Images Courtesy Rachel Felder
It took Brooklyn just two decades to go from its hip-hop-incubating mean streets and Joey Bagadonuts cliches to skint artist colony to its current international profile as hipster-gentrification-and-urban-mommy-blogger ground zero.
Yet for every twee artisanal mayonnaise shop, there are still dozens of indigenous gems and “only in BKNY” destinations. Author, journalist and girl about town Rachel Felder set out to find the best of them, and in the process perfectly captured the indomitable somethingness that you simply can’t find in Manhattan, Queens, or Portland for that matter—resulting in the captivating and beautiful new book Insider Brooklyn: A Curated Guide to New York City’s Most Stylish Borough.
“My family goes back four generations there,” she says. “And when I was a little girl, having a connection to Brooklyn wasn’t something you boasted about. Now, of course, it’s the center of cool.”
It’s not at all comprehensive, as that would be beside the point. Rather the book seeks to tap into and convey a feeling, an idea about Brooklyn, a singular essence that remains in spite of the recent waves of faux-dive craft beer bars and artless mustache waxing shops.
Felder relates of the book’s inspiration, “I travel all over the world, and people are always asking me about Brooklyn.”
She’ll be appearing at the 92nd Street Y Poetry Center on June 21 at 7pm, the Hennessey + Ingalls Bookstore in LA on the 25th at 4pm, and Books & Books in Miami on July 1 at 8pm to discuss the book.
Here are some of her, and our favorites from Insider Brooklyn.
Such a precious place, on an unassuming street in Williamsburg. It pays homage to old school New York, vintage soda bottles and subway tokens and the like. And if you’re looking for really quirky NYC souvenir, their little gift shop is the place to find it.
The kind of shop you’d expect to find on Madison Avenue, but it’s in the heart of Bed-Stuy. The owner used to work at Chanel, but carries designers from local design schools. So you’ll find styles you won’t see anybody else wearing.
In an unused subway station in Downtown. Not museum with a capital “M”, it’s more of a cool pop culture museum, which examines how far transportation has come.
On an industrial stretch of Greenpoint, but you step inside and you feel like you’re on the Left Bank of Paris, the atmosphere is like a vintage wine shop. The two owners curate an impeccable selection of pure single teas, but they also do these great blends, like a green tea with Rosebuds in it. Their Darjeeling is the best you’ll find anywhere.
Brooklyn Heights is so beautiful, but visitors don’t always think to go there, and you’re missing out on one of Brooklyn’s great neighborhoods. Her studio is hidden in the most precious little nook across from Adam Yauch park. Beautiful ready made and custom pieces that are priced quite accessibly.
People just don’t make hats like hers anymore, she even makes them for Bergdorf Goodman. You can go to her Gowanus studio and choose from her collection–she does beautiful Trilbys. But you can also have a hat made to order. Heidi Klum, Jennifer Lopez and Maggie Gyllenhaal are clients.
A recent opening, owned by a consummate New Yorker who knows every customer. The beans are from Parlour Coffee just around the corner. They house cure the salmon, they pickle their own cucumbers, and they do really creative twists on comfort food.
It appeals to young fashionable types and long time locals in equal measure. It’s a Senagalese café, so it’s French inspired–you can get a really delicious omelette there. But you can also enjoy unbelievable Senagalese fish stew; they even make their own hot sauce. It feels like stepping into a café you’d find more on the outskirts of Paris.
The owner was a student at Pratt, and just stayed in the neighborhood. Her jewelry is on trend without being too trendy, really precious but affordable and wearable. Great for stud earrings that you might want to wear mismatched. She also carries clothes from local designers.