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February 1, 2012

This Weekend: Bed-Stuy Crawl

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There's so much going on in Bed-Stuy these days. It seems like a month doesn't go by that a new bar or restaurant isn't opening up to much interest and curiosity of its neighbors.

My friends Alisha and Nicole and I are hosting a crawl of some of the neighborhood's new(ish) watering holes this weekend and I'd love for you to join us. For $25 you get discounts, deals and tastings as we make our way around the neighborhood.

Find out more information and buy tickets at the Bed-Stuy Crawl eventbrite page and keep up on the news on twitter by following #bedstuycrawl.

November 9, 2011

Self-Promotion: ScoutMob and the New York City Marathon

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When I started talking to the fine folks at Scout Mob about being a local scout for them, I think we all assumed that I'd be pitching stories about food. I certainly didn't expect it to be about a sporting event. Then I remembered the annual tradition Tammi and I have had for eight years now and it just sort of made sense.

Check out Today's Culture Hunter and see my photos from the 2011 New York City Marathon and a bit on how it turned into the ritual it has for us.

May 4, 2011

Analog: Black & White Bars

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In all my analog experiments, I don't often shoot black & white. I just love color too much to act like it isn't there. Yet, occasionally, I come across results like this shot I took at Hanson Dry in Clinton Hill and a couple others (after the jump).

Continue reading "Analog: Black & White Bars" »

March 20, 2011

Brooklyn: Hanson Dry opens in Clinton Hill

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Before I can begin to enjoy Hanson Dry, I have to forgive it first. The new bar on Fulton Street in Clinton Hill occupies the formerly blocked up storefront that hosted one of my favorite graffiti pieces in Brooklyn. The silver ESPO work with the Stevie Wonder quote, "Did you know that true love asks for nothing" was a landmark for me for ages. Months ago, it disappeared behind wooden construction boards. When it was all over, windows had returned and a new bar, Hanson Dry was open for business.

I'd love to trash it for being gentrifying nonsense with annoying clientele, but I actually quite enjoyed it. Last week, Tammi and I went and stuck around several rounds longer than intended listening to the bartender's iPod selections and relaxing. The music could have been titled 'the best of Clay's college years' and led to my assertion that 1996 was the best year for hip-hop and R&B potentially in the entire decade.

The strip of Fulton between Vanderbuilt and Franklin has been on the verge for some time. With Bar Olivino, Hot Bird around the corner and new bars like Hanson Dry popping up, this might be the moment.

September 8, 2010

The Brooklyn Flea brings back memories

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I'm behind the times in wholeheartedly embracing the Brooklyn Flea. I've been a fan since its inception, but somehow never quite made it over there very often. Lately though, I've found myself there weekly and loving the experience for all the new and old sensations they evoke.

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First, the history. Back before the development boom put giant condos on every block, the strip of 6th Avenue between 23rd Street and, say, 30th Street was home to what seemed like a dozen parking lots that all turned into big open air markets on the weekends. Vendors hawked old comic books, toys, antiques, camera, radio and electronic equipment and all sorts of other hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.

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Second, there's all the food. The food vendors of the flea have banded together and besides being a destination on the weekends at the two Flea locations, they also sold food at Central Park Summerstage shows all summer. More on that to come.

I was going to try to do one post about the Flea and I realized that I couldn't really do it. Since I've been shooting analog on the weekends, I have accrued quite a few photos of the Flea on film. Over the next month or so, I'll post Analog Flea pics every couple days as part of my Ektar 300 series. some will include commentary, so will speak for themselves.

Stay tuned.

May 9, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party

A new Hot Bird rises from the ashes

If there was much of a theme at all in my last couple weeks of posts it was Brooklyn Bars. Besides the regular Brokelyn 25 series that I've gotten moving again, I've also posted about a few new choice spots to imbibe that have opened up recently. Above is Hot Bird, which I lucked into on its second night open. I basically got the first shots of the space and thus ended up on Brownstoner and Eater. The place looks pretty amazing, so I expect to spend quite a bit of time there this summer.

See what else I've been posting about after the jump...

Continue reading "Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party" »

April 5, 2010

Bar Sputnik Closed Down

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I was disappointed this weekend to find Sputnik, on the Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill border shuttered with an 'out of business' sign on the door.

After years of wanting to go, I only ended up there twice. Last fall, I was there two weeks in a row, shooting Pharoahe Monch and Brand Nubian for some of my first Examiner columns. With Evil D on the turntables and legends literally inches away, it was Hip-hop at its finest.

I wasn't anywhere near a regular, but I'm sad to see it go.

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November 10, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion: The Local

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A moment of self-promotion: A couple of weeks ago, The Local, the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Blog by The New York Times use one of my photos of Bar Olivino.

Maybe one day I'll get in the print edition.
::c::

May 16, 2009

Candied Bacon = Glorious

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Last weekend Tammi and I took my mom out for brunch at The General Greene. I have nothing new to say since our last visit except this: Candied Bacon is Glorious.

I don't know what they 'candy' it with, but it's not a hard glaze, as I imagined when I encouraged my sister to order it. Instead it is just like regular, thick, juicy, meaty, thick-sliced, wonderful bacon, but it's got a honey-like coating across it.

May 2, 2009

Brunch: The General Greene

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Tammi and I finally went to The General Greene last weekend, a few months after the opening hoopla died down. Sunday the temperature broke 90 degrees, which suited me just fine after a soggy and cold April. Our friend Abbey met up with us there and we lingered for a good couple hours over drinks and brunch in the shade.

I had the Chicken Confit Skillet, above, which was excellent. Served in the cute cast iron skillet that it's cooked in, it was brunchy due to the three eggs dropped on top and cooked into a sort of casserole along with some spinach. It's an awesome variation on the cocotte concept that I've been fascinated by for some time.

The chicken was moist and tender and may have inspired me to start up a couple confit projects at home. The eggs were cooked through and enveloped the other components of the dish. I'm partial to softer yolks, so if I were to try this, I might leave it in the oven/broiler for a minute or two less. And the sprinkling of a few crystals of sea salt brought it all together.

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In an interesting bit of turnabout, Tammi chose the less breakfasty dish of a grilled sandwich, which would usually have been my choice. It looked very good, but it was late in the day and I hadn't eaten a bite of anything all day. I needed something more substantial.

The food and service were wonderful and now that the crowd seems more reasonable than early reports suggested, I am all about going back. Interestingly, I find myself unsure of which meal I want to return for first, dinner or brunch. The brunch menu stocked a number of other tasty looking skillets and sandwiches that looks truly inspired.

The General Greene
229 Dekalb Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205
(718) 222-1510‎

March 26, 2009

Bar Olivino

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This wine bar on Fulton Street in Clinton Hill initially seems redundant so close to Stonehome, not 10 blocks away. But with all its success, Stonehome is much more of a restaurant these days than a bar and can be hard to get into sometimes. It also doesn't keep late night bar hours, frustrating the urge for that last glass or two before calling it a night.

Conversely, Bar Olivino, the small drinking outlet of the Olivino wine shop is all bar.

I love the concept, which is basically a Comptoir: A small space, a convivial atmosphere, a couple meat and cheese snacks and most importantly wine. It's certainly small, the place could just barely fit two dozen customers. The snacks are minimal and the atmosphere is fun, whether mellow and quiet on a Sunday evening or festive and hopping as it was on a recent visit with Tammi. When the party is going, the windows fog up and wine flows like water.

At one end of the bar or another, you'll usually find Katrine, the proprietress bending elbows with friends or just quietly enjoying the revelry.

My biggest difficulty at the bar is often with the wine selection. Having shopped at both Olivino branches for some time, I always expect to see more familiar wine available on the menu, but it's never there.

In particular, I'm often lured into the Cotes du Rhone, which is a remarkably cheap, at $5 a glass. It's not a great wine, but Rhones are the familiar region for me, so I'll often order it and be disappointed.

I talked to Katrine about it one night, finally asking her why she doesn't have more of the selection she stocks in the shop. Her response was pretty interesting. She purposely excluded what she calls 'the big 10' grapes, sticking with more obscure wines and a few blends. It told me a bit about myself. I always think of myself as a wanting to try new things, but my difficulties with the wine list at Bar Olivino resulted from a tendency to stick with the familiar varietals instead of exploring the breadth of the wines available.

It's an interesting challenge and one that I readily accept. On that same visit, I discovered that they stock a Pineau de Charentes, a dessert wine that I've been curious about for some time. Last year, our neighbor gave us a bottle of it that remained unopened until recently. It's quite rare in The States, so I was surprised to see it here. This is the benefit of having a wine list that explores new and interesting flavors. Thinking about it this way, I'm pretty excited to go back with a new perspective on their list.

March 12, 2009

The MTA's March Madness

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I don't think I'm going to lose any friends by calling the MTA a bunch of bastards. I'm not the first and I won't be the last to speak ill of the folks running Transit, so I'll minimize my invective.

For the entire month of March, the A Train is being replaced by shuttle service for over 3 miles of its route in Brooklyn. From Jay Street to Utica Avenue. Practically, this means that trying to get anywhere downtown or into Manhattan is going to be a clusterfuck for another 4 weekends. They've done this before and it has been profoundly unpleasant.

The upshot of this for me is that these are 'Williamsburg' weekends, as heading in that direction by bus or bike is a far better experience than even attempting to navigate the foolishness on Fulton Street.

March 6, 2009

Murder Burgers

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Tammi and I share the guiltiest of guilty pleasures: White Castle burgers. These usually end up as our late night gorge after an evening of imbibing. Much like the Taco Truck I exalted recently, a sack of 10 cheeseburgers between the two of us profoundly hits the spot at 1am on a Friday night.

We usually end up at the White Castle on Atlantic Avenue, on the border of Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill as we're heading home from the night's festivities. Usually we walk, but at least once we've had a cab stop there on the way home.

July 15, 2008

Rustik Tavern

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One of the best benefits of bike-riding for me has been the exposure to areas I would otherwise never see. This has inspired me to explore beyond my standard MTA-mandated locales and find places that aren't so convenient to the train travelers among us. Which is how I came across Rustik Tavern.

I had gone to the Home Depot on Nostrand to pick up a few things and planned on riding down to Fort Greene to get some food. After a few blocks of riding with half a ton of stuff on my back, I saw Rustik and decided that closer was going to be the better bet.

I like Rustik. It's very rough and I have to say the food I had the first time was not so great. The waitress later told me that no one from the kitchen showed up that day and the rest of them were improvising. This explained the shriveled, overcooked chicken that came with my waffles.

They opened up last year and are still experimenting on their format. Posters hang advertising comedy shows and jazz performances, on a recent brunch visit a band played Mediterranean music for fewer than a dozen customers.

But going there reminds me of being at Moe's in 1999/2000. The crowd there is communal and fun and the neighborhood, just on the Bed-Stuy side of the Pratt area, reminds me of Fort Greene when I just got out of school. Before the crowds overran places like Habana Outpost and Stonehome, there was no trouble finding place to chill over a beer and meet your neighbors.

I look forward to spending more time at Rustik. At some point I'll need to figure out a convenient way to get there without the benefit of my bicycle one day so I can see what it's like in the evening. I'll be sure to report in when I do.

May 26, 2008

The Tour de Brooklyn 2008


IMG_9304, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Yesterday, Tammi, her nephew Glenn and I rode in the Tour de Brooklyn, a 18 mile ride starting in DUMBO and running through Brooklyn Heights, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Bushwick, Williamsburg, down the waterfront through the Navy Yards (more on that in a bit) and back to DUMBO, ending in Walt Whitman Park near the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Between the ride to and from the event and the tour itself, we rode nearly 30 miles. Shockingly, I'm not too sore from the whole thing. The ride was great for the most part. I got to see neighborhoods I'd never really been to before and make geographical connections between areas, which is one of my favorite things about riding.

Continue reading "The Tour de Brooklyn 2008" »

November 26, 2006

Kelso: The New Beer on the Block

[Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record]

If you live your life by the axiom "Think Globally, Drink Locally," add one more beer to your list of local brews to support. This summer Greenpoint Beer Works launched the Kelso of Brooklyn brand. The first release is Kelso Nut Brown, a malty medium-boded brown. Kelly Taylor, the founder and brewer of Kelso of Brooklyn, recently answered some questions for The Brooklyn Record. Taylor and his wife, both craft beer veterans, moved to Brooklyn in 2001 after years of working at west coast breweries...

21kelso.jpgKelso may be the new beer on the block, but the Greenpoint Beer Works is hardly wet behind the ears. In fact, you may already have tasted their beer. It has been in operation since 2003, and produces 10,000 kegs of beer annually, mostly for Heartland Brewery. That's right -- Heartland, with locations at every tourist spot in Manhattan, has been serving up Brooklyn brews for years. That's even more impressive when you realize that the brewery is manned by a very small staff.

You'll have to check your favorite Brooklyn bar to find Kelso Nut Brown, as there are no immediate plans to bottle it. "We're focused on bringing quality draft products to the NYC market. No bottles or cans in the foreseeable future," Kelly says. "That's a whole different business model, and a different scope of operation. We would like to keep it simple and focus on quality right now."

That doesn't mean that Kelly's eyes aren't on the future. "We plan on
releasing some other styles every season, all working around the nut brown as a base. We plan on a Scotch Ale, a Flemish Red Ale, and a Trippel Bock," he continues. He sent a specially made cask-conditioned brew to Brazen Head's Cask festival a few weeks ago. Kelso Chocolate Stout is now available in select Brooklyn bars, including Barcade.

Kelly's goal for Kelso is one we can all drink to: "I hope Kelso will
develop a name for itself as an interesting, flavorful, locally 'grown' craft beer." Cheers.
-- clay williams

Kelso of Brooklyn [Homepage]


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