Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Brooklyn Chronicles - Walking The Bridge

Sometimes a picture is better than a thousand words. And you all know by now that babbling on for a 1000 words (or more) is child's play for me. I just got lucky, because of you, dear readers! For a girl who generally keeps to herself, I'm having the time of my life sharing all kinds of moments with you, especially my luhuuuvvvv for food and NY! So thank you for sticking by me, regardless of my whining and ranting and my amateur prose. You deserve a reward. Less talk, more pictures. Got it!

Today I'll share another piece of Brooklyn with you folks. When the sun was out (oh so many days ago) DH and I did the touristy thing and walked the famous Brooklyn Bridge together. We started on the Brooklyn side and ended up in Manhattan, right in front of City Hall (where I think I saw at least 5 newly wedded couples posing for pictures; one bride was wearing sneakers. That's right. Sneakers. I have nothing more to say). I have a question for Brooklyners out there. Usually I'd just Google this, but I want to hear this from the experts: why is the area near the Brooklyn Bridge called "Dumbo"? Dumbo?! Explain, please.
A piece of history, completed in 1883. The old majestic.

Through the empty warehouses in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The boardwalk at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Looking at Manhattan Bridge on the other side.

Brooklyn Ice-Cream Factory, right under the bridge.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria. According to Zagat, this is the best pizzeria in NY. The line was pretty long, so I suppose the place lives up to the hype. Or does it? I wasn't hungry enough to stand in a line that didn't seem to even be moving!

You're half way through my post and wondering "Where's the food lady?! Is this a food blog or isn't it?". Calm down. Get some decaf. And make a note to visit Almondine, a cute french bakery in Brooklyn's downtown area (sounds better than Dumbo!), where they have baguettes as door handles. Cute, no?
And partake of their bounty of baked goodies, especially their macarons. I'm no expert in macarons, but I know what I like, and I really liked these. Light as air, delicately crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside. I wish they were closer to where I live, so that I could be a loyal customer!
Are you enjoying the irony of this as much as I am?
Macaron flavors, clockwise from the top middle: Chocolate peanut butter; Passionfruit; dark chocolate; Pistachio; Blackberry; Strawberry; and Lemon in the middle.
Down to my three favorites from the whole bunch - pistachio, passionfruit and chocolate peanut butter. Pistachio was numero uno. And yes, I single handedly ate the entire plate. I needed the energy, I tell ya! Don't judge me.
Right across the street is Mr. Chocolate himself, Jacques Torres.
Famous for his hot chocolate. I tried the "wicked" version and thought it was just ok. Next time I'll give the "classic" a shot.

After walking the cobblestone streets around the park, it's time to walk the bridge itself ...
Lady Liberty at sunset, with Port Elizabeth in the back.
The Empire State Building looks especially pretty with the late evening sun shining upon it.

Those were some of my favorite Brooklyn memories. Oh there's lots more to Brooklyn than just this though. There's the Brooklyn Art Museum, the area around Atlantic Avenue, the quirky neighborhoods etc. The Red Hook vendors are especially famous, for their authentic Latin American goodies, which I got to sample last summer. If I go again, I'll be sure to take some mouthwatering photos for you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Brooklyn Chronicles - Caracas Arepa Bar & BBG

Answer me this, dear readers. Are we not well into May? Why yes, I do believe we are. Pray tell then, why o why is it only 11 degrees C and raining out there?! It's been like this for a week. Did I not move down from Canada to Long Island in order to at least feel a wee bit warmer? So how come I find myself shuddering with cold both inside and outside my house? (by now you've caught on that all these are rhetorical questions) ... I'll tell you why. Because a week ago, we had gloriously warm weather, and my apartment complex management consequently turned off the central heat and turned on the A/C. Which was fabulous ... for a day. Then we got hit with this miserable cold front, that has stubbornly stuck around for much too long already. Hence, my freezing digits and posterior. Also my grouchy mood.

*Sigh* - ok, I had a good whine there. Got it out of my system. I should at least be grateful that we did have a few amazing spring days last week. And I got to avail them properly. I explored an area of NY that I've been meaning to dive into for a long time - Brooklyn. Intensely crowded and absolutely mad in parts, this area is also dotted by oases of serenity and beauty. If you're an outsider, navigating through its streets will drive you insane. But luckily, my trusty GPS came through for me yet again! (I'm no spokesperson for this technology, but I LOVE it, and my life has changed for the better since I got it)

First stop, the
Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Although I was a wee bit early to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom, I did enjoy every minute of my time there. And by now you know how much I love to share with you, so here's a taste:

I'd also been meaning to try this place that sells Venezuelan arepas. I saw how the girls from Caracas Arepa Bar beat Bobby Flay in the Arepa Throwdown episode, and I knew I had to have one (or three) for myself. They have two locations currently - one in Manhattan and the other in Brooklyn. I'm glad I had one of my girlfriends with me, so that we could sample a few of their amazing arepas together. I'd never had one before, and for those of you who're not sure, an arepa is a round, puffy, unleavened patty made of cornmeal which can be grilled, baked, or fried. Originating in parts of South America, it can be filled with all kinds of meats, cheeses and vegetables. Observe:

La Jardinera - grilled eggplants, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions and guayanés cheese

De Pabellón - shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese and sweet plantains. The same one that beat Bobby's version!

Reina Pepiada - chunky chicken and avocado mix salad. My favorite of all three!

I will go back to Caracas Arepa Bar, this time with DH, because I know he'll really enjoy it. The restaurant is a small, very unassuming, cozy space, in a pretty, tree-lined Brooklyn neighborhood. Our waitress/bartender was a sweet little thing and helped us first-time arepa tasters quite a bit. The food was simple, hearty and wonderful. Those arepas are crave-worthy, but even more so was the mango-habanero sauce that goes on every table. Ohhhhhhhhh mama, I need a bottle of that stuff. I was slathering it on every bite, because it was just that good. Note to self: another reason to love living in NY - it introduced you to arepas.

More exciting Brooklyn adventures coming up in the next few days ...