If anyone knows how to source and pick fruit and vegetables, it’s Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina. Her famous paletas, inspired by her upbringing in Mexico and her culinary training in Europe, instilled in her a deep love for what the earth produces every season. We woke up early on a Wednesday morning to shadow Fany at the Union Square Greenmarket. Follow us after the jump to learn how Fany chooses her ingredients and why developing personal relationships with farmers is essential to her.
Fany always starts with the question, “What am I craving now?” Seasonality is closely tied to her cravings. Growing up in Mexico meant that she went, every week, to the market and bought only what was in season. “The guavas are coming! The mangos are coming!” would be shouted in the streets. This is why in the warmer months, you’ll find flavors like mango-chile, lime verbena with raspberry, and cucumberlime. In the colder months, you’ll notice Fany incorporating creamy dairy products into her treats, such as cajeta paletas made with caramelized goat’s milk.
Cooking in Spain's Basque Country also informed how Fany thinks about sourcing ingredients. Bread came from a French couple who baked it especially for the restaurant. The berries, mushrooms, and meat all had specific purveyors too. The fish had been caught the night before. Fany brought this insistence on specialty to New York with her.
Fany buys her tropical ingredients from Essex Street Market, her dairy from Ronnybrook Farm, and fruit like apples and cherries from Breezy Hill Orchard. She also gets her tortillas and concha (Mexican sweet bun) from Hot Bread Kitchen at Union Square Greenmarket. Fany places a lot of value on her relationships with these farmers.
But, how does one pick fruit for the perfect paleta? The process is similar to picking fruit for jam. Fany selects “secondary fruit” – too ripe for eating – because the heavily concentrated sugars are ideal for paletas. She also measures the sugar density in each paleta. This is why you can trust that every paleta you taste on the High Line has a balanced amount of sweetness.
From chopping herbs to picking pieces of coconut, her efforts in the kitchen are marked by care and passion. For Fany, being the owner of La Newyorkina comes down to three principles: to unify people through food, to give back to her country through business philanthrophy, and to honor her creativity. It’s about “sharing the sweetness of Mexico,” says Fany, while also broadening the public’s understanding of Mexico’s food culture.
When I ask her about big dreams that keep her up at night, she looks at me, eyes wide with enthusiasm, and says, “I dream about opening a culinary school.” Already a published cookbook author, an entrepreneur, and a respected authority on the world of sweets, Fany is making this dream a reality. In the meantime, we’ll keep on savoring her one-of-a-kind paletas.
La Newyorkina is located on the High Line at West 17th Street. It is open daily from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM through October 27.
High Line Visual Media Fellow Amelia Krales took this series of photographs at the Union Square Greenmarket.