Not in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would fall in love with Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Feeling somewhat disloyal to my Bronx roots I tried to hold back, and although it wasn’t love at first sight, there is something special going on in the “other B Borough.” The combination of old buildings and store fronts, converted into cozy bakeries and restaurants, run and patronized by hipsters (no idea what they stand for but they do have a certain look) all converge to create a sum that is better than the parts. Brooklynites eat local and are proud of it. Everywhere you look, there are food products that are baked, cultured, grown and created in Brooklyn and the labels clearly state that.
We started the morning with coffee and a buttery, raspberry pistachio muffin at Bakeri, a small bakery that has paid as much attention to the decor as it has to the baked goods. You feel as if you have been transported to another time and place, with a staff of young women looking freshly scrubbed and who enthusiastically describe every baked good in their display case. Off to the side one employee is kneading bread dough on a large wooden board, old style, not one piece of marble in sight. The next day we stopped at the small local farmers market. There was an interesting combination of older immigrants (this used to be a Polish neighborhood) and young New Yorkers, all coming out despite the cold weather to buy milk, cheese, eggs and poultry from New York State farms. My daughter informed me that you had to ” know” that the dairy stand sold eggs, there was no sign indicating it.
The next day we had brunch at Diner, an old dining car that has not been renovated, but has been lovingly allowed to remain in its glorious original state.
Here is what we ate.
Lemon poppy-seed scone to start.
Market salad of mustard greens, black olives, cranberry beans, croutons, creamy garlic dressing w/shaved parmesan.
Country breakfast: two scrambled eggs, biscuit w/ honey butter and grilled escarole and dandelion greens.
Omelette w/ kale and ricotta pesto and served w/ potatoes.
We forced ourselves to stop there but it wasn’t easy.
Of course, no weekend in New York would be complete without pizza so that same night we ordered in from Best Pizza. Even 40 minutes after it came out of the oven, the crust charred and crisp, the pizza thin, and the garlic knots chewy on the outside and tender on the inside.
So the next time you take a trip to NYC, do something different and take a trip to Brooklyn. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the transformation. From garden to table, this generation of “foodies” have put their stamp on fresh ingredients lovingly offered up to those who are lucky enough to visit.
After having numerous vegetable dishes in New York, I was inspired to try this Vegetable Tagine.
1 large brown onion, diced
3 Tbs olive oil
2 small fingerling potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
3 oz. dried cherries
1 can garbanzo beans
2 Tbs pomegranate molasses
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
Saute onion in olive oil till golden. Add both sweet and white potatoes, stir and allow to cook for several more minutes. Add drained garbanzo beans, and dried cherries to pot. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add water and pomegranate molasses and stir. Gently pour into Tagine and add one cinnamon stick. Cover and place in 275 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours.