Sunday, April 29, 2012

Moving from Greenpoint

8 years.  8 years filled with G-train commuting, Newtown Creek superfunding, rooftop farming, downward dogging, sidewalk picnicing, mobile wash uniting, pulaski bridge crossing, kielbasa eating, 10 alarm fire gazing, good-times-a-havin' in glorious Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  With mixed emotion I'm packing my bags and moving on.  Not a big move, mind you.  Just to another part of Brooklyn, but nonetheless, it feels like a bigger deal to me.  A lot has happened in those 8 years; to both myself and the neighborhood.  But in other ways, nothing's changed.

Here's a list of my key favorite places in Greenpoint.  Some I will continue to visit, others I may not.  But I love them all just the same.  This list is confined to north Greenpoint, which is defined as anywhere north of Calyer St.  At least in my view, it's up for debate of course.

Kusala has been my regular go-to for yoga.  Melissa runs a great studio for yoga and meditation in a laid-back and spiritually-angled atmosphere.  It used to be on the corner of Franklin and India, but has since moved to a bit more secluded spot on Green St.

The Franklin Corner Cafe on Franklin and Huron will always be known for it's delicious, hot pressed sandwiches.  The list to choose from is quite extensive, with notable names as the Sammy Sosa, the Guillaume and the Tazmanian.  The quality of the sandwiches have somewhat declined in recent years with new management, but are still quite enjoyable and the staff is always full of smiles.

The Astral is located on Franklin between India and Java and was built in 1885 to house local workers in a kerosene factory.  I've never stepped inside this building.  I've heard it's had a dicey past but it's a real beauty on the exterior, with it's vaulted arches and terracotta brick-work.  I used to live an in apartment that faced the back of the building.  On some nights I would gaze through my window to peep at the goings-on inside.

The Brooklyn Label, on the corner of Franklin and Java (in the Astral building), is one of my regular hang outs in the neighborhood.  I only go for brunch.  It kinda feels like my "Cheers" since I know a bunch of the people that work there.

Kill Devil Hill is run by my friend Mary.  A handsome, general store beautifully maintained and filled with great gift items.  I always love the windows Mary lovingly puts together every few weeks.  Last year, the shop would host art openings, with drinks served in the back which would always have a good turn out.  I miss these events, as it was a great way to meet new people, and KDH always attracts good, friendly types.

One of the coolest buildings in Brooklyn.  A prime example of late 19th century beaux arts style in America.  Must be a nice corner apartment on the top floor.

The Pencil Factory.  Another one of my regulars; a bar I have been patroning since before I lived here.  It's great to spend hours in the summer nights, sipping your beer outside, while watching the mobile wash units drive by in a parade-like fashion.  I've had so many good times here it's impossible to count.

Alter is a great women's and men's clothing boutique run by the affable Tommy and Roy.  I've been going here ever since they first opened and am friendly with the owners.  I will continue to make trips here.

Le Gamin didn't start in Greenpoint.  It has a couple other locations around New York, but it's hands down the best restaurant in the neighborhood.  Delicious french cooking for brunch or dinner with charming and friendly service.

Diamond Bar is located on the furthermost edge of Greenpoint's borders.  Until The Calyer opened there was nothing around it for blocks.  A true diamond in the rough, the place only serves a small selection of beer and wine and tends to attract a more "mature" crowd.  I had my Goodbye Greenpoint party here last weekend and couldn't think of a better bar to host.

As we venture off of Franklin and walk down Manhattan Avenue, we find many of the more old school establishments.  Christina's is a no-frills Polish diner, representing the large Polish community that has resided in Greenpoint long before the recent gentrification of the past 10 or so years.  I haven't been here in a while, but it used to be one of the only spots to get breakfast at.  My friends and I would order the cheese blintzes and eye the cute Polish waitresses dressed in black.

One of the many local spots to pick up your kielbasa and sauerkraut.  The W-Nassau Meat Market.  Not sure why it's called that, since it's not particularly close to Nassau St and it's not West of it either.  Out of all the Polish meat markets on Manhattan Ave this is by far the most popular, lines often going out the door.  Hours of operation are a bit confusing (it was closed when I passed it in the middle of a Sunday afternoon).

The Garden has been selling organic, health food long before it became trendy.  This is my number one food shopping spot.  I love their homemade peanut butter.  On the Kent St side of the building is a graffiti of a black cat, looking as if it's dancing on the iron fence in front of it.  This has been here as long as I can remember.  No one knows who spray painted it or why but the owner doesn't seem to mind it and remain it does.

Photoplay is beating the odds as one of the only dvd/video stores still standing in this Netflix age we live in.  And it's constantly packed, with devoted customers, like myself, who love the selection and the personal touch of receiving great recommendations by the owner, Michael Sayers (who used to be a programmer at the Film Forum).  All this time I've refused to subscribe to online retailers, like Netflix, because I see no need with Photoplay down the block.  However, now that I'm moving, it looks like I'll have to.

Another regular hang out for me.  Habitat is the only bar with a television (3 televisions!) that I like.  Great bar food and I love their Tuesday wing nights.  Conveniently located between the subway stop and my house.

My local, 24 hour grocer.  Prices are higher than others, but the food quality is excellent, it's open 24 hours and the staff is great.  Until this place expanded it's hours, there was nowhere to get food in my neighborhood past 8:00pm.

Triangolo, located on Manhattan and Green, has been my local pizza slice stop since I've lived in Greenpoint.  "What'll it be?" the benevolent store owner says to me as I walk in.  Just a plain slice is my usual choice.

I don't go here too often, but Milk & Roses gets special mention because the atmosphere is great and it has the prettiest girls to be found in Greenpoint, both employees and customers.

Of course this list is comprised of places, buildings and businesses.  It's the people and friends residing within that I cherish the most.  The people make the town.  I will always love Greenpoint and the friends I've made there.  I'll be back time and time again, I know.

The view from my rooftop can't be beat.  I'll miss living right by the river.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Enigmatic Creme Egg

Now that Easter is here, lovers of junk food can rejoice.  Jellybeans, Peeps, Chocolate Bunnies......but none please your author more than Cadbury Creme Eggs!  Yes, those chocolate-covered, gooey, mysterious treats that only appear on the candy shelf once a year.  Many people find them kinda gross, but I love 'em.  Ever since I was a kid I would methodically unwrap the colorful foil wrapping and gaze with wonder at the familiar egg shape and then take a bite.  Observing my teeth impression in the chocolate as the sugary, white and yellow-dyed goo would stick all over my fingers and chin.  There is just something about this seasonal sweet egg that brings me unbridled delight.

The only problem is that I can never find it, even during the Easter time of year when it's supposed to be available.  For some reason this is a very rare egg in the boundaries of New York City.  About a month ago I came upon a few of them in a Duane Reade and I bought one.  I showed my co-workers back at the office, holding aloft my new-found treasure.  No one could believe my excitement.  But to my dismay, the next few weeks have passed and I have yet to see them re-stocked on the shelves.  Does this city simply not have the means to order more Cadbury Creme Eggs?  Is there not enough demand from the five boroughs?  Is there too much demand?  Am I looking in the wrong places?

I have yet to find answers to the mystery of the missing eggs.  I even once had an ex-girlfriend's mom mail me a box of eggs from Chicago every year.  But this year another Easter season is passing and I've only been fortunate enough to eat one solitary Cadbury Creme Egg.

As I was preparing to write this post I also found that there was a Cadbury Creme Egg scandal a few years ago when Cadbury shrunk the size of the egg without an explanation to its customers.  At first the company denied it, but when they could no longer get away with the lie, they finally admitted the egg had indeed shrunk by 5g in the United States because of a financial decision (i.e. rip off customers) made by their American distributor, Hershey.

Here's a video below of an actor and fellow Creme Egg lover talking about the proof of the difference in size.