April 17, 2014

For Your Next Weekend Trip to Brooklyn

Confession: we'd never been to Brooklyn before December 2013 (except when Bradd ran through the borough during the NYC marathon). Some say Brooklyn is now the "hottest" place to be with endless great food and shops. Others say it's "so last year" and all the cool kids have already moved on to other [cheaper] boroughs. Well, all we know is that we had a great little weekend getaway - and ate tons of great food - so if you are looking for a foodie excursion, consider Brooklyn.

Here are a few reasons why:

Skirt steak and basil spaghetti from Chimu, a Peruvian restaurant in Williamsburg. We wandered in at 5:15pm on a Saturday to an already-half-full restaurant and were wow'd with every bite. Chimu's ceviche mixto appetizer is an absolute must-order. It's an enormous blend of mussels, shrimp, crab and white fish cooked ever so delicately in lime and cilantro.

After the ceviche, the skirt steak must be the most popular dish at Chimu, as all three people at the table next to us ordered it. The meaty cut of tender, simply yet perfectly seasoned steak is served over a heap of green spaghetti - so much that I made an entire dinner the next night out of my leftover pasta and some fresh shrimp. Basil sauce coats the spaghetti without drowning it and tasted just as good the next day. This dish is fantastic on its own, but you can kick it up another notch by asking for a side of chimichurri.

Peruvian basil spaghetti and skirt steak at Chimu

Morning stroll through the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, the enormous flea and food markets that Philly has been working to replicate. Our strategy was to scope out all the food vendors first, each pick one thing to eat, wander some of the vintage stalls and crafters, return to food vendors for another bite, wander more stalls, repeat until you are stuffed and/or broke. We went during winter, when the two Brooklyn attractions combine and move inside, so we didn't actually get the full effect. But if the excellent mix of cultural and tasty delights we saw was any indication, the warm weather version of Smorgasburg must be out of control.

The vintage goods at the Flea are really neat to explore, too, maybe a little pricey for stuff that is supposed to look worn, but someday when we have a big house in the 'burbs to furnish, I'll return and shop for real

One of the many Smorgasburg vendors we visited making delicious little rice balls

Afternoon snack at DiFara Pizza. One of New York's most revered pizza shops, Di Fara serves up insanely good square slices that make riding the Q train out of your way, $5 per slice, and the possibility of a wait, all worthwhile. Founder Domenico DeMarco has been rolling the dough for every pizza since 1959 and places each topping with tremendous care. It's a safe bet that anyone else you see working there is family, too. There is space to sit but it's very small. No worries, you'll scarf Di Fara's down so quickly that standing is no big deal.

Di Fara square slice. Heaven. 

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge should be on everyone's bucket list. It's an historical artifact in its own right, having revolutionized the way bridges were built, like, a zillion years ago. (Actually constructed from 1870 - 1883, 13 years!) It also has a really interesting story behind it, including generations of a family, the many challenges of bridge building and the discovery of decompression sickness. The details are depicted on plaques spread out across the bridge, so while we fully support looking up and all around you at the sights, also be sure to look down and read the info along your journey. If you don't want to walk both ways, start on the Brooklyn end (take a subway there) and walk back to Manhattan for this stellar view:

Brooklyn Bridge with the Freedom Tower and Lower Manhattan in the background


Philadelphia Flea Market News said...

Nice article. I'm a Philadelphian who loves New York and I haven't been to Brooklyn in a very long time.

One correction though:

Franklin Flea is not Philadelphia's attempt to replicate Brooklyn Flea. Brooklyn Flea actually attempted to expand into Philadelphia last spring (2013) and it (Brooklyn Flea Philly) did not work out. After closing down, Brooklyn Flea's manager, smitten with Philly and believing he could make his own vision of a big-city flea market work, decided to stay and start his own flea market called Franklin Flea.

Kristy said...

Thanks for clarifying! I actually didn't realize that they weren't linked anymore. Checked out the Brooklyn Flea at the Piazza once and wasn't all that impressed. We are excited to see what the Franklin Flea is like this spring/summer.