Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Brooklyn is the new black

Well, absolutely everyone, and I mean, everyone, is talking about, arguing about, complaining about the "Brooklyn Style" edition of New York Magazine. And guess what, turns out we're
"looser and more playful than its Manhattan counterpart, homey and ironic, comfortable but always conscious of its looks, and often of its politics (green and recycled are key)."
But hey, we already knew that, we've been that way for years. We're also crafty, enjoy our neighbors, stylish, and, hungry!

So hungry in fact that according to the NY Mag map of all that's hip and cool, it would appear that Fort Greene ate Clinton Hill, Park Slope ate Prospect Heights, and Williamsburg ate Bushwick. Oh well, never mind, they got it right at least in the article on the foods.

Featured were Ici in Fort Greene, "...there'’s a French grace to the setting, but the menu stays close to home..." and CH's Locanda Vini e Olii, " It took guts ... to open their Clinton Hill restaurant in a culinary near vacuum of landmarked brownstone Brooklyn."

Um, thanks, I think.

And thanks to the article I now know to go check out Cloth, "As chic as organic clothing gets" and Yu Interiors "Tasteful vintage furniture mixes with Jonathan Adler." (And will add them to the ever growing and much cooler real map of Clinton Hill!)

And this just in via Super Vegan Blog - Red Bamboo is hosting an opening party tonight, "Complimentary hors d'oeuvres (oh, yeah!) and cash bar. The party goes on from 7pm through 1am. "

See y'all there?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fascinating and creepy - Brooken Angel

Gothamist posted earlier about the set of photos on Flickr about Broken Angel. The photos were posted by Arthur Wood's son.

It is a wonderful set. I used to live a block away on St. James and could see the Angel from my bedroom and living room windows. I always thought the place was both fascinating and creepy. Turns out I am right, it is both fascinating and creepy.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A couple of quick links

  • Brownstoner has the wrap up on the Clinton Hill Association meeting from last night.
  • Brownstoner also asks readers to report on the opening of Choice (Grand and Lafayette)
  • Addition to the map (thanks to commenter Mr. Minerva): Thai 101, (a sad oversight on my part since we really like this Thai place, but haven't been to it since moving here - we are on the opposite end of CH!), and Choice
  • CHB updates on the 88th Precinct Community and Youth meeting

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What you looking at?

Twice now I have seen the big double decker busses driving around Brooklyn. Are they touring Park Slope? And I thought it was weird years ago when they started driving through the east village. This is definitely strange. Having tourists gawking at Brooklyn...

So it just goes to show how self centered - or is it lazy - let's say too busy - I can be. I had put together the map before moving back to Clinton Hill. I didn't even take the time to notice whether or not someone had already covered the hood. That's why also in my post yesterday, instead of doing my due diligence of a little research, I just asked for information on Smooch, instead of looking around a little. Had I done so, I would have noticed that eating for Brooklyn had just reviewed Smooch, which it turns out its a funky organic vegan place. Also will be keeping a watch on the efb posts, since had I been aware I could have attended the Chocolate and Port tasting at Green Grape which efb posted.

I am thinking that we (Brownstoner, eating for Brooklyn, Words to Eat By, SetSpeed aka One Hanson Place, Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn- am I missing anyone?) should get together and start a 'brooklynist' version of Gothamist. We could be snarky too! -but with Brooklyn style...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Spring roundup

We were planning on doing a lot of house fixing up and working on some freelance projects that we are super late on delivering, but with such gorgeous weather outside!!!

We decided to take a walk through the neighborhood and head over to the farmer's market. We walked down DeKalb to check out all of the places I have listed on the map (and a few I don't). I will have to post the images later because they are on the digital camera - better quality, but a longer wait to get them (don't ask).

We stopped in for a quick coffee at Tillies. Very friendly very busy place, I can see why it is popular - well located and an absolutely stunning array of delicious looking pastries. Even some vegan ones. We wanted to wait and get some goodies at the market so passed on the pastries (were those Cake Man Raven red velvet cupcakes??) The coffee (once it cooled and don't even get me started on that) was good. Not the best I have had, not the worst. It is, however, a great gathering spot, which hosts a variety of events. (Check their website for more information).

We also popped into L'Epicerie, which has gotten a variety of reviews on Chowhound, SetSpeed, and Brownstoner. We only browsed, but the focaccia looked beautiful, as did the vegetables and something was cooking in back that smelled divine. Will let you know more as we get to try some cheeses (as we undoubtedly will).

Walked past the newly opened Red Bamboo, which is getting mixed reviews on the CHB (I can't keep writing out 'Clinton Hill Boards'), but we love the one on west 4th and look forward to trying this one too. Especially if they have a good dj as one commenter suggested on the map.

We loved visiting the small, but friendly farmer's market in Fort Greene park. I wanted to buy some plants, but am holding out for the member's preview of the BBG plant sale. We did pick up a yummy quiche, and I apologize that we ate it too fast to either photograph or note the name of the vendor.

I have a couple of places to add to the map and if anyone has any information regarding them please add comments to the map or here so I can put in the information (even before we go try them out). They are: Smooch on Carlton @ DeKalb and June at 229 DeKalb.

On the way home we stopped into the charming Olivino wine shop on Fulton to pick up some things for my new habit - Port Wine. We asked for suggestions and walked out with a 10 year old Warre's Otima, and a moscato ('redolent of honeysuckle and ripe peach), Dolce Sogno. The port is a lovely tangy (can you call it that) not to expensive tawny. Saving the moscato opening for the imminent arrival of Seattle mom and family.

We ordered again from Fulton Thai, and again forgot to take pictures. The food is certainly good, but I wouldn't say great by any means. Maybe it is what we are ordering? Anyone have any suggestions? (It is nowhere near as good as the Thai Cafe on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint).

On Easter Sunday we did what it seems pretty much every other Brooklynite did, we went to the Botanic Gardens to see the early cherry blossoms and tulips. We definitely can't wait to go to Sakura Matsuri in a couple of weeks. It was packed but as gorgeous as always. I did get a little cranky about the incredible lack of bike parking (they have it but it was all full) and the difficulty in biking from the Gardens over to Prospect Park. Grand Army is fuuuun on a bike. (In the not really way).

We had a picnic of some vague imitations of croissants that I made, some dried dates from Delicacies, and some wonderful cheeses from Bierkraft. The first was a washed rind double cream, Robiola Querciola. It ripened nicely and was a mild washed rind cheese. It paired well with a slightly stronger mini chevron (which looked like a brain). Again - oops no pictures (I will get the hang of this soon!)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

me gusto! Castro's on Myrtle

Monday night we hiked through Clinton Hill to Castro's over on Myrtle. We did this for two reasons, one Seattle Mom wanted to see more of the neighborhood, (for more on their apartment search, see here). Second, G-pup is constantly on the search for a delicious burrito.

I had read some good comments regarding Castro's over on the chowhound outer borrough's board. Given that they have a liqour license (beer, wine, margaritas and pina coladas) and we always enjoy a nice mexican meal, we were up for it.

Seattle mom and I had margaritas (they were okay, nothing really good or bad about them) and some quite delicious chips and salsa. Both the chips and the salsa tasted fresh, the salsa was a pleasant mix of sweet and piquant. While waiting for G-pup to make the - in his words - long trek over, we tried to order some guacomole and chips, only to find out that, and this is odd for a mexican restaurant, they were out of guacomole. Heck there's a supermarket and produce stand just down the street - can't you go get some avocados? We opted instead for the nachos. Which, with their refried beans, generous cheesiness and chopped jalepenos boded well for the meal to come.

When G-pup got there we ordered a couple of veggie burritos for ourselves, and Seattle mom opted for enchiladas. She tried to find out if it was shredded beef inside, but there was a bit of a language barrier. She ended up just going for cheese with green salsa.

Let me put forward the fact that G-pup and I spent 5 years in San Francisco and are very very spoiled about our burritos. We are also used to really really large burritos. That said the burritos at Castros were HUGE. They looked like sack cloths of rice and beans lumped on the plate. Not tightly wrapped or served mojado (wet style, with salsa on top) they were a formidable mass of food. They contained the curious vegetable frozen mix that one finds in some 'veggie' mexican dishes. You know the mix that you hated as a kid? Lima beans, carrots, green beans... These contained that mix with mexican rice, beans, salsa, sour cream (no guacomole tonight) and lettuce on the side. I think they suffered from the lack of guac, they seemed too dry for their size. Next time (yeh its good enough to go back) I would go with the enchiladas.

The cheese enchiladas came with large chunks of unmelted chese inside (Seattle mom thought they were chicken at first), were smothered in sauce and more cheese and a generous serving of rice and beans. Seattle mom seemed to like it :)

So, it's not a replacement for Pancho Villa or La Corneta from SF, but it would certainly satisfy an ex-Texans craving for yummy tex-mex.

Update: Thought I should probably add some information regarding the 'atmosphere.' Having spent college years going to a taco shack, I quite liked this place. You walk into the front which looks like most take away mex places, hot bar with all the stuff to make burrtios et al. Even the requisite pile of pre-made chile rellenos :) The back dining area is pretty stark, but the real gem is the big patio out back (it was too cold that night for it, but summer should be great!).

511 Myrtle Avenue between Ryerson & Grand
(718) 398-1459
Hours: Sun-Fri 6:30 am - 11 pm
Sat 8 am - 12 am

Other reviews: Citysearch, AOL, GO Brooklyn, eating for brooklyn, AddYourOwn

(sorry for the lousy pics - they are from the phone - but the red sure looks festive!)

Other stops along the way.

We've spent many meals already at Outpost, but um, I keep forgetting to take pictures :)

We were excited about outpost because they serve organic fair trade coffee and we like coffee (especially when it is organic, shade grown, fair trade). We were pleasantly surprised by the relaxing unpretentious environment of the cafe, and the wonderful patio out back. Here's the information added to the map, and the updates from recent visits.

They were the first place we visited in the neighborhood. Since we and our moving help were locked out of our new apartment (ask me the story some time!) we decided to get some coffee! G-pup went around the corner and picked up coffee for everyone. He liked the vibe and the coffee, which is Dean's Beans, organic fair trade coffee - YAY!

Later in the afternoon we stopped by to get a bite to eat. I had the green apple and pear sandwich on a baguette. The baguette was a bit too crunchy, but the brie was flavoursome and the green apples crisp. I also got extra apple and a little cup of caramel for dipping on the side! Outpost you know the way to my heart -- brie and caramel.

G-pup had the eggsalad on an onion bagel. The egg salad was fresh tasting and mostly eggy (less mustardy than some) with baby spinach and olives on the side. The coffee was dark - just like we like it.

Sunday morning, I went over just as they were opening to pick up an almond croissant, a pain au chocolate and some coffee. The pastries were okay (we decided they would do in a pinch) but certainly have had better, and the coffee was as good as ever.

The service is friendly, and they are trying to program to be involved in the community by encouraging local artists to show, and they are hosting a mini market in the garden - with some nice antiques and vintage clothing.

We can also understand the name, our block of fulton is strangely vacant, a couple of blocks east and west are chock a block with stores, but this block is mostly shuttered empty storefronts.

UPDATE: Stopped in for lunch on Sunday, G-pup had a cappucino (which wasn't as good as previous - different blend?) and macaroni and cheese, which was hearty and rich. I had the hummus plate. A huge mound of tangy hummus with pieces of poppy seed bagel and slices of apple (strange but very enticing replacement for boring pita) and there was a huge pile of olives on top.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Seattle mom (soon to be ex-seattle mom) and I stopped in for some lunch. She was frustrated with apartment hunting (anyone have a beautiful brownstone they want to rent to a wonderful family of seattle mom, dad, kiddo and dog? they are looking for something $1200-$1600 and would be interested in a fixer-upper if its out there). We both opted for something light, the fig, pear and goat cheese salad. It was large and super fresh, with a nice citrus-y vinaigrette on top. Loads of crumbled chevre, dried figs (hope they do fresh figs in season!) and a pile of baby spinach. Another great meal - I have almost tried all their veg options...

We took a walk to check out Vanderbilt, and found some great places, including:

Delicacies: a nice (if sparse) little european deli. they have coffee beans, a good selection of cheeses and meats (if thats your thing), pastries and a variety of condiments. Ciao bella gelato, juniors' cheesecakes. They also do fresh sandwiches on foccacia and soup. G-pup had the goat cheese with roasted peppers which had a spicy kick, he thought it was a bit large. I had no problem finishing off my asiago with olive tapenade (minus the meats) sandwich. We washed it down with a mini cheesecake. Later we munched on some fig paste (a little darker than the preferred quince) and la perrail cheese - a soft mild understated goats cheese with rind.

Housebroken: Cute shop featuring a variety of cute items. Candles, pet goods, baby items, small furnishings.

Also, thanks to a note from an anonymous poster on the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill forum, we are signing up for the Clinton Hill CSA (hurry up the deadline is April 15th!) They also offer fruit, flower and egg shares. We will add on later in the year or next... flowers would be great! I will let everyone know what we get in the boxes.

As always, check out more spots on the map:

Monday, April 10, 2006

A look of surprise Kush on Putnam

We made a point to take a break during the craziness that is unpacking after a move. We wanted to go somewhere convenient and that offered an escape. Kush was a great choice. A self described 'french african' restaurant, Kush serves up african influenced continental cuisine in a warm, friendly and inviting environment. We were really looking forward to moving to a neighborhood where we could feel like we were more a part of a 'community' and Kush is a strong part of that -- on to the food though!

We decided to try some of their homemade juices, g-pup had the tamarind, which is a flavor we both really enjoy, and the Kush version was crisp, refreshing and full of tamarind and cinnamon flavor. I tried the sorrel (having seen a number of bottled shandys with sorrel). The flavor is unique and distinct. The beginning tastes like a juice, and the finish is almomst barbque like. If anyone can describe this better, please do!

Kush serves toasted bread and a dipping oil chock full of olives that was tasty.

Our meal started with a salade de chevre, tossed mesculin salad with an almond dressing. On the side were two golden medallions of fried goat cheese. Don't freak out at the world fried, the coating is light enough to not absorb oil, and the result is a wonderful medley of warm soft goat cheese and a lightly crunch crust. Also on the salad were a couple of tomato wedges topped with what I think was an almond topping - something like a nut salsa. The entire arrangement was a variety of flavors and textures.

Which is also a good description for my meal, the Kush Kush Vegetarian. What a wonderful myriad dish. In the center was a medley of rice, chick peas, greens and spices. On top were roasted veg (eggplant, zucchini, squash, plaintains - yum) and extremely thinly sliced tofu. The tofu were coated with crumbs and again had the deft quick fry job of the chevre, which left crunchiness without oiliness. The flavors of the dish were so wonderful and diverse I couldn't stop eating, even though I was full! Our host was even shocked that I finished it all :)

G-pup treated himself to a Baked Penne Vodka with Shrimps (a bit of a surprise ont the menu - but there were a couple of pasta dishes). He was thrilled with it. He lavished on the rich creamy dish the compliment 'this tastes like something you would cook!' He too finished his heaping bowl of pasta. I tried it before the shrimps got mixed in, and it was a wonderful balance of creamy flavor and texture, without being too heavy handed.

We really wanted to try the Tatin (with pears and plaintains) but couldn't fit that in! (We'll be back for brunch though).

As we were leaving we got a warm and jovial goodbye from our host - made us feel so welcome!

see map here:

(I promise to get better at the pictures!)

Kush Cafe
17 Putnam Avenue
Closed Mondays
Tues - Fri 11 am - 12 am
Sat 9 am - 12 am
Sun 9 am - 11 pm
Cash & Credit Cards

Other reviews: CitySearch, GO Brooklyn, Brownstoner, Village Voice, BedStuy Online

Back on the Hill

I first moved to Clinton Hill in the fall of 1993. I lived in a gorgeous brownstone (okay, it had a few problems) on St. James Place between Greene and Gates. I also lived on Carlton (which is technically Fort Greene). I moved back to Clinton Hill, this time on the other side of Fulton. I am thrilled to be back in the neighborhood, I always thought it had a charm unmatched in other neighborhoods. I look forward to exploring all the new areas, and revisiting the old. I have started a 'Community Walk' map - easily one of the coolest tools on the web which maps food, shops, etc in the area. I will fill it in with comments and pictures as we continue to explore. Please feel free to send me information or add comments here or too the map directly. I would love for this to be an ongoing and community project! I will double post reviews and pictures here and on the map. You can access the map here:

It is such a lovely thing that the day we moved in was something like the first day of spring in new york. It just felt right. The choco-kitty has been enjoying the sunny windows (we haven't had direct sun in about 7 years), and I and G-pup are enjoying the big kitchen, and the neighborhood.

Look forward to enjoying the neighborhood that all of you that already live here have helped to build and grow - sorry I have been gone for so long!