This weekend, at their last market of the year, New Amsterdam Market is bringing the fish back to the old Fulton Fish Market. Really good fish, caught locally and sold fresh by the men and women who actually caught them.
As part of a special program called ‘A Gathering of Fisheries,’ the market is bringing eleven regional fishing and seafood companies together in one place, to celebrate the emergence of a host of quality- and sustainability-minded regional seafood ventures, whose success reminds us that:
“a future in which our urban environment is closely connected to the food we take from the sea is once again possible; and that the old Fulton Fish Market can serve as the incubator for this vital economic and cultural development initiative.” – New Amsterdam Market
For close to two centuries, during its tenure at its home alongside the docks of the East River, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, and eventually, the FDR Drive, the Fulton Fish Market was an icon of the brand of teeming, chaotic, commerce that thrived in New York.
In the 19th century fishing boats from local waters and from as far away as Europe sailed their catch to the docks behind the market, where it was bought, sold and distributed into an ever-growing regional supply chain. Eventually trucks replaced the boats, and the market became such a dominant nexus of seafood sales and distribution that fish caught as far away as North Carolina or Maine was often shipped all the way to the market, where it then might well be bought and sold back to distributors who’d ship it right back to retailers or chefs in North Carolina or Maine, miles from where it was originally caught.
The market effectively turned seafood into a commodity. Once caught, fish trafficked through the market passed through multiple tiers of middlemen before it reached the plate, stripping the industry of real transparency and traceability, driving down the price fishermen themselves could get for their catch, and creating a marketplace focused on volume rather than on freshness, quality, and provenance.
When the market moved to the Bronx in 2005, it sucked much of the last remaining bit of authenticity and real New York culture out of the Seaport area, leaving behind a grit-free tourist zone. But a few years later, the New Amsterdam Market stepped in to resuscitate the abandoned space, breathing culture back into the neighborhood by hosting seasonal weekly markets featuring a wide array of local artisanal foods and produce from regional farms.
And the city noticed – The New Amsterdam Market just received a $250,000 grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which they plan to use to turn two of the historic Fulton Fish Market buildings on the waterfront into a permanent public market.
This Sunday (December 18th), will be the last market of the year. The special emphasis on regional fish offers chance to celebrate a new kind of seafood culture – one driven by regional producers focused on quality and sustainability – in the place that served as the industry’s hub for generations. And it’s a boon for those planning their own Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Seafood on hand will include fresh-shucked oysters (Wellfleets, Cape May Salts and more), Maine seaweed, Maine lobsters, wild mussels, Delaware River eel, Catskill trout, Friday’s catch from the Montauk fishing fleet courtesy of Clinton Hill-based Sea to Table, a haul of fresh fish caught in the New York Bight (the triangle of ocean between Montauk, Cape May, and Staten Island) courtesy of Karen Ann Fisheries – one of the last commercial fishing operations based in NYC, as well as the day’s harvest of farmed tilapia and barramundi from a South Bronx aquaponic farm.
Of note to Brooklynites – Clinton Hill-based Sea to Table, Greenpoint-based ACME Smoked Fish, and Mermaid’s Garden – a soon-to-open fish market in Brooklyn – are all participating. Here’s Sunday’s full lineup:
Chef David Pasternack of ESCA Restaurant
offering local fish menus since 2000
featuring a local striped-bass chowder
Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc.
restoring the oyster population in the Delaware Bay
featuring Cape May Salt Oysters
fresh-shucked and to take home
represented by the Watershed Agricultural Council
featuring smoked Delaware River eels and
smoked trout from the Catskills
Holden Seafood and Luke’s Lobster
supporting Maine’s independent fisheries
featuring fresh and cooked lobsters, lobster rolls, and more
Karen Ann Fisheries
one of the last New York City based commercial fisheries
featuring local fish caught in the New York Bight
a sustainable seafood consultancy and soon-to-open retail seafood market in Brooklyn
featuring fish soup and a local fish-based prepared foods
New England Clam Products
a purveyor of premier seafood products from Wellfleet, MA
Wellfleet oysters, clams, and scallops, fresh-shucked and to take home
Sea to Table
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn based business supporting the recovering fisheries in the Gulf of Maine, Montauk, and the Chesapeake Bay
expecting a variety of fresh fish, a detailed list will be posted closer to Dec. 18!
She Sells Seaweed
gathering seaweed from pristine Maine waters
kombu, nori, dulse, and other seaweed
Vertical Integrated Farms
a sustainable urban aquaponics fish farm working with local youth in the South Bronx
featuring “so fresh it’s live!” tilapia and barramundi
a New York City seafood small business developing a sustainable shellfish distributorship
featuring four East Coast oysters, wild and farmed mussels, and more
(oysters fresh-shucked and to take home)
ACME Smoked Fish
Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based family-run New York City business developing relationships with sustainable fisheries
a range of cured fish products, all from Alaskan fisheries
Find all the details about Sunday’s special edition of New Amsterdam Market on their website.