Do you like spending a Friday night filled with friendly faces, music and lots of food and drinks? Chances are you do. Ditch the arguing in the group chat on where and when to eat. Do yourself a favor and check out Midnight Market!
Midnight Market is a foodie and nightlife dream. Occurring on the second Friday of every month, Midnight Market provides a changing location and themed night packed with food vendors based from New Jersey and tri-state area with live music and local drinks for all to enjoy.
Two friends, Perla Nieves and Alysis Vasquez have a mutual appreciation towards food, drinks and music. When they noticed the lack of connection for all three, they decided to make a change. These two clever minds created a new nightlife scene. The goal was to make this night affordable, diverse in food options and bring a community together for a single night. With food and drink options ranging from $5-$7, it allows consumers to not “break the bank”. The event included 75% women based/operated organizations as the vendors.
“It’s something that happened organically, and it should be celebrated” – Perla and Alysis.
As we walked through the crowd of food vendors and clientele, we decided to start off the night with a drink at Buchabae. Buchabae is a relatively newer company whose goal is to spread the love of fermented tea, Kombucha! Ran by Michael Wang and Jennifer Hsieh, their idea was to spread awareness on the health benefits of Kombucha and the flavors/styles they make. They wanted to make an easy drinking kombucha that makes you want to take another sip. With a simplistic, yet clean bottle design, their flavors varied from strawberry ginger to deep purple lavender tea made with butterfly pea tea leaves.
After our drink, we needed something with a little bit of alcohol. The two girls decided to team up with 902 Brewing Co., to offer rich, all night beer drinking. What came out was a rich, dry hopped pale ale which offered a clean and refreshing bite. And of course, we had a couple.
After having our palettes suppressed by a drink, we obviously had to get some food. We started with something light, and in our opinion very interesting. Balkan Bites offered a beautifully executed Balkan pie, or Burek. I spoke with Ariana (the owner), who informed me of her aunt Alida who started the company. Originally from Kosovo, her Albanian aunt came to the U.S. 27 years ago. Upon entering the country, she joined Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and became a pastry chef. After the niece and aunt continued to appreciate the Burek pies, they decided to work together.
Years later, Ariana and her aunt Alida, teamed up to make her dream a reality and Balkan Bites was born.
The small individual pies were made with handmade buttery phyllo dough, rolled out paper thin, filled, rolled, folded and rolled once more.
The pies were toasted golden brown with a slight crunch and buttery essence with each bite. They offered a spinach/ricotta and feta cheese, beef and sautéed onions, and a gooey Nutella and ground walnut filled pie.
Once we devoured a few pies, we moved onto another vendor. Eemas Cuisine is strictly a pop-up vendor which offers Hawaiian and Filipino bites. We spoke to Chef Flo about his vision for Eemas Cusine. 2 years ago, he started with just Filipino food, but wanted to update it to a street food style. He offered tempeh katsu (fermented soy bean cake deep fried in traditional style), coconut shrimp with Huli-Huli (traditional Hawaiian BBQ sauce), lumpia (pork belly and shrimp spring roll) and last but not least, spam musubi.
Chef Flo explained how spam is highly used in Hawaiian cuisine. He wanted to transform something basic into something unique. He turned his spam musubi into an Americanized “open-faced” style. The seasoned rice with spam, pineapple teriyaki all wrapped in nori seaweed is a perfect couple bite snack.
The last vendor we ate at was Master Asador ran by Gustavo Barboni. He specializes in authentic Argentinian BBQ. Gustavo explained his process. At roughly 9am, he starts the fire for his meat to cook. Traditionally speaking the style of barbeque is open flamed cookery, meaning the smoke from the wood infuses the meat, as the low fire temperature slowly cooks the meat, for hours and hours. With this style of barbeque, sauce isn’t used. This isn’t your normal Texas BBQ where sweet sauce is used or how Carolina BBQ uses vinegar-based sauces.
“I like to let the meat shine on its own. Minimal spices are used only to help enhance the flavor of the protein,”explains Gustavo. “When it comes to our pork, we only use a base brine of salt water, and occasional spices and after cooking for hours, the result is a well-executed crispy skin and soft flesh.”
After Gustavo told us about why Argentinian BBQ is so important, he let us try some of his slow cooked meats. We ate a slow fire cooked home-made sausage that he made the filling and fills himself, along with a fall apart spare ribs. Both were accompanied with an herbaceous chimichurri to well, brighten it up a touch.
After filling our faces with delicious food, we ended the night watching people dance, talking to locals and enjoying the night. We’d like to thank all the vendors who came to offer their specialties for everyone to enjoy. Sadly, we didn’t get to visit and talk to each of the vendors due to high traffic, but there is a list of each vendor below. Of course, a very special thank you Perla and Alysis for making this night happen and allowing us to be a part of their community. Be sure to check out their next event this fall!
–Nash Reba, @Bestfoodsnj
Thank you again for all the wonderful vendors that attributed to this event. Be sure to check them out below.