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Williamsburg Walkabout

In my six years in NYC, I have lived two in Harlem, three in Chelsea, and now one in South Brooklyn. Each neighborhood boasted a proximity to other neighborhoods that I could explore in my spare time. While in Harlem, I would often walk south to Morningside Heights, or east to Spanish Harlem. In Chelsea, I would go down to Meatpacking and through the West Village on a weekly basis. Now, in South Brooklyn, I find myself drawn to Red Hook, and Fort Greene. But, for the first time in my life I have direct access to the G Train, and with that comes North Williamsburg (and Southern Greenpoint).

Williamsburg, for me at least, was always the trendy cousin of Manhattan: great for clever outdoor markets, special (raw, vegan, fusion, truffle, buzzword) birthday dinners, spotting all-black-clad models / gallery girl rejects, counting tattoos, and sipping French press coffee. But honestly, I never thought of the neighborhood as an actual residence. It was more like a rowdy vacation home.

With ease of access only a few stops away, the seventies vinyl siding of North Williamsburg’s less than stellar architectural remnants is now only minutes away.

 Walkabout Hitlist:

“I come from nowhere Brooklyn, New York. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. These days Williamsburg is kind of a hip area, but when I grew up there, the taxi drivers wouldn’t even go over the bridge, it was so dangerous.” – Barry Manilow

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Bedlam Over Bedford

Bedford Avenue is the longest street in Brooklyn, New York City, stretching 10.2 miles and 132 blocks from Greenpoint south to Sheepshead Bay. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, immediately off the L subway line, the Bedford Avenue stop features a bevy of walkable, quaint, quirky, and small boutiques that will sell you (almost) anything. Since it ’tis the season to be shopping, here’s a peek into two of my favorite Williamsburg based jewelers and knickknack shops.

Catbird, located online and at 219 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, is a mecca for all things sparkly and exciting. Our favorite things include non-traditional wedding rings, stacking rings, knuckle rings and a wide range of gifts such as terrariums, perfume,  glassware, candlesticks, cards, water bottles, tooth fairy boxes, candles. Anything that someone in the board game CLUE employs, one will most likely find here. When I say “find”, I mean it. The store is setup like a pirate’s booty and treasure chest filled with trinkets interwoven with strange artifacts, forcing you to play detective. The layout is haphazard yet delicate and organic. The small space specializes in local designers (although they also carry items from designers all over the globe). The tiny space is a bit of quirky and feminine dreamscape.

Catbird Review x The Walkup

Step into the space that is equal parts Downton Abbey meets farmhouse shabby chic meets 1950’s diner. Peruse the sliding drawers, the glass displays, and the shelves – everywhere you turn in this postage-stamp-sized storefront is brimming with a hidden find.

Catbird x The Walkup

Catbird x The Walkup

Tocca Perfume reigns supreme as an easy way to evoke any distinct character trait. Discover your favorite scents by trying the samples in the store such as Cleopatra, Stella, Florence, Brigitte, Graciella and Violette. My personal favorite is Brigitte, which is inspired by the playful and sensual beauty of French film siren Brigitte Bardot, Tocca’s  fragrance evokes the intoxicating scent of a stroll through the spice markets of Provence. Tres chic! The little brass birds, wrapped in ribbon, would also make a perfection addition to a mantle-place or bookshelf.

Catbird x The Walkup

Rodin by Recine creates tonics, lip balms, hair oils, face oils and candles with the seriousness of an ancient apothecary. The products are whipped up and infused with essential oils from apricot kernels, calendula, sunflower seed, sweet almond, neroli, jojoba, rosemary and juniper. It doesn’t get more natural and aromatic than that.

Catbird x The Walkup

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If only my wallet allowed, I would buy all the knuckle ringed, chain linked, hammered metals, animal skull inspired, black diamond flecked pieces that my little heart desired – but, alas! The paycheck of a not-for-profit employee is a wee bit limiting. There are many steals using brass, crystal and silver for under $100 but the best bargain and bang for your buck, in my humble opinion, is the Lanolin-Agg-Tval Swedish Eggwhite Soap. This $5 bar of soap has been a part of healthy skincare in Sweden for generations. Originally prepared at home by Swedish women, an egg white facial was a weekly tradition to maintain pure, radiant skin. Go get this bar and make your skin glow!

Catbird x The Walkup

Catbird x The WalkupFlotsam and Jetsam is created by Rebekah Harris in New York City. Harris apprenticed under a silversmith and creates  rock and roll silver jewelry. Many of her designs stem from a love of the ocean (hence the name) and a curiosity for the mysteries of the watery unknown. Flotsam and Jetsam speaks of the spoils cast over board and washed ashore, sculptural narratives whose stories invoke the desperate journeys of abandoned souls that dared to step aboard and sail into the realms of monsters, sudden squalls and shallow shoals. Whatever the company’s folklore may be, the pieces always pay homage to the artisan craftsmanship of the past with a modern edge.
Catbird x The Walkup

Another jewelry favorite, that has much more of a DIY vibe, is Brooklyn Charm. Located at 145 Bedford Ave (between 10th St & 9th St) Brooklyn, NY 11211, the funky shop is filled to the brim with gold chains, strange overstock, wholesale beads, and pre-made creations. After building up a small-but-loyal fanbase through her flea market sales and Etsy store, jewelry designer Tracie Howarth opened this storefront on Bedford Avenue in March 2010.

Brooklyn Charm x The Walkup

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The space also hosts metalworking, wire wrapping and other beading and jewelry making courses. No previous experience necessary! There is a large selection of letter charms, state charms, skulls, and all the supplies to create a one-of-a kind pieces. If you are not feeling so crafty and creatively inclined, bring your favorite parts to the cash register and the staff will assemble jewelry for you on the spot at the counter!

Brooklyn Charm x The Walkup

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Arrows, spoons, globes, acorns, beetles, knives, alligators, and wood – oh my! You would be hard pressed to find something missing the eclectic array of charms that the shop offers.

Brooklyn Charm x The Walkup

Now, combining finds from the two lovely, aforementioned places, I bring you the Brooklyn holiday gift guide,  where all items are $50 and under! Buy something for your teacher, lover, milkman, boss, distant cousin and fellow commuter. At prices like these, buy yourself a gift too!

Brooklyn Gift Guide x The Walkup

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A Moveable Feast

What do you get when you cross Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a veritable cornucopia and smörgåsbord of food options? A Smorgaburg! Let’s break this down for a second, a smorgasbord is a type of meal served buffet-style with multiple dishes of various foods on a table, originating in Sweden. In English and also in Scandinavian languages, the word smörgåsbord refers loosely to any buffet with a variety of dishes.

Smorgasburg happens every Saturday, rain or shine.  Part of the Brooklyn Flea Market,  Smorgasburg brings together food entrepreneurs and established purveyors from New York City and across the region selling both packaged and prepared foods, fresh produce, and other food-related stands (kitchen utensils, housewares, etc.), for a total of approximately 100 vendors. I have gone to this market several times and it is still my favorite NYC STAY-CATION. In my (very) humble opinion, the best foods hail from:

1. Asia Dog:   Asiadogs are hot dogs with Asian-inspired toppings incorporating flavors found in China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and more. Try the WangDing: Chinese BBQ Porkbelly + onions or the Vinh: Vietnamese banh-mi style: aioli + pate + cucumbers + pickled carrot and daikon + cilantro + jalapeno.

2. Bon Chovie: This is what happens when a chick with a metal head and a green thumb moves fromSeattle to Williamsburg andmarries a charter boat captain and all-around seafood maniac from Florida’s gulf Coast. If you know what’s good for you, have the fried anchovies “jersey style” (head’s on) and relish in the smoked paprika mayo and pickled sweet peppers on the side. Finally, if your thirst need quenching, they have a non-alcoholic sangria that has more fruit than a Chiquita banana headdress.

3. Brooklyn Soda Works: An artist and a chemist making soda and carbonated juices from scratch, using fresh and seasonal ingredients. If Willy Wonky had a soda factory and a seltzer bottle, he would be making these drinks. Using foraged ingredients like sassafras, knotweed, shiso, fennel and peppercorn, soda works makes the freshest (never from syrups or concentrates) and most refreshing fizzy lifting drinks. I want to use EVERY one of them in cocktails as mixers. Your best best will be the ‘grapefruit, jalapeno & honey’ pop.

Via.

4. Schnitz: Schnitz is the Shit(z). It is a quick-serve food business dedicated to serving your favorite comfort food: Schnitzel! For those who didn’t get the memo, schnitzel is thin, breaded and lightly fried pieces chicken, pork or veal. All sandwiches are served on a pretzel bun, your options include Sweet Onion: panko crusted crumbs + jicama radish pickle + beet tzatziki or Bamberg: panko parsley crumbs + cuco-daikon pickle + caramelized opinion mustard. My grandmother made schnitzel like it was her job, mostly because she was a stay at home mother and this was her “job”, to cook schnitzel. She was from the Polish shtetl and knew good schnitzel, this stuff comes close.

Via.

Via. 

5. The Good Batch: This purveyor of ice cream sandwhiches began with a simple mission:  bake pure, not overly sweet, delicious food. Anna Gordon, the founder and pastry chef of The Good Batch, has a lot of Dutch people in her life, and after years of receiving eager requests for making fresh stroopwafels, she finally did it. I must admit, the classic Goodwich style ice cream sandwich featuring vanilla ice cream and an irresistible oat cookie loaded with Belgian milk and dark chocolate chunks, and topped with sea salt was the PERFECT combination of salty and sweet.

Via.

Via.

Honorable Mentions: We Rub You, Mighty Quinn’s 

And then we took the East River Ferry home back to the isle of Manhattan and lived happily ever after…