Thursday, 17 March 2016

Peak hipster in Brooklyn, New York

rainbow bagel, the bagel store, brooklyn
One New York borough that has gentrified in recent years is Brooklyn. Peak hipster Brooklyn starts at Bedford Avenue subway, continues through Larimer and ends up at Roberta's.
The food is great, the prices not cheap and of course, there is the hype that leads to ridiculous lines at certain places.
Wandering around you can get your hair cut, visit vintage clothes stores and marvel at the hipsters. However my impression was that New Yorkers don't dress up like the British, they are fairly conformist and casual. East London is way more hipster.
best pizza, brooklyn
best pizza, brooklyn
best pizza, brooklyn

Best Pizza 33 Havemayer St

We had a slice of Margarita and a slice of white pizza with sesame seeds. Sesame seeds on pizza dough is a revelation and I think this is the way forward; to make pizzas a bit more like bagels. Both were thin fermented dough with wood fired blisters and equal proportions of sauce and cheese - in their words, New York style pizza. The chef from Chiltern Firehouse went there to get tips from Best Pizza's Frank Pinello for the pizza section at the celebrity joint. Best Pizza is frequented by rap stars, has friendly staff and an 'art' wall with drawings on paper plates. I could have eaten more but I had to save space for the other places.
brooklyn winery, brooklyn

Brooklyn Winery 213 North 8th St

Friendly local wine bar which serves New York white wines as well as a good selection of other American wines. You can do tours and tastings, there is also a good menu of cheese, charcuterie and other wine matched foods. I was there too early to eat but it had a nice wood interior and tattooed staff.

queue for the rainbow bagel, the bagel store, brooklyn

rainbow bagel, the bagel store, brooklyn

The Bagel Store 349 Bedford Ave

Groan. The line ran around the block and was at least an hour long. Why would anyone want to eat a bagel with food colouring? And sprinkles? And flavoured cream cheese? Sounds, looks, vile. I grew increasingly annoyed at the hype around certain New York establishments. Queues of young people wanting to photograph their food. This is food as a visual, not to be eaten. The downside of the  Instagram Age. The Bagel Store can also lay claim to something called a 'cragel', a fusion of bagel and croissant. The picture looked quite doughy and lumpen.
Now you might think that all this is hypocritical from someone who put a Smartie sandwich 'recipe' in one of her books (MsMarmitelover's Secret Tea Party). Yes, I like silly food, cartoon grub. Without prejudice, I'd already visited Dominique Ansel's bakery in Manhattan for the famed 'cookie cup' (almost as celebrated as the 'cronut'), waited an hour, got to the front of the line and was told to queue again, this time outside. So I ordered a frozen s'more (disgusting, like a jar of 'fluff' on a stick) and an over-baked croissant. I wasn't going to queue up any more when his basic viennoiserie wasn't as good as Tescos.
Adding to my scepticism, I had a conflagration at Black Tap. Black Tap is known for towering milkshakes topped with oreo cookies, slices of cake and glasses rimmed with M and Ms, like multi-coloured daleks. Again this place had lines four hours long, going down the street and starting again, behind a thick rope, around the corner on another street. I asked the shivering girls at the front of the second queue why they were here:
 'We've seen the milkshakes on Instagram,' they said, jumping from leg to leg in an attempt to warm up. 'We've been here an hour already and we can't give up now.' 
Agog at the wait, I met a chef from the restaurant outside the front door:
'Don't you think the line is ridiculous?' I asked.
He smiled. 'Well, it's good food'.
'But is it healthy?'
'Sure.'
'It's basically sophisticated McDonald's, isn't it? In fact I could make money by going to McDonald's, buying shakes, dipping them in Smarties and flogging them to your queue,' I joked.
At this point a woman standing next to him, a waitress, butted in: 'Well you look like you spend a lot of time there,' she sneered.
At first I didn't understand what she meant. 'Why's that?' I asked naively.
She gave me an exaggerated up and down look. 'You are so heavy.'
Heavy is the American word for fat. I was really shocked. Did this waitress just call me fat? In the street? Outside her restaurant?
Reader, I lost it at that point. Trying and failing to think of stinging repartee, I came up with the lame and abusive 'you are a fucking ugly cow', my London accent bouncing on the sidewalk.
But to be frank, she was no oil painting.
But she kept on. 'You are just trying to skip the line.' She said to the chef, 'she's so fat'. Then, as she entered the restaurant, she threw back: 'You should walk more'.
I'd walked 22k steps that day according to my FitBit.
Brimming with fury, I went up to the first queue and said 'Did you know that this restaurant that you are all lining up for, body-shames its customers?'
Then I noticed the couple at the front were kind of big. The guy said in a resigned voice:
 'At this point anything you say is not gonna change my mind because I've been waiting two hours already.' But looking back, they did seem discountenanced by my information. A restaurant sells outrageously fattening food and then criticises you for eating it?
I was slightly out of control by this point and went down the line declaring 'Sheeple' at them.
roberta's pizza, brooklyn
roberta's pizza, brooklyn
roberta's pizza, brooklyn

Roberta's Pizza, 261 Moore St (near Morgan Ave subway)

This is the second time I have visited Roberta's. Last time I did an interview with Heritage Radio, (amazing food radio) housed in the same building, and scoffed a tasty grilled cheese sandwich. Roberta's doesn't look like much from the outside, you'd hardly notice the scruffy red door. Inside there is a pine scrubbed dining room, a garden, a radio station, wine classes, ovens. The food is so good. We noticed a trio further down our table and we said, When Harry met Sally style: 'we'll have what they're having'. That was a big bowl of stracciatella cheese (burrata in creamy strips with char-grilled sourdough that you dip in the cheese milk), then a large sharing bowl of pea soup. We also had fresh pasta with cacio e pepe, then root beer and peanut butter ice cream. My virgin Bloody Mary was fantastically acidic and flavoursome, with plenty of salt and pickles. The pizzas looked the business too but we could barely move. Reasonable prices, a must visit.

19 comments:

  1. Re: Black Tap - I'm so sorry that happened to you, sounds awful. Food in New York can be so strange, as can the service. Once when I was with some cousins at a very nice vegetarian restaurant on the upper east side called Candle 79, the waiter called us 'fatties' and 'beasts' because we had ordered so much food. Bizarre.

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  2. Charles Philpot17 March 2016 at 23:03

    Absolutely loved the section on the Bagel Store. The French only queue for one thing: good food, however if the bagel is literally just a bagel with food colouring and sprinkles allow queuing for hours. If a bagel was made of 4 different coloured doughs and had a distinct different taste (e.g. fennel pollen, caramel, salt, chilli, cumin, etc...) that'd be quite the treat!

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    Replies
    1. Yes I was thinking of making coloured bagels but with natural colours...

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  3. Honestly, I am speechless! I cannot believe how they spoke to you...*makes a note of where NOT to go in April*

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    1. Unfortunately I wasn't speechless, I did a bit of swearing but yes, very hypocritical of them. I don't have a picture of the offending shakes but you can see them here:
      http://firstwefeast.com/eat/insane-black-tap-nyc-milkshakes/
      As they admit, they are doin' it for the 'gram.

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    2. My brain sort of short cuts to swearing when I'm angry. Can't help it unfortunately.

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  4. Definitely won't go to Black Tap. That behavior is just downright rude. And the food isn't even good. I know.

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    Replies
    1. Have you tried it Sally? I went because my daughter wanted to check it out. But I wasn't prepared to wait hours, I was tired after 22k steps.

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  5. I am astonished that anywhere in the States selling outrageous food would body shame anyone, but I'm more horrified that said waitress did so with the complicit approval of the establishment she worked for! Hopefully this review makes its way to them , and they will take a firmer line , hospitality only works when those working in are hospitable!

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    Replies
    1. She was over the top and probably didn't have the required personality for front of house work.
      Even Black Tap must realise that their 'milk shakes' are laughably grotesque and must be thanking their lucky stars for Instagram food memes.

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  6. It doesn't matter how they spoke, you are you. You know that you are wonderful person. Just leave their comments to them. It's just about them.

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  7. You kind of asked for it. You were being rude telling them they're like McDonald's. That might not seem like it to you, but it's an insult to cooks.

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    1. You write this as if I'm not a cook, I'm a chef too. And I said it was like sophisticated McDonalds. Which is accurate. In fact some McDonalds recipes are brilliant, I love their filet o fish, especially the sauce. I'd buy that sauce if they sold it in a jar.
      Also, sophisticated fast food IS what is happening now in restaurants - that's the whole meme.

      Also the person who did all the fat shaming was the aggressive waitress, not a chef.
      I'm assuming you are some kind of friend of theirs?

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    2. Plus I loathe the cowardice of anonymous comments. Reveal yourself ffs

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    3. Unknown's right. You're rude and aggressive and got your just desserts.

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    4. Thanks for reading Busi. But I didn't get any dessert.





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  8. Really interesting reading this. I'm going to Brooklyn soon so this is really handy. I know nothing about food in that area at all, and didn't know it was so hipstery. But multi coloured bagels with sprinkles, no thank you. At least, Id buy them in a market for fun to have at a party. But I would never queue for them.

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