Sunday, June 30, 2013

Brooklyn Flea @ Fort Greene

Last Saturday I went to go checkout the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene. I took the Q train all the way to Atlantic Avenue, which took about 45 minutes. 

The view from the subway crossing the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan is stunning. I wish they would have a stop in the middle for people to appreciate the view and take some pictures.

Getting out of the subway, the first thing that greeted me was the Barclays Center, a centerpiece of downtown Brooklyn.


There's also the clock tower with the archaic sculptures outside.


I really liked the brownstone houses. I snapped a photo of someone putting up their Christmas decorations in June =)

There was also this really cool Paris laundry mat turned haute-culture store along the way.

It took me a couple of tries to get to this place, because i had forgotten to press the last step on my GPS, so it pointed me back to Atlantic Ave subway every time. I was shrugging my shoulders wondering why in the world the flea was located at the subway. Hubby even told me that it was in the big clock tower building. But when I strolled back (I was already 15 minutes down the road) I found the building closed.

So then afterwards I realized that I had been walking the right way, just that I needed to go up further. Guess my internal GPS (usually functional) was experiencing some technical difficulties that day. 


Finally, after 20 minutes of walking and sweating and puffing in the sweltering heat, I finally made it. I was so happy that I almost yelped out loud when I reached the barred enclaves of the flea market, located in the parking lot of a local high school. 

Since it was already 1-ish when I arrived, I headed straight to the food section (even bypassed the ice cream! Aren't you proud of me?) 

There were some pretty cool food joints, like Rice & Miso Everyday. I woulda tried some but the prices were pretty steep for a ball of rice (around $6 for a regular one). So I got a Mexican corn-on-the-cob with all the fixings for $3. Then I watched the chef bake some deilsh looking pizzas at Pizza Moto.


The corn on the cob was surprisingly delish! It was crunchy, soft and full of the nutty texture of queso cheese sprinkled on top. The heat was countered by the sweetness of the corn, making it a perfect snack to munch on while browsing around. Only two complaints are that the one I got was pretty small, and that being a corn you do need to stop and eat it lest it drops all over other people's stuff.


One thing I wanted to try was the Texas Style Sandwich curtesy of a speciality pulled pork food truck, but the line was pretty crazy. 

I liked the large hunk of pork over at Porchetta, which I thought woulda been tasty if 1. I ate pork and 2. the prices weren't so steep at $7 per bun the size of a small filet-o-fish at Mickey D's. 


Of course there were the regular food truck joints, like Asia Dog (I had a similar idea of it back in 2010, but didn't think it would be successful), a Mexican fast-food joint ($6/tostada) and even a coffee and doughnut stand serving up caffe latte flavored doughnuts.

By now I was getting pretty thirsty from walking non-stop under the sun, so I picked up a mango lassi at the makeshift Indian joint where they were frying up samosas for $2.50/each (they are about $0.50 at the local Indian joint). 


The mango lassi was nice and refreshing, not to mention really smooth and filling. I was glad I was walking around with that for the rest of the trip.


I actually had another motive to go the Brooklyn Flea - to see what kinds of products sell and what doesn't. I've been wanting to start my own business for a long time, and I think flea markets are the perfect place to start to try selling either food or your old junk.


Have to admit, Brooklyn has some pretty interesting personalities. The flea market owners were all pretty eccentric, but then again, I guess you have to be to become a professional dill pickler or a vintage CD collector.


According to my research, it's about $250 to rent a food stand for a day. That means if I sold something for about $5/piece (thereby beating out all the competition), I would be pretty rich by the end of the day. That'll help me start a restaurant fund! 

By the time I made it back to the station, I was kind of hungry again (guess the corn wasn't that filling). So I grabbed a plaintain empanada from Cesar's Empanada Truck. 


I didn't expect this at all, but it was so delish! Crispy on the outside, soft, sweet and savory on the inside. Man I could eat 5 of these!


So Brooklyn Flea watch out, because la belle is coming soon!  

Local juicer (making banana/ginger/goji berry smoothie)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

32 Degree Froyo Lounge

After our really salty meal at The Smith and the sweet ballet at the Lincoln Center, we decided to grab some frozen yogurt at the neighborhood Froyo shop. 

The place was a little dirty by the time we got in, around 10pm. There were choco fixings and strawberry bits and yogurt splattered here and there. Guess I can't blame them because since they opened last year, they've been really popular, even during the wintertime. Guess the yogurt craze in NYC hasn't died down one bit. 

Nope, not one bit it seems. We were here on friday night, and there were a steady stream of customers.

Hubby and I were both a little hungry after watching the show (it's draining on the mind you know! Especially with our high-area seating you really have to concentrate to catch all the action), so we got a bowl with pistachio, mango and cookies n cream yogurt. For toppings we got cookie crunch and mochi. 

There were no sample yogurt tasters like Red Mango, which was a big sad because I would have wanted to try their plain vanilla. 

We sat inside the little shop to enjoy our yogurt and chat, lest the yogurt melts by the time we make it back home. 

The cookies and cream froyo was pretty good, with a solid cookie-y taste amidst the soft sweet icy yogurt. But the pistachio was a little bland, without a strong evidence of pistachio. The mango was okay too, but I like Red Mango's mango better.

Fortunately, the fixings worked really well with the flavors we got, because the cookie crunch provided a sweeter and crunchier texture against the pistachio, while the mochi worked nicely with the mango to create an interesting chewy twang.

Would definitely come back here again, maybe even apply for a membership card. 

**** (4/5)

32 Degree Froyo Lounge
2242 31st St, Astoria, NY

The Smith @ Lincoln Center

Last night Hubby and I went to catch the ballet production Sylvia at the Lincoln Center. I met Hubby in front of his workplace and we walked over to The Smith (which gave me two giant calluses on my feet from walking on uncomfortable heels) for dinner. On a side note, NYC should consider having subways linking the East and West side because it is really inconvenient to get across by walking around Central Park.

It was already pretty packed when we dropped in around 6pm. Thank goodness Hubby had made a reservation beforehand, or else we probably would have never gotten a seat.

But we were able to skip the line. I wanted to sit in the outside patio, but Hubby said he was going to suffocate in the heat if we did, so we sat near the window overlooking the patio in the front of the restaurant.

The waiter explained to us the specials for the day, which were lobster rolls that came with house-made potato chips, and PEI oysters for appetizers.

They give you a bottle of flat water and a bottle of sparkling water on the house, which was pretty nice. The water tasted pretty refreshing to cool off from the summer heat.

Another waiter brought over a roll of bread tucked inside a white lunch bag, and some heated butter. I was starving by the time we got to the restaurant, so I couldn't wait to butter up the bread.

Unfortunately, the bread tasted kind of stale (I later found out that they kept a giant portion of these at the back, so it was easy to receive for the pre-theatre rush. But also meant that it was probably not baked in house and was cut-up pre-hand and sitting on the shelf to rust away.) The crust was too hard for my liking (had to be careful not to chip my teeth), and the bread itself was over chewy. The butter was nice and mild, but a little too oily.

The waiter brought over a bottle of Heinz ketchup, which perplexed Hubby a bit because he wasn't sure what we needed it for. I had read the menu before-hand, and wanted to try the blue cheese fries fondue that everyone on Yelp was raving about, and the mustard encrusted trout. But Hubby wanted me to try their lobster roll (I never had one before), so I got that instead. Hubby got a bar steak with field greens.

While we were waiting for our food I was people-watching and staring at the tables around us (since it was too noisy inside to even hear yourself think). The Smith was apparently a great place for friends gathering.

The table in front of was a group of guys who ordered a chicken pot pie, a pot of mussels, brick pressed chicken and something else that looked like pasta. The table next to us was a group of ladies that resembled the girls from Sex and the City. They ordered some really colorful items with salads and a pizza, which all looked pretty appetizing. The next adjacent to us ordered some fried crispy calamari and a string bean salad.

Lobster Roll with House-made Chips

Finally, after 15 minutes of drooling over other people's foods, our dishes finally arrived. I had envisioned my lobster roll to be accompanied by a plate of home-cooked rosemary potatoes, but it was really just chips like the waiter had described.

I squeezed some fresh lemon onto my lobster roll and started to munch on the chips. Unfortunately, the chips were over-seasoned with rock salt and spicy peppercorn, which made it at once salty and burning to the tongue. 

The lobster roll provided a nice refreshing contrast to the heat of the chips. The lobster meat was cut up and intermingled with finely diced onions, tomatoes and some arugula in a mild mayonnaise/tartar sauce. It was pretty light and summery, but I would have preferred my lobster to be a little more cooked, as the meat was a bit too tough to chew.

The Smith Bar Steak 

Hubby's bar steak looked pretty good. I took a bite of his field greens in vinaigrette, which was decent (at least compared to my salty chips), but definitely not as good as the one we had at Angelo's. The arugula in this salad was too bitter, and the vinaigrette a little too sour, so it wasn't the best combination for salad dressing.

I did like how there was a popsicle stick stuck in his steak that read "M. Well". At first I thought it read "H. G. Wells" as in the sci-fi novelist, but then a careful inspection prompted me to LOL.

The steak actually tasted pretty good, charred on the outside with BBQ sauce smothered on top and cooked medium well like Hubby requested. Actually our waiter had to come back to confirm that medium well was indeed what he wanted, since I guess most people have it medium rare. Only complaint was it was a bit over cooked for medium well, as the meat inside was a little too tough.

But Hubby seemed to like his steak just fine, devouring it in a few bites. I liked their gravy bowl pictured above.

I on the other hand had trouble finishing up my plate of chips. Hubby didn't like the chips either so I had to do my best to finish the most of it. He did like the lobster roll though.

I was downing 2-3 gulps of water per 3-4 chips, which was pretty bad considering I am a huge potato lover. On top of that, it was hard to carry a conversation over dinner because you literally have to scream your head off for the person opposite of you to hear. There was also a table with two young children near us who was competing for attention, but their parents were apparently used to it and just happily munched on (sometimes even joining their children's histrionics). 

Alas, the waiter stopped by when we were not even done our meal to clear our plates. Jumping on this opportunity, I got rid of my chips (sorry for wasting food).

But it occurred to me that I was still hungry, so I got the last bit of bread before he cleared everything away and squeezed some ketchup into the butter cup. I mixed it a bit so it looked like a white and red Taichi symbol and dipped my last bread piece into it. Sadly, it was the best part of my meal.

By now, there was a huge lineup for the restaurant, and their outdoor seating was pretty much filled up. The bill was $76 for the two dishes we ordered, not including tips.

We headed to the Lincoln Center to pick up our tickets. The Lincoln Center was pretty packed, though not as packed as the Swan Lake production that I watched with my Mom last year.

I am a huge ballet aficionado, and I've watched Sylvia's premier at the Lincoln Center in 2005, so I was explaining to Hubby the ins-and-outs of ballet. I really liked the principal dancer Polina Seminova who is (the face of Uniqlo's shirt ads in the subway) both technically sound and displayed elegance. The male dancer was a bit meh in my opinion, because he actually didn't have that big of a role, just a lifting the female around and round.

Surprisingly, sitting in the same row as us was my coworker and friend who brought his sister to watch the show. I surprised him during intermission.

It's always wonderful watching classical arts at one of the top theaters in the world, and I love the sight of the fountains springing up in front of a huge crowd of people. I guess that cancelled out the not-so-great experience I had at the Smith. If I ever go next time I'll be sure to order something else, or maybe try the restaurant next door =)

Btw: You can check out my other NYC photos here.

** (2/5)

The Smith
1900 Broadway (at 63rd)

Kids-friendly (they provide high chairs)
Reservations necessary for weekday evenings (especially pre-theatre nights)