celebrating the glories of eating in brooklyn. from the gut.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Apulia Redux

Between work and other things that have been going on lately, I haven't had much time to write. So here's a lame link that should substitute for originality. Village Voice visits Frankies 457 Spuntino.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Bird Flu Concern

Now that avian flu has reached farther into Europe, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it comes to the U.S. I was reading in this Reuters' story that part of the safety measures includes a ban on letting domestic birds outside. Naturally the biggest concern is the impact on human lives. But these developments lead me to wonder: does this mean that those organic, free-range chickens we all love to eat will be the first hit with avian flu when it reaches domestic poultry?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Late Night Dining Option: Spuyten Duyvil

If you know Williamsburg's Spuyten Duyvil, you most likely know them for their incredible beer selection. With the largest part of their expertly-selected beers hailing from Belgium, Spuyten Duyvil also has a a long list of beer from England, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Japan and more. An avid beer drinker myself, I hadn't heard of most of them. The Belgian beers are even categorized by region. In my opinion, Belgian beers are the best in the world and I enjoy them as much as the next person, but having had my fill of brews earlier in the night, I went to Spuyten Duyvil for the food.

It's easy to walk right by the bar on a somewhat rundown stretch of Metropolitan Avenue. From the outside Spuyten Duyvil looks like a local bodega just about to close, but once inside it exudes a comfortable European Bohemia that only a place like Williamsburg could support so unselfconsciously. While most people are there to be wowed by the great beers, don't miss out on their food options. When a late-night slice of pizza or a taco just won't do, Spuyten Duyvil may hit the spot.

While I think the selection changes on a regular basis, on offer are an assortment of charcuterie, cheeses and pates -- 3 for $10.00 or 1 for $4.00. The same person who pulls the draft also slices the bread, so the wait may be a little longer than expected. It couldn't have been a greater joy to choose as a late-night snack a delicious Gloucester cheese, a truffle-flavored Pecorino, bresaola and spicy salami, the artichoke and mushroom pate as well as the pate de campagne. All served with a bountiful basket of crusty bread.

Spuyten Duyvil is located at 359 Metropolitan Avenue, 718-963-4140.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Event: Port and Chocolate Tasting

This Thursday, February 9th from 6 to 8 pm the folks at the Greene Grape in Fort Greene are hosting a chocolate and port tasting. Brooklyn chocolate maker CaryMo Chocolate is supplying the chocolates for the special tasting. Greene Grape says: "Try Infantado’s ruby, tawny and 1997 vintage ports as well as CaryMo’s artisanal chocolates with fillings such as a raspberry dessert wine reduction, a New York state late-harvest Riesling reduction and a special Valentine’s truffle."

Visit their web site for more events.

The Greene Grape is located at 765 Fulton Street, 718 797 9463

Monday, February 06, 2006

New Product Alert: Dalmatia Fig Spread

Hailing from the coast of Croatia (the cleanest coast in the Mediterranean says the label), I'm not sure when Dalmatia Fig Spread first appeared in the U.S. Maybe it isn't new at all, but I first came across it around Christmas time at Blue Apron and last week I grabbed a jar at Union Market.

Ever since trying cherry preserve with a ewe's milk cheese at a Paris restaurant about 8 years ago, one of my favorite desserts is some combination of fruit spread and cheese. I'm hooked on Dalmatia Fig Spread with Spanish manchego.

The folks at Blue Apron suggested trying it with blue cheese and the product label suggests goat cheese, no matter how you spread it, this stuff is delicious.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

New York Magazine's Top 5 Brooklyn Restaurants

New York Magazine's Top 5 Brooklyn Restaurants via Brownstoner

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Reviews: Applewood Brunch, Cocotte & Parco


When I first ate at Applewood about a year ago, I proclaimed to myself that this could very well be the best restaurant in Brooklyn (in the end though is there really such a thing?). The seared duck breast and grilled venison were perfect. Any place that has a commitment to organic foods has an automatic leg up in my book. Since then, Applewood has garnered much press.

Although I haven't eaten dinner there since that magical time last year, a few weekends ago I met an old high school friend there for brunch. The food I had re-confirmed to me that Applewood is in the upper echelon of Brooklyn restaurants.

The countrified decor is reserved and tasteful; cheerful and welcoming. Since this is the time of year for citrus, I went for the blood orange mimosa. I was particularly excited to see biscuits on the menu, which I chose instead of toast. The winter omelet with earthy mushrooms, garlic confit, rapini and cheddar cheese really won me over. I can still taste that creamy, sweet and soft garlic. This, I thought, is what sets the place apart. The total brunch bill for two people including coffee, our meals, one mimosa and tip came to about $36.00. This seemed entirely reasonable to me considering the quality and the innovation.


I've heard a lot about Cocotte, a French-country restaurant, so I had been meaning to give it a try. One Sunday night a friend and I stumbled upon it. I was surprised at how empty it was. Still, I thought this is the kind of neighborhood establishment Brooklyn excells at -- quality food with enough originality to keep you interested and enough familiarity to keep you coming back all in a comfortable yet sophisticated setting.

You can tell what kind of mood I was in. I went for French onion soup and the Cognac burger. The soup was classic with sweet onions and gooey melted cheese. Perfect to sooth Sunday night qualms about returning to the day job on Monday. Although I ordered the burger medium rare, it came out medium. Still, I liked the burger's charred exterior, but I couldn't taste how the Cognac made a difference. My companion had better luck with a tender grilled venison.

I have no doubt that for solid French food Cocotte hits the mark. I won't hesitate to return for a dose of grilled venison or steak and frites. There is, however, something about the place that I can't quite place my finger on, some sort of "identity crisis." The beamed ceiling, wooden tables and glowing candles work to create a more elegant, sophisticated setting that belies the French country menu. The loungy electronic music didn't help either. All the while they served water in mason jars. To me that would've been a cute touch some place else, but not here.

These things may seem trivial, but to me these things can make or break a restaurant.


Parco is a coffee shop. I'm not sure when it opened, but the sign outside advertizing La Colombe coffee drew me in. It's one of my favorite coffees which is also served at Cafe Regular, a favorite spot of mine.

Parco is a tiny place with light blue walls. It has the charming feeling of being thrown together on a whim, proverbial empty gilded frame hanging on the wall and all. Though the pastries looked good, I tried nothing other than the cappuccino. My sole purpose was to see if it's as good as Cafe Regular's. A good cappuccino is hard to come by and worth going out of my way for.

Unfortunately, Parco did not deliver. The flavor of the coffee lacked an oomph and the foam, while piled on high, was too airy. I prefer the luscious, creamy foam at Cafe Regular. Parco has the beans. Now all they need is the technique.

Applewood is located at 501 11th St., 718-768-2044, Cocotte is located at 337 5th Ave., 718-832-6848, and Parco is located at 427 7th Ave, 718-499-6997