Honeybee Baby and Mom at the Honey Festival Photo By Bonnie Hulkower
With Rosh Hashana just a few days ago, I am still remembering the taste of honey drenched apples and challah. There have been plenty of apples and honeys all over NYC in the past month, with festivals to honor each. On September 18th, there was the first-ever NYC Honey Festival on the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach and on September 19th there was the annual NYC Apple Day, celebrated in the historic Lower East Side.
Brooklyn Grange's Table at the Honey Festival Photo by Bonnie Hulkower
The NYC Honey Festival, the first honey festival in New York City, was the brainchild of Brooklyn Grange's beekeeper, Chase Emmons. Until 18 months ago, beekeeping was illegal in New York City, so when the beekeepers used to meet they would convene in their beekeeper attire (white body suits) in part to keep their identities safe.
NYC Honey Fest was held in an unlikely locale, the trendy Rockaway Beach Club. The Rockaway Beach Club Concessions is a collective market venue that brings unusual food and snack to the boardwalk, for example, gluten-free baked goods and Thai food. David Selig and his business partner took over the 1940's beachside bunkers this past spring. David is an avid beekeeper, who gained notoriety with his maraschino flavored honey last winter.
NYC Honey Fest wasn't the Indian summer day at the beach that the organizers had hoped for, but the cool autumn temperatures only made the honey more enticing. Also, most of the honey sold out by noon, so it is hard to imagine what would have happened if the subways were working properly and it was a sunny day. Some highlights:
Arts and Kids
Bee Mural Photo by Bonnie Hulkower
Adults and kids dressed up as bees, had their faces and nails painted and some made a painting with the Rockaway Arts Alliance.
Tees and Tea
Bushwick silkscreener screening tees Photo by Bonnie Hulkower
There was more DIY art on the boardwalk with Bushwick Print Lab silkscreening tees and tote bags with honey bears, honey combs and honey bees until they ran out of paint. There was also Honeydrop tea to drink.
Beer and Pickles
Beegirl Showing Off Sixpoint's Honey Beer Photo by Bonnie Hulkower
Horman's Best Pickles had a line for their honey mustard pickles. While Sixpoint brewery had a honey brewed beer that they completely sold out of.
Long Island Beekeepers Table at the Honey Festival Photo by Bonnie Hulkower
The Long Island Beekeepers Club had a crowd surrounding their bee hive as they showed attendees how to maintain a hive. Beekeepers Ralph Gaeta of Astoria, and David Selig demonstrated how to extract honey from a hive.
At the end of the festival there was a crowd-sourced honey contest for the best honey. First prize went to Kathy Rohde from Schoharie Valley Apiaries and second prize went to Ralph Gaeta from Ralph & Billie's Honey. I left the festival grateful that it wasn't better attended, since I was able to score a jar of Ralph's honey. Ralph's honey is delicious on challah.
NYC Apple Day
Apple Girl at NYC Apple Day Photo via LESBID
Apples Day was held the following day. NYC Apple Day celebrated its 4th year as a unique street festival of all things apple related in the Big Apple. Apple Day was sponsored by the Lower East Side Business Improvement District (LES BID) and held on Orchard Street where an orchard once grew. In the 1700s, the LES was home to an apple orchard owned by a French farmer with the surname of De Lancey. NYC Apple Day celebrated the historic and ethnically diverse spirit of the neighborhood.
Apples and more apples
There were plenty of apple varieties with many apples from upstate farms. Many of the LES's culinary venues had booths and were selling food with apples incorporated into their dishes. Georgia's Eastside BBQ had Applewood Smoked BBQ Sandwiches and Café Katja had German inspired creations.
Arts and Crafts
The Mark Miller Gallery had an interactive art table for kids.
How many apples can you eat?
This year's Apple Day held for the first time an Apple Day National Apple Pie Eating Championship. Although it didn't appeal to me, the eating contest was a brilliant idea as it proved very popular with eleven contestants and many more onlookers. To encourage local involvement, there was even an award of $100 to the LES resident who placed the highest.
I didn't gorge myself on apple pie, but I did come home with a bag of Macoun and Cortland apples. I served the apples on Rosh Hashana with my jar of Ralph's honey; delicious, but not Red Delicious!
More on NYC Honey
Urban Beekeepers Fight to Lift Bee Ban in New York City
The Red Bees of Brooklyn, and a Search for a Solution
More on NYC apples
"Green" Apple Day & Go Green Lower East Side This Sunday in the Big Apple
Amazing Newtown Pippin Apple, New York's Heirloom Hero (Video)