With many stops along the way (updates of those adventures forthcoming), I’m finally back in good ol’ New York City for the summer. I’m settling into my apartment in Brooklyn and I wanted to share some adventures from my first weekend! Starting next week, I’ll be working at the Edible Schoolyard NYC, which I am so excited about, as well as working at Dirt Candy one day a week (it worked out!), interning with The Noble Rot, and volunteering at Murray’s Cheese in the classroom – so there’s definitely a lot going on! And I’m excited to share it all. But before all the fun work starts, there’s plenty of time for fun play (and setting up a temporary home, etc.) so let’s start there.
Jetlag is still blipping me in the life, but alas that is the price of travel to/from Asia, and it is only exacerbated by the jaunt from west coast to east. Who knew three hours could still make that much of a fuss. Alas, I was up till very very late this morning, and slept in a little bit longer than I hoped to, but was still up in time for the McCarren Park Farmer’s Market. I loaded up on greens, and treated myself to a pint each of sweet peas and strawberries, both in their prime, and boy was it worth it. Looking forward to a week (and a summer) of good, fresh eats!
Next I headed over to Smorgasburg at the Brooklyn Flea space on the East River between N 6th and N 7th. The number, diversity, and density of delicious, well-conceived, high quality food to be had was staggering. There are over 100 vendors of, well, everything. I need to go back and give it a whole day. And a properly furnished wallet.
After dropping off my groceries at home, I headed back up to Metropolitan to check out Saltie, a new-ish nautical-themed sandwich shop with more punch than a Minute Maid flagship store. There are seven or so sandwiches on the menu, all with admirably seafaring names, including “The Captain’s Daughter”, “Spanish Armada”, and “Ship’s Biscuit”. I opted for the “Scuttlebutt” (not just for the name I promise).
Huge, right? And it was packed full of good stuff: hard-boiled eggs (still smooth, not chalky at all), soft feta, capers, black olives, pickled veggies (today it was yellow bell peppers and rhubarb – thumbs up for creativity, flavour, and colour!), mustard greens, and pimentón aïoli, all on thick, textured, house-made focaccia.
Man was it a winner – one of the boldest sandwiches I’ve had. There so many different types of salty, sour, spicy, and savoury, it was fun just trying think about everything that was going on in mouth! And each bite was completely different from the last. I love foods that do that. And what a colourful sandwich too! I especially loved the colour of the pickled rhubarb – a sort of soft pink colour with a green tinge. And the yellow bell peppers were extra luminous. Given the size and the quality, I’d easily give another $8 to dig deeper into their menu. They also source as much as they can from the Greenmarket, and make all their breads and pastries in house, so everything is really fresh, and you can taste it. What’s not to love?
Mmm. It was pretty hearty – I employed a strategic cut-it-into-quarters-with-the-conveniently-serrated-sandwich-knife tactic just to be able to pick it up intact. But by the end, it was clear to me, the sandwich, and everyone else walking by us on Metropolitan Avenue that there was no choice but to get down and dirty with the hands. So dirty we got. It was worth every shred of dignity I shed on that well-designed white bench.
I also got a poppy seed roll to counteract the salty, savoury punchiness of the sandwich, and a thirst-quenching strawberry-anise hyssop-lemon balm cooler to wash it all down. The roll was the perfect level of sweetness – just enough to balance the gutsy sandwiches, but not too much that it was unpalatable. And the centre especially was oh-so-moist. I think my Bubbi would have loved it. The poppy seed filling was gooey and luscious, with a hint of raisin and rum – adulterated, perhaps, but sometimes that’s a very good thing.
This is after I had already gotten to the (notably delicious) outer ring. Behold the perfect interior!
“It looks so good,” said a girl in a backless dress as she walked by, partly each to her friend, to me, and to the storefront. “It is really good,” was my witty, charming response, to which the friend added, nodding in solemn concurrence, “I love Saltie,” with a wispy inflection on the last syllable, bearing a sort of sprouting nostalgia already for the newcomer. Oh yes, dear w-burgher, so do I love Saltie, so do I.
While enjoying my leisurely afternoon sandwich glut, I happened to spy a certain Momofuku Milk Bar right next door. I had been meaning to check out the new one that had opened in Brooklyn a couple weeks ago – how convenient! I was too full to buy anything, but I’ll have to come back sometime this summer for their special strawberry-black sesame croissant.
Never one to rest for too long (at least not while on a food adventure), I continued along Metropolitan Ave. into East Williamsburg, sussing out Gimme! Coffee on Lorimer at Powers. I’ve been hearing about this place for some time now, and as I’m on a miniquest to find all the ‘best’ espressos in the city this place was a must-check-out.
It was nice and quiet when I got there around 6:30. The shop is long and narrow leading to the bar in the back, the decor a modern aesthetic with red and black accents. I ordered an espresso and took a seat back by the window. It was nice to rest with a coffee after biking around all day. This one definitely had a distinctive flavour. There was quite a round nose, with notes humus and chocolate, and a surprisingly quick and sudden finish, like sherry or sherry vinegar. It comes before you know it. It had a big mouthfeel, but little body, largely because there was so little time for a body to develop in the mouth – kind of like a big bubble, or one of those sperical lamps. I could see how some people would like it, with its strong, almost hasty personality, but as someone who likes to sip their espressos with time it wasn’t one of my favourites. They have another location on Roebling, and one in Manhattan too, so I’ll have to try it again to see if it’s different.
On my way back, I stumbled across Crest Fest, the all-day art/music/food festival for the opening day of the Crest Hardware Art Show. Yes, it was in a hardware store, and it was amazing. There were art pieces of all kinds placed in and among the hardware products – many of which were actually made from hardware store products in a playful dialogue with their context. As I wandered among the aisles I heard one woman say to her husband “So everywhere there’s a green sticker is art” – the pieces were labelled in that way, but it tickled me to hear that and made me think about confusing mere hardware product for sculpture, and found art in general.
In any case, there were many pieces I liked but I photographed just one (exercising restraint, see, I’m getting better). It’s a light fixture made out of wooden hangers:
There was also live music outside in the back garden/open space, with tons of people. When I was there, The Suzan was playing, a rockin’ all-girl fuzzy buzzy garage-pop wild dance outfit, and they’re from Japan to boot, so you know they’re what’s up. Please do check them out.
By this point, I was pretty tired (not having slept and all), but I couldn’t keep the grin from my face watching these gals rock out. I stayed for a few songs, and then another, and then I had to tear myself away out of conscientiousness to my body.
All in all, a great day. Not without some inconveniences, though, the greatest of which being it seems there is no place in Williamsburg with an actual bulk foods section! I need to stock up on nuts, seeds, grains and legumes for my new pantry – help a brutha out if you know of any! I have a bike and am willing to go the distance if necessary (though would prefer to stay in the borough – Whole Foods in Manhattan is a last resort).
Such concerns were cast aside, though, as I rode back home with the sun hanging low in the sky.