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3 Notes

"The List" from my hosts in Carroll Gardens

Missing Any?

Bars

Jakewalk
Abilene
Brooklyn Social Club
Black Mountain Wine Bar

Eats (note that it’s a traditionally Italian and Middle Eastern neighborhood)
Buttermilk Channel (brunch!)
Smith Canteen (cafe)
Seersucker (Southern)
Frankie’s
Zaytoon’s (Middle Eastern)
Brucie (maybe that’s technically Boreum Hill?)

Other
Farmers Market (happening now on Carroll Street)
Jalopy - bluegrass and traditional music
Book Court - bookstore with cool events
Brooklyn Wine Exchange - good free wine classes (although maybe Boreum Hill?)

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3 Notes

The NYC Nomad in Park Slope (on Sterling Place between 6th and 7th)

Stayed

With Jo, the sister of a good friend of mine from Tufts and the sister-in-law of an even better friend of mine at Tufts.  We were in the wedding together a few years back, but beyond that and running into each other at a bar in Park Slope, I’d say we didn’t know each over very well.

Jo owns her apartment and she had stories of the renovations she (meaning she did them herself) made.  It’s slightly emasculating but pretty impressive to hear her talking about knocking down walls.  She put in John Boo’s Butcher Block which is something I’d like to have in my own kitchen some day.

Here’s us before I left for my move 1/2 mile down the road.

Met

A whole lot of people at Jo’s work holiday party, which she organized.  Jo works for Punched in the Head productions, which gets the award for coolest name of a company.  Creative types are a lot of fun, and I talked to people who work on shows like Top Chef.  I even got a week in Bensonhurst through someone I met at the party (Jo had talked me up quite a bit beforehand).

Ate

Chinese food on the Sunday night that I arrived.  It was something of a feast and I haven’t done that in a long time.  We had everything but the pu pu platter.  It was fun and felt like a “normal” Sunday, watching TV and eating take out.

Brunch at Flatbush Farm.  I can say the crispy duck confit is pretty outstanding, especially the grits.

Oaxaca tacos at the Punched in the Head holiday party.  I love this place on 4th avenue and apparently there are 2 other locations in BK and one that just opened in Manhattan.

Yoga

At Bend and Bloom.  As a result of my nomadic existence, I get a chance to sample a lot of different fitness / yoga studios / gyms.  At Bend and Bloom, its 3 classes for $30 for new customers.  The place has cookies and teas after class, and yelpers rave about the wallpaper.  I can’t say that I noticed, but I’ll be sure to look for it the next time I’m there.

Ran

Jo and I had talked about running and impressively we woke up on a Friday morning and did it.  It was the coldest day of the winter (up to that point), but it helps that she lives right near Prospect Park.  Once you see other crazy people running, it makes it easier to justify why your freezing your ass off at 7AM.

Watched

The Patriots eviscerate the Jets at the Rock Shop.  It’s a great bar for football watching, mainly because it doesn’t get very crowded.   I’m sorry New Yorkers, I love this city and all your neighborhoods, but I’m really enjoying this Jets meltdown and the Rex Ryan fiasco.

This was my 4th week in Park Slope.  You can read the other posts here and here and the next post I write will also be from Park Slope.  

What have I missed in what has become my nomadic home?

Email me to host!

3 Notes

The NYC Nomad returns to Greenpoint (at Calyer Street and Manhattan Avenue)

One of the difficult things (and the thing I like least) about this project is recruiting people to host and scheduling the weeks.  It generally requires a certain amount of follow up and though I hand out plenty of nomad business cards, people rarely email me.  You can’t blame them, really…wait, so you’re giving me a card so that I can email you so you can come live with me for a week…Right.

There are exceptions, though, and some people get very excited about the idea and actually email me. Anne (and Trevor) fall into that category.  [If you do to, it’s thenycnomad@gmail.com] We met at a wedding of a friend (who is the first host of the new year!) over the summer.  Anne mentioned that I was deemed an acceptable house guest when she realized I was drinking whiskey at the wedding reception.

Anyway, 3 months after the wedding I arrived at Anne and Trevor’s doorstep.  I’d been really excited for this week because my friend Amy couldn’t stop talking about how great her friend Anne is, and specifically her cooking skills.  I was also excited because I had a really good time my first trip to Greenpoint and wanted to check out some places I had missed the first time around.  Although the idea is to stay in different neighborhoods, its fun and often most interesting to return to a neighborhood and see it through a different lens.  And as I often say, its more about the people than the nabe. Everyone has different places they like to go, and just a few blocks can make a big difference.

Food was a highlight of this week.  I ate at Lomzyniaka for $6 which gets you an excellent meat loaf plate that can feed a small family.  We crossed the bridge into Long Island city for Brunch at Tournesol.  Anne had mutual friends of ours over for roast chicken, brussel sprouts, and beet salad and you can see all of this on Youtube where Anne has become the latest Youtube sensation.

I was also fortunate enough to be there for the annual marathon brunch where about 20 friends came over pre-marathon.  Deemed sous chef, I put the twist in bacon twists which is a recipe I am officially adopting. 

 

Finally, I took Anne and Trevor, and a couple of friends to an Italian place called Anella that was excellent.

It was one of those weeks when I really integrated with my hosts.  Those weeks can be the most difficult to actually move on.  I met many of their friends, we went to the bowling alley (Trevor’s in a league), had beers at beerfest at Red Star, and went to a reading at WORD bookstore.

Anne and Trevor were awesome hosts - I miss them and I miss Greenpoint!

4 Notes

The NYC Nomad in South Williamsburg

Stayed

With Rob and Cory on South 4th Street.  Check out the bird’s eye view above from Bing maps.  Cory and Rob have a sweet pad with plenty of space for the aerobed and a view that looks out onto a park and the elevated J,M,Z subway line.  It was the sort of place I felt like I could have stayed for a while.  Check out Cory’s video testimonial.  He said “its kind of like having a tourist stay with you and also a really good friend.”  I liked that.

They both had great suggestions for the neighborhood whether it was a place to eat, watch football, go on a date, or go for a run.  Rob mentioned I should take a run down Bedford Avenue on Sunday and I saw stuff like this.

Ate 

At Traif, which means unkosher or forbidden in Yiddish.  I’m going to write a longer review on Yelp.  I took Cory here and we sat at the bar — It’s one of the best meals I’ve had on this nomadic journey.

Cafe Moto - Another place I could write a whole post about.  The ambiance in this restaurant takes you back to 1940’s New York.  There’s live jazz, a great horseshoe bar and the most incredible date cake (which I sadly forgot part of at the restaurant).  I went there by myself on a Friday night and sat next to the owner.  He showed me pictures from when the place was a check cashing store and I didn’t believe it was the same space.  He’s transformed it into something magical.

Vutera - food was slightly disappointing, but its a pretty cool space downstairs from Rose’s live music.

Pies n’ Thighs - i stayed with a former co-worker who now runs the business side of things at pies n’ thighs so i had experienced the food before but I am now obsessed.  It’s across the street from Rob and Cory’s and.  Cory introduced me to the ginger molasses cookie with a glass of milk.  I think its laced with something illegal because I found myself being pulled back to the restaurant every night.  Also, the egg and cheese on a biscuit will cure any hangover.

Back Forty - a place I missed on my stops to the East Village, I think these are the best pumpkin pancakes you can find.  I took Rob and his girlfriend there on a Sunday morning before.

Worked Out

P90x - Cory and Rob are rocking the p90x.  p90x are video workouts that will get you in the best shape you’ve probably ever been in.  It takes about an hour a days for 90 days.  It got me back on track when I lived in St. Thomas.  It was good to be back - Seeing Tony Horton on video was like seeing an old friend.  Rob and Cory also have a gym in their building.

Skee Ball

There are lots of unique things in New York and this bar certainly falls under that category.  There was a huge skeeball tournament going on when Cory and I went there after dinner.

Doggy Halloween Parade

Kind of fun, but mostly sad.  There was a dog died green to be oscar the grouch with big bird as the owner.  PETA anyone?  I’m reasonably sure a few of these dogs were sedated.  There was a dog that was a Lumberjack and he actually lumbered along which was really cute.

I needed a drink after seeing these crazy people and had one of the best bloody mary’s I’ve had in NYC at Bua.

Ran

Along Bedford going south, where there is a large population of Hacidic Jews.  “It is strictly forbidden to enter these premises carrying objects or pushing baby carriages.”

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5 Notes

The NYC Nomad gets an Insider’s Tour of Harlem

I like to tell people I that I help my hosts see their neighborhood with a new set of eyes.  I think I did a little of that in Hell’s Kitchen - We ate Bibimbap and I told Joaquin about a couple of my favorite spots in the neighborhood from my very first stay as the nomad.  That seems like a lifetime ago and it is amazing to think about how little I understood about my idea when I first showed up in Hell’s Kitchen.

But this post isn’t about Hell’s Kitchen, it’s about Harlem, and the opportunity to see parts of my old neighborhood with a new set of eyes.

We woke up on Saturday morning and rode bikes up to where Joaquin grew up on 115th street and 7th avenue (what is now called Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard). He told me that when he was growing up about 70% of the places on his block were vacant.  We walked down 114th street which might have about that percentage of places boarded up right now.  It’s said that Columbia has purchased these places as part of its major expansion and gentrification is in full swing on the surrounding blocks.  To say the neighborhood has changed / is changing is an understatement, but Joaquin painted a pretty vivid picture of how it used to be walking around the neighborhood.

Perhaps most fascinating to me was seeing the house where Joaquin grew up.  It’s always fun to see where friends grew up, but even more interesting to see an NYC apartment where a friend grew up.  It’s got plenty of 70’s to it, and I saw a Fox police lock for the first time.  These locks prevented people from being able to kick in a door and were standard issued for a time in Harlem and other parts of New York City.


My camera battery died, but this is an image I found on google. The long pole serves the purpose of reinforcing the door.

Joaq told me about how he used to tell people he lived at the “L” because the buzzer to his apartment building didn’t work and his apartment was on level with the L of a vertical Liquor store sign.  He also said they used to dump water out the window to get the alcoholics to leave the block in the middle of the night.

After dropping our bikes, we went over to the school where Joaquin talked to some current students from a program he had participated in called Wadleigh.  It’s an amazing program, which gives students the opportunity to go to boarding schools around the country and one that has been around for 47 years!  I met the man who started it, Mr. Plummer, who is inspiring.  He told me, “what’s all this about Waiting for Superman?”  I’ve been Superman for 47 years.”   He’s absolutely right, and there were a number of people there volunteering their time and helping the next generation as a direct result of Mr. Plummer’s vision to allow inner city youth the opportunity to go to some of the best preparatory schools in the country.

After Joaquin fielded lots of questions from students currently participating in the program, we walked to a 125th street to a church I had walked by 100 times before, but never realized there was a cafeteria style restaurant up the stairs.  Some of the best soul food awaits you at what Joaq calls Daddy Grace chruch.  I had my first ever turkey wing, some of the best mac and cheese, collard greens, candied yam (which the woman gave me “to make sure I came back”), and cornbread.  We were there on Saturday, but I’m told it’s a true event on Sunday while church is going on for the better part of the day.

Getting the motivation to hop on a bike after a meal like that is tough, but once we got going the adrenaline kicked in.  Joaq is not a fan of bike lanes (after all, they weren’t there when he was growing up) so we were bobbing and weaving most of the way home.  That was also a new way of seeing the city, albeit one I’m not likely to repeat anytime soon.

A Saturday trip to Harlem was one of the more unique experiences of my first six months bouncing around New York.  Anytime I truly feel like a tourist in my own city, I know I’m doing this right.

3 Notes

Takeout in Hells Kitchen

So I’ve been sick for most of the week.  A sick nomad is not a good thing so I’m taking this Friday night to make sure I’m better.  And since I haven’t been out at all this week, pretty much every meal has been takeout.  Below is a list of spots, in order of preference, but everything was pretty good.  There is such an incredible number of restaurants on 9th avenue.

#1 B-bap

I love Bee Bim Bap and my host Joaquin had never had it.  You can build your own, but I went for the classic and got Joaq the spicy chicken.  The chili sauce is pretty awesome.

#2 Hanci Turkish Cuisuine

Coban Salatasi (cucumber and tomato salad) and tavuk corbasi (chicken soup) were the start to my recovery.  The guy running the show was very appreciative of my greeting him in Turkish.  Just say “merhaba” and you’ll probably get a free piece of baklava.

#3 Blue 9 Burger 

Burger was just okay, but I really enjoyed my mint chocolate chip shakes and I liked the slightly soggy fries.

#4 Carnegie Deli

This one was actually delivery, but the quart of Matzoh ball noodle soup is perfect for being sick.  I also ordered the pastrami sandwich which was so big it lasted me three days.  Overpriced, but I knew that going in.

#5 Greek Kitchen

Nice Avegolemon soup, but overpriced “middle east salad.”  Not sure I would go back for takeout.

#6 Fresco

One of Joaquin’s go to spots.  They had a pretty good Cobb Salad with a ton of chicken.

#7 Burrito Box

Tiny hole in the wall.  Standard mexican fair but they do have vegan options if you are into that.

Did I miss any of your favorite takeout spots in Hells Kitchen?  

Tomorrow is the real food excitement.  We are headed up to Harlem where Joaquin grew up for some soul food at a local church!

4 Notes

The NYC Nomad Almost Gets “Knocked the F&$% Out”

I’m not a particularly confrontational person.  I’m even less confrontational when I’m standing outside Breukelen Coffee House on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights holding two large coffees, one on top of the other with a bag of croissants squeezed between my elbow and my waist and an Iphone tucked into my waist band of my shorts after a Saturday morning run in my Vibram Five Fingers shoes.  I had gone on this run to pick up some breakfast for my host and I before the Crown Heights House Tour (which was amazing).

While in line, a girl asked me about my shoes and we started chatting.  See, I’m non-confrontation and friendly.  We talked in the coffee shop, which then lead out to the sidewalk which then led me to mistakenly bump into 3 black guys walking down the street.  I apologized, and my new friend and I continued our conversation laughing about something completely unrelated to the bump.  My other new “friend” didn’t quite see it that way.

He walked probably about 10 paces past us and then came back and asked me “What the F&%$ are you laughing at?”  If you can picture the initial description (coffee, pastries, phone, shoes), you’ll understand that I stopped laughing in my defenseless position.  I kept eye contact with him he asked again, “WHAT the F&*K are you laughing at?” to which I think I muttered, “we were just talking.”  He then told me “I would knock you the F$%& out.”  I didn’t really doubt him, but focused in on his teeth which made me think that maybe he had once been knocked the f out.  He was in my face and my adrenaline was certainly flowing, but I did all I could to ensure the situation didn’t escalate (read: kept my mouth shut) and he walked away after we stared at each other for a few seconds.  The girl I was with was upset (she lived across the street, deals with this it sounds like) and had a few words for them.  His final parting shot was something to the effect of “you are lucky you aren’t a *$%%& or I’d knock your bitch out too.”  (My internal monologue…um, that’s not my bitch.)  He said “this is still Franklin Avenue,” a nod to the gentrification of the neighborhood.

It’s a story, and a good one since I didn’t get knocked out, but it’s also really bums me out.  I understand that, in my outfit outside of that coffee shop, I was the very picture of gentrification.  And even though I don’t live in that neighborhood permanently I suppose I’m somehow contributing to it.  I tried to think for the rest of the day of something constructive I could have said, but really couldn’t come up with anything.  A friend suggested “can i sleep on your couch?”  Kidding aside, the anger sucks.  I admittedly have no concept about it, or where it comes from (I’m sure it comes from somewhere), or if it can go away.

But I hope it can, and I hope that sometimes it does, and I hope the next time I’m on Franklin Avenue someone doesn’t tell me they are going to knock me the fuck out.

P.S.  Tumblr should create a function to shield certain posts from my parents.

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7 Notes

The NYC Nomad in Alphabet City (on 9th and c)

Stayed

With Mike and Pete.  Mike is a co-worker at outside.in and shares my feeling of less is more with regard to stuff.  Pete is foreign currency trader by day and an 80’s pop star by night.  Check out his new album here and follow him on Twitter here, and read his blog here

Ate

Awesome food, pretty much everywhere I went.  Some highlights:

Esperanto - Brazilian food.  Mike and I went there on Monday night for the prix fixe menu ($20) and half off bottle of wine.  $12 for a halfway decent bottle of wine?  I asked him if I was still in Manhattan.

Barnyard - Mike was a great host and recommended some spots for me while he was away for the weekend.  Barnyard was one of those spots.  An expensive, albeit delicious breakfast sandwich.  I also had turmeric juice which just tastes healthy. 

Kafana - Pete, Mike and I had the nomad sponsored dinner here and it was really great.  INCREDIBLE cow’s milk feta cheese and a great selection of meats.  It’s relatively new, and neither of my hosts had been there, which always makes for a fun outing.  I had never eaten at Serbian restaurant (or had Serbian beer) before.

Wacky Wok - This is the go to take-out spot.  Pick your noodles, pick your vegetables and protein and pick your sauce.  It’s guilt free takeout as the packaging is all eco-friendly.  What’s even nicer is that they are not in your face about how “green” they are.  It’s kind of obvious from the moment you walk in the place.  There is a hippyish guy who runs the shop and like most of Alphabet city, it was just a chill place.

Caracas Arepa Bar - I finally went here after 3 previous unsuccessful attempts. There had always been over an hour long wait so when it was 30 minutes I jumped at the chance.  I am definitely a fan and would go back, but I wouldn’t wait an hour for it.  I’m of the belief that the block on 7th street between 1st and A has the best food in all of Manhattan.  Anyone have a better block?

Also had my first cupcake at Butter Lane.  You pick your cupcake and icing and its pretty fun.  I had Banana with Peanut Butter.

Met

Lots of nice people at the 9th street community garden and park.  I’m writing a whole post about it so stay tuned.  There are an abundance of community gardens in Alphabet city.

Relaxed

I had the apartment mostly to myself over the weekend.  I didn’t leave the neighborhood until Sunday and stayed in Friday and Saturday night.  I hadn’t done that in a long time and it was exactly what I needed.  I enjoyed coffee at 9th street espresso which was described to me as mecca for coffee drinkers.  I also waited for the cable guy on Saturday afternoon and scored my hosts some free cable.  Sound good?  Send me an Email!

Saw

One of the most insane performances I’ve ever seen.  This guy used to play basketball for Villanova.

Here’s a picture:

Bars

Duke’s - Duke’s is a cool spot with a dartboard in the back.  They had to take down their sign because the Duke’s restaurants in NYC were complaining about copyright.  I think that is pretty lame.

B side - It’s a cool spot with a foosball table and cheap beer

Banjo Jim’s - What a bar is supposed to be in my opinion.  Great music and a really fun crowd with $3 Tecates and $4 Dale’s Pale Ale.  Banjo’s is right below where I was staying and I can’t believe I only made it there one night.

Ran

Runners high happens about every 5 years for me, but I had it within 10 minutes of starting my run along the East River.  It was an incredible day and the five fingered shoes might have had something to do with it.  I also returned to the outdoor gym on 6th street where I always seem to meet someone interesting (this time a chef in the Financial District).

If you couldn’t tell from the length of this post, I LOVED Alphabet City!

What did I miss? Email me.

4 Notes

Why I Love this Project

Hoboken, in my opinion, gets a bad rap.  I had one guy tell me if I wrote a book, just make sure I write F*&% Jersey multiple times throughout and I’d be sure to sell a lot of copies.  Most people aren’t so extreme, but when I told people I was living in Hoboken for the week, they seemed less than excited about the prospect. I think people associate Hoboken with the annual St. Patrick’s day fiasco and a bunch of frat guys.  And while some of that is certainly true, there is a lot more than that to Hoboken.  The ability to find that out for myself is one of the things that makes me love this project.  

My hosts did a great job of explaining Hoboken, from getting me to places like Maxwell’s to showing me around the neighborhoods.  But it wasn’t until I did some exploring on a Sunday afternoon, the kind of exploring you do when you know you’ll be a in place for a finite amount of time, that I got a true appreciation for Hoboken.

I almost didn’t leave the house.  I was exhausted from a wedding I had attended in Annapolis. But I guess the beauty of this project, why I love it, is it forces me to get out and explore.  After all, I didn’t know the next time I’d be in Hoboken.  

I grabbed my new camera and decided to take the public bus to a tomato festival I had read about.  In about 15 minutes I was tasting tomatoes over 40 varieties of New Jersey tomatoes, the majority of which I had never heard of.  Farmer Rich, the guy who organizes this annual festival suggested a couple of tomatoes for me to make a cucumber tomato salad.  He also suggested I visit Antique bakery on my way home for a fresh loaf of Italian bread.

I bought my tomatoes and decided to take the longer route back while walking along the waterfront.  It was a gorgeous day.  Perfect, really.

I think this guy thought it wasn’t bad…

And I’m not sure there is a better place to skateboard in the NY area.

And I’m almost positive there isn’t a better place to learn how to dance.

I stopped at one of the many parks and napped for a half hour, picked up my fresh bread on the way home, and had a nice meal with myself to finish off a wonderful week.  I kind of felt like I could stay in Hoboken for a while.  It was Sunday, though, and it was time to move to Alphabet City.

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