Although I like Brooklyn, I don't make it out there too often. As a rule, I don't know where I'm going, I don't know many of the local spots, and I feel like every time I make the trek there is something weird going on with the subway, and as I'm not that familiar with the lines outside of Manhattan, I can't adjust my route as easily as I might be able to closer to home.
But that said, there does seem to be quite the culinary community growing up there, particularly in Williamsburg (I know, I know, skinny jeans/fauxhawk people be damned...but the place has got some great food, and it is often created by...gasp...people in loose jeans!).
This whole food thing they've got going on has drawn me out of my Manhattan bubble quite a few times over the past month or two. But until I saw this article in the New York Times about the "new culinary movement" in New York's hippest borough, I had completely forgotten to post about my little adventures. By the way, I could not be happier that the Times mentioned my favorite little chocolate company, Fine & Raw!
My enlightenment all started with my pig butchering class at The Brooklyn Kitchen.
In addition to hosting a great panopoly of classes, including those taught by the very talented butcher Mr. Mylan, the Brooklyn Kitchen seems to serve as one of the centers of this growing culinary community the New York Times is so excited about. The owners are local, they are cooks, and they like to hang out with their customers. And perhaps most importantly, the product line is not only extensive but also very practically oriented. There are not too many ridiculous Williams Sonoma type items (no bar sets, no seasonally themed cake tins), rather everything to me seemed quite useful, and like something I might conceivably want to buy.
So when I read about a kitchen supply store on Bedford Avenue (not far from The Brooklyn Kitchen) called Whisk, I figured it was worth checking out (I'll admit that at least part of my excitement had to do with the fact that it was only one stop into Brooklyn on the L train).
On a sunny, cold Sunday afternoon I trekked out to the Bedford Avenue stop and headed south (I think? I am directionally challenged when I change boroughs). As I walked along the street I noticed that just about every other storefront seemed to be either a restaurant or a food shop, and I noted a couple to check out on my way back to the train. It seemed that I was at ground zero for the new culinary zeitgeist.
Anyway, when I came upon Whisk I was absolutely charmed. It is distinctly more boutiquey than The Brooklyn Kitchen, and perhaps a bit more...feminine? The store winds through the bottom floor of what looked to be two townhouses (they even have tiny front gardens with wrought iron fences!), which makes for wonderful weekend browsing, as you are always discovering new nooks and crannies as you make your way through.
Most of the products are quite functional, (a few are simply pretty, but we can all use a bit of beauty in our lives, no?), the cookbook selection was somewhat small but excellent all the same, and I found the prices to be fair, particularly for plates and bowls and the like. I became particularly obsessed with the blue plate at the bottom of this picture:
If I recall, it was only about $10. As I think about it now, I may have to go back and pick up a few!
On my way back to the train, I swung by the Bedford Cheese Shop, which was also quite charming and had a wonderful selection of...you guessed it...cheese! They also had quite an extensive selection of butter, mustards, cookies, crackers, capers and the like. I will admit that I took umbrage to some of their prices (I think $11 for a half of a pound of butter is a little insane), but that said, everything they carry really is of the highest quality.
And my last stop before my return to Manhattan? After the cheese shop, it simply had to be a wine shop. UVA Wines and Spirits, to be specific. The place had a distinctly democratic feel to it. The prices were varied, but in general they hovered around my comfort zone ($10-$20 per bottle). I recognized some of the wines (always a comforting feeling in a wine shop) but some of them were totally new (also a comforting feeling in a wine shop). The place was highly navigable, the salepeople were pretty knowledgeable, and the selection was quite extensive given the small size of the shop.
So there you go...Bedford Avenue, serving all of your culinary needs (or at least some of them).