34 articles

Shake it up in DUMBO

opening day of shake shack

Bringing a few chairs outside for opening day of the newest Shake Shack, in Brooklyn, right by the bridge.

The day before yesterday, my daughter and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with my 2 nieces and their parents, who are visiting from the west coast. I may have mentioned them previously.

It was the Hottest. Day. Ever.

Ok actually that’s not true, because yesterday was even worse, but it was still pretty intense… especially for June.

Before we set out on our journey to Manhattan, we wandered around DUMBO looking, of course, for a bathroom. Because kids only have to go at the most inopportune times, and I had been too busy concentrating on staying cool to make sure everyone had done the right thing before we left on our voyage in the first place. My bad.

Imagine my delight and surprise to see the words Shake Shack (parent-ese for restroom) shining in gold leaf right there on Old Fulton Street. The perfect solution! I get to drink my favorite NYC milkshake, the kids get to use the bathroom, we enjoy a bit of AC before the climb begins… I couldn’t have been happier.

shake shack DUMBO

Here I am, in a rare selfie, in front of the Shake Shack, excitedly thinking about the delicious (and cold!) milkshake I am about to have.

Until we headed inside and there was NO LINE!!??!! Which, at a Shake Shack, is a once in a lifetime experience. Turns out, it was opening day, so the word isn’t out yet. Who knew we were such trail blazers?

shake shack DUMBO

This is a terrible photograph, but I just had to include it because there was basically NO LINE. And I wanted to make sure you all believed me…

So let me help spread the news: There is a beautiful, spacious, air conditioned Shake Shack filled with deliciousness (and a bathroom) just waiting for you to enjoy right by the Brooklyn Bridge Park, Jane’s Carousel and all the other stuff that DUMBO has to offer. Much of the wood used in the interior was even resourced from old factories in the neighborhood… How’s that for responsible building?

Run Don’t Walk, because I can’t imagine that the line-less situation will last for long once the people find out.

Showing off the city

brooklyn ice cream facotry

The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is a favorite spot on a summer day. This photo comes courtesy of thingstoseenyc.com. I know I’ve taken many photos of this place, but I can’t put my hands on them…

So my sister-in-law is coming to visit from the west coast with her two kids and husband in tow… they have all sorts of other family obligations (her husband’s family is nearby in Jersey) so we only have a limited time to hang out with them and show them our world. The girls have, essentially, never been to New York, so this will be their first real window into what their younger cousin’s life is like here.

In a perfect world, here are links to some of the things I would love to do with them. Hopefully these will come in handy as things you guys could do when you want to show off this big bad city of ours (or when you come to visit!)

The Kara Walker installation at the old Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg is only up for a few more weeks. Then it gets destroyed and the factory becomes another luxury condo. The show is a once in a lifetime experience. If you’re in Brooklyn before July 6, don’t miss it.

Take the East River Ferry to Dumbo and ride Jane’s Carousel (and play in the playground there, call ahead to pick up pizza at Grimaldi’s, grab some cones at The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, and then stroll back to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge. Fun!)

If you’re organized, go see a Broadway show. I vote for Matilda or The Lion King. If you’re adventurous, head to TKTS in Times Square or it’s two other locations to see what kind of same day discount tickets are available… a great way to enjoy a show at a fraction of the regular (astronomical, if you ask me) cost.

Take the ferry to Governor’s Island. I have never done this and am dying to. Pack a delicious lunch, explore the 30 acres of park and old buildings… what’s not to love?

If you’re looking for the ultimate kids toy store, look no further than FAO Schwartz. This has been the BEST. TOY. STORE. EVER. since before I was a kid.

Of course a trip to the Natural History Museum with a Planetarium show thrown in is a sure fire hit. Try to avoid school holidays, as this is probably the number one destination for most kids on their days off. Right now there’s an exhibit called “The Power of Poison” which looks like a real crowd pleaser…

And what would a trip to NYC be without a little shopping… I think I’ll send these folks to Uniqlo. It’s got great stuff at super reasonable prices, and they don’t have anything like it back home. Uniqlo’s flagship store is the biggest retail location on 5th Avenue, for what that’s worth. My in-laws are also really into outdoor sports stuff (something I know very little about, but whatever) so maybe a trip to Paragon would be a nice thing to do. Oh and Dave is really into playing guitar, so I’m going to take him to Main Drag in Williamsburg and hopefully shop vicariously through him while he’s there.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, naturally. But hopefully once they get a taste of the big apple they will be back wanting more before too long…

Farm fresh flowers

Fox Fodder Farm williamsburg pop up

The inside of the Fox Fodder Farm pop up in Williamsburg is cheerful even on a rainy day.

This weekend, if you happen to be one of the twelve million people heading over to Williamsburg to eat, drink and be merry, you might consider heading slightly off the beaten path to North 8 between Berry and Wythe where (if you’re a guy) you can get your hair cut at Fellow Barber.

And while you’re there (or maybe while you’re waiting for your boyfriend/husband/cousin/bandmate) to get his new look on, stick your head into the Fox Fodder Farm pop-up shop next door and buy a bouquet of fresh, local and ultra seasonal blooms from this tiny jewel of a florist.

They will be around all summer, and longer if they can manage it. And they are serving up the kind of bouquets that look like you just came back from a meadow full of wildflowers– the perfect antidote to the crowds of springtime-in-the-insanity-that-Williamsburg-has-become. On the weekends, at least.

Good thing for those of us locals… the spot will be open Tuesday – Sunday, so we can shop for our blossoms in a slightly more civilized weekday manner. Oh and you can check out FFF’s Instagram for even more reasons why you need to go there ASAP.

Time to eat

Brooklyn Larder

There is nothing but deliciousness at the Brooklyn Larder, thank you very much.

What with Easter coming up and holiday treats on the brain, my mind naturally roams towards The Brooklyn Larder, one of my favorite local spots for stocking up on all sorts of supplies to soothe the savage appetite.

Better known as Bklyn Larder, this emporium of deliciousness is located on Flatbush Ave in Ft Greene and has everything you need to fill the shelves of the perfect pantry. There’s also a cafe and cheese shop, plus the kind of small batch artisinal beverages we have all come to expect from these Kings County-style food establishments.

A few things for the chilled section of your kitchen...

A few things for the chilled section of your kitchen…

bklyn larder spices

And how cool would we be if all of our spice racks were filled with bottles like these?

And if you’re not so into cooking yourself? Check out their house made treats or really go for broke and have them cater something for you. They have some great looking Easter baskets that are well worth the trip (they do ship, but I’m thinking it might be a bit too late for on-time delivery at this point…)

Staycation!

Our view from the Standard Hotel in the East Village.

Our view from the Standard Hotel in the East Village.

A couple of weeks ago my in-laws (god bless them) came and stayed with our daughter at home while my husband and I took off for a two night (childless!) voyage to the far off island of Manhattan. One of the great things about New York City is that it’s as fun to be a tourist here as it is to be an insider. Here’s what we did (if you’re curious, or want to copy us– which you should…) — Read more

Shopping with your heart

The WILBy pop up shop at the Wythe Hotel

The WILBy pop up shop at the Wythe Hotel.

If your plans include a trip to Williamsburg this weekend (or if you already live here) you should all take a stroll over to the Wythe Hotel and check out the last weekend of the adorable WILBy pop up shop. It’s just past the check in desk on the main floor and it is really worth the visit.

WILBy stands for What I Live By and it’s all about shopping mindfully, with a full understanding of what goes into the things you are purchasing. At the core, they are a bag company, with a whole selection ranging from the $8 “Factory” bag made in Pakistan to the $120 “Local” bag, made to order at the Wythe, with fabric of your choosing. You can even bring in something that you want to recycle and your bag will be crafted from something that has personal meaning to you… how cool is that?

What makes this place different is its lack of preachy-ness about the whole thing. Any reusable bag is better than plastic, and while it might be nice to have a custom made especially-for-you carry-all, $120 might be more than you can spend on a vehicle for your groceries. They break down the whole process in this chart (below) so that you can see each step of production and thus gain a better understanding of the final cost of your bag.

WILBy production cost chart

And if you’re like me, and have way too many bags, there are all sorts of other ethically produced items to look at and potentially buy… from camera straps to tea towels to craft books for the kids. I know we’re supposed to be all about acquiring less, but at least at this shop we can feel really good about the people we are supporting when we buy their stuff!

The Shop at Wythe Hotel Presents WHAT I LIVE BY (WILBy)
March 10 – April 7 2014
10 am- 8pm daily
Wythe Hotel. 80 Wythe Ave. Brooklyn, NY

I am too old for The Standard

sunset at The Standard

This is the very lovely sunset from our room at The Standard Hotel in the East Village.

This past weekend, we left our daughter (and our home) in the care of her visiting grandparents and took off across the water to stay at The Standard Hotel in the east village for the weekend. It was, in many ways, totally glorious, despite the fact that it took me 10 minutes of continuous calling to reach the front desk on the phone so that they could explain to me how the desk lamp worked, and the sheets didn’t actually fit the (incredibly comfortable) bed.

The view was mesmerizing. The bathtub was completely luxurious and the bubble bath did not disappoint. The entire look and feel of the hotel has been meticulously creative directed. The food at the restaurant was thoughtful and delicious.

But I worried that our waiter might have had, ummm, too much caffeine before his shift, lets just say. And the couple two tables down was heading for a titanic-esque drunken disaster complete with knocked over tables and slurred words. But hey, that’s what you get for spending any time at all in the east village on a Saturday night. Lets just say it won’t happen again. For us mortals, this is a Tuesday night spot.

And to that point, here are links to the hotels that I am going to consider for the next time my husband and I have a weekend to ourselves in the Big Apple.

If I, for some reason, feel the need to stay in the same neighborhood, I’m guessing that the beds at The Bowery Hotel are properly made. Though to be honest, if I never see that section of the Bowery on a Saturday night again it won’t be a real loss, in my book.

The Jane has all of the quirky secret-hideout-ness that I love in a hotel, but we would have to insist on a room with it’s own bathroom. That said, the money we saved on rates could be put to good use elsewhere, I am sure!

Whenever we go to Portland, OR, The Ace is our hotel of choice. So why I wouldn’t just stay at The Ace here in NYC, I don’t know. It’s pared down, but super comfortable and the trendiness is a bit more low key… it feels like your fellow guests are actually making things, not just drinking.

For just a little more money, we could head to Chelsea and stay at the High Line Hotel. Built in part of what was originally the General Theological Seminary, the building encircles a beautiful courtyard that offers a respite from the insanity of the city (rather than a direct chute into it’s midst) Plus it’s actually convenient to all the Chelsea galleries, as opposed to almost anywhere else you might stay.

Or we just keep it all on the DL and stay at the almost totally secret Inn at Irving Place. Because I am very much up for getting dressed up and having a fancy afternoon tea and not running into anyone I know. I think this is my favorite of the downtown spots.

I feel like I would be remiss if I did not include The Whythe Hotel on this little list. We eat breakfast at Reynard on a regular basis and the rooms are beautiful, with majestic views of the city. The only problem is it’s proximity to our actual home. It kind of kills the romantic weekend if one runs into one’s child, methinks.

Or maybe we just say f*ck it, like we did last time, and head uptown to the Mandarin Oriental, which is, in my opinion, the nicest hotel in all of New York City. Hands down. Who needs cash in their bank account when you can have the memory of three glorious nights in heaven? Knucklehead-free?

Now that sounds like a plan…

More food in East Williamsburg

Campbell Cheese and grocery

Campbell Cheese & Grocery serving up deliciousness from the corner of Metropolitan and Lorimer in Williamsburg.

The other day I took the car to our beloved mechanic for a tune up. It’s about a 15 minute walk back to our apartment, so after I left The Black Widow at the doctor (our car has a name, doesn’t yours?) I headed up Metropolitan Ave towards my neck of the woods. And lo, what did I see across the street, in what I had previously considered a bit of a neighborhood dead zone, but a beautiful little grocery store just beckoning for me to enter.

campbells cheese and grocery

Which I did, of course. And I was not disappointed.

It was pretty cold (not in the single digits, mind you, but still sub-freezing) so my cup of oatmeal, which they sweeten with sorghum butter* and mix with nuts and raisins, really hit the spot. And while I waited for them to prepare it, I got to walk around wishing that I needed all of the things I saw on the shelves.

*Sorghum butter is a traditional southern sweetener made with sorghum syrup.

various beers and lagers

Like these mystery beers, each one looking more obscure and delicious than the last one.

campbells cheese and grocery

Or maybe some salami?

campbells cheese and grocery

Does a person ever really feel complete without their own little picnic knife to carry with them everywhere? Except maybe on an airplane, but I digress…

pickels at campbells cheese and grocery

I don’t even like pickles, but I thought about buying some of these for my husband and daughter, who are huge fans.

This is all good for my car, as I will now be much more motivated to take her in for a once over if I know I get to stop by Campbell’s on the way home. And if you find yourselves in the vicinity of the Metropolitan/Lorimer stop of the L or G trains do please surface and head straight over to this spot, and buy yourselves all sorts of deliciousness to take back to your native Manhattan, or wherever your final destination may be.

Campbell’s Cheese & Grocery
302 Lorimer St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718-387-2267