Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Do This! Kosher for Passover and Brooklyn Bound

Kehilath Yakov Matzoh Bakery

Kehilath Yakov Matzo Bakery

Most of the people I know are preparing for Easter. Pulling out baskets, polishing their patent leather and froofing their Sunday frills. But there is another important holiday approaching — one less sugary and pastel-colored — Passover. Even after living in NYC for 12 years, I realized I don’t know a lot about Passover traditions, so asked my friend Avi to lead me into the traditional Jewish neighborhoods of Flatbush and South Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a peek at and bite of Passover preparations.

 First Stop: The Pickles Guys

With pretty much everything pickled from cucumbers to watermelon {yes, watermelon!}, and freshly grated horseradish that will clear the worst sinus congestion, The Pickle Guys is your stop for the ultimate condiment spread. For those who don’t want to jump a train for the full Jewish tour, you can also find an outpost on the Lower East Side.

Keep Hands Out of Barrels

Please Keep Hands Out of Barrels

New pickles, 1/2 sours, 3/4 sours, full sours, hot new pickles, hot sour pickles -- something for everyone

New pickles, 1/2 sours, 3/4 sours, full sours, hot new pickles, hot sour pickles — something for everyone

The spoils

The spoils

Next Up: Eichlers — the Barnes and Noble of Judaica stores

An essential stop for bestsellers like The Easy-Shmeezy Guide to Yiddish and the essential cooking reference, Kosher by Design — Teens and 20-Somethings. Cooking for the Next Generation. I pretty sure Julia Child had this on her bookshelf.

Easy-Shmeezy

Easy-Shmeezy

Please buy this for me

Please buy this for me

And then to the Whole Foods of Kosher Food — Pomegranate.

An entire aisle dedicated to Matzoh! I’m told Shatzer Hand Shmura Matzohs are the best and so that’s what made its way home with me. And here’s an exciting secret I learned while browsing the Kosher aisles: for those of you that like Coca-Cola made the European way with sugar, instead of our American corn syrup version, corn products cannot be consumed during Passover, so you can get your hands on the real Coke for a limited time if you visit a Kosher specialty store. Look for this yellow bottle cap. Ahhhh!

Matzoh!

Matzoh!

Matzoh spoils

Matzoh spoils

Lunch break: David’s Restaurant

Flatbush is home to more middle eastern Jews, so I felt right at home ordering a platter of some darn good falafel, hummus, babaganoush and fluffy warm pita. Great stop to recharge and I’m told the Yemenite Soup is not to be missed — sadly, it was not going to be ready for another hour so we did miss this. Just another reason to go back.

David's Falafel

David’s Falafel

Subway ride to South Williamsburg >> Kehilath Yakov Matzo Bakery

South Williamsburg is a much stricter Orthodox Jewish community — think Payot, long black coats and hats — so I had to try to dress the part with a long dress, tights and covered arms. Regardless of how respectfully I dressed, I was clearly an outsider.

To say I felt like I was intruding on Santa’s Elves on Christmas Eve would be an understatement. This Matzoh bakery was executing at full-steam with 47 men each handling a specific task. It was Henry Ford’s assembly line of Matzoh {see first photo of this post}. The water guy, the mixer, the divider, the rollers, the transporters, the hole-punchers, the bakers. A process that must be completed in 18 minutes according to the Torah and that follows strict guidelines of cleanliness — and apparently does not include a woman standing in the corner overseeing this. Word to the wise, don’t show up a week before Passover and expect a tour with a smile. It was not well-received that I wanted a peek into the inner workings of the Matzoh process. But what few glimpses I did capture {and the brief explanation Avi was able to coerce one of the workers into sharing} were fascinating — and helped me to understand why these provisions cost $25/lb. This is not your ordinary grocery store-matzoh.

The Matzoh Inspection

The Matzoh Inspection Rack

 

Matzoh Man

Matzoh Man

Final Stop: Gottlieb Restaurant

It was a long, but memorable day. One that could only be capped off by a refreshing Dr. Brown’s cream soda, a plate of cholent and some noodle kugel. If you’re looking for an authentic kosher Jewish deli, this is your place. Forget about Carnegie or Stage Door. Hop on a train {arms and legs covered} and come here. Do it all.

Gottliebs Deli

Gottliebs Deli

 

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Do This!: Saturday Snacking @Smorgusburg

Smorgusburg

Smorgusburg

People were surprised to learn that I had never been to Smorgusburg, a brooklyn flea food market on the Williamsburg waterfront. Frankly, after going last weekend, I’m a little surprised myself that it took me so long to spend a Saturday strolling the riverfront space that houses 100+ artisanal food stands. If you’ve got hankering for something you’ll probably find it at Smorgusburg — everything from fried anchovies to slow-roasted brisket can be had for a a few dollars and a brief wait in line. The later in the day you go the longer the lines, so my advice: showup at 11am when the stands open, do a full strolling scope before jumping in, mentally map your action plan and bring a friend who is willing to go halvesies with you so you can try as many things as you can stomach.

Cemitas Mexican Sandwiches

Cemitas Mexican Sandwiches

Cemitas caught our attention right away. Hola! Burrito Sunrise — eggs, beans, tator tots {yes tator tots!}, chipotle crema, and your choice of bacon or chorizo {or sans either for a veggie-friendly option}. This is no small snack, so either feed your hangover with a Cemita sammie or you’re definitely gonna want to split this guy — unless you want to be down for the count and knock yourself out of of the game for the rest of the day.

Cemita Burrito and Sammie

Cemita Burrito and Sammie

Moving on. Caffeine. Blue Bottle Coffee with NO line? Must stop here pronto. If you’re not already familiar with Blue Bottle Coffee, this beanery is a San Francisco transplant where on any given day you could easily wait 30 minutes for a made to order, single drip cup of joe. And why do we wait? Cause we’re suckers — but the coffee lives up to expectations.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee

Sunday Gravy

Sunday Gravy

Sit. Relax on one of the riverside benches. Share. Smile. This is some good Saturday living.  No time to digest — round two. Our choice, a roasted veggie with chevre bruschetta from Sunday Gravy. If we didn’t just have the breakfast burrito that frittata with roasted veggies was also looking awfully tasty. And the eggplant parmesan with paper thin layers of eggplant married with sauce and parm and laid to relax on a nice hunk of sesame Italian bread was a thing of beauty {mental note: next time}.

Sunday Gravy Goodness

Sunday Gravy Goodness

The grand finale: Mighty Quinn’s braised brisket. As we wandered around early on in the day we were advised that Quinn’s is the crowd favorite, usually drawing lines down the block. With that information, a line 30-people deep didn’t seem so bad. With one man carving, another assembling and a third taking money the line moved swiftly and the prized sandwich worth waiting for was quickly in my hands —  a soft bun, stacked high with tender brisket, dressed in barbecue sauce, pickled onions and a few crispy pickles.

Mighty Quinns Braised Brisket Sandwich

Mighty Quinns Braised Brisket Sandwich

On our way out we grabbed a Blue Marble Ice Cream cone — because why not, this excursion was meant for eating.

Blue Marble Ice Cream

Blue Marble Ice Cream

And snapped this shot of a grass-squatting offender. Smorgusburg success. If you fall into the camp of “haven’t been there yet” I suggest you get thee to the ‘burg.

Illiteracy in America

Illiteracy in America

More Brooklyn Excursions:
NYC Best: yes yes to Pok Pok
Do This!: Foraging for Food is F’ing Fun {in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with Leda}
Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk
Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time

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NYC Best: yes yes to Pok Pok

Pok Pok

Pok Pok

When you think of thai food, if all you know is pad thai, then it’s time to be schooled in the ways of Pok Pok, New York’s latest west coast transplant to open up in thriving Red Hook. With a small front dining area, there is almost always a wait an hour+ long, but now that Summer is upon us, the back garden has been converted into an expanded dining area and a place to grab a refreshing jelly beer or a cocktail from the long list of thai-infused mixers.

Dining is family style, and while the table is set with utensils, you’re encouraged to try things like grilled meat, skewers and sticky rice by using your hands — there are no rules here, only napkins and wet wipes. The menu is long and reads like a traveling recap throughout Thailand. Use your wait-time to salivate over and narrow your choices, zeroing in on 2-3 plates per person {advice: bring more friends, try more goodness}.

Yam Samun Phrai

Yam Samun Phrai

Yam Samum Phrai {it’s everything you want in a salad — crunchy texture and refreshing citrusy herbal bites. Hands down one of the best dishes} — northern thai herbal salad with carrot, parsnip, white tumeric, betel leaf, basil, lime leaf, lemongrass, sawtooth, fried shallots, cashews, peanuts, sesame seeds, dried shrimp, ground pork, and thai chilies in a mild coconut milk dressing.

Pok Pok Ribs and Half Bird

Pok Pok Ribs and Half Bird

Sii Khrong Muu Yaang {ribs that kick Texas BBQ’s butt. yes, really! probably my second favorite dish} — Carlton farms baby back ribs marinated in whisky, soy, honey, ginger and thai spices. Slow roasted and served with two spice dipping sauces.

Kai Yang {signature house specialty: half bird with a kick} — Charcoal rotisserie roasted natural game hen stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro served with spicy sweet and sour and tamarind dipping sauces.

Pok Pok Thai Sausage

Pok Pok Thai Sausage

Sai Ua Samun Phrai {holy moly this sausage is so good — no, no this was my favorite!} — Chiang Mai sausage with herbs. Burmese curry powder and aromatics. Charcoal grilled and served with Naam Phrik Num {spicy green chile dip!} Khaep Muu {Thai pork rinds} and steamed crudites {how civilized}.

Da Chom’s Laap Meuang {mouth is on fire, thank God for sticky rice and the cooling plate of herbs that were completely foreign to me, but had me munching like a panda bear}. This dish was learned from Da Chom, Andy Ricker’s friend’s father from a small Thai village. At age 84 he still makes this for his family. Northern Thai spicy hand-minced pork salad with aromatics {the panda herbs that ranged in flavors from fish to lemon — yes, fascinatingly fishy herbs}, herbs, cracklings and crispy fried shallots and garlic. {bottom two plates in image below}.

Pok Pok spread

Pok Pok Spread {Da Chom’s Dish Lower Right Two Plates}

The Skim: If you’re not afraid to travel for good food, then all you need is a subway card to Red Hook — as far as Pok Pok is concerned, it’s as good as a plane ticket to Thailand. We were in love with every single dish we ordered, so get adventurous and order what moves you. And be ready to wash everything down with a few quenching cocktails or suds — these dishes are not for the mild tastebuds. Loved it so much, it’s going on my Favor8 list.


8.ate@eight Favor8
Seal of Approval

Map127 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 923-9322
Reservations: Not Taken {but a delightful garden awaits} 

Outside the Pad Thai:
NYC Best: Tasty Times Square Thai @ Pongsri
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage

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NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Isa is a Trip Not to be Missed

Isa

View from a Cocktail Perch

When you first walk into Isa you are immediately greeted by a strange feeling of comfort — a brightly colored curtain made of pieced together knitted afghans serves as the weather barrier between the door and the inner sanctum of the dining room. But as you enter into the main room and take a glance around, the feeling of comfort changes from grandma’s couch to one of a chill-warming modern camping lodge with stacked logs, candlelight, communal tables and smooth cement walls.

Across the entire back wall of the main dining room is an open kitchen providing free entertainment for the evening. The fun starts with a drink menu as playful as the afghan curtain. To drink: cocktails such as the Enlighten Up, Brain Hammock, Inspector Spacetime or Looking Glass give the feeling that you might be going on a strange strange trip from here on out. If you’re more of a wine drinker, even that list gives the option of ordering up a wine from the “Orange” selection — somewhere between a red and a white and the result of a grape skin soaking to blend the two genres.

The dinner menu is short and straightforward and changes frequently. Simply listed:  artichokes, tartar, mackerel, pork loin. But it was in the fine print descriptions that the intrigue presents itself. When I asked our server if there were any standout dishes not to be missed, she went on to describe everything on the menu individually and ended with saying they were all her favorite. No help there.

I started with the Tartar, presented in three very simple circular disks of ingredients with crunchy flax and a dollop of creme fraiche as its accompaniments. It was simple in presentation and let the ingredients speak for themselves. Tried alone or with a little stab at each, this starter was outstanding.

Isa Tartar

Isa Tartar

I ordered the Mackerel as my main. Another simple dish that was not short on flavor. The fish was slow cooked resulting in a delightfully juicy bite, and was served atop a creamy parsnip puree with sweet peas and covered in a thin blanket of crunchy, peppery radishes. Everything about this was not complicated, but when tasted in one bite, the variety of textures and seasonal flavors confirmed this was not just an ordinary dining experience.

Radish-Blanketed Mackerel

Radish-Blanketed Mackerel

The Skim: I’m in love with this new trend of dining — found at Frej a few weeks back and now at Isa. The art is in the simplicity. Isa is having fun with the decor, the cocktail menu, the quirky touches here and there, but when it comes to the food, it’s about pairing the freshest seasonal ingredients and textures and letting them be the star of the show. What’s more? This menu is accessible to just about anyone — for $50 you can enjoy a three-course prix fix or get away with spending $30-40 if you want to stick with a starter and main. No wonder Isa was nominated for a James Beard award for Best New Restaurant.

Map: 348 WYTHE AVE
Reservations: Yes! Here 
Phone: 347-689-3594

Good Things in BKLYN:
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk
Do This!: Learn to Forage in Prospect Park for Edible and Medicinal Plants with Expert Leda Meredith

Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s
NYC Best: Source Your Spices and Specialty Foods @ Sahadi’s 

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Mother’s Day Gift Idea Round-Up {or Just Delicious Things for Yourself}

Get creative this year! Instead of buying mom roses from the corner bodega at the last minute, plan ahead with these spectacularly lusty deals. There’s no better way to say I love you than with something she will savor.

BELLOCQ Tea — Evocative Artisanal Teas, Beautiful Packaging — 25% off + Free Shipping
Instead of roses:  A blend of organic lemongrass, organic lemon verbena, organic chamomile, organic lavender, organic rose petals, organic mint, organic sage, natural essence.

BELLOCQ Mother's Day Special

REMEDY QUARTERLY SUBSCRIPTION — Stories of Food + Recipes — 37% Off + Get Published!
 Instead of Hallmark:  Each issue of this small, sweet magazine is chock-full of tales, interviews, recipes, lovely illustration and typography all tied together with an evocative theme like Cravings, Stealing, or Adventure.

Remedy Quarterly All Issues

JUNE TAYLOR JAMS — Handmade Jams and Candies with Unique Flavors — 25% Off
Instead of a Potted Plant:  A Plant in a Jar. Conserves, Marmalades, Sugared Candies and Syrups fit for ice cream drizzling, Sodastream spritzing or really excellent mimosas. Flavors to drool over — Silver Lime & Rosemary, Strawberry Rhubarb Rose Geranium, Lisbon Lemon and Blood Orange —  you won’t find these anywhere else!

JuneTaylor Jams

CALIFORNIA OLIVE RANCH — Award-winning Olive Oil from Cali — 36% Off
Instead of Bubble Bath: Bathe in this duo of their best-selling varietals: the lively and fruity Arbequina and the robust and peppery Miller’s Blend.

California Olive Ranch

LA BOITE A EPICES — The spice blends Eric Ripert & Daniel Boulud Uses — 31% Off + Free Shipping
Instead of a Spicy Argument: These spice blends were created for the likes of top chefs around the world and now they are available for the home cook. With interesting blends such as N.11 Cancale — Fleur de Sel, Orange, Fennel or N.33 — MISHMISH crystallized honey, saffron, lemon, you don’t have to do much more to create perfectly flavored meal than sprinkle and pull out a pan. Use these on meat, veggies, eggs, in baking — the ideas are endless.

La Boite Spice Blends

CLUB W BOUTIQUE WINE CLUB — For the Perfect Dinner Party Wines — 50% Off + Free Shipping
Instead of Overpriced Veuve: Value Wines with a Story! Each bottle comes with a QR code that will show a brief video about the wine, flavor profile and suggested food pairings when scanned. Wines are hand-selected from boutique wine producers that you won’t find at the corner shop.

Club W Boutique Wines

Leave a comment — let me know when your mom thanks you! Happy Mother’s Day to all moms 

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Do This!: Foraging for Food is F’ing Fun {in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with Leda}

Leda Meredith's Foraging Tour in Prospect ParkNo, no, I’m not going to start living off the grid and shorning sheep to make my own clothes. But I did learn a very valuable lesson that foraging for wild edibles is not only fun and fairly easy once you know how to ID certain plants, but it also saves you the $12 /lb price that you would otherwise pay at the farmers’ market for these prolific wilds.  After a lovely two hour foraging SideTour with enthnobotonist and locavore expert, Leda Meredith, I came away with some great knowledge and edible treasures that I plan to do something spectacular with this week. Pokeweed and Field Garlic Tart anyone?

Interested in digging for edible gold?

Sign-up for Leda’s next Foraging Tour Here

So, first things first, some rules to abide by when foraging in public spaces like Central Park or Prospect Park:

  • There is no law against foraging, but there are laws against damaging park property, so don’t start cutting down trees and foraging for park benches.
  • There are laws against walking with gardening tools — keep your shovel at home!
  • You’re not supposed to take things out of the park. That said, there are numerous invasive, prolific plants that the park hires people to weed out, many of which are edible. This is where you come in. A new meaning to “will work for food.”
  • Forage a good 50 feet away from walking paths to avoid the “dog” path and undesired fertilizer.
  • The NYC public parks can’t afford to spray pesticides or any other chemicals, so it’s one of the safest green areas to forage. Steer clear of where they do scatter rat poison, however — these areas will be clearly marked.

So, what did we find?

Wild Violets

Leda Shows Off How to ID Wild Violets

Wild Violets

  • ID: heart-shaped leaves with teeth on edges. Purple flower.
  • Edible: Leaf and flower. Roots are toxic.
  • Medicinal: Good for respiratory issues.
  • How to Eat: Mix in a fresh salad or candy the flowers. Dry for tea.

Burdock aka Gobo Root (forgot to Snap a shot)

  • ID: Big fuzzy leaves with ruffled skirt edges. Harvest root of a first year plant before it flowers
  • Edible: Roots and immature flower stalks (use like Italian cardoons)
  • Medicinal: Good for skin issues and liver cleansing
  • How to Eat: Saute like kale
Bishop's Elder

Bishop's Elder

Bishops Elder 

  • ID: 3 parted leaves. Extremely invasive ground cover. In the celery family, so has a hairless stem that has a curve like a celery stalk and smells like celery when you smell the stem.
  • Edible: Fresh or dry stem and leaf.
  • How to Eat: Great for soup stocks.
Sassafras Leaf Trio

Sassafras Leaf Trio

Sassafras Tree

  • ID: 3 different leaf shapes on each stem: oval, mitten, three-prong “fork.” Leaf smells like root beer when you rip the leaves.
  • Edible: Root and leaves
  • How to Eat: Boil the root and use sweetener and seltzer water to make root beer.  Leaves can be used to make file powder for gumbo. Or just scratch and sniff the root beer scented goodness for kicks.
Red Bud Tree

Red Bud Tree

Red Bud Tree

  • ID: Buds grow out of the bark. Darker red/pink than a cherry blossom.
  • Edible: Flowers
  • How to Eat: In the bean family so tastes slightly like a bean. Serve in salads, add to ice cream or cookies.
Juneberry Tree

Juneberry Tree {will be a May-Berry this year!}

Juneberry Tree {no berries yet!}

  • ID: Smooth gray bark, 5 pointed berry that looks like a blueberry when the fruit blooms. Smooth oval leaf with teath.
  • Edible:  Berry
  • How to Eat: Just as you would a blueberry.
Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard 

  • ID: Serrated heart-shaped leaf. Grows tall. Small stems grow outward that become seed pods.
  • Edible: Leaf, root and stem/seeds
  • How to Eat: Leaves taste like broccoli rabe and can be prepared as such. Root tastes like horseradish. Stick like flower stems will become seed capsules and can be used as mustard seed.

Mugwort (forgot to Snap a shot)

  • ID: Serious invasive. White fuzzy stem, deeply divided pointed leaf, silvery-white underside of the leaf, spicy taste.
  • Edible: Leaves and stem
  • Medicinal: Muscle relaxer, will make you break a sweat if you need to cleanse, use as a bath or as a tea, good for stress and unblocks just about everything. Will also make you have vivid dreams if you put under you pillow!
  • How to Eat: Best for seasoning to add a little spice.
Pokeweed

Pokeweed

Pokeweed 

  • ID: Extremely prolific, but only in-season for 3 weeks. Will come back in the same spot each year, so once you find your hunting ground, you can easily go back.
  • Edible: Whole thing — leaves and stem. But once it gets bigger and branches out and the stem becomes dark magenta it becomes toxic and you don’t want to eat it any longer. Best when it is only one stalk.
  • How to Eat: It’s like asparagus! Have to double boil it first — blanch in one pot, drain and then blanch in a second pot of boiling water. Saute it, grilled it, roast it, you name it!
Dandelion Greens

Dandelion Greens {which will be bitter now that they have flowered!}

Dandelion Greens 

  • ID: Serrated leaf, yellow flower, low to the ground.
  • Edible: Early Spring the leaves are best before they flower — then they get bitter. The roots and flowers are also edible and apparently very tasty.
  • Medicinal: The root will release a milky sap that are good for warts.
  • How to Eat: Good in a salad or lightly sauteed. Flower can be used to make wine! Recipe here
Lamb's Quarters

Lamb's Quarters

Lambs Quarters 

  • ID: White dusty powder on the leaves.
  • Edible: Leaves and stems.
  • How to Eat: Rinse well and saute. Off the charts nutritious compared to spinach!
Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic

Field Garlic 

  • ID: Looks like chives, hollow stem, smells like garlic
  • Edible: Whole thing — bulb to stem.
  • How to Eat: Just like a chive — anything you want a mild garlic flavor added to.
Samora Elm

Samora Elm

Siberian Elm Samaras 

  • ID: Small seed in a green translucent leaf.
  • Edible: Whole seed/leaf when tender enough to pierce the seed with a fingernail.
  • How to Eat: On a salad, in a muffin or just as a field snack.
Spice Bush

Spice Bush

Spice Bush 

  • ID: Smells spicy when break the leaf. Oval leaf with a lopsided point at the end. Tastes like all spice.
  • Edible: Leaf
  • How to Eat: Great for iced tea. infuse or make sun tea. Don’t boil or will get bitter flavor.
Other Wild Things

Other Wild Things

Other Wild Things 

  • ID: Shirtless Man Hanging Upside Down in a Tree

The Booty — Violets, Red Bud, Pokeweed, Field Garlic…stayed tuned for a MUST MAKE TART recipe coming later this week. Olive Oil Crust, Greek Yogurt Dollops and Wild Goodies…

Wild Edible Booty

Wild Edible Booty

Note: Although these pictures and notes can serve as introductions to wild edibles, I have not provided extensive ID characteristics in the descriptions for someone unfamiliar with the plants to safely identify them. If you’re interested in venturing out to forage, I recommend doing online research or signing up for an introductory tour with Leda before chomping on random weeds.

More Leda and Brooklyn Coolness:
Do This!: Learn Lacto-Fermentation {Kimchi! Chutney!} with Leda Meredith
Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk

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Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka

Industry City Distillery

Down a quiet brick-laid industrial street, on the edge of Sunset Park and Greenwood Brooklyn, lies an undiscovered gem that has the makings of being our very own NYC Willy Wonka factory. But instead of chocolate, the team behind Industry City Distillery is mastering the art of handcrafted sugar beet vodka. And handcrafting their own letter-pressed labels with a reclaimed 1930s machine to boot — Depressingly Awesome indeed!

1930s Letterpress Machine for Handcrafted Vodka Labels

Rich Showing Off the Depressingly Awesome 1930s Letterpress Machine for Handcrafted Labels

You’ve heard the catch-phrases bean-to-bar, grain-to-glass, farm-to-table — these guys are bringing us still-to-spirit. After taking over the 6,000 sq ft. space only six short months ago, the team of six bearded Brooklyn brains have built an in-house kitchen, machine workshop, laboratory, distillery and bottling station to dissect and build the entire process of distilling vodka by hand. And they have their first product run coming to market next week on April 20th — did you hear me when I said this started only six short months ago? Again, Depressingly Awesome. With an intense focus on efficiency and controlling every stage to keep costs low, they have built their own stills to tweak the entire process, using different grades of heat for incoming an outgoing product to share supply and waste lines.

Industry City Distillery Stills

Dave Shows Off the Industry City Distillery Stills and Machine Workshop

Why is this cool? Because lighter alcohol will vaporize at different heat points, they have created a fractional still that enables them to extract different types of alcohols at different heats  and then selectively add these back together for the final product {or handmade cleaning supplies}, wasting nothing. They call these “the cuts” or “the flavor character,” which they are constantly experimenting with to mix at different ratios, producing a range of flavors akin to sweeter, buttery and even rubbery vodkas {I tasted it — it was booty!}. True to the Wonka nature of the tour, we sat down in the handcrafted kitchen for a tasting — beakers lined up in front of us and droppers at the ready to mix and match and see just how quickly a vodka can go from smooth to robust.

And Now for a Vodka Tasting

And Now for a Vodka Tasting

Tom, Our Fermented Friend

Tom, Our Fermented Well-Loved Friend

To put this production efficiency-flavor controlled process in perspective, a typical big-industry vodka is distilled 5 times. It’s boiled and produced from 5 cuts. Industry City Distillery passes the product through their fractional still once and from it, they take 30 cuts! The product is also made from beet sugar, instead of cane sugar as it has a higher energy density and they’re making their own algae-encapsulated yeast beads {meet Tom, the inaugural batch that has been put through the test-lab ringer} in a small climate-controlled, and apparently groundbreaking, fermentation environment that they plan to open-source in the future.

Impressed? Intrigued? Totally geeked out and ready to sample? Good news, Industry City Distillery’s inaugural product launch is happening April 20th and you can get your hands a bottle of Industry City Distillery “No.2” Vodka by pre-ordering at DrinkUpNY here and for a limited time it’s on sale for 25% off. I’ll drink to that! Want to know more? Check-out their website for cool diagrams, photos and more about the secret sauce — oh, and sign-up for their newsletter so stay in the know.

More Brooklyn Gems You Should Know About:
Do This!: Learn to Forage in Prospect Park for Edible and Medicinal Plants with Expert Leda Meredith
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk
Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s
NYC Best: Source Your Spices and Specialty Foods @ Sahadi’s

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Do This!: Learn to Forage in Prospect Park for Edible and Medicinal Plants with Expert Leda Meredith

Foragin

If you missed Leda’s Fermentation SideTour, you can still get in on learning more about eating locally — very locally. Wild edible plants are all around, growing right at your feet — in our city parks, as the “weeds” in community gardens and backyards, even in abandoned parking lots. You just need to know where to look. At Prospect Park, Leda will show you how to safely spot ramps (a wild onion), mulberries, sassafras, gobo root, and many more natural delights. Discover the tastes and aromas of these wild, seasonal ingredients. Learn how to sustainably harvest and then deliciously prepare them! You will certainly leave with a new appreciation of urban foraging, the ultimate local food.

Leda writes the “Foraging Brooklyn” column for James Beard nominated nonabrooklyn.com and is the Food Preservation Guide for About.com. She is an award-winning instructor, teaching edible and medicinal plant classes at the New York Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Leda leads wild edible plant and mushroom tours throughout the Northeast. 

Passionate about the sustainable food movement, Leda is your guide to translating a mostly local, organic diet into something doable and fun.

Friday, April 20, 2012 | 10:00am – 12:00pm
Saturday, May 26, 2012 | 10:00am – 12:00pm

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Leda Meredith has definitely been livin’ la vida locavore. As a certified ethnobotanist and author, she is a recognized expert in the local-food movement. It’s a lifestyle that continues to gain traction, as the nutritional and environmental benefits become clearer all the time. More and more people are skipping the supermarket and heading to a farmers’ market, or picking and growing their own food. So spend some time under the sun and join Leda for a foraging tour in the park.

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NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk

The Garage Door Style Entrance to Kinfolk, Temporary House of Frej

The Garage Door Style Entrance to Kinfolk, Temporary Home of Frej

Back in 2009 I read about a 10-seat place in Brooklyn called Brooklyn Fare that was preparing extraordinary dishes, yet was fairly unknown to the masses. Intrigued, I made a reservation for 8 people hoping I could convince 7 lucky friends to dine beside me that weekend. At the time, the ticket price of $95 a head seemed like a worthwhile, though steep, 20-course dining experience with Chef Cesar preparing everything table side. When I called, someone answered my phone call on the second ring and I had my choice of weekend reservations. Fast forward three years and three Michelin stars later, and the reservation book is full months in advance with a pricetag skyrocketing to $225 per person. Sigh. Last night I had an early-Brooklyn Fare-days deja vous moment at Frej. Something special is blooming.

Tucked down an untrafficked street in Williamsburg, you’ll come across a converted industrial building with a garage door front. The multi-purpose space is design studio by day, bar by night {with B.Y.O.V – bring your own vinyl – Tuesdays on the menu}. The bar is called Kinfolk and also plays the role of generous relative, providing space to Frej, its temporary dining houseguest {although I am hopeful this kinship becomes permanent}. It’s a symbiotic relationship — Kinfolk needed to serve food to obtain a liquor license and the guys behind Frej were looking for a small space to test out their concept. Named after the nordic God of Harvest, the menu is based on local-seasonal fare prepared with a scandinavian hand.

We settled into the intimate 10-table seating area and things started off simply, but on a high note. They had me at warm, fresh baked bread with a side of salty butter. That butter was gone by the end of dinner.

Frej Bread and Butter

Frej Bread and Butter

An amuse of pureed celery root, pork jowl and chicory was a perfect introduction to the balanced local, ingredient-focused flavors of the rest of the meal.

Amuse: celery root, pork bowel, chicory

Amuse: celery root, pork jowl, chicory

Smoked brook trout, egg yolk, dill, chickweed, rye bread was both light and rich at the same time. I loved the crispy rye bits strewn about the dish and I’m a sucker for dill on any finned friend. Oh, and egg, how I love thee.

Burnt hazelnuts crispy sunchokes skin beef liver puree

Smoked brook trout, egg yolk, dill, chickweed, rye bread

Burnt hazelnuts with crispy sunchoke skins, sunchokes and a beef liver puree, was a surprising marriage of textures and flavors. I loved the richness of the puree, was delighted by the use of the delicate sunchoke skins and enjoy hazelnuts on pretty much anything, but the one-step-beyond-toasted flavor really counterbalanced the liver puree and had me wiping the plate with said lovely warm bread.

Burnt hazelnuts, sunchoke skin and beef liver puree

Burnt hazelnuts, sunchoke skin and beef liver puree

Soft poached egg, with pickled hen of woods mushrooms and crispy seaweed. Hello egg again. This was one of my favorite dishes — it was earthy, it was vinegary, it was sweet, it was creamy, it was crispy, it was perfection.

Soft poached egg, scallop, hen of the woods mushroom, cauliflower puree

Soft poached egg, scallop, hen of the woods mushroom, cauliflower puree

Skate wing, pickled onion, carrot ribbon, fennel frawns, almond powder. I’m starting to catch on — fresh local fish, bright fresh herbs, a little earthiness, a kiss of sweetness and a touch of vinegar. That umami that we all crave and leaves us wanting more…more…more!

Frej Skate wing, carrot ribbon, pickled onion, fennel frawns

Frej Skate wing, carrot ribbon, pickled onion, fennel frawns

Beef cooked in hay with rutabaga and apple cider gelée. Ok, no, this was my favorite dish. I made what could have been three bites turn into nine, just so I could enjoy the perfectly tender beef with the accompanying, cleverly sweet and tart cider gelée bites. If it wasn’t already Wednesday, I would have made a reservation for the next night on the spot.

Beef cooked in hay with rutabaga and apple cider gelee

Beef cooked in hay with rutabaga and apple cider gelee

Hibiscus pound cake, dried berries, cardamom ice cream. And dessert didn’t disappoint either — somebody please make me a hibiscus pound cake for my next birthday. Delightful.

Hibiscus pound cake with dried berries and ice cream

Hibiscus pound cake with dried berries and ice cream

The Skim: If you’re looking for a place with no pretense, but is rooted in innovation, then get thee to the Frej. These guys have mastered plate after plate of umami-satisfying local flavor combinations. Nothing is fancy pants. Everything is unique. Eye brows were raised with excitement throughout our entire meal and each dish was wiped clean and washed down with delightful Kinfolk cocktails {might I recommend the Kinfolk pink grapefruit collins}. The best part about it all? It only costs $45. The. Best. Undiscovered. Deal. In. Town. And you heard it here first, brunch will begin within the month. I may just move my permanent residence to 90 Wythe street — until then, Frej is making its way to my Favor8 list.


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Map: 90 Wythe and 11st Street {Brooklyn}
Reservations: A must — info@frejnyc.com {open Mon-Wed 6-10pm}
Phone: (347) 286-6241

More Brooklyn Gems You Should Know:
Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Isa is a Trip Not to be Missed
Do This!: Foraging for Food is F’ing Fun {in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with Leda}

Vinegar Hill House is a Sweet Spot for Supper
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s
Brooklyn Fare Fares Well, Earning 2 Michelin Stars

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Mouth Foods: Lovers of Artisanal & Small-Batch Producers and All Things Delicious

Mouth Foods Artisan Selections

I recently sat down with Craig Kanarick, CEO and founder of a delicious new start-up called Mouth Foods. The first time I looked at his website I wanted to grab a spoon and dive right in. Instead, I took him to coffee to digest the story of how someone left an executive seat at Razorfish, in favor of a small office piled high with jam jars and stoopwaffles.

Mouth Foods Headquarters

Mouth Foods Headquarters

We’ve all been there. Riding the corporate roller coaster, looking out the static windows with an unfocused stare, dreaming of our professional freedom. One day, Craig’s daydreaming eyes narrowed in on the French Culinary Institute’s smoke-breaking students across from his downtown office. Light bulb: “I want to leave this grind behind and go to culinary school.” Lucky for Craig, he just happens to be friends with Mario Batali, who quickly advised him that he would learn more jumping straight into a restaurant kitchen than spending months and thousands of dollars at FCI. Craig hung up his briefcase, grabbed his knives and jumped at the opportunity to help with prep and learn the inner workings of Babbo.

It was a weekend excursion to a Brooklyn shop, Marlow and Daughters, that was the second light bulb illuminating his path to launching Mouth Foods. As his children excitedly talked with the butcher and wanted to try all the hand-prepared products lining the cases and shop shelves, Craig realized it was difficult to get these treats unless they paid a visit to the depths of Brooklyn when they had the time. Small production artisans just want to produce – they don’t often think about distribution and when they do can often encounter difficulty winning the competition for shelf space. So how do we get our hands on these goods? And how do we share our favorite new bacon-chocolate discovery without having to stand in line at FedEx to send someone we love the pork-cacao confections that we have wrapped ourselves?

There have been a few online channels that have popped up – foodzie is one of the largest and have recently changed their focus to a subscription model. Gilt Taste is a lusty site that makes me drool for Spanish Mangalica Ham and White Truffle Cream…and also makes we wish I had eight figures in the bank account to afford those items.

Mouth Foods ViewEnter Mouth Foods. A beautifully designed site that showcases what’s in the jar with a bird’s-eye view that tells the mind to dive right in. Just launched in December, they are quickly adding products that live up to the philosophy of supporting small independent packaged food makers to grow their businesses. They are focused on the art and craft of local, sustainable business preparing foods and making food products and making it easier for the consumer to get a taste.

With the desire to support a start-up supporting the up-all-night small food producers of New York, I sent a package of intriguing bites ranging from a bacon toffee bar to ginger ale, to my cousin and did a face-time session with her when her surprise belated-Christmas package arrived. The local angle may not have resonated with her as much as it did with me – she has no idea who NY-based Nunu chocolates or Sour Puss Pickles is, but that didn’t stop her from gushing over every sip and bite of just plain old delicious handmade treats. And if she is interested {as I was} she can read about each of the makers on the site.

So what’s next for Mouth Foods? More products and more cities. And, in my opinion, I’d love to see a subscription model that brings Christmas morning to your doorstep on a regular basis. I don’t always want to go online when my craving hits, but I would like to receive a jar when Brooklyn Brine launches a new flavor. I want to be the first to try Nunu chocolates latest chocolate-covered X. And then I want to send a gift of all my favorites that I have personally tried to my network of friends and family. I want to be a tastemaker and I want Mouth Foods to be my discovery channel of all the best and newly launched artisanal goodness being brewed in the small, scattered storefronts throughout the country.

Need Quick Gift Ideas?
Choco-Lot Taster
Jackers and Crams Taster
Hot Stuff Taster
Pickle Town Taster
Nuts for You Taster
Snack Mouth Taster 

Mouth Foods Gift Tasters

Mouth Foods Gift Tasters

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Do This!: Fall Cheese and Chocolate Extravaganza

Jessica Wurwarg Shares Some Great Pairing Information

Fall Cheese and Chocolate Extravaganza!

When: Saturday October 15
8:00 p.m. until the cheese and chocolate runs out…

Where: MikNic Lounge
200 Columbia St. between Sackett and Degraw
phone: 917 770-1984

What: Free Tasting {yes, FREE}
Learn about a selection of amazing cheeses and chocolates and how to pair  them with wines, beers or spirits
Did I mention it’s FREE? So get there early before the supply runs out!
Local artist, Chris Mancuso, will also be doing an on-the-spot painting.

Jessica Wurwarg (Cheese Guru)
Colleen Riley (Sweets Master)

Miki Mosman (Miknic proprietor)

RSVP to wurwarg@gmail.com so they can make sure to have enough good bites on hand.

Public Transit Directions: Take the B61 Bus or the F to Bergen or Carroll.

See Amazing Past Cheese Events with Jessica:
Historic India House Shares Spectacular Cheese and Space
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes
8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!

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At The Meatball Shop, It All Starts With Naked Balls

The Meatball Shop Customizable Menu

We’ve been through the burger, food truck and FroYo craze — is it time for meatball madness? I would fully support more meatball-centric meals. Especially when it involves making your own masterpiece from meat choice to sauce selection. At The Meatball Shop, this is exactly what you can hope for when you sit down to supper. A casual arrangement of communal seating is set with laminated menus and dry erase markers for each diner to peruse and build their meal to taste.

I opted for a white bread hero, sandwiching spicy pork meatballs, pesto sauce and creamy mozzarella. Any of these flavors and textures on their own would be well-received, but when you combine the  fresh crusty bread with a perfectly seasoned tender meatball slathered in the bright herby pesto and creamy mozzarella, you’ve got yourself a handheld creation that you will crave again for days after. For smaller appetites build your flavors on a 1-ball “slider” or a 2-ball “smash”, but don’t forget to add the family jewels — a fried egg for an extra dollar and unparalleled meatball goodness.

My Hero

Maps: 
84 Stanton
170 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn
Reservations: Not Taken
Phone: {212} 982-8895 

More Meaty Meals:
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau
Al & Ry’s Revolutionary {Meat} Pies
Detroit’s Slows Bar-B-Q is Quickly Becoming a Motor City Beacon
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF

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Do This!: Summer Cheese Extravaganza!

Jessica Wurwarg Shares Some Great Pairing Information

Summer Cheese Extravaganza!

When: Saturday July 23
7:30 p.m. until the cheese runs out…

Where: MikNic Lounge
200 Columbia St. between Sackett and Degraw
phone: 917 770-1984

What: Free Cheese Tasting {yes, FREE}
Learn about a selection of amazing cheeses and how to pair  them with wines, beers or spirits
Did I mention it’s FREE? So get there early before the supply runs out!
Local artist, Chris Mancuso, will also be doing an on-the-spot painting.

Jessica Wurwarg (Cheese Guru)
Miki Mosman (Miknic proprietor)

RSVP to wurwarg@gmail.com so they can make sure to have enough good curds on hand.

Public Transit Directions: Take the B61 Bus or the F to Bergen or Carroll.

See Amazing Past Cheese Events with Jessica:
Historic India House Shares Spectacular Cheese and Space
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes
8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!

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Vinegar Hill House is a Sweet Spot for Supper

Vinegar Hill Specialty Cocktail: blanco tequila, curacao, lime, grenadine

Vinegar Hill Specialty Cocktail: blanco tequila, curacao, lime, grenadine

 Vinegar Hill is not a Brooklyn neighborhood you hear much about — perhaps because it only stretches for about six blocks and is neighbored by the more buzz-worthy DUMBO. But if you have thus far overlooked this charming area, I suggest you take a stroll through this historical corner {and more strongly suggest you don’t wear cobblestone-unfriendly heals when you do.} The neighborhood feels a bit like you have traveled back in time with Federal style homes, quiet sleepy brick-laid streets and a few storefront gems that sit happily on a mostly residential row and look like places you could buy an antique musket from the Battle of Vinegar Hill during Irish Rebellion of 1798 {and now you know where the hood got its name.}

But my first trip to Vinegar Hill was not prompted by an historical expedition. Rather, it was to grab dinner at the equally as charming and most definitely delicious Vinegar Hill House. The copper-topped bar and copper-haired-bearded bartender was a quick conduit to a warming-first impression. The cocktail menu is simple in length, but lists an inspired concoction of choices. After a brief chat with said bearded bartender, he pleasantly described  his affinity for Despues del Ensueno {pictured above} — delightful on that humid summer eve.

The dinner menu did not disappoint either. Special app of the night: house-cured ham. It was so good I ate it too quickly to take a picture — professional mishap #1. We also sampled the farmstead cheese & salumi platter with homemade crackers and a pickled quail egg. With duck pate rounding out the selection, this clearly was not just another cheese platter and we were better for it.

Vinegar Hill Cast Iron Chicken

Vinegar Hill Cast Iron Chicken

Feeling old-world New York, I could not resist the Cast Iron Chicken. It comes straight out of the brick oven piping hot with the danger of searing your arm if you mistakenly touch the pan as you gleefully dig into the juicy, buttered bird — professional mishap #2. But it was well-worth the lasting burn mark. If you want to go for a safer eating option, try the Mezze Maniche — a shorter version of the always popular rigatoni that is stopped with a lovely pork ragu.

Vinegar Hill Mezze Maniche with Pork Ragu

Vinegar Hill Mezze Maniche with Pork Ragu

The Skim: Getting out of the city slog doesn’t have to mean you need to travel to the Hamptons. Spend the summer visiting some of New York’s less-trafficked neighborhoods to digest a little historical charm and a fantastic meal for the evening. Vinegar Hill House is only a short walk from the river, so it also lends itself to being a great place to start the night before a NYC skyline stroll along the Brooklyn waterfront or before attending a bargemusic concert under the great Brooklyn Bridge.

Map: 72 Hudson Avenue, Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn
Reservations: Taken for 4+ Sun-Mon; 6+ Sat/Sun Brunch
Phone: 718-522-1018

Other Favorite Brooklyn Haunts:
Under the Bridge, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory Treat {Post-VHH Dessert!}
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s
Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
A Better Brooklyn Breakfast @ Dizzy’s Finer Diner 

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18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau

How To Cook Meat for Your Man

A few weeks ago I went to this amazingly wacky collectors exhibit in Brooklyn — a range of collections from hotel ashtrays to museum dust {???}. As I made my way around the room of oddities, I stumbled upon one table that did catch my interest. A collection of meat recipe booklets from the June Cleaver days: “Meats for Men”, “There’s Always Time to Cook Meat”, “Meat Recipes You’ll Talk About” were just some of my favorites. All published by various national livestock and meat boards of one nature or another, these booklets are full of hints on how to cook stews fit for a king or manage your meat over the course of the week — good nutrition calls for meat at least once a day, after all. With all this insightful inspiration, I was craving some good honest meat {wouldn’t you?}. Luckily NYC’s #1 rated BBQ joint, Fette Sau, was conveniently located right across the street from all this nonsense. Some pulled pork and a cold draft was in order!

First up, one of their many craft beers poured from the clever cleaver taps — one too many brews and an ornery attitude could get you in serious trouble!

Craft Beer Taps @FetteSau

And this is why you get a beer first. A long line of pork patrons eagerly away their moment to order. Hey ladies, notice how many men are here??? Don’t worry, the line goes reasonably fast, but why not share a cold one and a conversation while you wait.

Fette Sau Patrons

And while you queue up and converse, you can get inspired by the meat wall — a brilliant dissection of piggy cuts that any meat-loving man or woman should know!

Fette Sau Meat Wall

But what we really care about is das menu. The glorious list of smoked meats, waiting for you to step up and order by the pound. Black Angus Pastrami, Berkshire St. Louis Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork Shoulder, Berkshire Spicy Pork Sausage and more, served with a side of Coleslaw, Guss’ Kosher Pickles, Burnt End Baked Beans, among other goodies. The best part about this place — order a sample of everything and anything you want as it all gets dished on a big ‘ole tray with wet naps and some buns. Fette Sau’s BBQ is dry rubbed and smoked with a blend of Red and White Oak, Maple, Beach and Cherry. And while no sauces are applied during cooking, a selection of sauces awaits you at the communal picnic table seating, so you can play around with flavors and get creative stacking and gnawing at your order if you choose. The premium selection of organic, small-farm heritage meat is juicy with a prevalent smokey flavor that permeates the entire cut and decisively reminds you that this is not just another BBQ joint serving sticky sauced ribs. No, this is the #1 rated BBQ destination in all of NYC, and I can see why.

A Little of This, A Little of That

The Skim: If you’re looking to put a little meat on the bone, or a place to take your man so he can eat like a king, then Fette Sau is a must. The beauty of this high quality BBQ joint is it’s small cozy feel. With a tray of smoked goodness and a ball jar of suds you can settle in to stare longingly into the electronic fireplace with your king of the castle.

Map: 354 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn
Reservations: Not Taken
Phone: 718-963-3404


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Seal of Approval

Stick it To My Ribs:
Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening
SF Best: RoliRoti Rolls Out Revolutionary Rotisserie
recipe goodness :: red chili-lime cornbread muffins
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage
8.ate@eight #3: Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ

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Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s

Roberta's Brooklyn

Located in a former garage in Brooklyn, down a warehouse-dense road, Roberta’s is nestled in a space that at first glance makes you question your propensity to enter. But when you do, you are warmly greeted by a brightly lit, rustic atmosphere set with reclaimed wood communal tables overlooking a piping hot wood-burning oven. Weather permitting, you can also grab a seat in the back garden and settle in for some equally delightful rustic fare.

Roberta's Communal Seating

Creatively named pizzas are the feature of the menu. We had the Da Kine, a word in Hawaiian pidgin that generally refers to anything abstract. It’s also a new take on the typical Hawaiian pizza with tomato, mozzarella, ricotta, jalapenos, pineapple, prosciutto cotto. Let me tell you, it was DE-LISH-OUS! Thin slices of sweet pineapple, cut with a subtle spice from the jalapenos and topped with a delicate, almost lacy proscuitto, which I found to be so much better than the typical thick squares of ham. All washed down with a draft brew served in a Ball jam jar — doesn’t that just scream rustic dining experience?

Roberta's Da Kine Pie

The Skim: I can only speak to the stellar pizza I had, but the menu also features other creatively rustic dishes such as the Orecchiette with lamb pancetta, egg yolk, piave or the Pork Chop with fregola, guanciale, romanesco. This may look like a run-down industrial joint from the outside, but Roberta’s is serving upscale, unique dishes that will make your taste buds sing, but in a comfortable atmosphere that invites you to enjoy a low-key meal out with friends whatever the occasion.

Map: 261 Moore St Brooklyn,NY
Reservations: For Parties of 10+
Phone: 718-417-1118


8.ate@eight Favor8
Seal of Approval

Another Pie Please:
Do This!: Eataly is Big Box Batali
Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas
Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate


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Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time

Blue Bottle Coffee Brooklyn

It was several months ago during a trip to San Fran that I found myself at the Ferry Building on a brisk Saturday morning. With sleep in my eyes and jet lag fogging my weary head, I decided a steaming cup of coffee was in order. And so I stood. In a 30 minute line. For coffee. This is not something I would normally do, but the craving had settled in and my interest was piqued as I noticed many others patiently and happily waiting. Waiting for what? Waiting for a single cup of freshly ground, individually dripped, piping hot and made to order Blue Bottle Coffee. Was it worth the wait? Was an individually dripped cup of java really that good? Of course it was. So imagine my delight when I learned Blue Bottle was bestowing it’s bean to brew love on Brooklyn.

Blue Bottle Coffee One Cup at a Time

The brilliance of this brew rests in the fact that the beans are roasted onsite, allowing for the absolute freshest possible cup to be prepared specially — for you and only you. Once ground, the beans are placed in a paper filter that is nestled in a ceramic drip cup, and which magically come to life as prime temperature water is poured from the spout of a swan neck kettle. Drip. Drip. Drip. Wait. Wait. Wait. And so is born your beautifully crafted cup of Blue Bottle joe.

“I will only sell coffee less than 48 hours out of the roaster to my customers, so they may enjoy coffee at its peak of flavor. I will only use the finest organic, and pesticide-free, shade-grown beans.”
— Blue Bottle Coffee Founder Vow

Blue Bottle Roasting

It is no small thing to walk into a minimally marked building, down a minimally trafficked street, on an off hour of a weekday, to find a concentrated crowd of eager Brooklyn Blue Bottlers. The intense perfume of fresh beans, the hum of the roasters, the casual conversation of a loyal caffeine crowd, all welcomes you with open arms as soon as you enter the garage door fronted store. This isn’t your typical coffee stop that lures you in with free wifi and tables at which to pitch your tent for hours. No, Blue Bottle offers a standup bar to encourage socializing while you tip the mug, and a great view of what it means to create small production coffee in the freshest way possible. The only thing wrong with it? It’s 30 minutes from my apartment.

Brooklyn Blue Bottlers

Map: 160 Berry Street, Brooklyn

Warm Me Up:
Crop to Cup Creating Quality Community Coffee
Give Your Monday Morning Mug a Kick in the Pants with Kicking Horse Coffee
Do This!: Eataly is Big Box Batali

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Do This!: Free Fall Cheese and Chocolate Extravaganza!

Free Fall Cheese and Chocolate Extravaganza!
Saturday November 13
7:30 p.m. until the cheese runs out…

The Red Hook Bait and Tackle
320 Van Brunt St. (at Pioneer St.)

Learn about the cheeses and chocolates
and how to pair them with wines, beers or spirits.

RSVP to wurwarg@gmail.com to attend, so they can make sure there is plenty of cheese and other good things. Did I mention this extravaganza is FREE! Life doesn’t get much better than that.

Matt Bonano and Jessica Wurwarg (Cheese People)
Colleen Riley (Chocolate/Dessert Person)
Edie Stone (Bait and Tackle Person)

Map: 320 Van Brunt St.
Public Transit Directions: Take the B61 Bus or the F to Smith and 9th St.
RSVP: wurwarg@gmail.com

Cheese Plating in Progress

So Much Cheese, So Little Time:
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes
8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF

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Brooklyn Fare Fares Well, Earning 2 Michelin Stars

A year ago I went to Brooklyn Fare with 7 other close friends to dig into an evening of fine dining and free flowing wine, while seated at a superbly intimate and unique, but casual, chef’s table in the kitchen of Brooklyn Grocery. So I am extremely excited to hear and spread the word that the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare Grocery was just awarded 2 Michelin stars — one of only 10 restaurants in New York and the only restaurant in Brooklyn.

Michelin Guide director Jean-Luc Naret said the eatery was one of the best 300 restaurants in the world.

In honor of their honor, I thought I would recap the memorable meal. A picture is worth 1,000 words with this post! For a fixed price {wine is BYO}, we watched our meal being prepared table side, chatted with chef, Cesar Ramirez, and left happy, satiated foodies. Reliving this meal through photos makes me want to go back tomorrow! As you can see, what was supposed to be a 5-course tasting menu, actually turned into 13 — hence why we had to call the local wine store to restock our supply {come prepared}!
The evening started out with a shot of Lemon Verbena Foam

Starting out with a shot of Lemon Verbena Foam


And A Bite Sized Parmesan Macaroon

Followed by a fried ball of liquid foie gras. WHAT! Amazing liquid gold in a bite.

And then Crispy Crab Balls {not pictured}, leading to Fresh Oysters w/ Sea Water Gelatin Film

Fresh Oysters w/ Sea Water Film


On to more foamy goodness — Parmesan Foam, Shaved Lemon Zest and a generous heap of Truffles

Parmesan Foam, Shaved Lemon Zest and Truffles



And a lighter Hamachi Crudo w/ Soy and Lime

Hamachi w/ Soy and Lime


Finished Product


The beginnings of Crab and avocado wrapped in bibb lettuce, topped with button mushrooms and shaved porcini — An amazingly rich, but light; fresh, but earthy contrast of flavors.

Laying the Avocado Foundation


And then the Crab Roll


Crab and avocado wrapped in bibb lettuce, topped with button mushrooms and shaved porcini


Our taste buds were doing jumping jacks, but this was nothing compared to the next dish: Egg, truffle foam and fried italian black rice. You can only imagine how well this combination of both consistencies and flavors played together. I quickly started to lose track of which course we were on or if these dishes were even on the listed menu — it was one tantalizing bite after another. With a lot of wine to wash it down!

Egg, truffle foam and fried italian black rice. A-mazing.


And just when the rich flavors start to make your head spin in glee, Chef Ramirez lightens things back up with a Fish stew with lobster, frog legs, octopus, cod cheeks, topped with lobster foam.

Fish stew with lobster, frog legs, octopus, cod cheeks, topped with lobster foam


And a most interesting John Dory with Veal Jus — redefining surf & turf?

John Dory with Veal Jus


And to finish off the savory menu, a highly seasonal and highly delightful, Milk fed pork, baby leeks, shaved apple stack topped with melted powdered caramel.

Milk fed pork, baby leeks, shaved apple stack topped with melted powdered caramel.


Of course, the evening also ended with something sweet, colorful and fantastically fun to eat. Poached plum, topped with ricotta, 26-year aged balsamic, muscato gelee and plum marshmallows.

Poached plum, topped with ricotta, 26-year aged balsamic, muscato gelee and plum marshmallows.


I could not begin to describe the complexity and brilliance of this meal with words, so hopefully the photos are enough to make your mouth sing. I’m guessing the wait list is longer than a line at Whole Foods on a Saturday afternoon, so get your friends, set a date many months from now and get involved. When you make your reservation be sure to ask for the recommended local wine store that will help pair wines with the meal the day prior {just plan for more courses than revealed and don’t be shy about sharing with Chef Ramirez and his team}.

Map200 Schermerhorn
Reservations: Required!
Contact: Heidi at 718-243-0050 or email kitchen@brooklynfare.com

More Brooklyn Fare:
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
NYC Best: Source Your Spices and Specialty Foods @ Sahadi’s
Crop to Cup Creating Quality Community Coffee

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NY Craft Beer Week, Get Your Goggles On

NY Craft Beer Week is an annual celebration of New York City and its craft beer community. The week’s events range from neighborhood beer walks and bar promotions to tasting festivals, food pairings and beer dinners. So when I was invited to the NYC Brewer’s Choice event at City Winery this week, I grabbed my drinking stein and shoes and headed downtown for what was sure to be a hop-ping good time. City Winery rolled out the wine barrels and rolled in the kegs to throw the best beer bash I have ever been to {even if you count college}. The space was packed with beer aficionados and regular eager amber samplers like myself, who had about 20 breweries to sip suds from and several artisan food purveyors generously pairing our brew with some tasty bites.

Patience and a penchant for tipping back a glass swiftly is what it took to power through the crowds and extensive selection in order to cover the spread thoroughly. There were definitely some highlights and unique brews worth making note of and keeping on your short list for the next time you visit the local pub.

Crafting Crowd

Empire Brewing Company: Roasted Pumpkin Ale (Syracuse, NY)
Made with over 100 lbs of fresh roasted pumpkins from Critz’s Farm in Cazenovia, NY. The pumpkins are added to the mash and then the beer is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and clove. Deep amber in color, this autumn ale is the perfect cross between a cream soda and a pumpkin pie. It is a DE-LIC-OUS draft!

Ballast Point: Navigator Dopplebock (San Diego, CA)
Brandy barrel-aged, this brew was deep brown with a thick foamy head and strong chocolate and coffee flavors. It was easy to drink and the brandy added a complexity that paired very nicely with the 70% Mast Brothers dark chocolate they were serving.

Ommegang: Cup o Kyndness (Cooperstown, NY)
Appropriately named after a line from Scottish poet, Robert Burns’, poem Auld Lang Syne, this Belgian-Scotch style ale was a wee bit smokey and reminiscent of, well, a glass of scotch. One of the more unique pours of the evening, I would highly suggest this on a cold, rainy evening or when you’re looking for something a little different to warm the soul.

Stillwater Cellar Door (Baltimore, MD)
A light golden color, Cellar Door, exhibited hints of tangerine and sage, two delightfully refreshing flavors that made this brew a selection I could sip on a stellar summer day or as a perfect pairing with some salty cheeses or seafood.

Turns out I’m actually bad about taking pictures of drinks, so you’ll have to settle for snapshots of some of the highlights from the food pairings.

Betty Brooklyn, a brooklyn based private chef and caterer, whipped up some amazing deviled eggs with pancetta topping off the delicacy. The yolk was incorporated with some of the rendered pancetta fat homemade mayonnaise and dijon to create a salty, creamy, smoky pillow of flavor in one bite.

Betty Brooklyn: Deviled Eggs

Mama O’s Premium Kimchi was cookin’ up some crazy good kimchi chili and kimchi salsa. That makes so much sense — hot peppery, gingery, pickled Korean flavor goodness meets American classics — why hasn’t anyone done that before!

Mama O's: Kimchi Chili and Salsa

Orwasher’s Bakery crafted some creative crusty breads using Six Point Ale, combining old world technique with new world flavors to create a super soft center surrounded by a crust that echos when you tap it…just how good artisan bread should be!

Orwasher's Artisan Rustic Beer Breads

Clearly a evening to remember — if I can after all that beer. So next time you visit your local Cheer’s, ask if they carry any of these craft drafts and give these suds a sip or two to suit your mood.

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Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening

Foodies, NY-ers and SF-loyalists alike made their way to MoMA PS1 in Long Island City on Friday, for what was to be a food face-off of epic proportions {all in the name of charity of course}. After David Chang, of the Momofuku empire, dropped a comment that “fuckin’ every restaurant in San Francisco is just serving figs on a plate with nothing on it. Do something with your food,” San Francisco-based chefs packed their knives and headed east to prove otherwise.

Le Grand Fooding

As a 3-block long line of eager eaters made their way through the entrance, they were handed four tickets good for a glass of Veuve, Cotes du Rhone red wine and two Belvedere Vodka cocktails concocted by drink masters, Jim Meehan of Please Don’t Tell {NYC} and Erick Castro from Rickhouse {SF} to enjoy alongside a selection of tastings prepared by notable chefs themselves under nothing more than pop up tents and the stars.

As far as the cocktails go, Jim Meehan won this face-off hands down. Using the new line of Belvedere Citrus, he shook up what he called the Park Side Fizz, a blend of Vodka, Orgeat {a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and orange- flower water}, Lemon, Fresh Mint and Soda. It was refreshing, not too sweet and went down all too easily, as I painfully discovered the next morning.

Park Side Fizz, Jim Meehan, Please Don't Tell

With drinks in hand we patiently lined up to try as many of the food stations as we could. With a large crowd and real-time food prep, some of the lines were longer than ideal, but this made a winning dish that much more of a satisfying bite. Here’s the scoop…

Le Grand Fooding @ MoMA PS1

Laurence Jossel, Nopa {SF} — Grilled Pork Shoulder Loin {aka Country Rib} with Early Girl Tomato Jam on Toast won my vote for Best Dish of the Evening!! Marinated for 4 hours, then slowly grilled for 35 minutes, this pork was full of flavor and tender on its own, but the sensory scales were quickly tipped by the most amazingly sweet, vinegary tomato jam that had hints of ginger and lovingly topped the stack of crostini and pork. I loved this dish so much I waited in line three times and am strongly considering booking a flight to SF to pay homage to a man who could create such a delicacy.

“I feel like I’m gonna go hug them for making something so delicious” — overheard @ Le Grand Fooding

Grilling Up Some Pork Shoulder, Nopa

Nopa Tomato Jam and a Classic T-Shirt

Best Dish of the Night: Grilled Pork Shoulder with Tomato Jam, Nopa

David Sclarow, Pizza Moto {Brooklyn} — Grilled Pizza with Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Lemon, Sea Salt and Basil. So simple, but with that list of fresh ingredients it was well worth the wait, especially since they were pairing it with a glass of generously poured red wine.

David Sclarow of Pizza Moto

Pizza Prep

David Chang, má pêche {NY} — Bodega Granola. A play on yogurt granola cups sold at corner delis, the bodega granola walks a fine line between sweet and savory, constructed from walnut granola topped with beet reduction tapioca, goat cheese foam, beet chips and greens.

Bodega Granola, ma peche

Mario Carbone & Rich Torrisi, Torrisi {NY} — Pickle Salad New Yorkese. This was one of the most unique dishes of the evening, with a nod to traditional deli items, the salad of cucumber and pickle slices was topped with corned lambs tongue and dressed with a a mustard-red vinegar dressing. Probably not the first thing I would normally order, but somehow it just worked.

Pickle Salad New Yorkese, Torrisi

The word on the street is the Tennessee-style fried chicken by Robert Newton, Seersucker {NY} was outstanding, but I didn’t wait in the hour-long line to confirm for myself. I’m guessing the wait confirms it though.

All in all, a great evening that raised a lot of money for Action Against Hunger, brought more awareness to a number of all ready notable chefs and restaurants and provided a great venue for social noshing and imbibing under the lights of New York.

Le Grand Foodies

Looking for More to DO!?:
Do This!: First Ever Puglia Wine Week
Do This!: EAT DRINK LOCAL week
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes

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Under the Bridge, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory Treat

Ice Cream Under the Bridge

It’s September, summer’s over, but the mercury is shooting to 90 this week in NYC. Not that you ever really need an excuse for ice cream, but isn’t that reason enough to head on over to The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located in a landmark fireboat house on the Fulton Ferry Pier? What’s so special about this ice cream you ask? Aside from the fact you can enjoy sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline from right below the historic Brooklyn Bridge, The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is known for using nothing but the finest and purest ingredients to create 8 simple flavors: vanilla, chocolate, vanilla chocolate chunk, chocolate chocolate chunk, strawberry, peaches & cream, butter pecan and coffee. You don’t need 31 flavors to find a cone you will crave here and it’s the perfect destination for a walk or bike ride across the landmark bridge, offering everything from a refreshing treat to a refreshing view after a long week in the hustle of city living.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory Float

Map: Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn

Want More Scoop?
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage
I Scream, You Scream For MilkMade Handcrafted Ice Cream
Why Buy the Cow, When You Can Get the Milkshake for Free?
Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!

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NYC Best: Source Your Spices and Specialty Foods @ Sahadi’s

Sahadis Specialty Store

Sometimes there are just certain items you aren’t going to find at your local bodega and you aren’t going to find at your local grocery store, no matter how high end. When you walk into a shop like Sahadi’s, you quickly realize it’s like a candy store for foodies. Colorful and stacked high with jars and vats and packages displaying specialty spices, olive oils, cheeses, prepared foods, among other things that catch your eye and beckon you to grab a basket and start “treating” yourself. Of course a lot of items are from the middle east, so for a girl who is part Lebanese, this IS my candy store, with items that I can only find on rare occasions.

Inside Sahadis Market

But there is something for everyone here. The center of the front room is packed with coffees, dried fruits, nuts, spices, candies, olive oils and more, including a side bar full of olives and pickled everything {even garlic!}.

Sahadis Dried Fruit and Nuts

As you make your way to the back, you enter the room where smells of freshly baked breads and pastries are wafting through the air. A large selection of prepared salads, meat, spinach or veggie pies, hummus, baba ghannouj and lebne {traditional middle eastern yogurt spread} are on display and in many cases come in a variety of flavors that had me frozen with indecision. But you can order a sampling of as much as you would like, so don’t be shy — try anything that looks or sounds interesting.

Sahadi Lebne Variety

So if you are looking to make an excursion in search of some supremely fine specialty foods from the Middle East, you only have to travel as far as Brooklyn to gather your bounty. Sahadi’s is worth the trip, even if only to peruse the shelves or snag a free olive, but I guarantee you will not leave there empty handed — there are just too many delicious treats to leave behind.

Map: 187 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn

Specialty Foods are Special:
Going Back to the Old Country @ The New Yasmeen Bakery
Barney Greengrass: Long Live the Sturgeon King
Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion

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Crop to Cup Creating Quality Community Coffee

Crop to Cup Coffee

Bike stop #2: Brooklyn’s Crop to Cup. We had only just finished breakfast and certainly weren’t yet in need of a caffeine pick-me-up, but couldn’t resist a stop in this quaint coffee cafe where brick walls and unmatched chairs welcome you to stop and enjoy a different kind of joe.

Crop to Cup‘s mission is to support the coffee family farmer community beyond what you can expect from Fair Trade brews, employing what they call their “20, 5, 10” program. What that means is farmers receive 20% over market price for their coffee, plus 5% of their coffee’s selling price in coffee consuming communities, plus 10% of company profits. Why should you care? Coffee farmers sell into an open market. They sell to Crop to Cup because they pay higher prices and higher prices encourages farmers to work their farms with more care and commitment creating premium quality coffee that you will no doubt taste in your cup.

There is certainly no shortage of coffee cans on the market, but why not try one that is better for you and the family farmer community. Click here to meet the family faces behind your crop and here to find C2C coffee near you. Good Coffee comes from Good People.

Crop to Cup Coffee, Brooklyn: 139 Atlantic Ave {btw Henry & Clinton St}

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee:
Give Your Monday Morning Mug a Kick in the Pants with Kicking Horse Coffee
Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion
recipe goodness :: how to cook the perfect sunny side-up egg
Community Food & Juice: Fresh & Fantastic Fare

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A Better Brooklyn Breakfast @ Dizzy’s Finer Diner

Dizzy's Finer Diner

Breakfast, the most important and my favorite meal of the day, pretty much means the bar is set perpetually high for a meal worthy of a write-up. Recently I went on an all day Brooklyn bike and bite ride {more to come} with my friend Beth, so I was especially pleased to start the day out right with a great brunch at Dizzy’s Finer Diner. The decor is nostalgic, giving you the feeling of a throwback diner, but the menu goes far beyond over-buttered toast of yesteryear.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know I have a strong affinity for eggs. So when some place goes and does something new and egg-citing, I just can’t help but praise the perfect poach and encourage all who take the time to browse the blog to Eat Here! They call this treat Teo’s Italian Eggs — which consists of two poached eggs served over crispy cubed focaccia and drizzled with olive oil, parmesan, fresh basil and red pepper flakes. It’s all served in a bowl, allowing you break into that little pocket of goodness and capture everything as the yolk pours out over the focaccia. Imagine a little mini toast, only this one has absorbed the flavor of pressed olives, rich creamy eggs, bright herby basil, sharp, salty cheese and then a little kick of red pepper. The beauty of all this is the simple ingredients. You don’t have to live in NYC or venture across the bridge to enjoy this — just toss those same ingredients in a bowl and try it from your own kitchen.

Dizzy's Italian Eggs

The Skim: Most people are only half awake when they eat breakfast, but the food at Dizzy’s Finer Diner will open your eyes and make you take notice of their fresh flavor combinations. Not. Just. Another. Egg. On. Toast.

Map: {511 9th Street}
Reservations: Not Taken
Phone:
718-499-1966

A Half Dozen Eggs:
Michael Pollan Agreed With Me, $8 Eggs Are A Good Idea
Weekend Brunch: Eat Eggs @ Edward’s
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table
Community Food & Juice: Fresh & Fantastic Fare
recipe goodness: cumin & dill egg salad with radish sprouts
recipe goodness: Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas {yes, with eggs!}

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