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johnder

eG Foodblog: johnder - Bouncing Around Brooklyn

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So I am about to head off into yet another meeting, but wanted to give you guys a look at what we see outside our main conference room. Our offices are right on the water, and we have an amazing view of the East River along with lower Manhattan. The bridge you see is of course the world famous Brooklyn Bridge.

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and of course a little sustinance for the meeting to come.

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This could either be a major walk down Nostalgia Lane for me as I grew up in Park Slope, Brooklyn or just a reminder of how old I am getting and how long ago I lived there. unfortunately, I fear the latter is more likely.

John, what part of Park Slope do you live in? I grew up on 9th St between 8th Ave. and the Park. BTW, Prospect park is all that. It is a beautiful park, that is probably in better shape today than when I lived there. I still remember having my bicycle stolen from me in the park when I was 14 years old. Now the area is restaurantville. Back in my day, we could get a decent slice of pizza or a good meatball hero and not much more.

I didn't realize you grew up in Park Slope! I don't think things changed much since you were a kid, what was that, 10 years ago? :wink:

I currently live on 16th Street between 5th and 6th avenues. Some people say it is borderline Park Slope and probably is Windsor Terrace/Prospect Heights. If you ask a realtor, they think 75% of Brooklyn qualifies as Park Slope.

Prospect Park has really become even more amazing in the past few years. They finished the Audubon center and 2 years ago reopened the "forest" which was closed to allow nature to regrow itself in a protected fashion.

This coming Saturday I am going to take a bikeride down to the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket and take lots of photos along the way.

In terms of changes to the neighborhood it is pretty extreme. 7th Avenue was the area to first change as it had the most foot traffic. Now almost every store is either an organic market, restaurant or clothing store with a few Starbucks and Barnes and Noble scattered in.

5th avenue is still somewhat Bohemian, it is a mix of hole in the wall restaurants, cool local bars to have a beer and listen to the jukebox, or discount 99 cent stores.

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Ah my box of booze just came. As some of you may know, I have been obsessed with finding some decent form of apricot brandy to use in cocktails. The defacto standard one, Marie Brizzard Apry is almost impossible to find now.

There is a pretty big thread about it going on here.

Well last week I found a store that sells both the Hungarian Zwack Apricot brandy, which is more like an eau de vie, and the Maraska Apricot. I heard good things about the Zwack, but it is a dry brandy, not a sweeter type used in the older cocktails.

I really like the Maraska Maraschino, so I had high hopes for the Maraska Apricot, but alas Audrey broke me the news last week that is isn't so hot. Oh well, it was already ordered at that point, I will just add 2 more bottles to my collection. I will definately report back first hand on the results of the taste testing.

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5th avenue is still somewhat Bohemian, it is a mix of hole in the wall restaurants, cool local bars to have a beer and listen to the jukebox, or discount 99 cent stores.

I'll bet to Dr. Sconzo, 5th Ave.'s being bohemian is a pretty big change.

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Looking forward to seeing your neighborhood restaurants, as well as the Park and your farmer's market later in the week--and the vicarious cocktails at Pegu!

That view from your conference rooms is amazing! What a wild contrast in beautiful scenery the last few foodblog's have provided.

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This could either be a major walk down Nostalgia Lane for me as I grew up in Park Slope, Brooklyn or just a reminder of how old I am getting and how long ago I lived there. unfortunately, I fear the latter is more likely.

John, what part of Park Slope do you live in? I grew up on 9th St between 8th Ave. and the Park. BTW, Prospect park is all that. It is a beautiful park, that is probably in better shape today than when I lived there. I still remember having my bicycle stolen from me in the park when I was 14 years old. Now the area is restaurantville. Back in my day, we could get a decent slice of pizza or a good meatball hero and not much more.

I didn't realize you grew up in Park Slope! I don't think things changed much since you were a kid, what was that, 10 years ago? :wink:

I currently live on 16th Street between 5th and 6th avenues. Some people say it is borderline Park Slope and probably is Windsor Terrace/Prospect Heights. If you ask a realtor, they think 75% of Brooklyn qualifies as Park Slope.

Prospect Park has really become even more amazing in the past few years. They finished the Audubon center and 2 years ago reopened the "forest" which was closed to allow nature to regrow itself in a protected fashion.

This coming Saturday I am going to take a bikeride down to the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket and take lots of photos along the way.

In terms of changes to the neighborhood it is pretty extreme. 7th Avenue was the area to first change as it had the most foot traffic. Now almost every store is either an organic market, restaurant or clothing store with a few Starbucks and Barnes and Noble scattered in.

5th avenue is still somewhat Bohemian, it is a mix of hole in the wall restaurants, cool local bars to have a beer and listen to the jukebox, or discount 99 cent stores.

Seventh and Fifth Aves. were the big commercial streets when I was growing up, but they were different. Seventh Ave. was undergoing gentrification in the early 70's, especially from 7th St. down to about Flatbush Ave. If there was a fancy restaurant or store in the area it would be found there. 5th Ave was much more ethnic with the ethnicity depending upon what stretch one was traveling. In those days it was either mostly Italian or Puerto Rican.

I remember accompanying my father to the Italian fish store on 5th Ave. to get live crabs so my mother could make crab sauce for pasta. There may still be fish stores down there, but they are no longer Italian. Even in Carroll Gardens/Red Hook the traditional Italian stores are dwindling. I don't care who runs a store, so long as the product is good. It seems that most fish shops in Brooklyn today are run by Asian fishmongers, who seem to be doing a very good job so far as I can tell given the few times in recent memory that I have shopped for seafood in Brooklyn. It will be harder to replace the old time Italian salumerias once the original producers are gone, because they are much more dependent on specific consumer preferences. As the old-time Italians leave or die out so too will their recipes and preferences for particular items.

Change is constant. In some ways it has been good. In other ways not. It is still very much a question of individual perspective.

I very much enjoyed growing up in Brooklyn. There are some things I don't miss and many others I do. My parents remain in Brooklyn in Greenwood. It gives me reason to visit periodically.

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So while the view is great down in Dumbo, the food choices are pretty slim. There are basically a handful of places to get food. We have a few deli's that can give you any type of normal sandwich, along with eggs in the morning. A bagel store, a Japanese place, a few bars, 2 general catch all type resturants that is more of a sit-down deal, Grimaldis Pizza (stay tuned for that) and Almondine.

Almondine is party of Jaques Torres' chocolate factory and is the Patisserie and Bakery arm. In addtion to having amazing sweets, they have a rotating daily selection of awesome sandwiches.

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Today they had my all time favorite, the pate sandwich. It is a big slab of Pate, Cornichons, Tomato and if that wasn't enough -- a smear of butter all on their house made baguette.

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It isn't the most healthy sandwich, but it is sooooo damn tasty. I try to only have these once a month. :biggrin:

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I remember accompanying my father to the Italian fish store on 5th Ave. to get live crabs so my mother could make crab sauce for pasta. There may still be fish stores down there, but they are no longer Italian. Even in Carroll Gardens/Red Hook the traditional Italian stores are dwindling. I don't care who runs a store, so long as the product is good. It seems that most fish shops in Brooklyn today are run by Asian fishmongers, who seem to be doing a very good job so far as I can tell given the few times in recent memory that I have shopped for seafood in Brooklyn. It will be harder to replace the old time Italian salumerias once the original producers are gone, because they are much more dependent on specific consumer preferences. As the old-time Italians leave or die out so too will their recipes and preferences for particular items.

Unfortunately I have yet to find any decent fish stores in the neighborhood. There are 3 stores that I know of that look clean and well kept but unfortunately their product doesn't move as quickly as I would like which leads to not super fresh fish.

There was one passable one I went to for a while that I would puchase things from every now and then, but last xmas my Korean mother-in-law was in town and we went in there to buy some fish for her to make a korean kimchee/fish pot. Unfortunately I don't think I will be going there anymore because after making the stew she determined the fish wasn't that great and actually called the Korean owner back to complain. All I know is there was a lot of banter back in forth in Korean and only afterwards did my wife tell me that one of the things her mother told them was something along the lines of:

I am not sure where you get your fish from, but this one must have lived in a swamp.

:shock::shock::shock:

I haven't been back since.

If I need to get fish now I will try to get as much as possible from the fish stall at the local farmers marker, or I will go to Wild Edibles in the Grand Central Terminal market.

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I remember accompanying my father to the Italian fish store on 5th Ave. to get live crabs so my mother could make crab sauce for pasta. There may still be fish stores down there, but they are no longer Italian. Even in Carroll Gardens/Red Hook the traditional Italian stores are dwindling. I don't care who runs a store, so long as the product is good. It seems that most fish shops in Brooklyn today are run by Asian fishmongers, who seem to be doing a very good job so far as I can tell given the few times in recent memory that I have shopped for seafood in Brooklyn. It will be harder to replace the old time Italian salumerias once the original producers are gone, because they are much more dependent on specific consumer preferences. As the old-time Italians leave or die out so too will their recipes and preferences for particular items.

Unfortunately I have yet to find any decent fish stores in the neighborhood. There are 3 stores that I know of that look clean and well kept but unfortunately their product doesn't move as quickly as I would like which leads to not super fresh fish.

There was one passable one I went to for a while that I would puchase things from every now and then, but last xmas my Korean mother-in-law was in town and we went in there to buy some fish for her to make a korean kimchee/fish pot. Unfortunately I don't think I will be going there anymore because after making the stew she determined the fish wasn't that great and actually called the Korean owner back to complain. All I know is there was a lot of banter back in forth in Korean and only afterwards did my wife tell me that one of the things her mother told them was something along the lines of:

I am not sure where you get your fish from, but this one must have lived in a swamp.

:shock::shock::shock:

I haven't been back since.

If I need to get fish now I will try to get as much as possible from the fish stall at the local farmers marker, or I will go to Wild Edibles in the Grand Central Terminal market.

Not too long ago therre was a decent fish store on Court Street next to Esposito's Pork Store, my favorite food store in Brooklyn.

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A vicarious virtual cocktail party on Friday sounds too good to be true. I want photos of the attendees as well as the drinks. Oh - and the drink recipes of course!!

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So here are some more pictures that showed the progress of the kitchen. It really was a pretty horrific experience to have to live day in and day out with this mess. Luckily the house has 2 floors so we had a pretty good escape up to the second floor. The first floor, if it wasn't under construction was a storage place for all the construction materials. I probably took us an additional 10 minutes to get out the door every morning from a combination of having to climb over boxes and dusting ourselves off.

The house as I mentioned is very old. It had at one point it seems two wood burning stoves, so any demolition, especially in the ceiling would cause sheets of soot to come crashing down upon us.

Here is a picture facing out to the backyard. You can see the new windows framed-in on the right side of the picture, and the door out to the backyard to the left of that. You can see how small the previous window was out to the back by where the new door is going in. It was especially crazy since the back of the house gets southern exposure, so with the new windows (as you will see) gets a crazy amount of natural light.

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In the sake of not boring everyone, I will skip forward a week or two to show you what the same view looks like after the door and window was installed. This also shows you the lighting that was installed. I went a little crazy with the amount of lights in the kitchen. I really didn't want to be working in my shadow and since it was a guy renovation I had the opportunity to install as many lights as I wanted. I think the final count of lights in the kitchen (not including hood lights, or under cabinet) is 18 recessed lights in a kitchen that is 14 x 16.

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Here is the same view during the day, and you can see the plumbing being roughed in, as well as the start of the cabinet install.

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More cabinets, as well as the range hood installed. Also you get a pretty good view of the tin ceiling we installed, as well as all the lights.

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We bought the tin ceiling from a company called AA-Abbington which is one of the last companies making replica tin ceilings. Like all the other work we tackled this ourselves and I have to say, this was one of the hardest jobs. Mainly because I was obsessive-compulsive about installing lights then having a "oh !@*" moment when I realized I needed to cut holes in the tin for each of them. Let's just say putting up this ceiling is like working with 2 foot by 4 foot razor blades.

Yet more cabinets and our super pantry cabinet.

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My pride and joy -- my Wolf stove.

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The sink, dishwasher and countertops installed.

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We opted for Zodiaq solid surface over Granite even though it was the same price. One of the reasons was that Zodiaq is the only FDA approved food-preparation surfaces other than stainless steel, mainly because it is completely non-porous.

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edit: fixed typo as docsconz gleefully pointed out.


Edited by johnder (log)

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Ah right. The floor. There was a lot of debate on the floor. The rest of the first floor was redone with bamboo flooring, but we decided not to do it in the kitchen due to wear an tear. I always grew up with tile floor in kitchens, so that is what we ended up with. I know there is a lot of debate on how hard it is to stand on a tile floor for long periods of time, but so far that hasn't been an issue for us.

We wanted a tile pattern that would be in the same time period as the tin ceiling, so we went with a simple, yet classic tile layout. It was grouted with a light grey epoxy based grout that is completely stain resistant, perfect for kitchen floors.

The wood you see in the picture above is just a protective layer we put down while we were still doing work.

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Thank you for showing us the kitchen remodel in your blog!

This is one of my favorite things to follow on an egullet thread. It looks wonderful 'so far' with the period-inspired sink, ceiling and floor and how you integrated that with the modern counters and cabinets. Also, we won't have to wait several months for the remodel to be complete!


Edited by ludja (log)

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Yet more cabinets and our super panty cabinet. 

gallery_28660_3644_1329.jpg

Is there something you wish to tell us?

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Yet more cabinets and our super panty cabinet. 

Is there something you wish to tell us?

Damn, busted. Ok, time to come clean.

*)!^!@* spell checker.

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Did you do the floor yourselves?

Everything that you see was done by us with the exception of the countertops which we sub contracted out. We are glad we did because the large prep space piece weighed almost 550 pounds and was just about the limit of the size the could install in one piece.

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Yet more cabinets and our super panty cabinet. 

Is there something you wish to tell us?

Damn, busted. Ok, time to come clean.

*)!^!@* spell checker.

As someone who contributes more than my share of typos, I can relate :laugh: Nevertheless, I couldn't resist. :raz:

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Yet more cabinets and our super panty cabinet. 

Is there something you wish to tell us?

Damn, busted. Ok, time to come clean.

*)!^!@* spell checker.

As someone who contributes more than my share of typos, I can relate :laugh: Nevertheless, I couldn't resist. :raz:

You are forcing me to go back now and correct all my typos in this post now. :hmmm:

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So it looks like tonights plan will not be dinner at home, but dinner at En Japanese Brasserie downtown. I have been there once or twice before and as far as mega japanese restaurants go, it isn't the worst. It is for a birthday dinner for a dear friend of mine who decided on the place. My main complaint about the place is the sound level.

As far as the dinner party on Saturday, I started thinking about the menu. I really want to do something with the wild mushrooms that Mikuni Wild Harvest has, so I ordered some mushrooms and going to work one of the courses around that.

I ordered a pound of the Wild Oregon Golden Chanterelles

and a pound of Wild Lobster Mushrooms

and a bottle of something new they have, an Indonesian Lemon Vinegar which is supposed to be amazing.

I plan on using (for now) the mushrooms in a very simple pasta dish with some homemade pasta.

As far as the exact menu, I still need to see what is at the greenmarkets and the local stores, but it will be something along the lines of:

Amuse

Pasta Course

Fish course

Meat Course

Cheese

Desert

For the meat, I have an amazing pork belly from the Flying Pigs farm that I am going probably end up using. Everything else is up in the air.

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Oh, I should add that I may be getting a whole lobe of fois gras from La Belle farms, in which case the menu could change to include a seared fois, as well as a cured torchon.

John

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