East 7th Street between First and A is the virtual United Nations of food. Japanese, Italian, French, Brazilian, Greek and good-old American. It’s all there and it’s all good. But when you’re done waving one flag or the other or are just out for an afternoon stroll, all you have to do is look for the line (or the magic unicorn) to figure out where you’re going to satisfy that sweet tooth. A few years ago, Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff got their hands on a food truck and introduced the world to their twist on old school soft serve ice cream. They called it The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and it was a hit.Now they have a bricks and mortar shop simply called Big Gay Ice Cream. The Village Voice described it as ”a cross between Mister Softee and Mario Batali.” These guys take traditional soft serve ice cream and inject it with delights such as dulce de leche or key lime curd and then dip it in chocolate and then roll it all around in nilla wafers or crushed pretzels or sea salt. The results are insane and often craveable. Must trys are the Salty Pimp, Bea Arthur and American Globs. Also try their Melt Bakery ice cream sandwiches. I had the Rue McClanahan…bourbon ice cream inside with pralined walnut cookies on the out. Sick! If there is a line (which there usually is), it’ll be worth the wait. Enjoy!
I left my bike locked up outside over night earlier this week, and some jerk thought it would be fun to slash my tires and screw with the brakes. Just for giggles, I suppose. Anyway, after the steam stopped coming out of my ears I knew my only recourse was to take it directly to my favorite mechanic, 718 Cyclery. Located on a nondescript stretch of 3rd Avenue in Gowanus, this is one of the more dynamic bike shops I’ve come across. All the mechanics work out in the open, there’s music playing and a great relaxed atmosphere with lots of exposed brick, high ceilings, and cozy corners with couches and tables. And of course, everything is flanked by lines of truly beautiful bicycles. It’s a store you’d actually want to hang out in—which is a plus, considering they offer a whole bunch of great free classes there for customers.But let’s talk about the bikes. They can do the basics for you (like service your poor commuter bike after it’s been savaged by heartless street punks) but what makes the store unique is their very unique custom build service. If you opt to do it, you can work with them to pick the individual bike components based on your needs and budget, and they’ll work closely with you to discuss each part choice and its implications (functional and otherwise). And the best part is that instead of just clicking your mouse and ordering it, you head over to the shop and actually build it side by side with their mechanics. They describe it as a collaborative experience, and you have the opportunity to learn what makes the bike tick by getting grease under your nails. It marks the expansion of a trend whereby city folk more and more truly want to experience what it is to build something, to make something tangible, to grow something, to be part of something authentic. Seems like a positive trend for the urban species, and I think the team at 718 Cyclery is on to something great. And when my poor old Schwinn finally goes to the big Scrapheap in the Sky, I am definitely going to give the collaborative build a try (and you can bet I won’t leave the ensuing new bike locked up outside overnight.)
Recently opened in the former Belcourt space at the corner of East 4th Street and Second Avenue, Calliope is a welcome addition to the neighborhood for dinner every evening and brunchon weekends. For us, managing bunches of appointments during the day and wrangling rug-rats at night tends to put a damper on eating out most evenings, so we brought a 2.8 year old guinea pig with us on Saturday for brunch.
We started out with a glass of Rose and a dozen cold and briney oysters. Six East Coast. Six West. All delicious. Lesa had some of the best looking Eggs Benedict I have ever seen and I had the Rabbit and Pork Terrine (above). Yum! Lu shared ours along with a plate of buttered toast and apricot jam that looked as if it jumped onto our table from the pages of a what-to-eat-while-in-France travel guide. The husband and wife team of Eric Korsh (formerly of Waverly Inn) and Ginevra Iverson (formerly of Prune) did a fantastic job of making our mouths water (even at the end of our meal) imagining our next date night there for dinner. They also made sure they put a super friendly staff in place for an overall winning experience. It’ll be a go-to neighborhood spot for us for sure.
It has been said that Brooklyn has the best food out there right now and Jamesin Prospect Heights resoundingly affirms that proclamation.
The way the melted and charred onions intermingled with the creamy goat cheese and perfectly cooked lamb was simply divine. The cocktails at James were serious winners as well and unlike most places in the neighborhood, James is open for lunch every day except Monday and brunch on weekends. This place just climbed to the top of our long list of favorite places for a meal.
Ready for a strong statement? 4 and 20 Blackbirdsin Gowanus has hands-down the best pie in Manhattan. If you have a holiday (the caramel apple is our favorite for Thanksgiving) or special occasion and want to truly blow your friends and families minds, then pre-order any one of their amazing pies.
On my way across the Upper West Side today, I passed by the 100 year old institution, Schatzie’s Prime Meats. I’ve meant to go in many times, as the sign in the window bragging about Schatzie’s Famous Dirty Brisket has long intrigued me. There’s also a tag line in the window that is pure gold: “My name is Schatzie. I’m a butcher, I’m not a chef and I don’t speak French. But I do know a beautiful piece of meat when I see it.” Today I was very hungry and I had time, so I popped inside.
It looked just like I hoped it would look! It’s a family business, and Schatzie’s son Richwas behind the counter. I asked, “Why is it called ‘the dirty brisket?’” Says Rich, “Because it’s got barbecue sauce on it.” Good enough for me. He then told me it was definitely his favorite sandwich (I was wavering about the pastrami) so I decided to go with his recommendation. He’s a butcher with a face you can trust. I walked to the park, and unwrapped it.
It’s not the most elegant looking sandwich ever, all wrapped up in brown butcher paper, but damn. A pound of the most melt-in-your-mouth thin sliced beef brisket slathered in ‘cue sauce on unseeded rye. Nothing else. Nothing else needed! Good old Schatzies! Fun to say the name. And a perfect New York sandwich. (If only they’d remembered to include napkins…)
Tried Boerum Hill spot Rucola for brunch this past weekend. If you haven’t been, you should – it’s a beautiful restaurant with a great vibe. It has what seems like requisite nouveau-Brooklyn decor (reclaimed wood, Edison bulbs, exposed brick, wrought iron, etc.) but to their credit it feels really effortless and natural. The food was simple and delicious: Courtney and I both had the slow roasted pulled pork sandwich, particularly notable for the nice combination of hot peppers & pickled green tomatoes. So you get that delicious rich fatty taste of the pork cut by the briney, spicy and crunchy vegetables. We were digging it. Definitely warrants a return trip… next time, for dinner!
Whether it’s Father’s Day or not, I love an outing with my favorite kid at F. Monteleone’s Bakery, on Court Street in Carroll Gardens. This place is the real deal, and they are not fooling around. Cannolis dipped in chocolate, thick cheesecakes, rich Napoleons, pretty glossy fruit tarts, and a brilliant assortment of fragrant and buttery Italian cookies. But that isn’t what my 22 month old is after. She craves their creamy and amazing gelato, and so do I.
The flavor choices span the rainbow – but Eve doesn’t feel the need to stray. She loves the strawberry, which is so fresh you can taste strawberry seeds in it. I’m partial to the pistachio which is sweet and nutty. They have a nice bench out front, so you can park it with your treats and watch the people walking by. It’s a relaxing way to enjoy the old neighborhood with some of the best Italian sweets west of the Mediterranean. As my own dad would say, “What’s not to like?”
Weather.com lied this morning and said it wasn’t going to rain, so on my way to drop off a check on Great Jones Street, my ’58 Raleigh and I, of course, got rained on. After the check got dropped, I came out to find it pouring sheets. I was hungry. Thankfully, Il Buco Alimentari e Vineriawas right next door at 53 Great Jones between Bowery and Lafayette.
Their websitesays it best, ”Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria is a market salumeria, bakery and enoteca and restaurant, inspired by simple authentic food that’s made with an uncompromising ethic, and the joy of sharing it with friends.” I’m just going to call it effing amazing.
This is their breakfast sandwich with baked organic egg, rupert cheese, salame rosa, and focaccia fino. Ridiculous. Rounded out with a glass of freshly squeezed OJ…outlandish. Must go. Must try.
Talk about unobtrusive, Little Lahore Deli is a proverbial hole in the wall on Crosby Street, but it has some seriously kick-ass Indian, Pakistani & Bangladeshi dishes. You can feast like a king on fresh chicken biryani, saag, spicy chickpeas and potato samosas for about $8. Yep, you heard right: an $8 lunch in Soho.