I’ll be back, Brooklyn!

IMG_3039IMG_3041

I am back from New York exhausted, stuffed, and extremely excited to move to New York this fall! This past weekend I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with my friend Eva in Brooklyn. She generously took me to all her favorite foodie hotspots – I almost felt like I was on Giada’s Weekend Getaways or something! I couldn’t get enough of all the impressive food and impeccably decorated restaurants.  I thought I would share with you some photos of the fantastic meals I enjoyed during my rapid 48 hour food tour of Brooklyn. IMG_3074 IMG_3011IMG_3016IMG_3071IMG_0892

IMG_0867IMG_0883IMG_0869IMG_0890IMG_0891IMG_0889IMG_0875IMG_0880IMG_0888

First stop, Mario Batali’s Eataly – a must see for any foodie.  It was my first time ever (and definitely not my last!) to the authentic mecca for Italian food and products. The counters of food in Eataly are unlike any grocery store I have ever seen.  The store is filled with the highest quality and freshest foods.  When you walk around the store you can see the food being diligently prepared behind each counter for customers and their four in house restaurants.  I shared a delicious lunch at the pizza and pasta restaurant. IMG_0870

IMG_0871IMG_0872IMG_0873

We started off lunch with some of their crusty hearth bread and an Italian salad (Insalata di Romana) comprised of escarole, shaved fennel, shaved asparagus, chickpeas, pickled red onions and mozzarella cheese.  The pizza arrived at our table just as we were finishing our salads.  I was really excited to try this pizza from the wood oven because I love how the crust tastes. This pizza was topped with artichokes, olives, mushrooms and pancetta. After the pizza I sampled some of the pasta.  All of the pasta at Eataly is fresh, made right at the counter in front of the restaurant and cooked until it is perfectly al dente. Both of these pasta dishes were incredible. The simple, flavorful pasta sauce showcased the fresh pasta. The first pasta was Linguine al Pesto (tomato pesto, basil, almonds, garlic, chiles and pecorino cheese) and the second was Spaghettone Cacio e Pepe (Lazio cheese and lots of cracked black pepper). IMG_0886IMG_0881IMG_0887After lunch we walked around and looked at all of the food counters in Eataly and decided we had room for dessert.  If you visit Eataly they have a beautiful counter of Italian pastries, but their gelato is a must have! They offer a huge selection of flavors and I have to say that although i’ve never been to Italy… it is the best gelato I have ever tasted. We sampled a number of their flavors from tiramisu to vanilla cornbread.  I settled on the hazelnut. I liked it because it had a strong hazelnut flavor and it wasn’t too sweet. IMG_0902IMG_0903

After lunch we had a busy afternoon filled with shopping, museums and more food. We walked around and shopped a little bit before heading to the MET to see a new fashion exhibit, Punk: Chaos to Couture, showcasing unconventional punk rock fashion. Afterwards we got cappuccinos and headed back to Brooklyn for the night. Then we went to the Brooklyn Museum of Art to hear a speech by Eva’s aunt Jane Gerhard on her book about Judy Chicago and her art collection called The Dinner Party.  It was then getting late and we were hungry for dinner.  Eva took me to her favorite restaurant in Brooklyn, Romans.

It was some of the most amazing food I have ever tasted. We started with a flavorful fava bean puree served with garlic sourdough crostinis.  I am determined to recreate this dish at home – I could have eaten a bowl full of it! This was followed by an enticing squash alla Parmigiana, which was similar to a vegetable lasagna. (I unfortunately forgot to take a picture before we dug into it!). Even though I had a lunch filled with pasta and bread I couldn’t resist to order their pesto entree: green beans, potatoes, and handmade pasta covered in a silky basil sauce. Our waitress informed us of this off-menu dish, which she highly recommended.  I aspire for my pesto to taste like this someday!
IMG_0904IMG_0905IMG_0907IMG_0908The next morning we got off to a late start.  We started the morning with a delicious iced latte at Smooch in Brooklyn.  Afterwards we met up with some of Eva’s friends for brunch at the infamous Brooklyn Sandwich Society.  Not only are they known for their non-traditional sandwiches but they have reputable house made sodas. I had a strawberry lime soda and I tried one that was made with the herb, lovage.  The strawberry lime soda was delicious, however, I was not a fan of the overwhelmingly medicinal lovage soda.

While we waited for our sandwiches we split a heaping plate of escarole Ceasar salad.  I ordered the Greene sandwich, which had a canelinni puree (similar to hummus) with pickled carrots, marinated red onions, fennel, and arugula served on chewy cibatta. The bread that their sandwiches are served on is one of a kind. All of their sandwiches are served with a side of pickled jalepenos – I could have probably eaten the whole jar of them on my own.  They complimented the mild flavors of the sandwich very well. I also tried their squid sandwich which is served with bok choy and a spicy sour sour sauce. I typically hate squid but I surprisingly enjoyed this sandwich. I am glad I had the chance to try it because I would have never ordered it on my own.
IMG_0915IMG_0916IMG_3033IMG_0917IMG_0918IMG_0919IMG_3027IMG_3030IMG_0920IMG_0921After lunch we went on a long walk in search of a frozen yogurt shop, Culture, that I spotted on one of my favorite cooking shows Unique Sweets. I was dying to try this one of a kind frozen yogurt shop because not only do they make their yogurt in house from the best sourced ingredients, but they make all of the gourmet toppings as well. We ordered their Blueberry Pie (plain tart yogurt, in house blueberry sauce and graham) and their most popular, Key Lime (plain tart yogurt, key lime custard, graham and lime syrup).  They were both fantastic – worth making a special trip to Brooklyn for. IMG_0924IMG_0925IMG_0927For dinner we went to Caracas Arepa Bar in Brooklyn for authentic Venezuelan cuisine. They specialize in their made-to-order arepas which are crisp corn-flour pockets with a filling in the middle. We started off with delicious sweet and savory appetizers: plantain chips served with guacamole, yoyos (cheese sandwiched between two rounds of plantain rolled in cinnamon and fried), and taquenos (similar to a mozzarella sticks) served with their house made sauce.  A unique sweet and spicy sauce that accompanied all of the food we ordered. For dinner I had their La del Gato arepa which was filled with avacado, (more!) plantains and cheese. Somehow later on that night I was able to find more room for a salty late night snack: truffle French fries with an anchovy aioli and marinated green olives at Woodland in Brooklyn.
IMG_0929IMG_0930IMG_0931IMG_0934IMG_3059

Saturday morning before taking the train back home I shared a beautiful brunch at the ICI: French Country Kitchen with Eva.  I started off with a dinner plate size cup of coffee and their rosemary focaccia topped with homemade ricotta cheese, local honey and toasted hazelnuts. Then I had their poached eggs with grits and a side of fruit.  The crispy shallots on top of the eggs were my favorite part. My trip to Brooklyn, however, wasn’t complete until we stopped for some monstrous Brooklyn bagels and at the Brooklyn Flea Market for the famous Dough doughnuts. I brought home four of their doughnuts: a dulce de leche with toasted almonds, a toasted coconut, a caf au lait, and a bright pink hibiscus glazed. I also split a toasted coconut with Eva at Brooklyn Flea – it was outstanding!  Almost like angel food cake in doughnut form. Definitely a sweet way to end my trip!

IMG_0945IMG_0946IMG_0938IMG_0939IMG_0942IMG_0943IMG_0949IMG_0948IMG_0950IMG_0954I had an unforgettable weekend in Brooklyn filled with exceptional food and company! I can’t wait to spend even more time checking out the best restaurants the city has to offer next year.