Robert and I recently hung out in Brooklyn for the weekend, something we’ve been wanting to do for a while now. It was our first time in NYC together since late December 2012, so the visit was long overdue. As a Christmas/Anniversary gift to each other this past year, we actually promised ourselves a weekend trip to NYC at some point. Sadly it took us until May to get around to it – we kept turning to each other throughout the weekend saying, “Merry Christmas!” We were struggling with picking a weekend because of wedding planning and my best friend’s wedding and festivities, etc. Luckily we were kind of forced into going during a beautiful weekend in May because Robert’s friend asked him to photograph the premiere of a documentary she had produced and directed. (It was a really interesting film about how women are treated within the gaming industry. You can read more about it here.)
I said it was a beautiful weekend, but I should really correct that to a “beautiful Saturday and Sunday.” One of my main goals for the weekend was to make it to Roberta’s for their famous pizza. I had been dying to go there since I became obsessed with Heritage Radio podcasts, which are recorded at the restaurant. Friday night provided the best window of time for us to make it there. As soon as we arrived at our friend’s apartment in Brooklyn where we were staying, we unloaded our bags and headed out to Roberta’s for a late dinner. After traveling through the pouring rain with one small umbrella between the two of us, and then a cab ride through a flash flood, we made it to Roberta’s, with soggy shoes and our pants soaked up to our knees. It was 10:30 pm. I was hoping that due to the terrible weather we might actually get a seat, but I was wrong. We were told that there was a one hour to an hour and twenty-minute wait, and then even if we got seated they probably wouldn’t serve us at that point because they closed at midnight. As you can imagine, we left. However, I did get to see the booth where they record the podcasts, so it wasn’t a total loss. I will just have to make it back there another day to actually eat the food.
We left Roberta’s and headed to a place called Tutu’s, a “gastropub” around the corner. We were seated immediately at a cozy little candle-lit table. I ordered a cucumber mint lemonade (made with gin) while Robert ordered a beer. We split the mac and cheese, toasted brussels sprouts (with bacon and lemon zest), and the rosemary shallot fries. It was exactly what I needed. Thankfully the rain had stopped by the time we left, and we were able to enjoy a leisurely walk back to the apartment where we were staying.
On Saturday morning we ventured off to Smorgasburg. In case you don’t know what that is, Smorgasburg is essentially an extension of the Brooklyn Flea that began as a way to highlight the food vendors that had started to take over the flea market. It’s like a huge outdoor food festival that happens every weekend. There are now two locations, one for Saturday and one for Sunday. They are both outdoors, so it’s only open from April through November. It has since become a great place for artisanal food producers to get their feet wet in the business before branching out. We had been there once before in October of 2012, and had been dreaming of going back ever since. We were ready to go hard. Here’s how it went down:
Brooklyn Wok Shop – We started here with the roast pork wontons. If I had a wonton before this, it definitely didn’t compare. They were like little fried pork raviolis of delightfulness. Or something like that.
Brooklyn Soda Works – We stopped at their stand in need of a beverage. After tasting all of them, we settled on the apple ginger soda. It was like my perfect cocktail, but without the alcohol.
Bamboo Bites – Here we opted for the chicken satay sticky rice with a peanut sauce. While this was definitely good, it was low on my totem pole. The main reason for this is probably because we were eating it at the same time as this next item …
Mighty Quinn’s – The beef brisket from this place is out of this world. I decided to go the brisket route instead of the pulled pork as a snap decision. I’m so glad I did. This brisket, along with the ice cream sandwiches (see below), was tied for first as my favorite thing I ate at Smorgasburg. Coming from a girl who would pick “cake over steak” any day of the week, this is high praise. In fact, if I had to pick between the brisket and a decent (not amazing) slice of cake, the brisket might win.
The Good Batch Ice Cream Sandwiches – This was my other favorite thing we ate: two brown butter salty cookies, with vanilla ice cream and a bourbon orange marmalade caramel sandwiched between them. Whoa. They call this one the “Old Fashioned.” Obviously.
Dough – I had heard good things about this doughnut place and recently listened to a podcast interview with the baker behind it, so we had to try one. We got the Cafe Au Lait flavor. These doughnuts don’t mess around – they are as big as your face and worth every calorie.
At this point we took a little break from Smorgasburg and ventured over to the Greenpoint neighborhood so I could visit Bellocq Tea, a place I had been wanting to go to since I read about it on Design*Sponge. This tea atelier is a bit deceiving from the outside, since it’s an unassuming door in the middle of a brick wall, nestled on a quiet street. Once you walk inside, it’s like a magical, serene indoor tea garden of sorts. It feels like the perfect place to take an afternoon nap. After chatting up the sales clerk, I walked away with a canister of the Majorelle Mint, a green tea blend I’ve been enjoying ever since.
While we were inside Bellocq, we discovered that we were only a few blocks away from Ovenly, a little bakery I’ve been meaning to hit up since listening to – you guessed it – a podcast interview about it. (Are you noticing a theme here? I could technically blame this whole trip itinerary on my podcast-listening habit.) While I desperately wanted a slice of their famous Brooklyn Blackout Cake, I didn’t have enough room in my belly for it. I settled for the Stumptown Shorty, a shortbread cookie/scone thing made with burnt sugar and Stumptown Coffee. It was delicious.
After that we headed back to Smorgasburg, because clearly we hadn’t eaten enough that day. We had a delicious margherita pizza from Pizza Moto and washed it down with a refreshing Thai iced tea with lemonade from Queen Cobra Thai, both pictured above in my illustration.
Saturday evening was the premiere of our friend’s movie, which was awesome. However, the night also included some “hangry-ness” and painful feet. (Don’t try to walk around NYC in heels if you’re not used to it, which I learned the hard way.) On Sunday morning, after re-charging our batteries, we headed to the OTHER Smorgasburg. The Sunday one is in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. And holy moly when I am rich and famous and live in Brooklyn I want to live in Brooklyn Heights, preferably a few blocks from Smorgasburg, which is technically at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was interesting how, as we got off the subway and began our way towards that Smorgasburg location, we eventually became part of a sea of people funneling their way to the park and Smorgasburg. So many young attractive people, so many babies and strollers, so many cute puppies. It was definitely a different crowd than the hipster group at the Saturday Williamsburg location. I wish I could just have a little peek into these people’s lives. But anyway, here’s how round two went:
Jack’s Chedbread – We started off with a corn dog because it seemed like a good way to start the day – a nice dose of carbs and meat to get us started on the right foot. We got the Sunrise Dog, a sage and ginger sausage wrapped in their cornbread with a sweet chestnut glaze on top. I’m not usually a corn dog type of person, but that one was a food on a stick I can get behind. We ate that while sipping on a Vermont Maple Lemonade, probably the best lemonade I’ve ever had.
Dough - We headed back here to try a new flavor. We got the Salted Chocolate Caramel Doughnut. Holy crap. We had no choice but to stand in the middle of everything while we ate this and make a total mess. The glaze was kind of melting all over the place, and it quite literally got all over my face. Robert should have taken a picture of it; I’m sure I looked positively ridiculous. I had chocolate glaze all over my hands and mouth, as well as on my nose and my cheekbones, and probably other areas as well. But I would do it again.
Lumpia Shack – Here we got the spring roll sampler. I think this was actually the first thing we ever ate at Smorgasburg, back when we visited in 2012. The sampler includes 3 pork, 3 duck and 3 mushroom spring rolls (they are pretty small), and they are all delicious.
We had to end with one of our favorites …
The Good Batch Ice Cream Sandwiches - This time we ordered the “Goodwich,” made with oat chocolate chunk cookies, sea salt, drizzled fudge and vanilla ice cream. While not as good as the one we had the day before, it was still near perfection. Also, those guys are awesome because we apparently timed our eating almost perfectly with our cash flow (most places are cash only), and were fifty cents shorts of having enough to pay for the ice cream sandwich, but they let us have it anyway. So if you’re at Smorgasburg, please visit them, buy an amazing sandwich, and tell them that Robert and Sara say “thanks.”
From there we cheated on Brooklyn a little bit and headed into Manhattan to go to the Warby Parker boutique retail store. Like a lot of the other places we visited, we had been wanting to go there for about a year. Both of us are in need of new glasses and were seduced by the quirkiness of Warby Parker’s frames and also their affordability. I think we spent about 2 hours in there trying on glasses. Robert chose a pair for himself, but I had a much harder time. My prescription is so awful that I need large lenses in order to actually see out of them. (In smaller frames, the focal point is so small that it’s essentially useless to even be wearing the glasses.) That said, it’s hard for me to find frames that are large enough but that I also like on my small face. So we’ll see. I wrote down some style names and I am going to do one of their “home try-ons” at some point soon. They have a photo booth there that is free to use, so we had fun with that.
We worked up quite an appetite again from trying on all of those glasses, so we ate lunch at a nearby Mexican place, Dos Caminos, before leaving the city for good. I ordered a mojito and Robert was talked into getting a Corona by our waiter. We split some guacamole and two kinds of tacos. This kind of scenario is also known as my “happy place.”
So Brooklyn was a hoot, and we can’t wait to get back. I hit up a lot of things on my bucket list, but there is still plenty leftover for next time, such as:
• Pok Pok
• Brooklyn Farmacy
• Runner & Stone
• Butter & Scotch
• Momofuku Milk Bar
• Four and Twenty Blackbirds
So if anyone has Brooklyn recommendations for me, please let me know!
Prints of my illustrations are available in my Etsy shop.
Other than the Warby Parker photo booth pics, all others were taken with our iPhones and edited in Photoshop.