When Poland's first free elections were held in 1990, more than 7000 absentee ballots were cast from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint. So it makes sense that cooks wanting authentic kielbasa, pierogi, and sauerkraut flock to this Polish enclave.
The legendary butchers here draw many pork lovers. Our favorite is Steve's Meat Market (104 Nassau Avenue, 718-383-1780), where men in jaunty caps sell slab bacon (often so fresh it's still warm), and several kinds of house-made kielbasa. Or, brave the lines of grandmothers and the language barrier at Kiszka (915 Manhattan Avenue, 718-389-6149), for great prices on pork, veal, and beef.
But man cannot live by meat alone. Green Farms (918 Manhattan Avenue, 718-389-4114) has barrels of locally made sauerkraut and pickles. Along with interesting snack foods, bakers will thrill to see European-style flours, pearl sugar, and cake yeast.
Locals rave about cheap fruit and vegetable stands on Manhattan and Nassau Avenues. At Poland Farm (889 Manhattan Avenue, 718-389-7912), red bell peppers are currently $0.99/lb, and kohlrabi are $1.49 apiece. Rachel's Garden (122 Nassau Avenue, 718-349-9910) may have higher prices, but boasts cleaner floors and a wider variety of groceries. Organic market The Garden (921 Manhattan Avenue, 718-389-6448) is the go-to place for health foods, including seventeen flavors of kombucha.
Preserved fish abounds in Greenpoint, but nothing compares to the Acme warehouse (30 Gem Street, 718-383-8585.) On Fridays from 8-1, get wholesale-priced smoked fish – the same that Acme supplies to gourmet grocers across the city.
NB: Many Greenpoint vendors speak English, and you'll get far with patience and speaking slowly. Write down your order, so as not to butcher tricky pronunciations. Or do as we do, and simply point to what looks most delicious.
This is by Nina, who is up for one of our new writer positions. Welcome Nina!