Fresh Fish, Smoked Fish—Any Way You Like It

Day Two  12 Tastes of Brooklyn
Wouldn’t this make a perfect tile in the subway station at Sheepshead Bay, home to Brooklyn’s own 50-boat fishing fleet? But no, the mosaic is by an unknown Roman artist, 3rd to 5th century A.D. Found in Tunisia, it now resides in Brooklyn Museum.

Wouldn’t this make a perfect tile in the subway station at Sheepshead Bay, home to Brooklyn’s
own 50-boat fishing fleet? But no, the mosaic is by an unknown Roman artist, 3rd to
5th century A.D. Found in Tunisia, it now resides in Brooklyn Museum. (Photo courtesy Brooklyn Museum)

dec7THE FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES is an Italian Christmas Eve celebration with as many interpretations as there are families and regions of Italy—and Brooklyn. If you want to create your own feast, you have a treat in store: Mermaid’s Garden, Brooklyn’s first CSF, or Community Supported Fishery, is opening its holiday store to the public. (CSF members—including some Brooklyn Artisan folks—sign up for a weekly drop of delicious sustainable fish and seafood, much of it caught in local waters.) The holiday store will have live Montauk lobsters, Montauk Pearl and wild Maine Belon oysters, fish fillets, clams, squid and more. How about Siberian sturgeon caviar?! The online store is open from Saturday, December 8 to Monday, December 17. Pickup will be at four Brooklyn spots on Saturday, December 22.

For full details about the fish (and fishermen), how to buy, and addresses for pickup, go to the Mermaid’s Garden website.  And on the Mermaid’s Garden Facebook page, you’ll find wonderful recipes from co-owner and chef Mark Usewitz.

If you’d rather someone else do the cooking, Chef Saul Bolton will be serving a Feast of the Seven Fishes on Dec. 24 at his Michelin-starred Saul Restaurant in Cobble Hill, as he has for the last eight years—and for the first time this year, he tells us, at his new Italian restaurant, Red Gravy, in Brooklyn Heights. Call 718-935-9842 for more information on menus and for reservations.


Mackerel and squid at a Bensonhurst fish market, where you could also find sardines and eel,
popular choices for the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Don’t forget, too, that Brooklyn is known as the smoked fish capital of America. Acme Smoked Fish has been at the center of that world since the early 1900s when Harry Brownstein, an emigrant from Russia, took a job as a “wagon jobber,” picking up hot fish from smokehouses with his horse-drawn wagon and hand-delivering them to small grocery and appetizing stores. Eventually he got his own smokehouse, which four generations later has grown into a Brooklyn institution that smokes, cures, slices, packs and ships 7 million pounds of fish a year.

Acme Smoked Fish and their more recent brand, Blue Hill Bay, are both for sale at the company's Fish Friday.

Acme Smoked Fish and Blue Hill Bay smoked seafood are both available at wholesale prices at the company’s Fish Friday.

The fish, which except for the sturgeon is certified kosher, is sold all around the city (Zabar’s, Costco)—and well beyond. But for a real feel for where it comes from—and great bargains—get yourself out to the Greenpoint plant on a Friday morning between 8 and 1, the only time sales are open directly to the public. A room just off the plant floor is filled with racks of smoked whitefish, boxes of brook trout, smoked salmon laid out on the table—all perfect for holiday entertaining.

Mermaid’s Garden 

Saul Restaurant
140 Smith Street, Cobble Hill

Acme Smoked Fish Corporation
25-56 Gem Street, Greenpoint

Photographs by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is Mrs Eaves, by Zuzana Licko, Emigre, 1996.

Who’s Who in Creating 12 DAYS OF BROOKLYN

Brooklyn Artisan’s 12 Days of Brooklyn is our gift of the season when you visit our site.

12 Views of Brooklyn were gathered from artists and photographers who have looked at Brooklyn through creative and loving eyes and curated by Anne Mollegen Smith. 12 Tastes of Brooklyn were sampled and curated by Basia Hellwig12 Sips of Brooklyn were sampled and curated by Bruce A. Campbell.

Typographic designs of the date stamps for all 12 days are by Joy Makon Design.

DEC. 6  Date stamp font:  Avant Garde, by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnese, ITC, 1970.

The arch at Grand Army Plaza lighted for the holidays (Photo by Joseph Caserto. More: Who’s Who)

The arch at Grand Army Plaza decorated for the holidays, photograph by Joseph Caserto.  A resident of Brooklyn since the late 1980s, Caserto is an award-winning publication designer and earned a BFA with honors from Pratt Institute. See more of his work at

EDITOR’S UPDATE: Joseph Caserto has kindly offered Brooklyn-Artisan visitors a 30% discount on boxed card sets that include this brilliant image of Grand Army Plaza on a winter night. Go to and use the coupon code COUNTDOWN12.

DEC. 7  Date stamp font: Mrs Eaves, by Zuzana Licko, Emigre, 1996

Fall and Winter Tree at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, photograph by Jake Miller. Miller is a writer as well as a photographer and was a Brooklyn resident in the 1990s, when he shot a series called Brooklyn Light. His articles and photographs have appeared in many national magazines. He now lives in the Boston area.


DEC. 8  Date stamp font: Bauhaus, by Ed Benguiat and Victor Caruso, ITC, 1975

Photograph by Joy Makon; see Who's Who.

Menorah in the Snow, photograph by Joy Makon, taken in 2009 in Windsor Terrace. A resident of small-town Brooklyn since 1983, Joy is a magazine art director+designer and an indefatigable lover of all things new and cool. She curates Craft & Design for Brooklyn Artisan and writes and produces the weekly Best of Brooklyn listings.

Dec. 9  Date Stamp font: Cochin, Georges Peignot, Linotype, 1912

sledding_homeSledding Home, 2009, is an oil-on-canvas painting by Ella Yang, who is a member of the artist-run collective and gallery, 440 Gallery, in Park Slope. The gallery is run collectively by more than a dozen artists with very different styles and outlooks, but a common commitment. It is located in Park Slope on Sixth Avenue between Ninth and Tenth streets.

Dec. 10  Date stamp font: Chalet Tokyo, by René Albert Chalet (a clothing designer), House Industries, 1970

Peace Detail from a mural in Park Slope, boy and girlAt right, these 4 panels appear to the right of the children’s More Panels in 8th Street Muralpanel in the 8th Street mural. Just down the street is a Beansprouts childcare center, and around the corner, a church.


Dec. 11  Date stamp font: Goudy Oldstyle, by Frederick W. Goudy, Linotype, 1915

(Used by permission of the homeowner)

When you visit the site of the Mill Basin house, you can sign the guestbook and review the extensive press clippings. Screen shot 2012-12-10 at 12.43.57 PMAt right, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, holding the proclamation, with the Teitelbaum family.

Dec. 12  Date stamp font: Gill Sans Ultra Bold, by Eric Gill, Monotype, 1928

September Rain,7th Avenue, etching by September Rain, Seventh Avenue, 2006, etching by Eric March (edition of 25). Eric March’s first solo show was A Brooklyn Year at the Park Slope Gallery in 2006. His second show at the gallery was Moments in Time: Queens to Coney Island, in 2009. He teaches painting and illustration in the New York City area. The Park Slope Gallery shows by appointment.

Editor’s Note: Making and printing etchings are special skills: Etching is generally done to a metal plate by coating the surface, then scratching through the coating with a special stylus; an acid is then used to eat away the scratched lines which later hold the ink for the image to be printed. A particular piece is usually identified by the position in the series and the number that are in the edition – 1/25 meaning the first of 25, and so on. A lower number is not necessarily an indicator of quality, since much effort goes into making all the pulls equally good; rather, it is a way of tracking or inventorying the images to discourage theft, loss and forgery, and signals relative scarcity. The artist’s signature – usually written in pencil – shows that he approved the quality of that particular piece. A gallery or publisher sometimes underwrites a limited edition as a form of investment, and value may even rise as inventory shrinks.

Dec. 13  Date stamp font:  Shelley Allegro, by Matthew Carter, Linotype, 1972

Photograph by Joy Makon.  See Who's Who.

 Porches in the Snow, 2009, by Joy Makon. See her bio above, for Dec. 8. For most of her publications career, Joy has worked as a designer, but as readers of her Joy’s Best of Brooklyn column for Brooklyn Artisan know, she also writes well. Early sign of crossover skills: She was editor of her high school newspaper, and went from there to art school.

Dec. 14  Date stamp font: Rockwell, by Morris Fuller Benton and Frank Pierpont, Monotype, 1934

Painting by Ella Yang. See Who's Who

Canal Cloud Reflections, 2010,  another oil painting by Ella Yang (see Dec.9, above).”This was a very still morning, the water in the Gowanus Canal was high and there were plenty of clouds to make great reflections,” she recalls. “I love the contrast between the dilapidated, jumbled items on the left bank and the apparent organization of the buildings on the right bank. That’s the former Williamsburg Bank building on the right – a nice Brooklyn landmark that’s been turned into luxury condos!” Ella is a member of the art collective, 440 Gallery. (Next time you’re on the 440 Gallery site, browse the work of other gallery artists. You can also find other views of the Gowanus, this time abstracts, by 440’s Karen Gibbons.)

Dec. 15  Date stamp font: American Typewriter, by Joel Kaden and Tony Stan, ITC, 1974

From the Brooklyn Roasting Phog. See Who's Who

The Brooklyn Roasting Co. maintains a phog – a photographic blog – on its site and invites contributions from outside the company. The result is a delightful mélange of coffee growing photographs, of the company’s staff and friends, of DUMBO and elsewhere in Brooklyn. This couldn’t-be-anywhere-but-DUMBO image emerged from that phog. Notice how the image is a study in verticals, from the construction fence through the tall alley and bridge struts to the towers of Outer Brooklyn across the river.

Dec. 17: Date stamp font: Industria, by Neville Brody, Linotype, 1989

Photograph by Joseph Caserto. See Who's Who.

Christmas Trees on Sale: Brooklyn-based design professional Joseph Caserto, whose Grand Army Plaza photo launched our series, also contributed this image of a Christmas tree vendor. Joe tweets – @josephcaserto – about his @udemy courses for students to learn InDesign, Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, sometimes at a discount. He also sells his work at, with occasional discounts.

In 1851, the same year Henry Gritten (mentioned in Dec.14: 12 Views of Brooklynpainted Gowanus Bay, a Catskill Mountains farmer named Mark Carr launched the commercial Christmas tree business in New York City with two ox-drawn sleds loaded with forest-cut trees. He sold them all, and harvesting forest trees became a business, a kind of winter crop. In 1901, a from-scratch Christmas-tree farming operation was established in New Jersey, and seven years later their Norway Spruces went on the market for $1.00 apiece. By 2000, the number of American families using artificial trees was significantly larger than those with natural ones.

Dec. 17  Date stamp font: Mason, by Jonathan Barnbrook, Emigre, 1992

More bridge views, see Who's Who

Forget those people trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to hayseeds, how does one go about finding a large photograph of it suitable for framing? The selection is mind-boggling. You can check museum shops. You can inquire of Brooklyn photographers whose work you like. You can search by subject on many sites such as and There’s instagram and pinterest and the Flickr albums of your friends; ask around. Cross the river and check out the Union Square vendors. You can of course go out yourself, camera or iPhone in hand, by night and by day. You can order prints by size and by medium – would you like a print on canvas? Or in acrylic? Or acrylic on glass? Oh, you’ve settled on having the canvas wrapped around the sides of the mounting? You can get that done at the drug store right on the corner of Flatbush and Seventh Avenue. Step number one in a personal Views of Brooklyn gallery.

The portrait of Emily Warren Roebling in the Brooklyn Museum is by the French painter Charles Émile Auguste Carolus Duran. Emily’s older brother, Civil War General Gouveneur Kemble Warren –and the one who supported her interest in becoming educated though a girl – is remembered by his statue at the gateway to Prospect Park. Although the Warren family came from Cold Spring, NY, not Brooklyn, the brother and sister made their mark on this community.

Boston-NYC Food Truck Throwdown: And the winner is….

 by John J. Kochevar

Throwndown sponsored by jetBlueTHERE ARE 3000 FOOD TRUCKS IN THE NAKED CITY – 3000 permit-carrying food trucks, that is, and countless illegals. Last Saturday seven of New York’s finest rumbled north to go dumpling to dumpling with seven of Boston’s best in the first annual NYC- Boston Food Truck Throw-Down. Food trucks, long time purveyors to construction workers and late evening drunks, have become an obsession of the food focused. My assignment was to be Brooklyn Artisan’s taster on record and to plumb the sources of this, to me,  unlikely fashion trend. Never mind that my last experience with New York Street food was a dirty-water hot dog on East 28th Street in 1972. It was a sunny, cold day, a fitting start to the eating season.

Wafels Well Rehearsed Production Line

Wafels and Dinges puts on quite a show making the Belgian waffles.
(Photos for Brooklyn Artisan by John J. Kochevar)

Boston was definitely the underdog. Long smothered under a deep rooted puritanical impulse we came late to the food-truck fashion parade. Still, I had hopes that our scrappy innovators and home-town spirit would give us a modest advantage. Boston had several contenders:  Staff Meal, chef-driven foodie enthusiasms; Roxy’s, a grilled cheese specialist;  Lobsta Love,  cheap lobster on good rolls;  Kickass Cupcakes, name says it all. In the other corner, New York fielded a more conventional lineup:  Mike N Willies tacos; Fishing Shrimp, a chipper; Wafels and Dinges, Belgian waffles, etc.

I show up at 3:00 hoping to miss the lunchtime rush. But the social media elves had been busy. Huge, long lines snaked from each truck. The fans were mostly young, chatting, talking on their phones, texting,  eternally texting. My calls, “Anyone here from New York?,” [Read more…]

Maker Faire Exploding (in the Good Sense)

Faire Marketing Director Bridgette Vanderlaan just gave Brooklyn Artisan the official attendance count: An astonishing 55,000 people visited World Maker Faire/New York in Queens last weekend, a stunning 57% growth over last year. With 650 vendors this time, the vitality of the event is clear. See Brooklyn Artisan Contributor Bruce Campbell’s reports,  Making Space for Makers in Brooklyn and Brooklyn Makes It…to Queens at World Maker Faire 2012. (Remember to come back – he has more good stuff to report.)

Also see Joanna Beltowska‘s report on the packed-auditorium talks by “Seth Godin, and Chris Anderson, both authors and entrepreneurs, the latter also editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine  and co-founder of robotic manufacturing company 3D Robotics,” she writes. “Anderson is accompanied by Bre Pettis , co-founder and CEO of MakerBot Industries; the two are giving a talk on how the Maker Movement, and 3-D printing in particular, might spark a new age of manufacturing in the US.” Provocative phrase of the day: “the democratization of creation.”

Understanding the Hollywood Smoke

I WAS REMINDED by John J. Kochevar’s comments in An Artisanal Author Confronts His Pencils of how many traditional skills are fast disappearing these days. Here is another.

Montgomery Clift shows the classic cowboy roll on the set of Red River.

How to Roll a – uh, a Cigarette like a Pro.

The intent here is not to skirt Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to ban public smoking in New York City , but rather to address the high cost of a pack of cigarettes as well as record some ways of working with one’s hands once glamorized by Hollywood. 

Rolling  a smoke is a two-handed operation (see inset). Remove the cigarette rolling paper from its pack. Gently spread the paper horizontally,  and delicately grasp it between the tips of both index fingers and thumbs, roughly at the paper’s midpoint. The gummy strip should run along the top facing you. Carefully—yet  confidently—roll the paper back and forth three or four times with your thumbs and index fingers until it forms a U, with the gummy strip higher than the un-gummy side.

Gently now, gently, very gently, grasp the paper by one end. Remove one hand and take a pinch of tobacco. The tobacco should not be lumpy (and chewing tobacco should not be substituted. Nor should hamster food or your grandmother’s loose black tea—you will be discovered and publicly humiliated). [Read more…]

The Cutest Little Library in All of Prospect Heights

Is it for the birds? Or the bees? No, it’s a super-small library.

WITH BROOKLYN LATELY ABUZZ ABOUT BEEKEEPING, at first I thought this was a hive mounted on a post. Then I read the signs and was charmed [Read more…]

How to Shave with a Brush and Soap in Today’s World

EVER NOTICE HOW some people can smuggle an AK-47 in their checked luggage but you can’t sneak a can of shaving cream past alert Transportation Security Agents without them tossing that and your toothpaste in a large plastic garbage can? Well, I have. Also, and this is more important, I’m so cheap I won’t even pay attention.

That’s why, after wasting my third can or so in the TSA trash, I’ve taken to shaving with the old-fashioned brush and shaving soap. Not only have I never been wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by alert agents trying to confiscate my beaver-hair shaving brush, but past the initial investment I’m pretty much home free.

Plus – and this is a big plus – I’ve found it gets my day off to the proper artisanal start, taking this time to work with my hands. So here’s how you pull off that close shave the authentic, old-fashioned way.

BB00 96.tif

The man seen shaving here is not Phil Scott, nor does he play him on TV.

1. You’re going to need a shaving brush, a ceramic mug of some sort, and a bar of soap. I prefer a thick china mug with an old Air Force logo, but you can maybe find one with a Brooklyn Dodgers logo or a Yogi Berra quote. Whatever you choose, the majority of the mug must be a light color.

And don’t forget the razor. That’s really the most important part, the razor. I prefer the triple-blade types. Disposables blow. Straight razors are dangerous and scary and you’ll never get one through an airport anyway.

2. Place the soap inside the mug somehow. I prefer to nuke the combination in the microwave (no need to carry this authenticity thing too far) for maybe 20 seconds until the soap gets a little soft, then flatten it with my thumbs into what is called a soap puck. You’ll have to do this each time you add a new bar of soap, which means maybe twice a year. (See, it’s already less expensive than canned shaving cream.)

Even toss in soap scraps from the sink or shower. If your mug’s dark (see no 1. above) it will block the magic hot rays that are supposed to turn the soap into a soft goo. Same with metallic elements, like gold rims. I’m not sure why, just take my word for it.

Now you’re ready to shave! Fill the mug to the top with hot water, and work up a lather with the brush. Brush the lather all over the area destined for shaving. Really work it in there, too – coating those whiskers makes for a smooth shave.

3. It is not strictly necessary to don long pants, a dirty wifebeater, and suspenders that you can drop off your shoulders while you lather up, like in those early episodes of Mad Men. Today you can do this in boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or a towel, or less.

4. Scrape all the soap lather off with the razor. And there you have it! You’re done! And your face is smoother than if you’d used shaving cream, or an electric razor.

NOTE: A styptic pencil is what you need to control the bleeding.

Executive Editor Phil Scott has written seven book and numerous articles for national magazines.

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