Seaport Report, Week of Sept. 19, 2012

[/media-credit] Illustration courtesy of Liz Daggar
BY JANEL BLADOW |  Autumn is already in the air as the new season gets underway on Sept. 22. There’s a fresh zest all around as the heavy heat and mugginess of summer lifts and leaves begin to color and fall.

Catch her in the Rye… Self-taught Danish chef Trina Hahnemann returns to the Seaport with heirloom rye seed varieties to be tested and planted on farms throughout New York State. The celebrity chef, who has catered for rock gods like Elton John and Bruce Springsteen, will not only talk about these flavorful seeds but also prepare a special dinner to showcase the versatility of this tiny grain.

Hahnemann, the author of “The Scandinavian Cookbook” (filled with delicious recipes and memories of growing up in Denmark and beautifully photographed by top Scandinavian food photographer Lars Ranek), helped organize the New Amsterdam Market Smorgasbord Table two Novembers ago. This latest event, Pockets Full of Rye, takes place on Thurs., Sept. 27, at the South Street Seaport Museum (Schermerhorn Row, 12 Fulton St.). For more details, visit www.newamsterdammarket.org.

Celebrate the Man in the Moon… Talking about food, be sure to stop by our terrific New Amsterdam Market (South Street between Peck Slip and Fulton Street) on Sun., Sept. 30, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., for the first annual East River Moon Festival. Aimed at introducing shoppers to the traditional celebrations that occur throughout East Asia on the full moon of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, the fest features traditional lion dancing, dumpling-making demos and Asian-inspired fare. From 6 to 8 p.m., join in a community lantern-lighting, where everyone will get a free red paper lantern and treats from market vendors.

Everybody Eats… If the Asian delicacies aren’t your, ah, cup of tea, then maybe tasting some favorite dishes from our neighborhood eateries is up your alley. Also on Sun., Sept. 30, throughout the historic district, is the third annual Taste of the Seaport, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fest features a tasting menu from local shops — including Acqua, Cowgirl Sea-Horse, Buono Amici and Nelson Blue — along with music and free fun for kids. All proceeds go to enrichment programs for the Spruce Street School (P.S. 397). Purchase discounted advance tickets ($25 for five tastes) at  www.brownpapertickets.com/event/202441.

Swimming with SpongeBob… Like tall tales of life beneath the sea? Then check out readings by Nicki Pombier Berger, founding editor of “Underwater New York,” and other local authors on Thurs., Sept. 20 at the South Street Seaport Museum (12 Fulton St.), from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. The reading is free, but reservations are recommended.

Stories of life underwater range from the whimsical — giraffe skeleton and fleet of ice cream trucks — to the historical — the Princess Anne steamship to Coney Island’s Dreamland. The event is a partnership with the American Folk Art Museum and its exhibit “Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions,” currently on display at the Seaport Museum.

Yummy in your Tummy… The last months have seen several new shops open along Fulton Street. Now comes Baked by Melissa (110 Fulton St.), the no-bigger-than-a-quarter stuffed cupcakes started by Melissa Bushell, which became a rage in Soho and has expanded throughout Manhattan.

This month’s featured sweet through Sept. 30: Double Cookie with white vanilla cake, cookies, cream icing, a stuffing of chocolate cookies and cookie dough. The bite-sized shop is open ’til 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Go get your sugar on!

Dancing for a Good Cause… New York Downtown Hospital’s 19th Annual Gala Dinner Dance takes place at 6 p.m. on Thurs., Oct. 11 at Cipriani Wall Street (55 Wall St.) It’s the largest fundraising event for the only hospital south of 14th Street. Proceeds benefit the hospital’s critical programs and services, and this year recognizes the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Julie Menin, former chair of Community Board 1 and Eric Poon, chairman of the hospital’s pediatrics department, for their help in improving the quality of life in Lower Manhattan. Each year, the hospital handles more than 30,000 emergency visits, 146,000 outpatient visits, 10,000 inpatients, 5,300 outpatient surgeries and 3,000 new babies are born here. To purchase tickets, reserve a table or place a congratulatory ad to honor a loved one or make a donation, call the hospital’s development office at 212-312-5850.