Joy’s Best of Brooklyn, December 21, 22, 23

PERHAPS WE’RE STARTING A NEW TRADITION FOR BROOKLYN ARTISAN, a review of all that’s been good and interesting in the past few months for our fledgling blog. At the least, this is a Best of Brooklyn listing of what we’ve been thankful for—the people, places and events that have made us stop and think, smile, and go wow, look at that. So for the next two weeks, the team will be sharing their thanks for the things that make small-town Brooklyn, as my neighbor Helen calls it, so great. In the mix, we’ll post some timely end-of-year events. If Outer Brooklyn creeps in, we’ll understand too. What are you thankful for? We’d love to know. Share with us on Facebook, email, or leave a comment.

PART ONE
The Team at Brooklyn Artisan is thankful for:
The lights in Dyker Heights. Say what you will, but the lights stop traffic and stop us in place too. Shorewalkers, a group dedicated to seeing the world at 3 miles per hour, is having a free meetup on Saturday at 5:30 to view the lights. This is a 4 mile walk, and they'll be eating dinner in the neighborhood afterwards. Check website for details.

The lights in Dyker Heights. Say what you will, but the lights stop traffic
and stop us in place too. Shorewalkers, a group dedicated to seeing the world
at 3 miles per hour, is having a free meetup on Saturday at 5:30 to view the lights.
A 4 mile route is planned, but you can always do a shorter distance.
You’ll probably be on sensory overload anyway. Check the website for details.
(photograph: nycgo.com/Marley White)

Sahadi’s for renovating and reopening and turning us on to cumin once again.

Stroller Moms and Dads of Park Slope for their work and donations to help Sandy victims.

Landlines and Rotary Dials. Don’t misunderstand, we ♥ our twee iDevice. Sometimes we enjoy picking up a receiver and hearing the other person.

Saturday: Holiday Artisans Fair at The Monro (Liverpool in Brooklyn). Park Slope. 2pm-7pm.

More Brits in Brooklyn on Saturday: Holiday Artisans Fair at The Monro.
Park Slope. 2pm-7pm.

Fleisher’s Meats for letting us taste real beef.

The G train for coming back so we can get to BAM easily again.

← The footie in Bklyn → The Tottenham Hotspurs have a home in Kings County at Black Horse Pub. Oh when the Spurs go marching in!

Egg creams, panettone, black-and-white cookies for the 5 lb weight gain. NOT. (Better: our thanks to the staff and volunteers at the Park Slope Armory for running the emergency shelter for Sandy evacuees. We’re glad, too, that the Armory YMCA has reopened and we can work off the holiday excess.)

The Double Windsor, a "newish" neighborhood fixture.

In our opinion, we are thankful that The Double Windsor has surpassed Farrell’s as the neighborhood fixture.

The small businesses on our stretch of Prospect Park West that have made our life sane: Argyle Yarn Shop (new, filled with gorgeous yarn, yum!); DUB Pies (where the Paul Auster movie “Smoke” with Harvey Keitel and William Hurt was filmed); The Double Windsor (no Farrell’s competition here); Windsor Shoes (the best little shoe store nobody knows about); United Meat Market (for showing us what a butcher shop is all about and for keeping up with the changing neighborhood demographics); and even the sometimes unpredictable Enzo’s (brickoven pizza and a drink is always fine by us.)

Our generousity. Photographs and ephemera from The Santa Claus Association, circa 1913, is on display at The City Reliquary.For 14 years, this NYC-based philanthropic group answered letters to Santa and distributed gifts to over 28,000 children. Williamsburg. Through February, 2013.

Our generousity. Photographs and ephemera from The Santa Claus Association,
circa 1913, is on display at The City Reliquary. For 14 years, this NYC-based philanthropic
group answered letters to Santa and distributed gifts to over 28,000 children.
Williamsburg. Through February, 2013.

American Express for promoting Small Business Saturday. (Kudos to NYC Dept. of Small Business Services for their campaign too.)

bitter&estersLearning how to brew our own beer. Bitter & Esters will teach all the basics on Saturday at their Brewshop 101: Home Brewing Essentials class. Prospect Heights. 4pm-6pm.

Barclays Center (grudgingly) because the the traffic’s not as bad as we feared.

Brad Lander because he’s such an involved and innovative Councilmember.

Lisa Jenks for designing her coveted jewelry collection in Brooklyn!

THIS: Weigh Your Priorities. Most startups are focused on growing faster. That alone would not make us a great company. We realized we had to focus on three things: love, growth, and foundation. —Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb (as quoted in Fast Company)

mileend_xmasAn upgrade to our Jewish Christmas celebration of Chinese food and a movie. Mile End’s menu of DanDan Noodles with Spicy Lamb, Dry Rubbed Chicken Wings, Smoked Bluefish Toast, and more, plus BAM or Cobble Hill Cinema nearby practically makes us giddy. If only Schmulka Bernstein was still around.

Park Slope Gallery for encouraging Eric March’s beautiful artwork of Brooklyn cityscapes.

Gingerbread-FlierAll-natural Gingerbread House Making. No corn syrup for us, only dried fruit and natural candy, as guided by the team from The Farm on Adderley. This Sunday, build your brownstone at Hootenanny Art House in Park Slope. Next Thursday, have lunch and build a manse at The Farm in Ditmas Park.

The return of Patsy Grimaldi. The king of coal-fired, NY-sired pizza is back with Juliana’s Pizza and is better than ever. We went opening day, and will go again!

Brooklyn is practically a brand name. We were well-represented at the Grand Central Holiday Fair in Outer Brooklyn.

The fact that Brooklyn is practically a brand name. We are well-represented at the
Grand Central Holiday Fair
in Outer Brooklyn.

Stay tuned for Part Two next week.

Joy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists.
Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

The Chocolate Factories of Brooklyn

Day Twelve 12 Tastes of Brooklyn
Behind the tasting room at Mast Brothers: sacks of cacao beans and staff wrapping chocolate bars.

Behind the tasting room at Mast Brothers: sacks of cacao beans and staff wrapping chocolate bars.

dec17IT’S BEEN TWELVE YEARS SINCE MASTER PASTRY CHEF Jacques Torres shocked the culinary world by quitting his high-profile job at Le Cirque to open a factory in DUMBO (DUMBO???) to make high-quality handmade fine chocolate. Who knew he’d eventually be joined by so many other adventurers in chocolate-making?

For Rick and Michael Mast, of Mast Brothers Chocolate, the adventure goes well beyond the distinctive flavor notes of their chocolate. Last year, to save energy and appeal to their environmentally aware customers, they sailed The Black Seal, a 70-foot schooner, down to the Dominican Republic to pick up 20 tons of organic cacao beans they were purchasing from small cacao farmers there—and sailed it back to Brooklyn.  There, in their Williamsburg factory, they roast, winnow, grind and age the beans to make their dark chocolate bars.

A mural across the street from the Cacao Prieto factory in Red Hook. The painting was commissioned from artist Sebastian Gross Ossa.

A mural, commissioned by Cacao Prieto from artist Sebastian Gross Ossa, across the street from its factory in Red Hook. When we went by the other night, it seemed to have survived Sandy quite well.

Daniel Prieto Preston, owner of Cacao Prieto in Red Hook, makes his bars and bonbons (and liquors) from beans and sugar cane grown on the cacao farm in the Dominican Republic that has been in his family for 100 years. But with an eye to vertically integrating his business, Preston, an aerospace engineer and an inventor with 100+ patents to his name, also designs and custom builds production machinery for chocolate manufacturing.

Raaka Chocolate makes its “virgin chocolate” an unusual way—with unroasted beans. Cacao beans present a tremendous variety of flavors, according to founder Ryan Cheney. “Virgin chocolate lets the different flavors really stand out.”

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A cacao pod, with beans visible inside, at the Raaka booth at Columbus Circle Holiday Market in Manhattan.

Cheney considers the cocoa farmers’ welfare part of his company’s mission: The farmers from whom Raaka purchases its beans receive at minimum $500 above market price per metric ton of beans, which at today’s cocoa prices is equivalent to a 20% raise. At the other end of the production, Raaka donates its leftover cocoa husks from the Clinton Hill factory to the  Edible Schoolyard NYC at P.S. 216’s after-school to use as mulch and fertilizer.

nunu-hokey-pokey1255Justine Pringle of Nunu Chocolates became a chocolate maker when she and her husband, Andy Laird, a musician, were trying to think of something more interesting than T-shirts to sell at his music shows. Before they knew it, chocolate making had taken over their life. They use a single-origin cocoa bean  from a sustainable and family run farm in eastern Colombia. Go to their tiny storefront on Atlantic Avenue, and you can sip a glass of wine or a brew or a hot chocolate (yes!) with a view of the chocolate making in the kitchen out back.

OK, OK, so you want to know about the chocolate. Here are some of our favorites, all carefully tasted by yours truly and her friends. With packaging that is “font-snob-worthy gorgeous,” as one writer put it, these chocolate bars make great gifts—or an affordable little luxury (usually $8–$10 for bars; $2/piece for bonbons). And besides, think of all those health benefits.

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Jacques Torres Chocolate snowman and santa for sale at the Dumbo store

Cacao Prieto’s Pistachio and Apricot bar, one of five very tasty fruit and nut bars, all made from 72 % dark chocolate. Can’t decide? Try the sampler with all five! Certified kosher.
—Available online or at the factory’s storefront in Red Hook.

Jacques Torres’s Chocolate Snowmen and Chocolate Santas. The 4-inch snowmen ($8) come in milk, dark or white chocolate, with contrasting decoration. The hollow giant Santa, in milk or dark chocolate with a beautifully detailed flowing white chocolate beard, stands more than a foot tall, and contains two pounds of chocolate ($45, or $25 for a medium-size one).
—Only available in the stores, since they are too delicate to ship.

Mast Brothers Chocolate’s Stumptown Bar and Salted Caramel Bonbons. Collaborations like this one with Stumptown Coffee Roasters lead to some great flavors. The caramel bonbon is not chewy, as I expected, just melt-in-your-mouth paradise. For a bar with seasonally appropriate hints of cranberry and cinnamon, stop by any Shake Shack for the special edition Mast Brothers made for them.
—Buy at the tasting room attached to the factory, online,or at stores like Dean & Deluca, The Chocolate Room, Brooklyn Larder, Whole Foods.

Nunu Chocolates’ Hand Dipped Salt Caramel bonbons and the Craft Beer or Booze-Infused Ganaches. The salt caramel is Nunu’s best seller, with fleur de sel sprinkled on top. Absinthe ganache? Mezcal chili? Who can resist? Nunu uses 53–65 % cacao in their chocolates, which they find goes best with the flavors they add.
—Order online  for pickup in the store or at these stores.

Raaka Chocolate’s 71% with Sea Salt bar and the Bourbon Cask Aged (83% cacao) bar. Sea Salt is Raaka’s most popular bar; the  bourbon bar is aged in Tuthilltown casks. Deservedly, we think, it’s up for a Good Food award.
—Buy online, at Whole Foods or markets and small groceries around town.

Cacao Prieto
218 Conover Street, Red Hook
347-225-0130

Jacques Torres Chocolate
62 Water Street, DUMBO
718-875-1269

Mast Brothers Chocolate
111 North 3rd Street, Williamsburg
718-388-2625

Nunu Chocolates
529 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill
917-776-7102

Raaka Chocolate
Clinton Hill
917-340-2637

Photographs by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design.The font is Mason, by Jonathan Barnbrook, Emigre, 1992.

Bring Back the Soda Fountain!

Day Ten 12 Sips of Brooklyn
P-and-H-sodas-at-The-Bklyn-Kitchen1453

P&H Soda syrups for sale at The Brooklyn Kitchen. From left, Ginger, Lovage, and Hibisicus

dec15HOW DID SODA GET TO BE PUBLIC ENEMY NO. 1? There was a time when the soda fountain was the shining emblem of wholesomeness and American values. Wasn’t that the place where The Beaver could go and conduct his heart-to-heart talks with dad Ward Cleaver? But here in New Bloomberg City 2012, that talk might land Ward with a referral to child protective services. Or at least pointed looks from the local moral guardians.

The Beaver's brother Wally working at the soda fountain.

The Beaver’s brother Wally working at the soda fountain in a “simpler” America

Hard to be a soda entrepreneur these days, with City Hall intimating that your product ranks with cigarettes and racy magazines in the corruption of the kiddies. On the other side, the big guys, the Pepsis and Cokes of the world, have been laying down heavy fire in their war on limiting soda sizes. It’s frankly hard to know which side to root for in that struggle. May both sides lose.

Things look far rosier to Anton Nocito, whose dream was to open his own soda fountain but who along the way became a fabricator of artisanal soda syrups. P&H Soda Co. started about three years ago when Nocito sold sodas at the now-defunct Greenpoint Market. Customers and stores like The Brooklyn Kitchen expressed interest in the syrups, so Nocito obliged. Then he taught classes on making syrups and landed on the Martha Stewart Show teaching Martha herself to make Cream Soda. In that appearance, he certainly doesn’t come across like a corrupter of youth.

P&H syrups are all natural and come in exotic flavors like Lovage, Hibiscus and the old stand-by Ginger. From the humble start in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, the product is now available in stores across the country, including in Georgia, Massachusetts and California, as well as on menus in restaurants and bars as far afield as Florida and Minnesota. A list of locations is available on the P&H Soda Co web site.

Locally, Nocito likes to get out to venues like the New Amsterdam Market to share special fabrications that can’t be bottled “because we don’t use preservatives, so the flavor tends to fade too quickly.”

Small-batch soda is getting to be an active market in Brooklyn, with Brooklyn Soda Works and Q Drinks making their own products focused on natural ingredients. Brooklyn Artisan will follow all the developments with interest.

As for his original dream, Nocito remains steadfast: He wants to “open a soda fountain with all natural sodas and a menu consisting of locally sourced ingredients. The manufacturing of the syrups definitely sent us in another direction and we’re currently trying to get back on track with our original goal.”

With any luck, The Beaver will be there for more heart-to-hearts, and not have to sneak around with back-alley natural sodas.

P&H Soda Co.

Brooklyn Soda Works

Q Drinks
718-398-6642

Photograph (top) by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is American Typewriter, by Joel Kaden and Tony Stan, ITC, 1974.

The New Corner Grocers

Day Ten 12 Tastes of Brooklyn
salumi-platter-brooklyn-winery

Charcuterie and cheese plates, often with products from small local grocers, are offered up at Brooklyn’s wine and brew bars. This one at Brooklyn Winery.

dec15WITH SO MANY ARTISANAL FOOD MAKERS in Brooklyn, it’s good to also find some wonderful small grocery stores where you can buy their small-batch products. These are the anti-supermarket—you really want to call them shops because they often conjure up the feeling of a village shop where customers and proprietor greet each other by name. The selections in these diminutive stores are carefully chosen (dare I say curated?) from producers that the proprietors often know personally. They’ve tasted the cheese, or the salumi, or the sauces or pickles and they like them! And they want you to have them (for a price). I was on the hunt, recently, for salumi and cheeses and meze for a holiday gathering.

d-coluccioI’d already bagged my baba ganoush at Sahadi’s and some soppressata and Italian cheese from D. Coluccio & Sons (above), a store and importing/wholesale business that’s been around for half a century. (Like Sahadi’s, it has been an anchor in its neighborhood bringing hard-to-find artisanal and specialty products to a discriminating audience.) Now I’m ready to explore some of the small grocers.

Beth Lewand and Chris Gray opened Eastern District two years ago to bring their favorite beers and cheeses to Greenpoint. The shelves are stocked with plenty of local products, but the store sources farther afield too. The cheese selection will keep you there for half an hour trying to decide.

Mmmm....what to take? Great choices at Eastern District.

Mmmm….what to take? Great choices at Eastern District.

Salumi comes from such respected producers as Olympic Provisions in Seattle, Creminelli in Salt Lake City and Charlito’s Cocina in Queens. I sampled Charlito’s salumi earlier this summer at Smorgasburg. Charlito (Charles Samuel Wekselbaum), who was raised in a Cuban-American household, draws on the curing traditions of Spain and uses 100% pasture-raised heritage breed pork. (Check out his fig salumi, too.) Each week, there’s a different cheese/beer pairing at Eastern District, with rotating beers on tap (and growlers to take some home).

When you open the door of Bedford Cheese Shop, the pungent aromas of cheese hit you. This is a good thing. The cheese descriptions are witty, the staff helpful (they’ll always offer tastes). Salumi comes from small-batch producers.

Brooklyn Cheese Shop, established in 2003

Bedford Cheese Shop, established in 2003

bedford-cheese-shop1486

The whole shop is inviting, with shelves stocked with the best of Brooklyn and beyond. At a second branch on Irving Place in Manhattan, Bedford Cheese now offers classes. Next up, on December 19: whiskey styles and their cheese counterparts.

A.L.C. Italian Grocery is a gem of a store in Bay Ridge that has been open less than two months. Owner Louis Coluccio grew up in the specialty food business (he is one of the sons in D. Coluccio & Sons). Now, for his own store, he aims to combine “the best of Italian products and the best of local products,” he told us when we visited last week.

ALC-italian-grocery1699

The selection is meticulous and beautifully displayed. You’ll find Parmacotto Salumeria Rosi and smoked pancetta from Leoncini (both Italian) as well as Brooklyn Cured and Mosefund Farm meats.

Italian and Brooklyn products share the shelves at A.L.C. Italian Grocery.

Italian and Brooklyn products share the shelves at A.L.C. Italian Grocery.

Tastings happen often, sometimes twice a week; today was prosciutto—“Genuine prosciutto is made of only four ingredients: hand-selected legs of premier pigs, salt, air and skill.” A.L.C. Grocery is also working on some evening classes at the shop with select producers, which they hope to announce in early January.

Eastern District
1053 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint
718-349-1432

D. Coluccio & Sons, Inc.
1214 60th Street, Borough Park
718-436-6700

Bedford Cheese Shop
229 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
718-599-7588

A.L.C. Italian Grocery
8613 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge
718-836-3200

Photographs by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is American Typewriter, by Joel Kaden and Tony Stan, ITC, 1974.

 

Distilled in Brooklyn

Day Eight 12 Sips of Brooklyn

kingscountybourbon

dec13 date stamp by Joy Makon Design

TODAY’S SIP TAKES TO HEART THE WORDS of the incomparable Ogden Nash: “Candy is dandy, but Liquor is quicker.” Instead of words, words, words, though, let’s cut to the headline: Brooklyn Brews Booze.

Kings County Bourbon (top) is distilled in the 113-year old Paymaster Building of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Check out Brooklyn Artisan‘s earlier coverage on a tour of the distillery. Kings County, one of the first small-batch distillers in the state, brews its mash with Scottish barley for authenticity, along with American corn. For true Brooklyn cred, the distillery has added corn picked from a small crop grown in the yard of the distillery into their batches. Best served neat—water breaks things!

dark-brew

Widow Jane Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (above, left) is the most recent offering from Cacao Prieto in Red Hook. Released in October 2012 at a party there, Widow Jane is made with water brought from the limestone mine in upstate New York that provided stone for the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building.

Industry City No. 2 Vodka (above, center) is produced in Sunset Park, where Industry City Distilling creates its sugar beet vodka. They document their progress in building a larger plant on their nicely designed, fun web site, which has videos, photos of the distillers and details about the distilling process. Wonder what happened to No. 1?

77 Whiskey, from Brueckelen Distillery (above, right) in Sunset Park is made from New York State wheat. The distillers were the subject of a beautiful Made by Hand video a couple of years ago.

gins

New York Distilling is making gin (above, left) in Williamsburg, including a version named in tribute to Algonquin Round Table denizen Dorothy Parker, who definitely knew gin. They also have a full service bar cum tasting room next to the distillery called The Shanty.

Brueckelen also makes Glorious Gin (above, center) with New York Wheat, keeping it in the family.

 Brooklyn Gin, despite its name (above, right), is actually fabricated in Warwick, New York, which makes it part of that region we like to call Outer Brooklyn. But we take the name as a gin-soaked compliment.

Kings County Distillery
63 Flushing Avenue, Navy Yard

Industry City Distilling
33 35th Street, Sunset Park
917-727-5309

Breuckelen Distilling
77 19th Street, Sunset Park

347-725-4985

Cacao Prieto
218 Conover Street, Red Hook
347-225-0130

New York Distilling Company
79 Richardson Street, Williamsburg
718-412-0874

Brooklyn Distilling Company
Warwick, New York

Many of these drinks are available for consumption at fine Brooklyn booze halls like:

The Drink
228 Washington Avenue, Williamsburg
718-782-8463

Fort Defiance
365 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
347-453-6672

Photographs by Bruce Campbell. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is Shelley Allegro, by Matthew Carter, Linotype, 1972.

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn, December 14, 15, 16

caption goes here

The bakers at famed breakfast haunt Norma’s, of Le Parker Meridien in
Outer Brooklyn, created the Hurri-Crane for the Gingerbread Extragavanza.
See Play With Your Food, below. (photograph by the Brooklyn Artisan photo pool.)

Shopping Opps Play With Your Food The Gift of Classes

bizmapSIX SHOPPING OPPS
1. Shop at a business struggling since Sandy. With the launch of the Support NYC Small Business campaign, New Yorkers and visitors can easily find ways to support places impacted by Sandy. At the campaign’s website, businesses that have reopened are indicated on the interactive map and include restaurants and bars, food and drink purveyors, shops, companies, as well as services. Just pick a neighborhood and go.

Two weekends worth of goods at Brooklyn Craft Central include Noble Goods wood and resin housewares, MissWit ironic tees, Sour Puss Pickles, and SweaterToys animals.

Two weekends worth of goods at Brooklyn Craft Central include Noble Goods wood and
resin housewares, MissWit ironic tees, Sour Puss Pickles, and SweaterToys animals.

2. Saturday and Sunday (and next weekend too): Brooklyn Craft Central Annual Holiday Market at Littlefield Performance & Art Space. Interesting roster of vendors include: Sour Puss Pickles, a small-batch pickling company; SweaterToys, stuffed animals made from recycled sweaters; MissWit, whimsical, satirical tees; Noble Goods, home objects created from solid wood and cast resin. Beware the drink specials: Woolly Knit (hot cider with bourbon), Hot Glue (coffee and Kahlua), and Shopaholic (gin, lemon, simple syrup, grenadine). Park Slope. 11am-5pm.

Barney3. Saturday: South Slope Holiday Craft Fair, benefiting art, music and science programs at PS10. The PTA fair has come a long way. PS10’s selection of upmarket, original art, jewelry, clothing and more makes this event a worthwhile stop. >>At right, one-of-a-kind sculpture Barney, from exhibitor What the Folk Art. Free workshops for kids from Brooklyn Craft Workshop, a raffle and Kimchi Taco Truck snacks complete the afternoon. Park Slope. 11am-5pm.

4. Saturday and Sunday: The Degenerate Craft Fair, created for artists, by artists, as a sort of anti-art fair. Over 50 artists and designers have work for sale, most costing less than $50. On Sunday, the first 50 guests receive a tote bag of goodies. At The DUMBO Loft, DUMBO. Saturday, 12pm-9pm. Sunday, 11am-6pm.

3W_CRAFTFAIR5. Saturday: 6th annual 3rd Ward Handmade Holiday Craft Fair. Over 100 Bklyn-based vendors will offer handmade gifts to customize one’s iPad, along with kitchenwares, food and other interesting stuff. First 200 visitors will receive a 3rd Ward tote bag filled with goodies. Boerum Hill Northern Italian restaurant Rucola will offer up drinks and snacks. Williamsburg. 12pm-6pm.

robot_shopping26. Sunday: Kids Play, You Shop at Brooklyn Robot Foundry. Register, and drop off your 5 to 10 year old for three hours of open play time. They will be guided by Robot Foundry staffers and will get to design and build robotic projects using educational materials and toys. In return, parents will get a 10% discount on neighboring shops and cafes and a chance to have some grown-up time while the kids are entertained. Gowanus. Two sessions at 11am-2pm and 2:30pm-5:30pm.


PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD

gingerShip_92Saturday: Gingerbread Ships! A very tasty Tools & Talent workshop at BLDG92, Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Brooklyn-built USS Monitor will be recreated in gingerbread by model shipwright Dan Pariser and the bakers from Fort Greene’s Le Petit Bakery. Participants will help assemble, decorate and “commission” in the atrium, and all kids will receive a gingerbread ship cookie to decorate. Bound to be popular, so advanced ticket purchase is advised, via website. Vinegar Hill. 1pm.

nationaltourlogoSunday: 2nd annual Food Experiments National Championship presented by Brooklyn Brewery. Touted on the website as “The World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup of amateur cooking competitions,” this event is the finale of 12 months of national food competitions in search of the ultimate home chef. Judges include Noah Bermanoff, owner Mile End Delicatessen and Coleman Andrews, editorial director, The Daily Meal. Advanced ticket purchase advised; admission includes food samplings and unlimited Brooklyn Brewery beer. At The Brooklyn Brewery, Williamsburg. 1pm-4pm.

On display through January 3, Le Parker Meridien’s Gingerbread Extravaganza in the 56th Street atrium. These are no ordinary gingerbread houses, as the theme of Landmarks Around the World inspired NYC-based bakers to erect monuments to Loch Ness and the Urquhart Castle, Chichen Itza, Toji Tower, The Lincoln Memorial, The Sphinx, and my favorite, Hurri-Crane [Le Parker Meridien is located across the street from the infamous 57th Street Sandy-damaged crane and was closed until the crane could be secured.] Vote for your favorite by purchasing a ballot for $1 with proceeds benefitting City Harvest. Outer Brooklyn, Manhattan.

More from the Gingerbread Extravaganza: Toji Tower, created by Kyotofu, a Hell's KitchenJapanese dessert bar; The Lincoln Memorial, crafted by Baked Ideas, a custom baker.

More from the Gingerbread Extravaganza: Toji Tower, created by Kyotofu, a Hell’s Kitchen
Japanese dessert bar; The Lincoln Memorial, keeping Abe warm with baby-blue mittens,
earmuffs (or Beats?) and bowtie, created by Baked Ideas, a custom baker.

GIVE THE GIFT OF CLASSES
Many businesses share their love of community and technique through classes. A gift certificate for a single or group of sessions would make a unique gift. Act soon, as classes often sell out quickly, and space is limited at most events. Four suggestions to get you thinking:

• Brooklyn Homebrew, Gowanus
A retailer devoted to all things necessary to produce and learn about making beer.
Discovering Yeast, a hands-on 2-hour session on the basics of brewing with yeast. Starting January 8.
Homebrew 101: A Beginner’s Class, will guide students through all the steps to making beer at home. January 10.

174x148xsinger_model_30_sewing_machine_sewalot_alex_askaroff-174x148.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.KzaDkX-6H3• Owl and Thistle General Store, Crown Heights
This urban mercantile specializes in local, sustainable and fair trade items and is run by Keri Cavanaugh, an independent clothing designer and former Peace Corps volunteer.
Meet Your Sewing Machine, a 2-hour introductory class. Starting January 5.
Introduction to Home Sewing, 3 sessions concentrated on working with patterns to create a tote bag, drawstring skirt or pajama pant. Starting January 7.

• Gowanus Furniture, Gowanus
A producer of well-designed, locally-made innovative products.
Custom Cutting Board Class, during 2 evenings, students will make a wood cutting board and enjoy wine and local snacks. Starting January 18.

• SideTour, various locations in Brooklyn and Outer Brooklyn
An online marketplace of classes and events that are hosted by locals experienced in topics ranging from individualized tours, chef techniques, wine tastings, and other unique opportunities—all vetted by the SideTour team. Gift certificates can be used toward any class or event on the site.
DIY Jewelry Making Session, 2-hours, 3 bracelets. DUMBO location. January 20.
Create Your Own Handmade Soda at Brooklyn Soda Works, January 16.

FOR YOUR SPRING LINE?
pantoneEMERALD. Pantone 17-5641 has been designated as the color of the year for 2013, allowing Tangerine Tango, Pantone 17-1463 to retire as 2012’s color. “The most abundant hue in nature, the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®.

Joy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists.
Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

A Christmas Visit to the Rieslings of Williamsburg

Day Two • 12 Sips of Brooklyn

Brooklyn-Winery-Flight1474

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ON OUR FIRST VISIT TO BROOKLYN WINERY, the Brooklyn Artisan taste/sip squad donned hard hats and clambered around a raw construction site. In the two years since then, the winery has developed into a first class facility with a terrific wine bar integrated with the winemaking facilities. The B-A squaddies stopped by again recently to check out a flight of wines and some charcuterie. We didn’t have time for the winery tour (with 10 tasting/sipping stops that day, food journalism can be brutal, I tell you), but we are definitely going back. Brooklyn Winery takes wine very seriously and with classes and tours, they are committed to educating and informing as well as entertaining.

The main room is outfitted with long wooden farmhouse tables in beer garden style, with the upstairs rooms more lounge-like. Very comfortable settings for various sizes of groups, but we opted for the zinc bar, with its copper wine dispenser and proximity to Lex Kiefhaber, the knowledgeable manager. Lex helped us select our flight—the 2011 Stainless Steel Riesling for a white, the 2011 Rosé of Merlot, and the 2010 North Fork Blend red, all made with New York State grapes and all terrific young wines.

Lex then enthusiastically insisted on our comparing a glass of the 2011 Barrel Aged Riesling toe-to-toe with the same grape fermented in stainless steel. Brooklyn-Winery-ToursThe Barrel Aged, with grapes from the Finger Lakes region, is fermented and aged in old oak barrels which Lex explained allows the tart malic acid to convert to smoother lactic acid (a process logically called malolactic fermentation), providing a richer mouthfeel. The Stainless Steel has a more crisp fruit taste characteristic of a modern Riesling. Two distinctly different variations on a common theme, and either is definitely a pick for a Christmas white.

Brooklyn Winery
213 North 8th Street, Williamsburg
347-763-1506

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

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn, December 7, 8, 9, 10

Festival of Lights, photography by Brooklyn Artisan.

Festival of Lights, 2012, photography from the Brooklyn Artisan photo pool.

Eclectic edition, shopping roundup included.
PS: When’s Festivus?

200px-Radio_free_albemuthFriday, Saturday, Sunday: The inaugural weekend of the Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival. Hollywood’s love affair with sci-fi author Philip K. Dick is well represented by hits such as Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall. This weekend’s festival of screenings, speakers and panel discussions covers some of the best and newest in science fiction, science and the supernatural. Watch documentaries on A.I., virtual reality, galactic superwaves. Observe scientist Ronald Mallett Ph.D. who is working on a real-life time travel machine. The festival opens Friday with an adaptation of Dick’s last novel, Radio Free Albemuth. At indieScreen, Williamsburg. Check the website for schedule.

picklesSaturday, Sunday: Whiskey, Pickles and Jerky Pairing Weekend at Brooklyn Oenology. Pickles + New York State Whiskey = Picklebacks, the now-classic Brooklyn chaser. Composed of 1oz whiskey chased with 1oz pickle brine with jerky garnish for additional oomph. Williamsburg. Saturday, 3pm-midnight. Sunday, 12pm-10pm.

Etsy crafter Jessica Marquez, author of
Stitched Gifts (Chronicle Books), will share her
techniques this weekend at Textile Arts Center.

Saturday, Sunday: Make your own Fabric Books: Hand Bound, Dyed and Stitched, a two-day class at Textile Arts Center. Taught by Etsy member and maker behind Miniature Rhino, Jessica Marquez, and visual artist Rebecca Kelly. Book binding, sewing, embroidery, dyeing and image transfer techniques will be taught and students will make three simple practice books. Park Slope. 11am-5pm each day.

Saturday: Downtown Brooklyn Holiday Trolley. Relive a bit of Brooklyn history by taking a free ride on the hop-on/hop-off old-fashioned trolley as it makes eight stops along a mile-long circular route covering interesting architecture and local lore. Warm up with hot chocolate as guides share stories about Brooklyn’s past and present history. This would be a novel way to get from Brooklyn Heights to BAM or the Brooklyn Flea. Every Saturday through December 22. Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene. 1pm-7pm.

Saturday: The Art of the Tequila Cocktail, presented by Sycamore. The Cocktail Weenies Mike Mikos and Wil Petre, who also happen to be the expert barmen at Sycamore, will host an evening devoted to everything about tequila cocktails. Demonstrations, recipe booklets, snacks will be part of improving one’s mixology skills. Advance ticket purchase advised. Ditmas Park. 5pm.

beardAllianceSaturday: 3rd annual NYC Beard & Mustache Competition, produced by Gotham City Beard Alliance, an organization to promote tolerance and acceptance of all facial hair. Proceeds of the evening, being held at Warsaw, will go to the NYC chapter of the MS Society. Judging categories include, but are not limited to: Full Beard Styled Moustache–heavy use of styling aids on your moustache permitted; College–18-22 year old competitors or baby faces; Freestyle–anything goes, styling aids ok; Women’s Most Fantastic–creativity. Greenpoint. Registration starts at 6:30pm, doors open at 7pm.

FiveBucksFinal01Sunday: unwind and have a cozy dinner somewhere in the nabe. Try Fort Defiance: Saxelby Cheesemonger Plate, Pickled Beet Salad, Prescription Julep (circa 1857). Red Hook. Dinner 5pm-11pm. Also check out their Buy Now Drink Later Junk Bonds to help them rebuild post-Sandy.

Sunday: Concert & Comedy for Sandy Animals, a benefit for Sean Casey Animal Rescue. Live music, videos, art, raffle and giftbags. Littlefield, Gowanus. 7pm.

Monday, aka third Hanukkah candle: Fourth Annual Latke Festival, sponsored by Great Performances and Edible Brooklyn. Sample creations by notable Brooklyn chefs from BAMcafe, Blue Ribbon Brooklyn, The Farm on Adderley (Spud Maccabee with pickled fennel jam, butternut squash, and crème fraîche), Stone Park Cafe, Berlyn, The Vanderbilt, The Sussman Brothers (latkes with lots of sauces), along with other Outer Brooklyn chefs. Enter your own recipe ahead of time to be part of the latke cook off. Tickets are limited and must be pre-purchased by Monday via the festival website. At BAM, Fort Greene. 6:30pm.

SHOPPING ROUNDUP:

Saturday, Sunday:

  • Housing Works Buy the Bag. Housing Works provides housing resources for New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Their thrift shops are a staple among savvy NYC hunter-gatherer types. What began as an event is now a free-standing store and works like this: spend $25 and receive a bag to fill up with gently-used menswear, womenswear and accessories. Purchase as many bags to fill as you like. Sunset Park. Saturday 12pm-6pm. Sunday 12pm-5pm.

stuff_masthead2012Saturday:

Festivus is celebrated on December 23. There’s plenty of time to prepare.

Joy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists.
Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn, November 16, 17, 18

Stanley & Sons, The Tailors, from Brooklyn Makers,
a book and photography project by Jennifer Causey.

Starting up: holiday crafts and food, plus ways to feed your head too.

BE SURE TO CONFIRM with each event or venue as schedules and availability continue to change for many things.

Friday: A good day to take advantage of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s free weekday admission during winter hours. “Times like this remind us that plants, trees and gardens are about renewal,” from Garden News. Tuesday—Friday: 8am-4:30pm.

Urban Agriculture: United Community Centers Farm,
East New York, by photographer Rob Stephenson.
Opening exhibit Friday at BRIC Rotunda Gallery.

Friday: On Purpose: Art & Design in Brooklyn, 2012. Opening reception, BRIC Rotunda Gallery. An exhibition featuring the work of multi-disciplined designers, architects and visual artists that address the environmental challenges of contemporary urban living. Topics emphasize sustainability, diverse creative solutions, desire for beauty and working together to build community. Brooklyn Heights. 7pm-9pm.

Saturday & Sunday: Julemarked Danish Christmas Fair, The Danish Seamen’s Church. Modern and traditional Danish art, craft and delicacies: Christmas ornaments, Bodum, Dansko, as well as aebleskiver, meatballs and candy. Nearby Plymouth Church hosts a restaurant with smørrebrød, beer and glogg (Saturday only, 11am-5pm). Brooklyn Heights. Saturday 11am-5pm. Sunday 11am-3pm.

First time for the holidays in Brooklyn—The Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market

Saturday & Sunday: Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market in Brooklyn at East River State Park. A curated craft collection from indie makers; workshops including a DIY wrapping station; music from some of Brooklyn’s best DJs; free-to-use photobooth from Magnolia Photobooth Co., and local sweet and savory treats to round out the day. Williamsburg. 11am-6pm.

Sunday: Hands-On Pie Making: Pumpkin Pie at The Brooklyn Kitchen. This two-hour class aims to teach home cooks to make a crust—including the daunting lattice-top—and a mini-pie to take home and bake. Taught by Millicent Souris, author of How to Build a Better Pie. Williamsburg. 2pm-4pm.

Sunday: The 10th Anniversary Chili Takedown. Taste 30 chilis—“America’s favorite pot of hatred,”— mostly local and mostly from veteran Chili Takedown entrants. Park Slope, The Bell House. 2pm.

Sunday: Radio Unnameable Ciné Barbès Rewind/Replay Series. Documentary portrait of WBAI-FM radio personality Bob Fass who revolutionized FM in the 60s and 70s with free-form programming. Interviews and performances by Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Carly Simon among others. Q&A with co-director Jessica Wolfson after the screening. Park Slope, Barbès. 5pm.

Read: Jennifer Causey’s Brooklyn Makers, part of the Makers Project, features inspired photographs of 30 of Brooklyn’s self-styled creators, i.e., Brooklyn Artisans.

Sign: NYC Food Trucks Petition. We love our food trucks; we’ve all seen and heard about them during Sandy’s relief and recovery actions; they are valuable to our city and worthy of our support.

Joy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekend to-do lists.
Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

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