I love being shown around a city by a local. Because my job involves researching everywhere I travel to within an inch of its life to get the most potential out of a trip – sometimes it feels like I have been to a place before I’ve even arrived. So it’s always nice to be able to sit back and be led by someone you trust knows your tastes.
I used to work with my friend Alison for three years at a trend forecasting service – she still works for the business and now lives in Bushwick. We were so excited to have her show us around some of the best haunts in Brooklyn!
On one of the drizzliest and humid days of our trip – we took the ferry across to Red Hook just in time for lunch at the hugely popular Brooklyn Crab. Perched on the edge of the water and overlooking a view of striking warehouses – despite being in one of the trendiest neighbourhoods it actually had charming backwater appeal [on a Tuesday at least].
Divided up into three levels – a kind of sports hall on ground level, a bar on the first floor and the top dining deck. The food, served in metal trays and plastic baskets on picnic tables, is simple and fresh. We ate spicy crab sandwiches, steamers and oysters with chilli.
We spent the afternoon soaking up the sights and sounds of the neighbourhood – a vision of iconic warehouses offset by beautiful storefronts and even more beautiful people tumbling out of charming Nora Ephron style eateries onto the humid pavements.
I love having gifting items in stock at home so it’s great to come across an unusual find with a good story. In Red Hook we happened upon a great little temporary shop called Zaltz – a ‘bath lab’ which let us concoct our own bath salts using Dead Sea salts and a great selection of natural ingredients. The colours, scents and textures were incredible. I made an India inspired salt using clay [for softness], sandalwood, marigolds [and other good stuff I can’t remember].
Next we moved on to ‘Home of The Brave’ the kind of homewares shop that you have to restrain yourself from running/rushing/hurtling into with a manic look on your face. Brimming with beautifully curated ceramics with great geometric prints from local makers like Smalls Spells who I am always ogling over online, unique hand-crafted cushions and rugs and great gift items. The store is owned by husband and wife team Max and Bethany Vogel who own just as cool clothes shop Wolves Within round the corner.
People of 2morrow was a light filled new-age lifestyle boutique which felt like it belonged more on the West Coast than Brooklyn. Packed to the rafters with covetable things it was a treasure trove of thrift shop wares, re-worked objects, handmade ceramics, decor and modern designer clothing for adults and children.
We stopped for some drinks and people watching and stumbled upon an excellent shop called the Heatonist that only did hot sauces from all over the world. I bought a Chilli Butter that is really good on steaks and a Serrano Ginger and Lemongrass sauce that I use as relish for burgers and on the side of dishes than need some sweet and spicy and Mike’s Hot Honey which is perfect on pizza!
We ended the day with an impulse indulgence as we walked past the tempting window of Caprices by Sophie – adorned with chouxs and eclairs of every colour, flavour and shape. I took some home for our hosts which were enrobed in individual beds! Once I tasted a ruby red Raspberry, Salty Caramel Butter Popcorn and moorish Pistachio eclair from this place I know even the best from M&S will never do again…
We were back in Brooklyn that weekend as Alison was hosting a party for us in Bushwick that evening, so took the opportunity to visit the Brooklyn Flea. There was a nice relaxed vibe with a great food truck scene and there were some cute finds like illustrated prints, totes and stationery by Claudia Pearson and hand screen printed wood art from Sheepshead NYC. Also some nice ladies were selling ‘Fresh Georgia Peaches’ – peaches really seemed to be a thing in NY… I saw them everywhere whether in edible form or decorative [see Claudia Pearson’s artwork].
We had the most delicious lunch at a Bushwick institution – Roberta’s. The NY times writes ‘It all got rolling in the middle of 2007, when the national economy was faltering and the graffiti-tagged, barbed-wired lots of Bushwick, Brooklyn, seemed like a perfectly apocalyptic place in which to start a never-ending party. With little more than a pizza oven, a handful of small investors and a contagious surplus of good vibes, three young men did just that.’
The pizzeria has a cobbled together commune feel about with every hipster offering you imagine seemingly crammed into it – an oasis like courtyard with picnic benches, a rooftop farm, a tiki bar, a Michelin starred taster restaurant out back and an on site radio station!
We ate a great garlicky pepperoni pizza washed down with beer and Prosecco [respectively] and a sticky strawberry ice-cream brioche sandwich.
Brooklyn is full of warehouses making artisanal foods – mainly coffee and chocolate – this kind of casual showmanship is rare in London – so it was great to stop at Fine and Raw on the way to dinner to pick up some treats for our hosts.
Our last and most wonderful stop was my friend Alison’s place not far from Robertas. She was cat sitting in an amazingly furnished apartment [actually above hers] and threw us a party on her roof.
As day turned into night we sat atop what felt like the centre of the world, strung with fairy lights, waxing lyrical about the thralls of modern living in a big city and listening to the sounds of Brooklyn thrum all around us. A perfect end to our tour of Brooklyn.
Author: Rohini Wahi
Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.
She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org