After three long years, I just made a trip to New York City. Though I've never lived in the Big Apple, I couldn't help but reflecting on all the ways that it's different from Paris. New York is the city that never sleeps, while Paris turns in at 11pm. New York is cutting edge, Paris is timeless. New York is edgy, Paris is conservative. Anything goes in New York, ce n'est pas possible in Paris. Each city has its charms, but part of the reason that I adore New York is the diverse, multicultural, rootsy, activist vibe that you find in my favorite borough, Brooklyn (of course!). On a sunny Saturday, the Gastronomic Nomad (my partner in crime for all NY adventures!) and I had a fabulous afternoon of food and fun in Brooklyn that was just absolutely magical.
Taking the 6 train down to the Fort Greene neighborhood, we headed to the wonderful Brooklyn Flea Market for the opening day of the outdoor market. Called "one of the great urban experiences in New York" by The New York Times, the market has been going strong since 2008 and features more than 125 vendors who sell vintage clothing, furniture and housewares, arts and crafts, records and pretty much everything else that you can imagine. The vibe is quintessential Brooklyn...urban hipsters, granola types, young families with kids in strollers, neighborhood folks...all enjoying the sunshine, fellowship and great finds to be discovered at the market.
After the Gastronomic Nomad scored a lovely vintage blue coat and I picked up a funky colorful scarf from Martine's Dream, we turned to the main order of business at the market...eating! Unknown to some, the Brooklyn Flea Market is a foodie paradise, with all kinds of local, artisanal goodies and great food representing cuisines from all over the world. We're talking popsicles made with locally grown fruit, spicy pickles, freshly baked cookies and pies, wood-fired pizzas, creamy dips...
With such endless choices, it was hard to decide what to eat but we settled on some amazing corn-on-the-cob rubbed with chili powder, lime juice and queso fresco and a pupusa platter from Solber Pupusas. Pupusas, in case you didn't know, are a specialty of El Salvador. They're basically griddled cornmeal cakes (made from the flour known as masa de maiz) stuffed with a choice of cheese, beans, chicken, pork or other fillings. I used to love eating pupusas when I lived in Washington DC, where there is a large Central American population. As is the tradition, our pupusas were served with the vinegary cabbage slaw known as curtido, tomato sauce, sour cream and jalapenos. They were so delicious that I vowed to pick up some masa de maiz and make them myself once I got back to Paris.
I also couldn't help but to be curious about Asia Dog, a stand selling hot dogs (beef, chicken or veggie) with different "Asian" toppings. I went for a veggie dog done up in "Sidney" style topped with a Thai mango relish with cucumber, red onion and crushed peanuts. It sounded better than it tasted, but I couldn't help but to smile and appreciate the fun, fusion-oriented, anything goes attitude behind Asia Dog and so many of the other food vendors at Brooklyn Flea. You would never find tastes like this in Paris, I found myself thinking!
Bellies full, we headed over to a Brazilian spot called Miss Favela near the Brooklyn Bridge, where the Saturday afternoon samba parties had been highly recommended by several friends of ours. We found a colorful restaurant with great servers and bartenders, a really friendly crowd and a totally cool ambiance. Que legal!
As the band started to play and we worked up a sweat dancing, we naturally had to get a pitcher of caipirinhas to cool down.
As the caipirinhas started to kick in, we ordered a plate of mandioca frita (fried yucca) and pão de queijo (cheese bread) to soak it up. Stuffed, heads spinning, legs tired (dancing samba is always such a workout!), we totally didn't want our Brooklyn afternoon to end but headed back to Manhattan vowing to come back soon. And luckily for me, it was just the beginning of my New York adventure!