Greetings from New York.
Two hours into the three hour queue to get through immigration at JFK (giving a new definition to tired and huddled masses) I was reconsidering why we were coming to New York the week before Christmas.
It’s cold. There’s a sort of aggression that claws to the bottom of your boots in this city. And this island can occasionally be a bit of a seething mass of humanity. And then I remembered. Friends, and food.
On Saturday one of my oldest and best friends took us on an eating crawl of Brooklyn. It was, the best of days. Here’s a sneak peak of how to eat spectacularly in Brooklyn (though you may need to be your own tour guide. She’s pretty high in demand).
1) Sesame bagel and a coffee at Daily Press, Bed Stuy
The bagels from Terrace Bagels of Brooklyn. The milk comes locally from Battenkill Valley Creamery. It’s a few steps from the Franklin Ave C and Shuttle subway stop.
The folks are friendly, the coffee made with care and there are copies of the New York Times floating about for you to flick through while you lick a little excess cream cheese from your thumb. The bagels are all texture and even the flatware is charming. There is very little not to love about this place. A great day out starts like this.
505 Franklin Avenue. Brooklyn, NY 11238
2) Hibiscus and Raspberry Donuts from Dough
The strap line from this well loved donut store is ‘we fry in Bed Stuy’, but there’s so much more to covet about these fluffy mounds of sweet carbs than the oil they’re cooked in. You’ll know it’s good from the sweet smell of yeasted goodness that wafts out the door. A doughnut is so often an embarrassment of a snack, something you turn to out of desperation; seeking solace in rubbery chew and icing with all the charm of plasticine.
Here at Dough, they’re elevated to another level. The body of their chubby rings has a light crust and a pliant, almost pillowy centre. The toppings come in a range of adventurous flavours; from blood orange and cheesecake and lemon poppy. It’s hard to go past the sheer novelty of the hibiscus. The glaze is the colour of a pitcher of Hawaiian punch, with a small smattering of piquant hibiscus stems congregating on one curve. As shocking as the colour is, the flavour has enough acidity to pull it back from the brink. For a snack in a shade best suited to an seven year old with a ‘Rainbow Brite’ doll, it’s surprisingly adult.
If a filled donut is more your thing, the raspberry is also hard to go past. Proper jam, strident with berries is hiding in the belly of the donut. It’s fingerlickingly good stuff.
305 Franklin Avenue, New York, NY 11205
Barbecue at Fette Sau
‘This place is downright aggressive to vegetarians’. That was one caveat on a review I read when contemplating which Brooklyn Barbecue place we’d park ourselves at. And it’s true. The morning after I still had the smell of smoked pork and brisket lingering on my coat. Beyond the smoked meats, Fette Sau (German for ‘fat pig’) has craft beers by the gallon and bills itself as the best American whiskey list in New York.
There’s a lot for The Hungry One to like. The space is moodily industrial, made cosy by a flat screen projecting an image of a flickering fire. Seating is first come, first served (and at night the queues can go out the door). There are spots at the bar and the rest is at wide communal wooden tables. To order you present yourself at the counter and select your meat by the pound. It’s then doled out with very little ceremonly onto a paper lined tray. It ain’t pretty, but it tastes good. Pork ribs are more smoked than slow cooked, with the tight pinkish texture of slab bacon on bones, blackened with dry rub. The absolute winners for us was the brisket, beef that spools into soft threads.
There’s plenty of meat in the sides; beans come boosted with ‘blackened ends’; charred little nuggets of meat playing hide and seek throughout. There are soft white rolls for mopping up sauce, pickles, and if the wind is whistling dixie outside you might want to think about some of the scalloped potatoes. Meat, potatoes, cream and cheese. It’s comfort in a cup.
Nb, Fette Sau is open from 12 pm on a Saturday- at 3 pm it was relatively easy to get a table. I can only imagine the queues at 8 pm.
354 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Cookie and Hot Chocolate at Momofuku Milk Bar
It’s fair to say that you can’t come to New York and not have a cookie from Milk Bar. Christina Tosi may have started as David Chang’s pastry chef, but she’s now got an empire all of her own. This Brooklyn outpost of Milk Bar is just 100 metres down from Fette Sau. It’s sweetly small, with a few seats in the window, beneath the blackboard spelling out the day’s soft serve flavours (anything from barbecue sauce to cereal milk) and the pies on offer.
While a piece of crack pie is as addictive as it sounds, it’s very hard to go past the cookies. It might be because of Christina’s well known process of creaming the butter and sugar for each batter for a full ten minutes. It might be because of her wanton inclusion of salt with sweet (pretzel crumbs in your compost cookies, anyone?). And it might be because they’re the perfect ratio of crisp exterior to comforting chew.
Get a cookie (or two). If it’s warm out, get a boozy milkshake. But if it’s cold, then a hot chocolate, made with ganache and a spiderweb of baby marshmallows will be exactly what you need to gild you from the elements while you walk over the Williamsburg Bridge, back to Manhattan.
It’s a view that can’t be beat.
382 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY