A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of dining at RoCCA, a quaint Italian restaurant in Glen Rock, NJ. After devouring my meal, practically licking the plate, I was sold that this was the new “it” restaurant. You can imagine my surprise when I later learned it has been around for almost 9 years. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this place before? We’re talking YEARS of missed meals that can never be recouped. Now I’m certainly not an authority on Northern NJ restaurants, but in all honestly (because that’s what you do on blogs…speak honestly to thousands of people you don’t even know) I haven’t been to many that wow me. I LOVE that so many are BYOB, giving us a change to select from our well stocked Brooklyn wine cellar, but often I find the food at these restaurants tend to be mediocre. Nothing creative or extraordinary, and certainly nothing to make a pilgrimage from Brooklyn for. There are a few standouts of course–The Saddle River Inn, Latour, and Esty Street. With both my AND my husband’s family living in NJ, you think I would have gone to RoCCA years ago, but no. I guess they like to save Jersey’s best for themselves.
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.
I’ve put off writing about Petit Oven for awhile now. Even last week when I attended their Pig Roast and Beer Toast, took plenty of pictures, specifically to write about them, I hesitated. Why? Because I’m selfish. Bay Ridge has been getting a lot of press lately. It’s a bit off the beaten path and isn’t the trendiest place in the world, but lately things are changing and I worry the hipsters might invade the neighborhood. We have a cute wine bar, Owl’s Head, a great California taco joint, Ho’brah, and my favorite, Petit Oven. Of course I want the world to know about my favorite restaurant, I just don’t know that I’m ready to share.
No, I’m not getting married. My husband and I walked down that path almost two and a half years ago now. I know that a lot of people say their wedding day is the best day of their lives, but I wonder how true that really is. It feels like something you’re supposed to say. It wasn’t the best day of my life. I’ve been with my husband for almost seven years now between dating and marriage and I can think of so many other moments, private moments, that we shared together. To tell you the best day of my life? I would have to think long and hard because there are so many to choose from, but I can guarantee it was a moment with him, just the two of us. Today is a day of fear and excitement, and I feel one of the most significant hurdles in my life to date. Today, I turned 30. Continue reading