Smorgas Saturday

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This summer New Yorkers from all boroughs have been flocking to Brooklyn on the weekends for a food lovers heaven. Smorgasburg is a food flea market offering some of the most innovative and delicious treats. From flavored horseradish (‘Dish) and truffle honey samples to jumbo ice-cream sandwiches and ramen burgers; this place has a little bit of everything.

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The gates open at 11am and my recommendation is to arrive as early as humanly possible. We arrived at noon and were able to make a loop of the area with ample space to meander between vendors and no lines to wait in. By our second loop (about 12:45pm) the space was already getting tight and not even my hunger could justify the length of the lines at some of the top spots.
After committing to a few items (ice-cream, fancy lemonade, tacos and pizza), we took ourselves to the lawn and relaxed in front of the city view.

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When we had enough of the warm sun, we jumped in a cab and went down to DUMBO (the area where Smorgasburg is held on Sundays FYI) for a quick afternoon cocktail at Atrium.

A top-notch Saturday afternoon if I do say so myself.

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Little trivia for you: DUMBO means Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Underpass. Did you know that?

Summer Concert Series (Celebrate Brooklyn!)

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Back in mid June the roomie and I went on another outdoor concert adventure, this time to Brooklyn. The concert was one of some 30 performances in Prospect Park throughout the summer, most of which are free. Starting in the late 70’s, Celebrate Brooklyn! is one of the longest New York City free outdoor performing arts festivals.

On the docket for us was The National, a band I had never seen live before. It was pretty special to see them in Brooklyn since they live in that area surrounding the park.

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Unfortunately, this was a weekday concert and I was pretty exhausted from a long day at work in the humid weather. We soldiered on, however and it was totally worth it. With only two of us it was easy to wiggle our way through the crowd and into a nice spot up close. As the sun set strings of lights dimly lit the concert area creating a perfect New York summer scene.

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Munchin’ on some brunch

Yesterday I began a new chapter on this journey.  I have been living in Brooklyn since February thanks to a friend’s convenient traveling schedule.  But nobody can leave New York for too long and he eventually came back to claim his space. So as of yesterday I am no longer a Brooklyn resident.  I think I will refer to myself as a nomad for the next month until I move into my very own NYC apartment at the end of April.

To say au revoir to Brooklyn I thought it best to have a nice brunch.  Brunch has a special place in my heart, being the one thing I really missed while in France.  And New Yorkers seem to appreciate a weekend brunch just as much, making me a very happy girl!

My idea was to go to Café Colette because one of my favorite bloggers had written or tweeted about it.  I don’t remember which blogger or which social media outlet but I know that I have wanted to check out this café for a while now.

Walking up Berry Street however, something else caught our eye.  Across the street from the destination spot we saw a restaurant with its large windows open, allowing customers to use the sill as a seat.  The idea of sitting half outside/half inside seemed ideal on the sunny afternoon.  We stood at a cross roads (literally).  It was one of those moments where you have to decide if you go with a planned adventure or a spur-of-the-moment decision.  Both brunch spots were unknown territory, but Spring-fever had taken full-effect and the quasi-outdoor seating won the battle.

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That’s how we found ourselves enjoying fruity drinks and savory eggs at the Latin/Italian restaurant Miranda.  Being St Patty’s day we also threw in some Irish soda bread for effect.  I can’t compare this place with Café Colette (it is still on the list), but I can say that I will be returning very soon.  The people were kind, the food delicious and the large selection of wine that lined the walls tugged at my heart strings.

I enjoyed the smoked salmon scramble (eggs with goat cheese, chives, smoked salmon and served with the house chile de arbol hot sauce) and the self-named cocktail “la miranda” (moscato, prosecco and guava).

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Exercising body and mind

I went for my first run through Brooklyn this afternoon.  It was interesting to say the least.  First of all I have never really run through a city.  I am more a suburbanite who enjoys running through a nice park or through the winding roads of a friendly neighborhood.  So having to “look both ways” at each intersection, pass by millions of people (mind you all with their heads down at their phone making my run turn into a little martial arts as I leapt over trash bags and veered sharply from fire hydrants) was different.  Luckily no casualties occurred 🙂

I did get to see a wide variety of people, places and things.

The first group I came to were kids getting off the bus from school.  Some had the iPhone glued to their hand or iPod plugged into their ears (like my familiar suburbanites).  Other groups of boys were pushing each other and a group of girls were talking so loudly at one another I could make out every word with my ear buds in.  The most surprising thing in this group was the language coming out of most everyone’s mouths.  I was shocked to hear elementary school kids dropping the f-bomb in front of the crossing guard!

Finally I got to Grand Street and turned the corner away from the schools.  It was funny because this street is home to about a million 99¢ stores.  There were even a few bars that I wouldn’t mind checking out sometime.  Little hole in the wall places–you never know.

Then I came to the river and along with it a fellow runner (the only other one I saw today).  It was quiet down by the Williamsburg Bridge and a lot of old factories lined the street.

I made my way down the road until I got to the heart of Williamsburg: Bedford Avenue.  I turned the street and there were a very large number of people dressed in black.  It was as if I entered a party without the dress code memo.  I almost felt wrong jogging along in my spandex pants and Nike zip-up.

If you know anything about this area of Brooklyn you know that the people I had just bumped into were the Hasidic Jewish community.  Due to their distinct style of dress and hair cut (for the men), they are an easily recognizable sector of the Jewish faith and a lot of them live in Brooklyn.

The first time I noticed a family dressed this was actually at Elis Island the weekend I visited with the French boys.  I saw a woman and her many children visiting the museum and the boy with them had long curly sideburns.  I figured they were foreign, but not that they most likely lived in Brooklyn.  Then as I was moving in last weekend I drove by a large group of black clad men with huge furry hats.  My dad mentioned that they were Hasidic Jews and this spiked my interest.  So when I stumbled upon the neighborhood today, where a large number of this group resides, I knew I had to do some more research about what they stood for and the reason behind their distinct look.

What I found out was complex to me; one who does not study religions.  In basic terms this sector of the Jewish faith began as a reaction against the over legalistic Judaism during the 18th century in Eastern Europe.  The most prominent thing I noticed was the dress and hair.  To me it seemed they all dressed the same but in fact there are many different groups of Hasidic Jews and each has a slight variation.  It was also interesting to read that their style was a non theological practice.  It is mostly based on historical and sociological reasons.

The hair however, that idea comes from a biblical commandment to not shave one’s face.  They first shave a boy at age 3 and usually all the hair except for the sideburns is shaven off.

It all interests me so much and I would love to learn more about my new neighbors.

This move is already more eye-opening than I had imagined.

Beginnings in Brooklyn

Today marks the beginning of a new adventure.  I must say, I am more apprehensive than I have been in a long time.  I guess when I left for France my heart was racing just as fast and my mind was battling negative thoughts just as frequently.  But these are things that are now hard to associate with my move to France since I have been through that situation and had such an amazing experience.  In my mind, there was no way I was nervous or afraid–a quick look at my journal (or this blog) would prove me wrong of course.

So today I moved into an apartment in Brooklyn and on Monday I begin the process of temping and searching for a job.  It’s a lot all at once but I’m so excited for all the new things ahead.  And there will be plenty of new things–I know very little about Brooklyn. Manhattan already seems less foreign to me after having toured my French visitors around last weekend, but Brooklyn…

Brooklyn is a very unfamiliar and uncharted land for me.  I understand the risks of living in the area and will take them into consideration as I explore (staying safe and aware of my surroundings) but I also have to rely on my tendencies to think little, take chances and fly by the seat of my pants because I believe it is the only true way to wring out every ounce of excitement and discovery.

You will all be along for the ride I hope 🙂

This month is all about NYC, and specifically Brooklyn!!!

The preview to the Brooklyn adventure last weekend