There are all sorts of great things going on in the food, art and craft communities of Brooklyn, so on our recent trip to New York, we wanted to spend at least a few days strolling around, checking all of that stuff out and getting a sense of the different neighborhoods of that borough. A great place to start seemed to be the Brooklyn Flea – a vintage flea market, meets craft uprising, meets some amazing food vendors every Saturday in Fort Greene. We found a great sampling of all of the above! While we didn’t walk away with any art from this particular market, we were overwhelmed with a lot of great, affordable, hand-your-cash-right-to-the-artist options. Shawn’s Lone Star Empire brisket sandwich was the main event of our time there (above, right), perfectly smoked meats from two Texas expats; while my lobster sandwich was a close second – all washed down by a yummy grapefruit soda by Brooklyn Soda Works. Blueberry apricot pops from People’s Pop for dessert on a warm day were perfect too. (I seem to report on popsicles quite a bit here on this blog – I wish my city was hotter so it could sustain an inventive, local ingredient palletta/popsicle company!)
We strolled from there over to and through the lovely Prospect Park (Brooklyn’s Central Park – also designed by Olmsted) to make our way to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. A classical oasis that seems like a great getaway in the city. The bonsai exhibit was my favorite (above, bottom left), and I was impressed by how many of the plants are labelled so that you are never left wondering. The new visitor center wasn’t quite open (above, top left), which we had hoped to see (designed by Weiss/Manfredi, who did Seattle’s sculpture park), but looks like it fit into and opened up to the landscape beautifully. All that wandering called for what was next – some soaking and sauna-ing for a late afternoon at Body by Brooklyn spa.
We ended that particular day at Grimaldi’s – arguably the best NY pizza – that my friend Karen introduced us to years back. The coal-fired oven (hottest out there!) seems to be the trick, and there are only a few of those out there. Ownership apparently changed hands since I was there the last time and it moved a few doors away into a larger space – but the olive, mushroom, mozzarella pie still made us very happy! Down the street, we checked out the new (to us) Brooklyn Bridge Park afterward to walk it off. Apparently outdoor movies and concerts happen there in the warmer months – with downtown Manhattan as a backdrop – would love to go back for that!
There are all sorts of great shops, eateries, galleries and architectural projects to wander through in Williamsburg (we focused on the area around Grand and Berry streets). Of specific note from our stroll that day were the Brooklyn Art Library – home of the Sketchbook Project, (above, right) where you can ‘check out’ any of the sketchbooks folks have submitted from all over the world and get a glimpse of their year in the project. We had seen it out in Seattle when they were touring the project – fun to see it in its home. Also, Mast Brothers – the uber-crafted, sustainable chocolate makers (above, left). They approach chocolate making with incredible craft and reverence for the process and the growers, and each bar is hand-wrapped in ornamental papers. They’ve even employed sail boats to deliver their cacao beans, making it as sustainable as possible. Their chocolates have wonderful flavors and each bar tells a story.
A couple of days wasn’t nearly enough to check out Brooklyn – we will most certainly need to head back again soon!