STOCKTON MARKET: Cosmopolitan Fare for the Country Bon Vivant
The town of Stockton, New Jersey, snuggles against the banks of the Delaware River just north of Lambertville and New Hope, and consists of a few churches, a country school and some lovely houses. Anyone driving through too fast could miss it completely. But while this tiny town is not completely overflowing with as many galleries, antique stores and restaurants as its larger neighbors, it has a jewel of its own: Stockton Market. It’s not what many may think of as a farmer’s market, but it outshines any competitor.
Housed on the ground floor of a building on picturesque Bridge Street, the market originally consisted of a small café and art gallery started by Dawn McBeth. When Cheryl Olsten and her husband Steve Grabowski purchased the building as a commercial real estate investment, Olsten saw the possibilities of expanding the market. They had remodeled the interior to create a brick and wood rustic look that reinforced the theme of country goods and charm.
Upon entering the market, a visitor is immediately struck by the cornucopia of foods and smells that floods the senses.
“The stands are all separate, and the individual vendors are very invested in what they do,” Olsten said. “If they don’t have a certified kitchen, we have one here that they can use. By law, we must have a commercial health certified kitchen on our premises.”
To the right, Blue Moon Acres offers its unique selection of organic greens and produce. Much of their food is produced on a 63-acre farm in Pennington, N.J. and in Buckingham, Pa. Natalie Rockwell is the retail market manager who oversees a fine sampling of products at their stand in Stockton Market.
To the left is Zach & Zoe’s Sweet Bee Farm stand run by Summer Johnson. The Johnson family moved to a Kingwood, N.J., farm and started raising bees to create their honey business. While her husband still commutes to his job in New York City, Johnson home schools their two children, tends to the bees, makes raw honey and is an artist to boot. A large sampling of various flavors of raw honey is on display, and Johnson happily takes the time to tell visitors about each one.
“I just love being here and talking to people,” she smiles.
Next up is the incredible Sciascia Confections, a chocolate lover’s haven. Tom Sciascia offers up his own chocolate delights based on his mother’s family recipes and made from scratch using almost all local ingredients. Sciascia, also an artist, said that he was a graphic designer in New York City, but after 9/11, he felt in would be inappropriate to buy gifts for his clients, so he “got inspired to do something more personal and pulled out my mother’s chocolate recipes to make gifts for them instead.”
The chocolates were such a hit that clients started requesting batches to use as gifts, and Sciascia Confections was born. Yearly trips to Europe, specifically to Paris, have been the inspiration behind many of the incredible candies and, most especially, the wide array of macaroons. Everything Sciascia sells is made in small batches and is gluten-free.
Other vendors include Manny’s all natural meats, Metropolitan Seafood Company, and a patisserie of fresh baked goods. A full list of vendors is available on the market website listed at the end of this article.
The Market Café offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy a dinner offered up by Metropolitan Seafood or Bridge Street Rotisserie, a light bite from Market Pizza, treats from Sweet Melissa Patisserie, or some of the delightful Sciascia confections. Not hungry? Just sit and relax with a cappuccino, a latte or a fresh-brewed cup of La Colombe coffee or tea from Urbane while taking in the ambience.
In addition to the culinary delights, the market now has music offered up by local musicians on Friday nights once a month. The café vendors stay open to offer prepared foods for the audience.
The market also supports local artists. During the month of January, Martha Wirkijowski visited the market to paint pet portraits on Saturdays and Sundays. Warm weather months will find the folks from Lulu’s Rescue sitting outside the market with dogs that are up for adoption to good homes.
“We try to support our community, and be involved in helping where we can,” Olsten said.
The overall feel of the Stockton Market is one of community brought together with food and friendship.
“The market is like a big family,” Sciascia said. “It feels like a Sunday dinner with the family when I’m here.” Each and every vendor we spoke with during our visit echoed those thoughts.
19 Bridge St.
Stockton, NJ 08559
by Jean Cervi
photos by Stacey Crescitelli