Just got back in town today. Not quite ready to jump back in the grind, so I’ll procrastinate a bit by talking about my vacation.
We woke up Saturday morning(ish) to discover that quite literally across the street from the friend’s place where we were staying (on the east side of Fort Green Park) there was a little street market, with vendors selling local, organic, farm-raised, home-baked, hand-crafted, packed-full-of-authentic-goodness foodstuffs and crafts. Thus, breakfast: locally made banana bread and apple-raspberry juice squeezed from local fruit. This was emblematic of our trip, which basically consisted of shopping, eating, reading, sleeping, and enjoying the local culture.
Slavishly following the suggestions of our resident foodie Mr. Philpott, we managed to eat at (among other wonderful places) such Brooklyn institutions as Grimaldi’s pizza, Italian trattoria Al Di La, and local-ingredient-focused 360. I can recommend each of them without reservation (literally — the first two don’t take reservations), but the uncontested champion of our eating vacation was Al Di La. Matter of fact, I’d put it up in the top five eating experiences of my life.
The first plate to hit the table was roasted asparagus topped with bearnaise sauce. Words fail me. I wanted to carve it up into tiny bites so it wouldn’t end. And so it was with every dish: the beet ravioli. The sheet steak with arugula. The duck on creamy polenta. The pear cake with bitter chocolate chunks. The plum sorbet. And the wine. All in an atmosphere convivial without being crowded or loud, with service that was attentive but never overbearing.
I tell you, I f**king love Brooklyn. Who needs Manhattan? Everywhere we went — always on foot, of course — there was a vibrant street culture, packed with people in roughly my age group (call it 25-40). Interesting people and conversations were everywhere. There were more fascinating little nooks and crannies, books shops and cafes, art installations and niche markets than we could have possibly visited in 10 vacations. And I got more exercise than I have in the past six months.
Almost uniquely among places I’ve visited, Brooklyn is a true melting pot (or better yet, stew). There is matter-of-fact diversity of races, languages, ages, and subcultures. Race has not disappeared anywhere in America, certainly not in its densest cities, but Brooklyn gets it just about right.
I swear if I didn’t have two young kids and a life in Seattle I’d move there tomorrow. And go broke shortly thereafter.