bay Shore native who settled in Wading River earlier this year to run the market. “We can really take our time together. I’m discovering so many hidden talents in people and we plan to showcase them all.
“Keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming events and happenings on Instagram and Facebook,” adds Petti who is searching for a local dance instructor to appear at the market this summer.
Vivian Le, who served as manager of the winter market, has moved to Italy to continue her studies. “My favorite moments at the market were coming early in the morning and seeing it come together,” says Le.
“It’s beautiful seeing the community come alive in the market space — it’s organized in a way that allows inevitable change,” she points out.
Fridays are more in tune with people driving out to second homes on the Twin Forks, loading up for the weekend. Some Friday evenings are approaching the frenzied atmosphere of the winter market — a greeter at the door clicks in patrons on a hand-held counter to ensure the space stays populated at a friendly level.
Last Friday a bus full of wedding goers pulled up at the market. It proved a memorable way to start an East End marriage. And some folks came in following the Southold High School graduation ceremonies, including sisters Winter and Willow Wilcenski.
“The Riverhead market has an amazing vibe,” says Jeanette Candido, owner of the Granola Plant. “So many great vendors under one roof — I’m thrilled to be a part of this market.”
Petti is busy keeping the vendor lineup as fresh as the asparagus. The vendors at the market vary somewhat from Wednesday to Friday, and from week to week. You can find the list of vendors and other details on eastendfood.org.
Petti, who ran successful farmers markets in Austin and Manhattan before taking over the reins in Riverhead, has events and themed weeks in the works. The third week of June is “Dad Week,” with special plans for the dad-types in your life. The “vendor dads” at the market get to “call the tunes” all week — choosing the music being played. And that’s just the beginning. Plans include a woodworking demonstration by James Walsh of Green Door Woodworks.
Also, look for some kids events and, as always, great gifts for dads. What dad wouldn’t love some barbecue sauce to spill on his tie? Maybe some fresh fish to grill. Or how about some smoked fish to savor, or a bottle of moonshine, or a “dad-scented” soap to clean up with, like “Pine Barrens,” or “Sound Avenue Sage?”
“This is fun! I love the fact that my business started from necessity — my daughter’s fragrance allergies — and it has grown into my passion,” says Nikki Andruszkiewicz of Peconic River Soap Company. “Living on the North Fork, I’m surrounded by local ingredients I use in my products. This not only contributes to our local economy but allows me to form collaborations.”
“We all know that New York State is filled with natural resources,” says Catskills Provisions Distillery owner and head distiller Claire Marin. “East End Food Market offers access to an incredible best-in-class of all New York has to offer, from home cooks to chefs, everyone will leave with outstanding ingredients to whip up an amazing meal, to fill their pantry, or to make a delicious cocktail.”
Friday, July 8, will be “Date Night” at East End Food Market. Look for an onsite photographer, flower bar, and — as always — everything needed to fill a picnic basket, including local rosés, fresh oysters and breads from Blue Duck Bakery. Plus, North Fork Chocolate Company’s Chef Steven Amaral will be leading a ticketed chocolate and wine pairing event with Suhru Wines.
“Everybody loves chocolate and wine,” says the James Beard Award nominated chef. “Here we’ll combine them in ways that amplify the enjoyment of both — like finding the right partner in love.”
The fourth week of August will be Wellness Week at the market. In addition to fresh food, look for fresh ideas in wellness, and demonstrations at the market including yoga, breathing, and Reiki exercises.
Liz Joyce’s new Goat on a Boat Puppet Truck & Mobile Stage will be visiting the Riverhead market later this year for a performance. And there will be book-signings with local authors.
“Whichever day you make it to East End Food Market, Wednesday, Friday — or both, you’ll find some of the most amazing growers, artisans and producers on Long Island,” says Petti. You don’t want to miss Under the Tiny Tree with their tiny plants and bonsai trees.”
As the season changes, “you’ll want to stay in the loop with our seafood folks on what’s coming in, and you’ll want to see the market pop with amazing fresh produce options,” Petti points out.
If all this activity makes you feel kind of exhausted, pull up a brightly colored Adirondack chair, sit back, and watch the shopping. In October, this market will return to its Saturday hours.
East End Food Market, 139 Main Road, Riverhead. 631-353-8846, eastendfood.org.
Stacy Dermont is co-author, with Hillary Davis, of The Hamptons Kitchen (W.W. Norton & Co.), a seasonal cookbook, and guide to the East End. You can meet her at the John Jermain Memorial Library on Thursday, July 14. More info on StacyDermont.com.
One fine body…