The new Essex Market has its first flop. The shawarma counter, Samesa, has shut down just five months after the market moved into its new gleaming space as part of the Essex Crossing project. Samesa, a project from the high profile chefs, Max and Eli Sussman, was one of a handful of new ventures joining the Essex Market’s longtime vendors in the new facility.
Some merchants have benefited from the move, attracting new customers. But it’s apparent that some of the same problems that plagued the market for years (namely a dearth of regular customers) have not been solved by relocating into a new space.
The first part of the Market Line, a companion shopping hall below the Essex Market, is expected to open with 30 new food vendors later this month.
Starting this week, The Lo-Down will be doing a weekly check-in with local Essex Market merchants.
I went to visit Roni-Sue of Roni-Sue's Chocolates. She's moved across the way from her old post and has an updated look and more space. I have to admit I hesitated slightly before trying a piece of chocolate-covered bacon, but, I must say it was good. The taste is rich (could be the lard) chocolaty, crunchy, and salty – what's not to like? Apparently people are really taking to the maple and bacon lollipops, as well. She gave me a taste of one her favorites, "Down the Hatch". It's dark chocolate over toffee with green chili. At first you only taste the chocolate but then the chili slowly sneaks up on you in a strangely satisfying way. Yum.
I finally had a seared salmon sandwich on a roll from Rainbo's Fish. It was great and is a steal-of-a-deal at $4.50. They are the same guys that make the delicious home-made muffins at Tra La La Juice Bar. Ron, the co-owner and muffin baker, says his favorite muffin of the moment is Banana-Blueberry.
The folks at Puerto Rico Importing Co. gave me an iced coffee, which they make with their house blend, and said yes, the season has definitely started, even though it's been cool and rainy.
I noticed they are selling small bags of raw sugar labeled "brown sugar" at Essex Farm Groceries, which is also what people are spending a lot of money on these days when it is called Turbanado sugar. Because they buy it in bulk and bag it themselves, they are able to sell the bags for around $1.50, a real steal compared to some similar-sized bags I've seen selling for as much as $6.00.
Cheese monger Ann Saxelbly recommends the new sheep's milk ricotta she just found in Vermont. She says it's rare to find sheep's milk ricotta and she loves the taste. It's somehow more "barnyard-y, in a good way". She is also featuring little buttons of "3 sisters" cow, sheep and goat milk cheese from Nettle Meadow.
Who says nothing good ever came from Twitter? From Roni Sue of Roni Sue's Chocolates in the Essex Market:
roni_sue Sample something sweet today! Pina Colada and Pomegranate truffles, Buttercrunch, and of course Pig Candy on request!
And over at Saxelby Cheesemongers (also in the Essex Market), their blog has some suggestions for summer snacking. Ann Saxelby says leave the oven off, pick up some "luscious, creamy" burrata and toss it with a green salad. Or how about Salvatore Brooklyn's smokey ricotta, which is "hung in a cheesecloth, smoked over cherry wood, and somehow comes out tasting like a toasted marshmallow."
Anne Saxelby, who runs the tiny but inspired cheese shop at the Essex Market, celebrates three years in business tomorrow. To celebrate, Saxelby Cheesmongers is offering a one-day deal. Buy three cheeses and the third one is 30-percent off. You can read more on Anne's blog.