Sunday, July 19, 2009
our weekend started on friday, as all summer weekends should. we started off exploring the easternmost end of bed-stuy, where the neighborhood tapers down to a point at broadway and fulton st. this area is known as broadway junction, where the L subway line crosses the A/C and the J lines. I had not seen this end of fulton before. I was surprised at how cleaned up this end is getting. there are a number of renovated buildings that have available store fronts, and parks all along the street. at 2037 fulton, in the triangle created by rockaway ave. and somers st. is an enormous community garden which is in the process of a major renovation. b said he saw people months back cleaning up the lot and preparing it. from the fence we could see tomatoes, cabbage, corn and other crops, as well as many varieties of flowers and bushes. birds and butterflies flew all around. from there we hopped on the A train and headed over to the west village. b had seen a post on worship worthy about sucre boutique on bleecker, and thought it might be a good shop for my jewelry. but before we did, lunch was in order. I wanted to eat at the Bus Stop diner, but we had a hard time finding it. after circling around and heading south on 8th ave. from 14th st., we ran into la bonbonniere, a place I've always wanted to stop at. so we did, and it was great, and cheap. as we headed further south on 8th, we passed the bus stop. now we know! then onto bleecker, to find sucre. wow, was it a beautiful little shop. some of the coolest jewelry I've seen in a while. while we were on bleecker, I figured we'd go by porto rico and pick up some freshly roasted and ground coffee. at $6.99 a pound, you can't beat it. when we had gotten off the train at west 4th, walking north on 6th ave. we passed the path train station. I asked b if he would like to take it over to jersey city. with a $1.75 metro card swipe, we were on our way across the hudson into jersey.
I had only been to jersey city once, and it was at night, to go drinking with my old roommate marshall, who lives there. b and I took the path to grove st., in the middle of j.c.'s gentrified old town. we walked by little bodegas and sidewalk cafes. b said it looked like new york lite. I told him it looked like new york clean. streets lined with row houses were amazingly well-maintained and quiet. I reminded b that several years back jersey city, like bedford-stuyvesant, was the place where you did not want to go. this is more obvious as you head east towards the waterfront. like downtown phoenix, arizona, it looks like the city was razed and replanted some time in the 1980's. citibank, bank of america and chase all have gigantuan office towers, alongside- what's this? a residential trump tower! but in between all this affluence are vacant lots, broken-down industrial buildings from the turn of the century, and oddly suburban-like big box stores. we walked along the waterfront and enjoyed seeing manhattan from this vantage point, then circled back to the old part of town. of course we were getting hungry again, and happened upon a vietnamese restaurant! by the time we finished dinner it had started raining and we walked our exhausted little butts back to the path station.
on saturday i was eager to visit bed-stuy's new farmer's market at malcom x and chauncey. although the market is tiny, union square power vendor migliorelli farms' booth has enough of a selection to fill your fridge for the week. we walked home with peaches, apricots, apples, lettuce, rapini, radishes and corn. on the way back, we noticed a new-looking store stocking natural health and beauty products and a few food items. so we stopped in to ecodermis to check it out. the owners (mother and son?) couldn't have been nicer, telling us to mention any products we'd like them to carry. b got an an acai juice and I got a burt's bees lip balm. malcom x is really coming up.
since the day was getting nice and hot, we decided to drop off the produce and head to the beach. if you make the decision after noon, the place to hit is brighton beach/ coney island, our best and closest city beach. we laid on the beach a while on the brighton side, amused by the people around us- russians in thongs and speedos, black market vendors selling beers out of coolers. after a while we headed over to brighton beach ave. to have some delicious russian food. we looked for our favorite spot but had a hard time finding it, as it seems most of the restaurants have remodeled. we would have felt weird sitting down to white linen in our beach attire. so we hit the diner-like oceanview cafe, where we had eaten once before. only problem was, they were filling a huge takeout order when we got there, and the service was incredibly slow. but fun nevertheless eavesdropping on the russian families and the adorable children running from table to table. when we finally did get the food it was really good. I always order for the both of us, since the cooking is similar to what I grew up with. we shared the mixed pickle salad of cabbage, watermelon wedges, sliced dill pickles and olives, brought out with a basket of rye and pumpernickel breads. then a chicken shish kabob served with a garlicy fruit chutney and mashed potatoes piped from a pastry bag; potato vareniki (dumplings) nice and peppery, topped with french fried onions; and delicious, slightly sweet cheese pancakes. b was admiring the dessert case, but we were there so long that we lost energy for dessert. in the bottom of the refrigerated case were glass tea cups filled with dark liquid and berries. most of the russians were drinking the tea, and I realized it must have been made with goji berries. next time!
after lunch we headed back to the boardwalk and walked down to the coney island end. we had seen ads for a new flea market down there and went to check it out. wow, was it lame. there was only one vendor selling anything antique-like. all the rest was counterfeit hello kitty crap, incense and plastic jewelry. the syren music festival was being held on two stages, one right by the flea market. despite this, there were three or four vendors with loud, amplified music, competing with the concert going on. as we rounded ocean ave., dodging through the crowds of people on the way back to the train, I vowed not to venture down to coney island again. bleh.
I should mention that in addition to the restaurants along brighton beach ave. there are a number of russian and israeli food markets and produce vendors that are worth visiting, where you can pick up home made pickles, teas, breads and caviar. several of the restaurants also sell a selection of piroshki, fried buns filled with potato, cheese or meat, out on the sidewalk. click here to read some very descriptive yelp reviews of brighton beach.
finally, today we headed out to dumbo to check out the brooklyn flea's newest location, the sunday market under the brooklyn bridge. after selling at the flea their opening weekend and a few after that and attending the market numerous times, including the indoor dumbo flea over the winter, I have to say this was the best flea yet. finally, there was an array of inexpensive goods that you could dig through. like a flea market! while I greatly appreciate the flea's intention to make the market more of a contemporary urban spot with hand made vendors, (such as myself) it had been greatly lacking in the affordability aspect. today we spent a few hours there! and I came home with some jewelry parts, (first time this was possible) a $3 italian brass incense burner shaped like a snail, and a lovely mexican silver ring for $10. the brooklyn waterfront is really coming along, with the new parklands being phased in and the addition of a farmer's market and other community events like yoga classes. can't wait until they complete the southern portion. there are few food vendors at the flea. I had some fish tacos while b had a margherita from the pizza moto guys. man, was it good. after the flea I decided it was time to go home. I was really exhausted, and after writing the story of our adventures this weekend, I understand why!