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Saltie, the Shop and ‘burg Food Culture

November 24, 2010

So my wife and I decided to hit up Saltie in our neighborhood, Williamsburg, in Brooklyn. We had the finest sandwiches we’ve had all year. Our friends who live right down the street from Saltie put us on this place. My wife had one on Saturday and suggested we both go on Sunday. The cooks are alums of Diner. I’ve got nothing but love for this offspring by partners and Caroline Fidanza, founding chef at Diner and Marlowe & Sons, she’s done so much for food in New York, local purveyors, and hungry Brooklynites that she deserves the keys to the city.

I had the “Ship’s Biscuit” (soft-scrambled egg, ricotta). Sweet, melt-in-your mouth flavor with the hit of the salt on the ciabatta was a lovely combination.

She had the “Scuttlebutt” (hard-boiled eggs, cauliflower, pickles, capers, aioli, feta, black olives). The bite of the pickle combined with the creaminess of the egg and salty brininess of the caper, the smokiness of the aioli–sheer heaven. Big bold flavor on a perfectly baked ciabatta.

I love Brooklyn dining so much that I’m going to make a special effort to record my meals in Brooklyn. Favorite ‘burg restaurants are the aforementioned¬† Diner, but I’m also a fan of Rye, Dumont, Pies-n-Thighs, Motorino, Dressler, Walter Foods, the Shop (awesome bbq), Fette Sau, Roebling Tea Room, Sel de Mer (awesome seafood), Enids, Manhattan Inn, Five Leaves…and don’t even get me started on Ft. Greene or Carrol Gardens/Cobble Hill…hmm ok, maybe we eat out too much! I think I might need the New Brooklyn Cookbook for Xmas! Maybe I’ll get it and make a few recipes for the blog.

Funny thing–working in marketing I come across alot of trend reports and its so obvious we’re in the middle of a revival of artisanal living trend. I’d hate to see a backlash against this trend because frankly, I can’t go back. I’ve never felt more connected to my food, community, and life as a consumer than in the last ten years. The skeptic might just call it another trend–but I think of it as a return to a simpler way of life–one I had in my life as a kid in various ways, but that we drifted away from as we migrated to suburbia and into young adulthood. My parents were never farmers, but they shopped farmer’s markets in Ohio, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania (love those Amish). My dad was a carpenter and builder so we weren’t shy around tools, at least the boys weren’t, so artisan was really just plain old living. It just seems a way of life that people have had outside of the city, seems to have made its way into it. Why Brooklyn? Why Williamsburg? My guess–in a city of immigrants, New York’s chefs got tired of trudging from Brooklyn into Manhattan’s high-end restaurants–and so they migrated downtown and stayed in their own hoods. The ‘burg has had for years a large number of Yankees, southerners or whatever,¬† move in and they’ve brought their tastes with them. Brooklyn has been at the crossroads of a resurgence for Americana because a wide variety of Americans make their home here. The strong DIY attitude has emerged in response to a desire to make Brooklyn look and feel more like home–a little bit of Tennessee or Ohio valley. Just look at the music, just as diverse, and a sampling of every sound from across the country, bluegrass, jazz, indie, rockabilly, EMO. Well, I digress, I think its these influences among others, are what drives the food culture here.

Just last week I came across a motorcycle shop-bar-cafe-speakeasy-bbq joint with “urban country club” services. While I was walking down Metropolitan I caught the scent of bbq on the air–but wait–it wasn’t coming from nearby Fette Sau–this was a bit different. I went in to the Shop and met J.T. (one of two J.T.’s who tends bar there) and proceeded to learn that they were indeed smoking sausage and chicken right there on a pit called Riggins.

Checkout the video:

Damn, now I’m hungry again.

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