Photos by Sarah Gerrity, Words by Ruben Gzirian
Events like The Emporiyum at Union Market require a plan; at least I think they do. To enter a bustling landscape of vendors offering Tibetan dumplings, avocado-devoted toasts, and fried chicken in waffle cones (just to name a few) without a semblance of direction is asking for food-induced anxiety. So, as I entered The Emporiyum with zero plan, I made an immediate dash to the 3 Stars Brewing table to drink some of their Above the Clouds farmhouse ale and get my bearings. Feeling the onrushing confidence of 6.3% beer, I dove into the crowd to partake in the myriad of choices in front of me.
The curation at the heart of The Emporiyum was impressive. Judging from the communal picnic tables at each end of the main outdoor area, the culinary options on offer were as diverse as they were popular. A smorgasbord of pastries, oysters, fried chicken, dumplings, pizza, mixed drinks in coconuts, healthy options, guilty pleasure options, and wine were being happily consumed by a diverse crowd of people. While the showcase of The Emporiyum was clearly the myriad of different food, I was more struck by how friendly the entire atmosphere was. Seemingly at every stop, a friendly conversation with a vendor evolved into a group conversation with people nearby; recommendations were gleefully exchanged and an ad hoc community of instant foodies developed at every turn. It was due to these interactions that I effortlessly jumped from the faloodas at Toli Moli to the ridiculous Swizzler hot dogs. After quickly eating a half dozen oysters from Baltimore’s The Local Oysters, I decided my stomach needed a break from my ADD-esque consumption of anything and everything.
The inside portion of the event was a little more subdued, but it provided a nice respite from the busy outdoor area. The custom designed CoCo & Co coconuts were a crowd favorite, both for their fun appearance and the delicious rum concoction inside. While the vendors inside left no lasting impression on me, the general vibe of the area was really cool and reminded me of portions of the Chelsea Market in New York City. The added ambiance of the DJ playing some Jamie XX was definitely nice, and made you feel hip for just being there.
Back outside, and feeling a little worn out from the previous night and the gluttony of 20 minutes earlier, I took a seat at one of the picnic tables near the entrance. Immediately, my eye caught someone eating some sort of dumpling looking thing. Inquiring against the best wishes of my non-existent appetite, I was told to go to Dorjee Momo and grab one of their Tibetan nomad-style dumplings. Full of flavor with a nuanced spice that came and went unannounced all wrapped up in a doughy bun, the dumpling was the final straw that broke my culinary traversal.
The Emporiyum was a great showcase of the bond developed by like-minded foodies and people willing to try new dishes. While I wished there were more warm dishes on offer, the chance to dive into new sensations with strangers, all the while enjoying flavors you’d usually be remiss to try, was a great way to start a Sunday.