Fresh Finds: The Best of NYC Greenmarkets
by Alyssa Grossman, 05/01/2012
Photo: Megan Stone
The backstory: The founder of Baker's Bounty, Jim LaPrete, got his start as the owner of a New Jersey pizza parlor. He loved baking for fun and, with enough convincing, finally opened shop in 1978. The process came naturally to Jim and his friends who were accustomed to buying fresh ingredients from farmers and making everything from scratch. "Back then, there weren't any rules for markets in the City," says assistant manager Megan Stone. "Whoever stood at their spot the strongest and longest got the spot." From the beginning, the LaPrete family kept the business going strong, even against the odds. "Jim died suddenly when his daughter Kim was 19 years old," says Stone. "Kim and her now husband took over without missing a single market. Baker's Bounty is a great source of pride for the family."
Prep process: Bakers work in day and night shifts, breaking only on Sundays because the company has no markets the following day. First, scones, muffins and pies are prepared until about 5pm. At 7pm, the bread bakers arrive, taking the final product out of the oven around 3am. The last varieties to finish baking, pumpernickel and multigrain, are typically still warm when they arrive at the market.
One thing you have to buy: "I have to give you one bread and one dessert," says Megan. Her choices? Raisin walnut whole-wheat bread and a classic apple pie.
Favorite moment at the markets: Those who frequent the Greenpoint/McCarren Park market are likely familiar with a man who calls himself the "Wandering Tortoise." "He wears a tan hat and a green turtleneck and rides around on his bike delivering any message," says Stone. "A couple of weeks ago, two girls were sad that their roommate had to work on a Saturday. So they bought our cupcakes with raspberry cream-cheese icing and had the Wandering Tortoise deliver them to her door."
When and where:
Tuesday and Friday (March 13–December 21): City Hall
Tuesday and Thursday: Brooklyn Borough Hall
Wednesday: Union Square
Thursday: Tucker Square
Friday: 97th Street
Saturday: Grand Army Plaza, Fort Greene Park, Greenpoint/McCarren Park, Inwood
Sunday: Tompkins Square