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An Unintentional Food Walk From Manhattan to Brooklyn

July 19, 2011

We met up at 11AM at the corner of 22nd Street and 2nd Avenue.  We were suppose to work up an appetite by walking across the Williamsburg Bridge in order to explore the Smorgasburg at the Brooklyn Flea.

“I need coffee.”  I said immediately and JZ nodded at my announcement.

The first pit stop was Abraço, the lovely espresso shop in East Village that I don’t get to nearly as often as I would like residing on the west side.

Abraço

The shop is small – not intended for you to linger and sit (in fact, there are no chairs or tables).  A line of 5 had already spilled onto the side walk when we came upon Abraço and a shy chocolate lab kept us company.  Despite the small size, Abraço offers quite an array of snack foods, from two bite egg sandwiches to brioche rolls to olive oil cakes.

The Menu at Abraco

I was glad to see that my favorite salty sweet cookie was still available.  The addicting olive cookie has a buttery short bread base dotted with the deep prune like flavor of cured black olives.

My Favorite: Cured Olive Cookies

We rounded off the “coffee break” with a small egg sandwich each.  A perfectly boiled egg was nestled between a small potato dinner roll with a smear of a mushroom cream sauce and slices of shiitake mushrooms. Honestly, they were small – just two bites…

Stop #1 at Abraco: Iced Latte, Egg Sandwich and Cured Olive Cookie

With Abraço’s ice lattes in hand, we continued to pound the pavement and hit the Lower East Side pretty quickly.  We passed by a bustling Russ and Daughters and an empty Meatball Shop (a sight I never thought I would see).   It was on Stanton Street that I pulled JZ aside for detour number 2: Bisous Ciao Macarons.  I am still embarrassed to admit that I did not hear of this little macaron shop until merely the day before.  Of course it was on my mind as I planned our walk to Brooklyn, knowing full well that we would walk through the LES.  The store was simple, a minimalist room decorated by the ingredients used in these little gems.

The walls of Bisous Ciao

I just loved how unfussy the display was and reminded me fondly of Pierre Hermes in Paris.  We were the first guests of the day and had free reign of the store.  I took pictures and we both ooh’d and ahh’d over the vibrant colors of the macarons.  These macarons are baked on site and the sweet warm smells from the kitchen permeated the entire store front.

Beautiful Rainbows of Macarons

My go-to flavor Rose was tucked between blood orange and strawberry chocolate and I found it right away.  As my usual test for any new macaron shop, I picked out a vanilla as well.

Rose Macarons

The friendly sales associate sent us off with two macarons each.  (Thank you for humouring my questions on macaron making techniques).

“Be sure to give them a few minutes to warm up!”  She called out after us.

I impatiently passed my macarons between two palms.  Have they warmed up yet enough to eat?  I thought to myself as I halfheartedly browsed racks of clothing at Yumi Kim.  And predictably, less than two blocks away, I gave in and bit into the vanilla macaron.

Rose and Jasmine Matcha Macarons

Bisous Ciao’s macarons are bigger in size than those found at other shops around the city, also stuffed much fuller.  The shell shattered softly into a chewy almond cookie and a creamy filling.  Yes, perhaps the buttercream could have been a little thinner and softer (maybe my own fault for not waiting longer?) but the flavor was unmistakingly that of rich and musky vanilla.  My rose macaron did not last much longer and was gone by the time we passed the half way mark on the Williamsburg bridge into Brooklyn.

We paused for breath at Simple Cafe in Brooklyn before continuing on through Williamsburg towards the waterfront and the flea market.  The closer we got, the more populated the neighborhood became and was filled with boutique shops and restaurants.  By the time we reached the Smorgasburg, the market was already in full swing with lines at nearly every stand.

We discovered after making a few rounds on the grounds that unfortunately we were pretty full of delicious food and wasn’t able to truly enjoy all that the fair had to offer (JZ did  come close to sampling an ostrich dog jerky – by accident).  In the end, I picked up a hibiscus doughnut from Dough and JZ sipped on a cup of gazpacho to stay cool from the heat.

(From Top to Bottom): Dried Pasta, Dough Stand, Hibiscus Flower Doughnut

We took in a few more moments of the lovely view of Manhattan before turning back.  A block away from the flea market, a stand on the side of the street caught our eyes.

“Shaved ice!”  I excitedly tugged JZ.

“I want one.  This looks real.”  JZ approved.  I think we can always make room for shaved ice.  How many calories can there be in ice anyways?  Wooly’s is a pretty simple stand serving up some serious Asian style shaved ice.  The ice fell into the plastic bowl like freshly fallen snow and could be topped with a variety of fresh fruits and sauces.  We opted for mango and strawberries with condense milk.

Wooly's Shaved Ice with Mango, Strawberry and Condensed Milk

I knew after my first bite that I didn’t really want to share this.  This was precisely what I had been searching for all these years one shaved ice shop followed another.  After so many disappointing icey melting messes, I had almost given up finding the perfect shaved ice and was going to write it off in my book of food myths.  The ice wasn’t really ice.  It was more like feathers, creamy and rich from the condensed milk.  It was so good that we could have had it plain, without any toppings.

JZ and I unwillingly bid farewell to the last bite of shaved ice and headed back to Manhattan.

It was fun Brooklyn!  We really did have the best intentions to spend the day focused on on you only but somewhere along the way, things caught our eyes and lured our taste buds and the rest went down into our food history.   Till next time we meet!

Abraço| 86 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003 | http://www.abracony.com

Bisous Ciao Macarons | 101 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002 | http://www.bisousciao.com

Smorgasburg  | East River Waterfront (btw. North 6 + 7 Street), Brooklyn, NY | www.brooklynflea.com/smorgasburg

Wooly’s Ice | Municipal Plz Duane and Centre Streets, New York, NY 10007

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