Editor's note: It's time for another dispatch from Serious Eats community member BaHa, aka Barbara Hanson, who checks in now and again about the various one-of-a-kind food stores and markets in New York.
Before I reached the top step of the subway station on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, I knew that I was in the right place. The very air was succulent with pork. The first block I walked held four meat markets, each of which had a variety of sausages swinging from the ceiling.
When I first arrived about a month ago, Manhattan Avenue was seething with people and cars were double-parked. Strollers and shoppers greeted one another in Polish. Many of the stores had lines down the block. I couldn't believe how bustling, how thriving, this little ethnic enclave was. And then, some remnant of my Catholic school past caught up with me; it was Easter week, and Poles from all over the tri-state were hitting Greenpoint to stock up on traditional provisions for the most important day in the Polish religious calendar.
It also meant I couldn't get into a single store. (OK, I scored a bunny-shaped babka at one of the countless bakeries, but that was it.) But post-Easter, I returned on a lazy, warm afternoon and was more than ready to explore a less-crowded neighborhood.
Grandmothers and mothers walked from shop to shop with toddlers in tow. Sturdy little girls pushed miniature baby carriages in front of them. There were rose bushes and swaying trees on the side streets. I had stumbled upon the Land of Lost Content, 11222. Then, swiftly elbowing nostalgia to one side, my stomach rumbled. Shaking myself, I headed to the W-Nassau Meat Market, also known as Kiska, which held more sausage than I've ever seen in one place.
The aroma of smoky pork tickled the insides of my nose. Endless varieties of kielbasa, which simply means "sausage" in Polish, hung behind the counter. I opted for the biala kielbasa, which is fresh, unsmoked, and garlicky. W-Nassau is all about the meat, and they do it spectacularly well. They also carry baked goods and some grocery products, including a cheese called "Edamski."
They don't, however, stock pierogi, which I also need. The woman who wrapped up my sausage directed me across the street to Green Farms Supermarket.
This is what I was looking for! The full nine Polish yards: Polish flour, detergent, beer, soft drinks, cookies, soup mixes, sauerkraut, everything. Not to mention the usual complement of Polish breads, cakes, and sausages, which, at that point, I expected to find on offer in the hardware store on the next block.
When I reached the cash register, I picked up some fruit bread and a box of soup pearls to snack on on the subway ride home. As I headed thither, I noticed that the stores were getting rather crowded; not as crowded as they were during Easter week, but still. A little Google research proved me right: the shoppers were stocking up for the parties that would follow Greenpoint's own Memorial Day parade. Something tells me grilling sausages was a big part of it.
W-Nassau Meat Market
915 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222 (map)
Green Farms Supermarket
918 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222 (map)