A visit to New York is not complete without a visit to Fairway Market to stock up on all of those hard to find goodies that I always carry home in my luggage or send in balikbayan boxes. Located at 74th and Broadway, Fairway is the genuine article. Everything about it feels â€œrealâ€ and not one bit contrived. Fruit is stacked up to 8 feet high and I often wonder how the average American at say 5â€™6â€ in height (average between male and female shoppers) can reach the top of the stack! I soon found out as a vertically challenged shopper asked me to reach up there for some fruitâ€¦ New Yorkers come to Fairway to stock up – most leave with the maximum amount of weight they can carry around the block to their apartments. On a recent visit to Fairway, I spied superb unripened green grapes (to make verjuice) which are used in various sauces for meats. There were also cherries, stone fruits, a dozen different apples, melons, berries, etc. The vegetable section was bursting with produce and the turnover was still impressive despite the opening of the Whole Foods Market just a half-mile down the road at the Time Warner Center.
My first stop just inside the doors was at the nuts and legumes selection on a set of stainless steel shelves. I picked up several packages of my favorite French green Puy lentils (much smaller and yummier than standard brown lentils), a package of pine nuts, peeled unsalted macadamias and filberts or hazelnuts with their skins still on. They also had several kinds of almonds, walnuts, beans, couscous, quinoa, etc. I store the nuts in the freezer back in Manila to extend their lifespan. Next to the beans and nuts are the dried fruitsâ€¦ plastic containers filled with dried figs, apricots, pears, nectarines, cranberries, currants and sultanas rapidly began to fill up my cart. A quick stop at the Cheese section for a whiff of cow, sheep and goat curds then off to the olive section that had at least 15 kinds of olives to be purchased by the pound.
Fairway has greatly expanded its olive oil and vinegar sections and there are both extremely expensive and rare finds to just good everyday extra virgin olive oils and the like. Next to the oil section are terrific bottled tunas (European origins, not the Bumble Bee variety), anchovies, sardines, pickles, etc. Next, dozens and dozens of different spices under their own house brand. I picked up vials of whole vanilla bean, bottles of Tellicherry peppercorns (for some reason these work really well with our pepper mills and they taste great), poppy seeds, grainy mustard, cornichons, etc.
Finally, the store has reasonable selection of jams, teas, coffees, chocolates, and other more mundane groceries. There is absolutely no “fluff” at this store, and the prices are generally very good by city standards. The store is large but the number of people coursing through it is denser than at most other food stores in the city. They have “barkers” near the check-out counters at peak periods that scream at you to direct you to the next cashier; they also make sure people with carts don’t get on the express lanes… My shopping bags are always groaning after a visit to Fairway!