Red Hook, Restaurants and Cafes, Shops


A coffee and a breakfast cookie might be the best way to end a long morning walk to Red Hook (exercise- and work-related.)

Baked is one of those places that serves up your childhood dessert favorites — chocolate chip cookies, brownies, blondies, and whoopie pies — in some of the best possible versions. Everything is substantial and goes well with a mug of coffee. Or if it's later in the day, a tall glass of milk.

It's the rare New York food business that survives past its first few years, but this bakery/cafe has been rooted here on Van Brunt Street since 2005. And it was one of the first businesses to reopen after Hurricane Sandy last fall, even with basement damage, becoming a haven for locals and a gathering spot for volunteers in the weeks and months that followed. 

Greenpoint, Shops


 Ovenly is one of those bakeries I wish I had in my own neighborhood. Sure, you can find Ovenly cookies and snacks at gourmet shops and cafés around the city, but there's something about making the trip all the way to Greenpoint's waterfront that makes those sweets you bring back extra special. (And the bakery has a great back story: the founders are two friends who met at a food-focused book club.)

The salted chocolate chip cookies and salted peanut butter cookies get the most props from media and fans, and they are justifiably daydream-worthy. But my favorite, surprisingly, was a small gluten-free pistachio agave cookie that was just packed with nutty goodness. I need this recipe. Though I may have to sit patiently and wait for their cookbook to come out.

Boerum Hill, Shops

Vendome Patisserie

I first tried macarons from Vendôme Patisserie last spring. My friend Barb and I were meeting up with her husband Max after a morning at Dekalb Market, and he had somehow taken a very long detour somewhere in Boerum Hill. When he finally showed up, it turned out he had stumbled into a macaron shop and had spent some time carefully picking out a sampling to try.

Macarons? Well okay, that's easily forgivable. We got some coffee, found some benches in a community garden nearby, sliced up each macaron with a little plastic knife, and savored every bite.. So. Worth. The Wait.

Boerum Hill, Shops, Design

Swedish Dream Sea Salt Soap

Growing up, I loved visiting Vermont. Not so much for the skiing, but for all the general stores. Every time I went on a road trip with friends or family, we'd always stop at a roadside general store that sold an assortment of nice things: candy in glass jars, flannel shirts of all colors, tools of all stripes, apothecary items, and cider made right down the road. Maybe the general stores were aimed at tourists, but I didn't care. There weren't really any places like that in the Boston suburbs where I grew up, at least not by the 1990s.

Dry Goods on Atlantic Ave is a modern day interpretation of an old-fashioned general store. It's a fun place, with the slightly cluttered but carefully curated feel of many Brooklyn shops. A good portion of the products are imported from Europe, from brands and makers that have been around for generations. Scattered throughout the mix are a few vintage collectables from the shop's owners.

Made in Brooklyn, Park Slope, Shops

Phin and Phebes Vietnamese Iced Coffee Ice Cream

Last week, in need of a mid-afternoon jolt, I wandered over to Union Market to get a cup of coffee. But when walking by the frozen dessert section, I spotted something way better: Vietnamese coffee ice cream.

Phin and Phebes is a small-batch ice cream company that originated in Brooklyn. Jess Eddy and Crista Freeman started the company a little over three years ago, testing new ice cream flavors in their home kitchen. Now the ice cream is made upstate, using milk sourced from a dairy cooperative of family-run farms in Lewis and Jefferson Counties. Oh, and the hand-drawn packaging is pretty great too. What's not to love?

Park Slope, Shops

Lush English Toffee

For most of my life, I've been a toffee-holic. Whereas many people are content to limit their toffee eating to the holiday season, I would happily indulge in it year-round. It might have something to do with the fact that Chinese families love gifting tins of Almond Roca for any and every holiday, including birthdays, graduations, and Chinese New Year. More often than not, there was a tin of Almond Roca sitting around the house. I have many fond memories of watching TGIF or Nick at Nite after dinner and chomping on almond buttery toffee for dessert.

And then I found out there was more to toffee than just Almond Roca. Like See's Toffee-ettes, which are even more dangerously addictive. Or homemade toffee. And last month, while at Blue Apron Foods in Park Slope, I came across a display for Lush English Toffee, based out of New York. Which, of course, I had to buy and try.

Made in Brooklyn, Shops

Grady's Cold Brew

Summer is long gone, but I'm still finding myself craving iced coffee in the morning. I blame the radiator. Like many NY apartment dwellers, I have no control over the heat, so once the heat comes on for the season, the entire apartment becomes a furnace unless you leave the windows wide open.

This is where the iced coffee comes in.

Usually, to get my iced coffee fix, I just make enough coffee in the French press for two or three days, then refrigerate what I don't use. But recently I started using Grady's Cold Brew, which I had heard about for a while but never tried. And wow, this stuff is strong. I'm hooked.

Manhattan, Shops

Mozzarella-Making Class at Murray’s Cheese

As a culinary school grad, I’ve made countless things from scratch, both sweet and savory. But one thing I had never tried my hand at before was cheese-making. It had always seemed pretty elusive, and books on the subject tend to be filled with diagrams straight out of a high-school chemistry book (not my best subject back in the day.) But I do likeeating cheese. So when the opportunity came to take and review a mozzarella-making class through CourseHorse, a start-up for finding and booking classes all around New York, I was pretty excited.

The class was held at Murray’s Cheese, where I’ve dropped a sizable chunk of change over the years. But the class was the first time I visited the classroom upstairs (it’s pretty spacious with a window that looks over the shop). The tasting portion was already set up when we walked in, with a slate board of various mozzarellas and a glass each of sparkling and red wine behind it.