My first trip to Rosewater was uneventful. There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with it, there just wasn’t anything memorable about it. We did a chef’s tasting menu a few years back for my birthday. It was a great value—Five courses for $60 and add the (I think necessary) wine pairing for just $26 more. Five courses and wine for under $100 a person. You can’t get much better than that. At most restaurants, especially in Manhattan, I find you can barely clear 3 courses, paired with water, for that price. I remember enjoying the food but the next week, even the next day, I couldn’t recall any specifics.
I judge a meal based on experience and how it lingers over time. There are meals I’ll remember for a life time. My first dinner at Blue Hill where my husband told the waiter to “challenge us”. The rich, yet feather light gnocchi at One if by Land, Two if by Sea. The tiny bistro in Quimper, France where language was a barrier but the waiter’s oinks (yes, oinks, not a typo) communicated the pork loin was his favorite dish on the menu. But my dinner at Rosewater lacked staying power. After walking out of the restaurant, it seemed to evaporate from my memory. With so many other restaurants to try in Brooklyn alone, I wasn’t overly anxious to return. Though it happened we were in the area for brunch and figured, why not? I’ve never been so happy to give a restaurant a second chance.
I loved to cook before Top Chef came around. I was never a fan of cooking shows. The food network annoys me. Sure they’re some good recipes out there, but how can you really learn to make a 4 hour braise (with sides!) in a 27 minute episode. The shows would just frustrate me. But when Top Chef came along, I was immediately hooked. Top Chef doesn’t teach you how to make a recipe, it inspires you to think out of the box, to consider what you would make if faced with some saltine crackers and a piece of fish. Or what dishes would best describe you? Watching the show definitely encouraged me to play with flavors and invent new dishes.
The thing I love best about Park Slope is the fact that you can pretty much walk into any restaurant and it will be fantastic. You can eat out every night for weeks and find a new place and try new cuisines. If you live in Brooklyn, you know 5th Avenue and 7th Avenue are the main commercial stretches littered with grocers, boutiques, banks and of course restaurants. What people don’t often know about is what lays between and beyond those main stretches. Benchmark Restaurant is just around the corner from 5th Avenue on 2nd Street. If you walked up to the intersection you’d first notice Loki, a comfortable trendy neighborhood bar. Now look down, down to the floor, and you might see a tiny chalkboard directing you to Benchmark around the corner. And that’s where your food journey begins.
Well if you know me at all, you probably know about my cupcake obsession, both cooking and eating. So obviously I would probably endorse nearly any cupcake place. But this is a little different. I’ve actually never tried Butter Lane made cupcakes, but did have a fantastic time making my OWN Butter Lane cupcakes at one of their recent classes that I HIGHLY recommend to any baker (or non baker) out there.
So, I’m a bit of a dork, if you haven’t already noticed. I mean, think about it, I get super excited about things like fresh produce, canning and foraging (still on my to do list). So while on vacation in Maine, rather than going to the lake to swim or taking a boat tour, I’m most excited to visit a food coop. Now, of course, I’m a dedicated member of both the Park Slope Food Coop and Bay Ridge Food Co-op, but if I’m not in Brooklyn, I need to get food somewhere, so there’s nothing wrong with sampling another coop, right?
The Blue Hill Co-op interested me most because it was founded in 1974, just one year after the Park Slope Food Coop formed. Both coops have a long history, but the similarities end there. Park Slope is a member working model, meaning you must be a member to shop (which is open to anyone, of course) and you must put in 2.75 working hours a month. Blue Hill, like many other coops around the country, does not require you to be a member to shop. By being a member, however, you do receive extra discounts and a portion of the coop’s profit at the end of of each year. Blue Hill has about 1,600 members (no stat for how many additional nonmember shoppers though) and Park Slope has about 10x that, so as you’d imagine the shopping experience was a little different.