Saturdays are Flea days in Brooklyn. I headed for Artists & Fleas in Williamsburg’s North Side. It is an indoor market selling crafts and vintage clothes. Not huge but really nice stuff.
I fell in love with book-clocks, clocks made from old books by cutting a hole into the book and inserting a clock (sorry for the books!). You can hang them on a wall or stand them somewhere. You can even read the book – at least partly. They look so cute. I would love to take one home but I did not want to buy it now and move with it five times. I asked the vendor if they are at the market every week. She said yes and I could order online as well.
Nichole had advised me not to miss Smorgasburg, a food market right next to Artists & Fleas on Williamsburg’s waterfront at East River State Park. Not a food market to buy produce, but one to eat – perfect for lunch. It is overwhelming. I walked past next to 100 booths offering all kind of snacks from all over the word. The longest line I spotted at a barbeque where pulled beef or pork was served one a roll. I decided for “Filipino Inspired Spring Rolls” with a Peking Duck filling.
I ate them sitting on a stone wall at the waterfront, looking t Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan. The rolls were delicious as well as the mango lemonade I had with them. Americans are so creative about lemonades. I saw Vermont Maple Syrup lemonade and Strawberry Mint lemonade and several more next to the classic made from lemons. I will have to find out how they make it.
After lunch I decided to do part of the Williamsburg walk in my Big Onion Guide. They mention that it is substantially longer than others and I remembered not to pack too much into one day, thus just part of it. I first walked through the North Side, following Driggs and N 11th Street, aka Brewery Row. I had done the very same walk six years ago, but what I saw now was totally different. Then, N 11th Street had been fairly run down. Deserted factory buildings for sale and fenced of sites. Not much more than the Brooklyn Brewery was alive there. Now there are new apartment buildings, bars and huge vintage stores in and between the old industrial sites, artists selling their work on the sidewalk and even a hotel had opened up here. Lots of people walking around and a long line in front of the brewery for a tour and tasting. What a change!
I walked down Berry Street and Bedford Avenue. Berry being snugly, Bedford crowded and hurried. Nevertheless the atmosphere on Bedford is unique. Street vendors sell clothes, books and crafts, people sit outside the cafés having a late lunch or just a drink or sit inside with their laptops.
On Grand Street, that forms a border between Williamsburg’s north and south sides my walk turned right towards the waterfront. Grand Street once was a street where wealthy businessmen lived and had their factories. Today it is a mixture of low key residential buildings and industrial ones. The only reminder to the old times is the still existent but deserted building of the North Side Bank. In front of a factory or warehouse three men were sitting at a table in between pallets with bottles of whatever, playing domino. At the waterfront people sit and relax in Grand Ferry Park.
Kent Street, leading south next to the waterfront has been divided into three parts. One for driving, one (in the middle) for parking and one for bikes. Another kind of change.
The walk took me underneath Williamsburg Bridge down to Broadway. Broadway shows big changes as well. Lots of new apartment buildings have been built there and they did quite a good job integrating new and old.
Broadway would have been a good point to end my walk because south of it another part of Williamsburg begins, the Jewish part. But as today is Saturday – or Sabbath, the Jewish holiday – I wanted to walk at least a bit into the Jewish part, to get a glimpse of what it is like on Sabbath. It was very quiet. Not many people were seen on the streets, most shops of course were closed. Some kids were playing on the street and at a playground I saw a Jewish Family. The man was wearing a special black coat, white stockings and one of these huge fur hats, looking like a wheel. I will have to find out what it means. I have no idea if all men wear it or maybe just rabbis or men in whatever position. The woman was all in black, her head covered. The kids were happily climbing on a jungle gym. Boys wearing black trousers, white shirts and kippas, girls wearing black dresses. I want to learn more about Jewish life and habits.
Next to the playground the B62 bus had a stop and I went home on it. In Greenpoint I made a little detour to buy wine at Dandelion on Franklin Avenue. Micah had recommended it for much better wines than the common stuff sold on Manhattan Avenue. They mainly sell European wines however, but they are knowledgeable and friendly. I bought a Riesling grown in Washington state and am curious about what it will be like.
For dinner I took the train down to Williamsburg again, determined to get what Time Out called the dish of the season: Chicken and Waffles. Sounds pretty extraordinary but made me curious. There was no table available at the restaurant but I was offered a seat at the bar. I took it, ordered what I was up to and watched the barmen shake Cocktails. Next to me an African American couple had ordered the very same dish and when they got it I had the chance to see how to eat it. They poured hot sauce onto the chicken and Maple Syrup onto the waffles. Nevertheless I asked the barman what I am supposed to do with it, when he brought mine. Three kinds of spiced butter were served with it, and the mentioned hot sauce and Maple Syrup. He told me most people have the chicken with hot sauce and the waffles with maple but encouraged me to try combinations bit by bit. I did so. It was awesome and I did like the blend of hot and sweet on the chicken. I well have to try the duck and brioche version served in Tribeca next .
What I learned today:
It is worthwhile to be adventurous about food.