Tag Archives: Blue Bottle Coffee

Best Bites of Brooklyn

(Photo via andrew c mace, flickr)

Brooklyn is infamous right now for its hipsters, hippies, and OWS, but NYC’s most populous borough also boasts a burgeoning food scene.  GQ restaurant critic Alan Richman proclaimed Brooklyn “the coolest city on the planet,” and Manhattanites seem to be flocking there in droves, whether it’s for pies paired with fried chicken or local artisan goods at Smorgasburg.

I hadn’t spent much time in Brooklyn, so I was excited to explore the borough’s food scene on a recent trip to NYC.  Here are 3 of the most memorable spots:

Blue Bottle Coffee 

I fell in love with Blue Bottle Coffee when I was in San Francisco last summer.  Despite the notoriously long lines and sometimes snobby service, the coffee is certainly worth the hassle.  Blue Bottle’s Williamsburg location is no different than its SF counterpart, and for that, I am extremely grateful.  The minimalist logo on the door in lieu of a sign, the sleek pour-over coffee bar, the seemingly endless lines, the disdainful looks customers get when they ask for ground coffee beans or low-fat milk–it’s all part of the Blue Bottle experience that makes your coffee taste even more glorious in the end.

But the Williamsburg Blue Bottle did have something I hadn’t seen in San Francisco–a snickerdoodle.  But of course, in typical Blue Bottle fashion, it’s not your ordinary snickerdoodle.  Theirs is made with Spanish saffron and Tahitian vanilla, which impart a beguiling, subtle sweetness reminiscent of the original, but much more sophisticated in flavor.  Blue Bottle‘s ability to elevate the old and familiar is what makes it special–that, and it’s just damn good coffee (excuse the language!).

160 Berry St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 387-4160
Blue Bottle on Urbanspoon

Roberta’s Pizza

After a glowing review in the NYT, in which restaurant critic Sam Sifton proclaimed it “one of the more extraordinary restaurants in the United States,” Roberta’s became even more of a sensation than it already was.  Located on a somewhat sketchy block of warehouses in Bushwick, the restaurant is definitely hipster central, perhaps on the verge of gentrification with the influx of yuppies and foodies (like myself).

The owners have done a great job transforming the space into a casual, congenial scene: diners sit at long communal picnic tables, and a shabby chic tarp hangs over the outdoor bar.  Definitely get comfortable at the bar and order an excellent dark and stormy, because chances are you will be waiting 2+ hours for a table, especially on  weekends.  I’ll admit I flipped my lid a little when the hostess informed me of the wait time.

While I’m not sure it’s worth waiting 3 hours for, the pizza at Roberta’s was quite good.  The secret is in the crust–perfectly charred and chewy.  I ordered the Purple Nurple ($15), which came topped with tomato, mozzarella, ricotta, eggplant, garlic and basil.  My friend and I also split a squash salad ($12) and truffle agnoletti ($18), which were both excellent and demonstrated the kitchen’s skill and restraint.   The real standout, however, was definitely the pizza.

261 Moore St.
Brooklyn, NY 11206
(718) 417-1118
Roberta's on Urbanspoon

Purple Yam

Though I’m always skeptical of Asian fusion restaurant, Purple Yam manages to simultaneously retain its authenticity while adding distinctly modern twists to traditional dishes.  The chefs and owners, Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, opened Purple Yam in 2009 after running a successful Filipino-fusion restaurant in SoHo, and it remains a dining destination for Ditmas Park today.

My friends and I started with the fried beet dumplings ($6) and fresh lumpia ($7).  I was afraid the beet dumplings would be a disaster, but was pleasantly surprised by the contrary.  They were flavorful, chewy, and pleasantly sweet, offsetting the saltiness of the soy sauce.  As for the fresh lumpia, I think I prefer its more traditional fried and sausage-centric counterpart, but it was a respectable effort nonetheless.  The lumpia reminded me more of a Vietnamese steamed noodle roll with its sauteed Napa cabbage, leek and mushroom filling and peanut and tamarind sauce, which I suppose is what they were going for, though the name was a misnomer.

The chicken adobo ($12) was a revelation, incorporating integral elements of the original dish, but upgrading the flavors and quality of the ingredients.  Braised in garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, and coconut milk, the chicken was tender on the inside, crispy and crackling on the outside.

Perhaps the most surprising dish was the bibimbap ($9), with brown rice, carrots, turnip, taro, edamame, and a fried egg.  I have very high expectations for bibimbap, which is one of my favorite Korean dishes, and I’m happy to report that Purple Yam’s rendition exceeded my expectations.  Each vegetable was meticulously cut and perfectly cooked, and the flavors all complemented each other well.  It was a more refined adaptation of a classic, which seems to be Purple Yam’s greatest strength.

1314 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY 11226
(718) 940-8118
Purple Yam on Urbanspoon

Compost for Brooklyn 

After brunch at Purple Yam, I got a VIP tour of Compost for Brooklyn‘s community garden, given by my friend and co-founder of Compost for Brooklyn, Louise Bruce.   Located on E. 8th St. and Newkirk Ave., the former vacant lot is now green and gorgeous–filled with tons of trees, vegetables, and native plants.

In addition to the garden, Compost for Brooklyn runs a free community composting program and education program for kids and teenagers in the neighborhood.  These programs have been positively received by children and adults in the community alike, who all greeted Louise with a smile as they passed by us.  Seeing all of her efforts and passion for the environment come to fruition was very inspiring, and I wish the organization the best of luck in the future.

To learn more about Compost for Brooklyn, visit their website or email compostforbrooklyn [at] gmail [dot] com.  (Fun fact for foodies: Miriam Garron, Bobby Flay’s sous chef on Throwdown, is Vice Chairman of the Board!)

Going Global

Hello, readers! After a hectic 2-month hiatus filled with final exams, I’m thrilled that summer has (finally) begun and that I can devote more time to blogging.  I have lots of updates since my last post, and am happy to be able to share them with all of you.

I’ve been traveling quite a lot since leaving the city of brotherly love.  After enjoying the perfect beach weather in Los Angeles for a couple weeks, I headed up to San Francisco to begin an internship.  From carbonara pizza at Delfina, to New Orleans iced coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee, to awesome chicken mole tamales at the Heart of the City Farmers Market, I can definitely say that San Francisco lived up to its foodie reputation.

Seven thousand miles across the Pacific, my journey continues in the truly amazing city of Hong Kong, where I will be staying for the next six weeks.  I’ve been here for 4 days now and can already say that I am falling in love with this city.  Its kinetic energy, ultra modern skyscrapers, lush parks, and of course,  fabulous food culture, make it worthwhile to brave the heat and humidity and explore the city.

My first meals in Hong Kong were simple and classic.  After wandering through Central District’s many office buildings and shopping malls, I stumbled across Can-teen, a local chain serving modern takes on traditional Hong Kong style dishes.  I ordered char siu over rice (HKD $38), which was excellent.  The char siu pork had just the right amount of fat and meat, making each bite rich and flavorful.

For dinner, I chose Tsim Chai Kee (沾仔記), a noodle shop that was mentioned in both my guidebook and Open Rice (Hong Kong’s version of Yelp).  Tsim Chai Kee has three locations in Hong Kong, two of which are in Central.  I ordered the prawn wonton noodle soup, which was a steal for HKD $19.  The egg noodles were perfectly al dente, while the wontons were savory and soothing.

After these first couple of meals, I could already tell that Hong Kong is a food paradise.  I’ll be sharing the rest of my eating expeditions, along with any adventures that happen along the way, right here for the next 6 weeks.