Tag Archives: Williamsburg

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

 

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Do This!, NYC Best

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

1 Comment

Filed under Do This!, NYC Best

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 

1 Comment

Filed under Eat Here!, NYC Best