Tour de Brooklyn: A Borough Grub Crawl

Last weekend Bon Appetit magazine teamed up with Belvedere Vodka and Chase Sapphire to take a tour of the ever-expanding Brooklyn Food scene. Focusing on three key neighborhoods, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg, and Red Hook, the tours worked to really highlight some of the areas’ best food options, while making it walker-friendly.

I was lucky enough to join Friday’s Cobble Hill grub crawl and started out at Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli’s Italian inspired restaurant Frankies 457 Spuntino. The joint was packed inside, but luckily we ducked out into the garden to sip a berry-ripe lambrusco and nibble on seasonal crostini. The way the tour worked was that they had four groups of people intermittently going to one of the four spots where we stayed for about 45 minutes. Frankies proved a good place to start, but our next stop felt a little awkward.

Dessert before dinner, anyone? Not that I am actually complaining. Given our tour took us to Kim Ima’s brick-and-mortar location of Treats Truck and to a pile of luscious peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies, it was a win-win situation. We followed that up with Clover Club and had a lovely punch by cocktail goddess Julie Reiner, who was actually there explaining her drink, giving us a recipe, and then pouring up their house drink comprised of raspberries and Dorothy Parker gin. We ended the night at Seersucker and sampled chef Robert Newton’s sinful fried chicken, fluffy biscuits, pimento cheese, and the Thirsty Owl Riesling that they have on tap. All together, the tour did highlight some of the hottest spots in the neighborhood right now.

On Saturday they covered Williamsburg and smartly chose Rye for cocktails, Maison Premiere for oysters, and Brooklyn Winery for a tour and wine tasting. The other two places I was less impressed with and would have skipped, one of which was Allswell because, frankly, it’s not anything special. Same for the jaunt to the Meatball Shop; while it’s delicious, there’s nothing Brooklyn about it given its two other locations in Manhattan. Sunday’s food crawl took place in Red Hook and did the neighborhood well by hitting up Stumptown Coffee Roasters, trying St. John Frizell’s southern-style Fort Defiance, eating Korean breakfast at The Good Fork, filling up on smoked meat at Mile End, and dancing at the historical bar Sunny’s.

Overall, the folks behind the tour did well to give a broad sampling of the neighborhoods that you can easily walk around in. The only other location I would have included is Prospect Heights where you can easily indulge in seasonal nibbles from The Vanderbilt, cocktails at Weather Up, ramen at Chuko, and oysters at Cornelius—but I guess that’s a good excuse to do that one on my own. 

The Food Fetishist: She Threw the Hat on the Bed

She threw the hat on the bed. We all know what that means, right? Someone or some “thing” is going to die. Maybe it will be me. Maybe it will be her. Maybe it’s us? Who knows. Within hours of me finding her hat on the bed, we broke up, which means that the “thing” that died was us. Who am I kidding: it’s me that’s dying.

She is my temptress, my mistress, my lover. She is food. She is alive, she is wanting, she is waiting. If only I could heed her call. If only she could comfort me in this time of need, but she can’t. Nothing can fill the emptiness.

What do you do after a breakup? You take somebody new out to dinner. Or better yet, you take a retread (someone tried and tested) out to dinner. After all, who has the mojo to meet somebody new when your heart is pounding through your ears and the little man in your stomach is kick-boxing and doing backflips. I need to forget. I need to satiate myself with the company of someone beautiful and try somehow to eat some food. And what about my new gig–my food olumn at BlackBook? How the hell am I supposed to write about food if I can’t eat?

First I pick the restaurant, and then I pick the girl. And where better to take her than to Rye in Williamsburg. It’s classy, understated, and has some ridiculously good food. Now that I know where I’m eating I just have to find the girl. Oh yes, it’ll be Sarah. Sarah is a down-girl–a girl that is up for anything. This is what I need. I need Sarah to writhe on top of me, slap me in the face and tell me, “Stop being such a pussy!” I make the call–she accepts. About an hour before the date, I get a call back. It’s Sarah. She says, “I heard you broke up with your girlfriend and you’re looking for a romp.” I said, “I don’t really know what a romp is, but if it involves ripping your clothes off and doing all sorts of dirty things to you until your head spins, then yes.” Oh, honesty. I’m always getting into trouble with that honesty. I’m not a moralist, so why can’t I just say what she wants to hear, so we’ll both have a good time? Because I can’t. Lying, manipulating or tricking a girl into sex is the way of the weak. It shows no backbone. If you want to do something risque, just be up front about it and it will eventually happen. If you want to have no-strings-attached sexual encounters, cool. Just don’t piss in the cheerios and kill anyone’s buzz. So where does this leave me? Alone on a Saturday night. Why did I break up with Celia? Was she a hot-mess? Was I scared? Did I dump her before she had the chance to dump me? This is awful.

There’s no such thing as a bad decision—there are only slews of bad decisions. One bad decision needs another, until you have a snowball of bad decisions, which becomes an avalanche. And this is where I am now, buried under an avalanche of bad decisions.

So where does a person eat when he has no appetite? You go home to Mama. But what do you do when your mother lives overseas and you need some TLC, and not just any surrogate will do? You go to Tanoreen. Let me explain how to make a good decision about food. This might be the only thing I’m good at right now. If you’re in a bad place and you need something to lift up your spirits, comfort food might be the first thing that comes to mind. But this would be wrong. The last thing anybody needs is a bunch of fried pig’s balls and a bowl of mac and cheese. And maybe some of you Yogis out there are thinking Indian curry. “It’s spiritual; it’ll bring you back into your body and make you mindful.” Wrong again. What you need is some soul. Not soul food, but something with a pulse. What you need is food with heart and soul. and it’s at Tanoreen.

Tanoreen will get you high. Tanoreen will take you to another place. It’ll make you other than who you are. It will start with a giggle. Then you’ll chuckle to yourself and you won’t know why. But it’s the spices. It’s the amazing and top secret Tanoreen spices that will make you lose yourself—if only for a hot second. What you do after that to take the edge off is up to you. And remember, what you do in these critical moments will determine the type of person you are, and what type of person you’ll become. I’m on my way to Tanoreen. I’m on my way home to Mama.

NYC Try Outs: Kristina Marino’s Downtown Diaries

Steve Lewis has it right: these are the good ol’ days. They’re good because there’s something for everyone, and you can change your something on any given night. Take Kristina Marino. Her blog, The Downtown Diaries, chronicles all things nocturnal in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn—her own weekly imbiberies are chameleon-like, but they’re also true to herself. She likes a nice local bar where everyone knows her name, she takes chances with new parties, and she doesn’t judge a restaurant by its dress code. Here, her weekly spots to be scene and be sceney.

Name: Kristina Marino Professional Resume: I’m a jack of all trades but am best known for my blog, The Downtown Diaries, and the parties I throw. In my spare time, I’m the Digital Engagement Manager at Mirrorball, aka I get paid to Facebook, Twitter, and blog, all day, every day—be jealous. One Word to Describe Nightlife in New York City: Sceney

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City Loves:Favorite lunch spot: Westville, Schillers, Miss Favela (Williamsburg). • Favorite dinner spot: Rye (Williamsburg), Fette Sau (Williamsburg), Gemma. • Favorite nightlife trend: Wearing whatever the F you want. • Drink of choice: Dark and Stormy’s. • Meal of choice: Any kind of seafood. I love the linguine and clams from Fiore—it’s cheap and delicious but more of a guilty pleasure. • Favorite group of people to bump into: Nicole Wasilewicz (Free Williamsburg), Katherine Kelly, Melissa Widhson, Caitlin Monahan (Darling Cait), Tommy Eichmann (Alexa Ray Joel), Mike Del Rio, Brittany Mendenhall (ChiChi212), Antwan Duncan (I Think You’re Swell), Victor Castro (Wet Paint Photography), Hannah Rad (Sheena Beaston, East Village Radio), the Finger on the Pulse twins, DJ MSB, and a bunch of people no one reading this has ever heard of.

City Gripes:Nightlife trend you loathe: Fake glasses, models, celebrity/socialite DJs, and Aalex Julian. Oh and ladies, if you are not wearing tights in the middle of winter, you need to get your act together. • Drink: Vodka Cranberry • Meal: Street Meat. Food Chains. Dos Caminos. Group of people to bump into: About 50% of the people I see out on a daily basis…New York City is one big incestuous small world.

Her Hotspots:  Honestly, as a blogger, it’s hard to have a hotspot—I am running around the city attending different events, shows, etc. The best part about living in NYC is the variety—it’s all about having options. Here are some basics. Monday: Jane Hotel Tuesday: Le Souk Harem is giving a solid effort. The Bowery, Avenue, Lit, Gallery Bar…I guess. Wednesday: FOTP BBQ Blowout at Good Co, RDV. Thursday: Il Bagatto, Goldbar. Friday: Above Allen, Dram. Saturday: Day & Night, Le Bain. Sunday: Thompson LES pool party, Jelly Pool Parties/ All Saints Pub, Goldbar.

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Every night: Le Bain, Kenmare, Godlbar, or anywhere local—I usually hang at The Commodore, Maracuja, or Spuyten Duyvil. Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Greenhouse, Marquee, SL, Kiss & Fly, Tenjune, Veranda, Above 14th St.

For special occasions: MILK Studios is a great event space.

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Brunch is usually: To eat, I like to stay local. There’s nothing better than brunch in Brooklyn. My friends and I wind up at Lodge more often than not. If I am going to “brunch” to dance on tables and get wasted, then Day & Night it is.