I found my new place. This happens about, oh, once in a New York Blue Moon. It hasn’t happened to me since 2006 when I found 7B covered in fake snow and possibility a block from my first-ever 6th floor walk-up. It goes like this: you stumble upon a place by some wild and karmic circumstance, you’re in your own neighborhood, maybe the bar you thought was your place inexplicably had a $5 cover and sheerly on principle you refuse to pay that and you happen down some stairs you’ve passed before in the strange new one-way-warren of Bed-Stuy, and behind a caged door is shangri-la with a Little Richard doorman and an exquisite jukebox immediately playing Jennifer Holliday and then Ray Charles and then Al Green and the lights are pink and there’s hardly anyone there and whoever’s been there has been there for years and you know there’s food but there’s no menu you just have to guess that they’d have fried whiting and chicken wings with bright red sauce and french fries and good cold beer. I didn’t take any pictures, out of respect for the Sasquatch-like-awesomeness of this place, but I found the one above, my new place, The Tip Top Bar.
Everyone knows about New York’s neighborhoods. You emerge out of the train in Sunset Park or SoHo or Chinatown or the Upper West Side or the very edge of the East Village and somehow even the air feels different. It’s something that is uniquely New York, a distinct feeling, palpable, from the architecture to the contents of the bodegas… But, there’s a funny thing about New York, which is that within the oft-discussed boundaries of each neighborhood, every single solitary New Yorker has built their own world. A constellation of grocers, wine stores, dive bars, pizza places, cheap chinese joints, laundromats, and coffee spots that is ever-shifting and truly personal, a perfect alchemy of your cross streets and your heartstrings. You are fiercely loyal to your go-to spots… until they’re a block or two out of the way. We moved a mere eight blocks from our old spot, hop-skipping due east, across TWO actual, proven neighborhood boundaries, right into Bedford-Stuyvesant. Eight blocks is not a lot, but with that slight geographical maneuver came a great shift. A brave new world. Just eight blocks up Fulton street is the difference between Provisions’ grass fed beef from local New York farms and a man loading a freshly skinned halal goat from the back of a truck into a shopping cart (I would like to eat both of those, please). I spent a few days just walking around, eating tiny warm pastries from the bakery up the block, falling in love with the strange pizza-making Frenchmen listening to Nina Simone AND the soccer on the tube both at top decibels, triangulating trains, testing the air, exploring… I’ve had a few excellent adventures already, and can’t wait to share them with you. Soon.
Brooklyn map from Ork– we’ve had this hanging in our kitchen for years now, and I actually use it almost daily as a reference map.
This weekend we had our first ever moveable feast– a progressive dinner moving from course to course, cocktail to cocktail, between our five Brooklyn apartments. It was so very, very lovely… We feasted: prosciutto wrapped asparagus with peppadew sauce and lemon honey gin fizzes, roasted pear and arugula salads with cucumber gin tonics, pork carnitas tacos with home pickled onions and fresh tomatillo salsa with micheladas, cheese fondue (!!!) paired with funkily perfect hard ciders, and cool, rich tiramisu with cognac. We walked: from Bed Stuy to Clinton Hill to Fort Greene. All of the ladies rocked the flower party crowns I made. The night was warm the light was perfect, we started under a maple tree in the slanting early summer sun and finished on the roof under the stars watching at the twinkling lights of not-yet-finished One World Trade. All we kept saying was how we live SO close to each other, and how most of us had never even been to each other’s apartments. Here we were- opening our homes, laughing, breaking bread, toasting bubbly, and simply enjoying each other. How marvelous, how easy, how truly lovely.
Infinite thanks to the brilliant Oh Happy Day for the progressive dinner idea (yes, I’ve been thinking about doing this since last November, and yes, follow Jordan’s very helpful tips).
Also from Oh Happy Day- the ahhh-mazing flower party hat tutorial! I can’t recommend this little project enough. It only took me three episodes of Girls, a glass and a half of wine, and $13 worth of supplies from the dollar store to make 6 headbands (with tons of paper left over). Note: I used tissue paper instead of the crepe paper recommended in the tutorial because I couldn’t find any folded crepe paper in the hood, and the tissue paper worked fine. Also- in a moment of divine inspiration, I picked up a loopy stainless steel pot scrubber that I cut up and used for fun shiny/textured centers, you really can use your imagination here… I want to wear a flower party crown everywhere I go- and I think I just might.
In New York, the literal distance between friends- the few blocks separating a single neighborhood- can be the difference between weekly wine dates and once-a-year-in-review catch ups. You live in Cobble Hill? Are you free next September? You live in Clinton Hill? Come over for cocktails this very minute. Le sigh. It can be daunting. BUT- after much karma, zen real estate, and wise choices in love and loft we find ourselves with four very good households of friends all living within a five minute walk of each other. This seems a New York miracle. Yes, Virginia, Brooklyn sometimes feels like Virginia. Ever since I read this post from Oh Happy Day!- a progressive dinner carousing from arrondissment to arrondissment through the streets of Paris- I’ve been dying to try it. A Progressive Dinner, in short, moves from house to house with each stop serving a different course of a meal. A Moveable Feast of Brooklyn intuition. I’m thinking that the whole shebang will probably look and feel like the above picture from Comet in Moominland– which Eben and I both read as children and made mental notes that we wanted our lives to be like this- as he agrees: so far so good. I’ll let you know how it goes. Cheers to good friends and a lovely weekend to you!
ps. I also made these for tonight. They are so absurd and wonderful!
pps. Love and congratulations to Dear Rav, tying il nodo in Tuscany this very night. My heart is full for you.
Moomin image from here, naturally.