Wait a minute. Ken and Cora? What happened to Ken and Laura?? Laura's my wife, Cora's my sister, a life long resident of Brooklyn. And last Saturday it was time for a daylong food trip with her to the old old ethnic Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
Greenpoint is still mostly Polish, Williamsburg is still a mix of Old Italians, Hassidic Jews, and Hispanics, but in the past 10 years both Greenpoint and Williamsburg have seen many 20-something hipsters and artists move in, enticed by the relatively cheap rents, funky storefronts, and low crime rates.
I parked my car in Greenpoint, near McCarren Park, which is sort of the Central Park of Greenpoint. It's huge, but truth be told, not very attractive. Just a large flat expanse without many trees, and in this very dry summer, brown grass. But it does have a very busy farmer's market and that was my first stop. I bought a selection of Apple Juices from the highly regarded Red Jacket Orchard of the Finger Lakes area of Upstate NY. The ice cold juice samples they gave out really hit the spot on this hot dry day. Delicious. http://www.redjacketorchards.com/
Now it was time to start the 5 mile loop walk around Greenpoint that I had mapped out. And time to do some food shopping along Greenpoint's Main thoroughfare, Manhattan Avenue (so named because you can see across the river to Manhattan in the distance). Along this very busy street, nearly everyone speaks Polish.
First stop was the Sikorsky Meat Market, at 603 Manhattan Avenue. Inside, hanging from the racks were at leat 10 different kinds of Kielbasy. I never know what to order when this happens, but after tasting a few samples I settled on one (dam if I remember the name) and some rye bread supplied from the New Warsaw Bakery. Rather than carry Kielbasy around all day in my backpack in 90 degree weather, I doubled back to the car and put this in the cooler, but not before having a Kielbasy and Rye sandwich washed down with Red Jacket Apple/Cherry juice. Outstanding all around! The rye bread was among the best I have ever had. I would have bought more than one loaf, but I wasn't sure how it would hold up in the hot weather until I got it home.
Next stop was supposed to be the Peter Pan doughnut shop, at 727 Manhattan Avenue, but I couldn't bring myself to eat donuts on top of Kielbasy (must be getting old..). But people say these are the best donuts in all of NY City. They sure looked great, and judging by the line waiting to get inside, I guess a lot of people agree.
So, on up Manhattan Avenue to the West Nassau Meat Market, at 915 Manhattan Avenue, and here the language barrier couldn't be overcome. In a very odd, and chaotic set up, this shop has no meat on display, just some pictures of various meats above the counter. You tell them what you want and they bring it out from the back. And I wanted thier hot dogs. I thought "Hot Dog" was a universal word, but apparently not in Polish. I actually finally gave up after being offered just about every cured meat in the world except hot dogs.
At this point my sister called and said she'd meet me a few blocks away for lunch (she was coming from her neighborhood by bus) at the Polish Slavic Center Cafeteria at 177 Kent Street. Here we hit another snafu, it was closed for a private function. Exactly what that private function was I'm not sure, since all the signs were in Polish and once again nobody spoke English.
So we decided to walk back to the car and have some more of that Kielbasy and Rye as a picnic in McCarren Park , and then drive up to where we left off on the walking tour (Finding parking was much easier than I thought it would be so I felt free to drive around instead of being locked to one parking spot).
OK, it was a hot day, we were full (for the moment), so our next stop was a cute little storefront tap room called Brouweji Lane, and the first stop of the day that actually has a website: http://brouwerijlane.com/
I loved this low key place. They have a great selection of tap beers at reasonable prices, a very friendly vibe, and for $8 to $12 they will fill your growler with beer to take home. Guess who just happened to have an empty growler in his trunk... We had a nice micro beer and watched some sort of world cup highlight film with the friendly locals.
Then we took a walk in the barren industrial neighborhood down by the East River, chatted with a few homeless people who appeared to be living there, and then on to the Brooklyn Brewery Saturday Open House. What a fun and laid back way to spend a hot Saturday afternoon, hanging out in a local brewery sipping $4 draft beers fresh from the brewery. It was very difficult to stop at just one, but we did. We had more stops to make, one of which involved more beer, and I had to drive home, eventually. http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/
So we hopped in the car for a very short drive to Williamsburg, and one of the most interesting food stops I have ever made in all my food-shopping life, at Tedone Latticini, 597 Metropolitan Avenue.
Every Saturday for the past 65 years (yes, 65), 93 year old (yes, 93!) Georgianna Tedone has made fresh mozzarella and cooked up a Roast Beef to sell at her ancient storefront shop. Locally she's known as the Mozzarella Lady. These days she's helped out by her son. Since we got there shortly before closing, we were lucky to get the last of the hot Roast Beef as well as a couple of her mozzarellas. We had a nice chat with her and her son, two lovely gracious warm people. We couldn't wait to run across the street to the almost-equally old-school Napoli Bakery for some fresh Italian bread and made ourselves a couple of hot Roast Beef and Mozzarella heros to eat at a bench in a nearby park. Wow!
At Napoli bakery we also each picked up a lard bread for the ridiculously low price of $3.50 for a huge ring. Lard bread is an old Italian tradition in Brooklyn, consisting of bread (made with lard of course) and stuffed with proscuitto. The best lard breads weigh much more than they look like they should weigh, and these weighed a ton! Loaded with meat, greasy as all hell, and delicious. After sampling that on top of the Roast Beef heros, we were now officially full.
We skipped Fortunato Bros. Pastry shop, just down the block, but instead opted for one last beer at a funky old beer bar at 359 Metropolitan Ave called Spuyten Duyvil. Again, a great selection of drafts, and again, very tough to leave after one, but we did. http://www.spuytenduyvilnyc.com/reviews.htm
A fine day all around.
PS: For anyone food-hopping around Brooklyn, I highly recommend a book called "Food Lover's Guide to Brooklyn" by Sherri Eisenberg.
<message edited by ken8038 on Sat, 07/17/10 9:59 PM>