Sunday, October 27, 2013

Brooklyn, Britten, and Bloody Marys

I loved this building. So gorgeous!
     While I've been sharing all my adventures in various neighborhoods of Manhattan, I haven't been venturing out to the other boroughs very much. So last weekend when I managed to coerce Andy to journey out to Brooklyn to see his friend in a recital, I leaped at the opportunity to explore this area of NYC together.

     Let's begin with the event that prompted our expedition to parts unknown: Britten in Song: A Centennial Celebration. This year would have been Britten's 100th birthday, and naturally as a result, there is an abundance of his works being performed. This event featured some of the composer's smaller vocal works--his art songs.

     The recital was splendidly performed by the two singers and their accompanist, and I was pleased to expand my knowledge of the composer's song repertoire. The location was equally beautiful and acoustically ideal, the recently renovated Brooklyn Historical Society. There were two other recitals that afternoon, but we decided that we weren't ready to handle that much Britten in one day.

     Once I had convinced Andy to make the trek out to Brooklyn with me (I make it sound difficult. He was much more willing than I let on.), my next goal was to get out there early enough for brunch.  As a big Bloody Mary fanatic, I've been looking to try as many epic versions of the drink as I can. The majority of my findings online seemed to point in the same direction...toward Brooklyn. My Bloody Mary craving was both satisfied and intrigued by our choice of brunch location, Char No. 4.

     I've only had traditional vodka based Bloody Marys before, so I was very curious about Char No. 4's Chipotle Bourbon Bloody Mary. I love whiskey, chipotle, and bloodies, so why wouldn't I love them in combination? I was not disappointed. It was rather sweet with as smooth finish, and while I don't know if bourbon surpassed vodka as the ideal liquor choice for this drink, I was surprised by how well it worked in the cocktail. I honestly expected it to be spicier. That was the only let down about the Bloody Mary, however, so if you are ever in Brooklyn and looking for a unique spin on the classic brunch cocktail, you should definitely give Char No. 4 a sample.

Farmer's Market
     After brunch and the recital, we figured since we were already out in the borough we might as well continue our explorations. Just a few blocks from the historical society, we stumbled upon a farmer's market and discussed our plan. The next stop on our agenda? Williamsburg (aka the Hipster Capital of the East Coast)

      This expedition resulted in yet another New York first: we navigated the NYC bus system! It was actually fascinating to traverse Brooklyn above ground. We could watch as the various neighborhoods transitioned into each other, and we even spotted a few Hasidic fashions on display. The variety and beauty of this city never ceases to amaze me. Finally we arrived in Williamsburg, ready to soak in as much hipster culture as our tolerance would allow.

     There were so many unique shops, restaurants, and bars in Williamsburg. It was hard to know where to begin. Luckily Andy was in the know as usual and immediately led the way to the flea markets. First we hit up the indoor shopping. I enjoyed just studying the vintage clothes, artwork, and jewelry. The space was jam packed with people, so often it felt like a battle to get to the next stall. I even got a compliment on my dress from a couple girls at a jewelry booth, so I am pleased to inform you that my fashion choices are hipster approved. I resisted the urge to purchase anything, however, which I consider my biggest success of the day. Being broke requires so much self-control!

     Throughout our Williamsburg wanderings, we encountered a ton of street art. Andy's enthusiasm for the art form has really rubbed off on me, and I even acted as his amateur model in a couple photographs that he took. I must be out of practice with my modelling skills, however, because I was pretty awkward and unaware of my limbs. He's an encouraging photographer despite all this, and with his suggestions, I think we managed to get a few nice shots.

     After the indoor shopping, we walked a block down to the outdoor flea market only to discover that it featured solely food stands. I'm a glutton, so this was fine by me...but Andy had been looking forward to perusing the more traditional flea market fare. We never did figure out why this weekend was only food, but I'm hoping we can make the trip out there again someday and enjoy the full flea market experience. My main dilemma of the afternoon was which of the many delicious looking entrees should I try? There was such a variety with everything from gourmet grilled cheese to sticky rice in a bamboo shoot! How could I choose just one?

     I ended up settling on my favorite Italian standby: gnocchi. I was a little more adventurous with my beverage choice however. Andy suggested that I give kombucha a try, and as usual he did not lead me astray with his advice. All in all it made for a tasty, refreshing meal, despite our disappointment in the gnocchi to vegetable ratio. What do they think we are? Health nuts? Heck no! More pasta and more cheese!

      The best part of the outdoor flea market space without a doubt was the view of Manhattan, and it was relaxing to spend an hour or so just wandering the rocky beach as Andy searched for sea glass and took photos the skyline.

     As we prepared to head back to Manhattan for the evening, we made one last pit stop at the cheese shop. It was a quaint little establishment and filled to the brim with customers. I've never seen so many kinds of cheese in one place! It was very exhilarating for my gluttonous side. Thankfully the shop attendant was more than willing to help us find a cheese that was just right. When we first entered the shop, Andy was quick to point out one cheese with a humorous name, "The Drunk Monk." Funnily enough that was the very first option our attendant picked for us when we asked for something "soft and stinky." She seemed amused by our request, but we were more than satisfied by her selection. It was the perfect end to our chaotic day, relaxing over stinky cheese and crackers.

     In retrospect, I found Brooklyn charming. It had a feeling that is very unique from Manhattan, and I would definitely love to make more trips out to the borough to discover the many sites and treasures that we didn't even begin to search out. As my adventures continue, I will try my best to be better about posting more regularly. It's never a dull moment these days, and with my helpful tour guide Andy leading the way, I am bound to have more exciting experiences to share. Who knows? I may even venture out to Queens and the Bronx sometime in the near future!

A view of Manhattan.

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