I should start by saying that I am not a tastemaker. I am not the woman you see walking down the street and think, “Oh. Yes.” Her. Wherever that woman’s going, that’s the place to be.” No. What I am is a woman you see walking down the street to her local Key Foods, and you wonder why I’m wearing sweatpants. You spot me in your periphery, and you think, “Oh em gee, gurl. It’s 10 a.m. You’re in public. So do me a favor, okay? CHANGE OUT OF YOUR SWEATPANTS.”
What I lack in effortless cool, however, I make up for it in neighborhood enthusiasm, in my abiding love of Northern Brooklyn. I’ve lived in New York for sixteen-years, and for ten of those sixteen I’ve moved around this section of the borough. There are days when doing so feels rather like living life inside of an over-priced amusement park. But there are other days – and these are most days – when ones city savvy serves as a key to the trap door out of that amusement park, to a place where all that is grating, exhausting, and expensive gives way to a piece of urban heaven. Included below are a list of things and places to provide you with that key.
1. Word is an independent bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (there’s a second post in Jersey City) and what it does, in my opinion, is act as the bookstore of my dreams. Of all our dreams. As it’s independently run, it keeps you informed of dozens of magnificent books you wouldn’t hear about otherwise. The selection is exceptional, the staff knowledgeable. Actually, no: it’s so much more than that. The staff is not only knowledgeable, they’re also not in the least bit snobbish. Which, let’s be honest, is an issue that crops up in certain bookstores.
2. Five Leaves – So you make the rounds through Word bookstore, and you buy a few books, and you’re, all, like, “This is it. I’m changing. I’m changed. I’m done with Real Housewives. I’m becoming a reader. I feel myself getting smarter already, and so now – in celebration of my smarter self – mama needs some brunch.” You call yourself “mama” when you get excited. It’s just a thing you do. For said celebratory brunch, I recommend Five Leaves, a local restaurant funded by the estate of actor Heath Ledger (who did not live to see it come to fruition). Order their black kale salad, followed by the steamed mussels. Treat yourself to the sticky date pudding for dessert. You deserve it, after all. You’re giving up The Real Housewives.
3. Blue Bottle Coffee – You’ll need a caffeine fix after the sugar overload of your sticky date pudding, so you take yourself next to North Williamsburg’s Blue Bottle Coffee for an iced coffee or a cuppa joe from their “pour over” coffee bar.
4. Head down Bedford Avenue, past McCarren Park, which – depending on the season – may have nestled within it a gaggle of Hasidic men. They may be playing baseball. Of course, a good bookstore followed by a good brunch is a satisfying afternoon indeed. However, it is not nearly as satisfying as a gaggle of Hasidic men engaged in a sporting activity. Hopefully you’ll catch them, and one Americano later, well, you might just have the energy to change out of your sweatpants. And an afternoon in which you change out of your sweatpants? It is a worthy cause.
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