Write what you know? How about write what you hate? It’s not really fair to say you don’t like something if you haven’t even done it, but sometimes scorn is contagious and irresistible. At least to me. So, this Saturday I vowed to be open minded and actually experience popular food-related activities before making any judgments. Opposite Day wasn’t really that painful.
Brunching and trying Stumptown coffee would be easy to accomplish at the same time in 11231. I feel like I cheated a little bit because instead of heading into the maw of the beast, a.k.a. Smith Street, or just walking the three blocks to Prime Meats, we drove to Kevin’s in Red Hook. A true Opposite Day would involve biking the short distance but procuring a new means of transport was too much on short notice. Oh, if I were doing this full force I would’ve found a venue with sidewalk seating, that’s the worst. I’ll sit in a backyard if it’s not crazy hot and humid but there’s nothing less appetizing than dining all exposed on an NYC sidewalk.
Kevin’s was suspiciously mellow, just a few occupied tables, a same sex couple, single diners, not a stroller in sight, completely trauma-free. I never ever go out to breakfast or brunch because I don’t like getting up early, and yes, to me being somewhere at noon is getting up early. If I truly wanted to experience what I think I loathe I would’ve woken up around 8am and walked a dog, gone for a run and/or bike ride. None of those things will ever happen (I’ll jog, but only indoors). Other non-food related activities that are likely to never happen: yoga, mani/pedi, paying to have my laundry done and bikini waxing.
A rich cheddar cheese and bacon-filled omelet was just what I needed. The bacon was soft and fatty, which I prefer, but if you like crunchy doneness you might be disappointed. The toast was buttered within an inch of its life, soaked through and through. The potatoes were ok, though I’d like a little more char on the edges. I would never cook food like this for myself in the morning, but I do appreciate the break from my dull weekday packet of oatmeal or Kashi bar.
I’m by no means a coffee connoisseur, despite how it may appear Northwesterners are not born with an exacting coffee palate, I drink a pre-ground brew from Trader Joe’s. I was expecting this coffee to be stronger, however it was subtle, low in acidity and very smooth. I wouldn’t say there was anything unique about the coffee but the large pot for $5 seemed fair. It turns out I don’t really have any problems with Stumptown or brunch as long as they are consumed a non-populous neighborhood.
Next stop, the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket. Rationally, I don’t issues with fresh produce and meat from humanely raised animals. I just don’t like crowds and I happen to be very cheap. For a little over $30 I picked up random odds and ends that included: pea shoots, snap peas, sourdough bread, Cato Corner Farm Hooligan cheese, half a dozen eggs, half a chicken, mesclun, peppermint. It was ok, and definitely didn’t kill me but I doubt I’ll be back any time soon. I am trying to look happy in my photo but I'm not sure if I'm succeeding.
My original plan was to go to Hapa Kitchen at BKLYN Yard, which is completely walkable from my apartment. Asian female food bloggers cooking greenmarket sourced food, the Treats Truck and DJs? Can it get any more Brooklyn? No. And I took a pass.
I fully embraced the speakeasy experience, though. Well, sort of. I think I was probably cheating again because I went to Dutch Kills, in the still no-man’s-land of Long Island City. Oh, and at 8pm so there were only two other groups of people and everything was running smoothly, lots of personal attention.
First I tried one of the chalkboard specials, the Water Lily. I will always try something using Crème de Violet, partially because I like the pretty lavender hue (which this didn’t have). The main liquor was gin and I think there was also Lillet and lemon involved.
Next, I asked for something citrusy (I prefer sour over sweet drinks) that uses Peychaud’s Bitters and was given a Pendennis Club, a riff on the Pegu Club that was made from lime juice, gin, apricot brandy, bitters and sugar syrup. It certainly looked girly with its rosy hue but the bitters keep the drink from heading into Sweet Tarts candy territory.
One more, I requested, “something like a whisky sour” and received my favorite of the night, a Silver Lining (rye, Licor 43, lemon juice, egg white and club soda). I love frothy egg white-topped drinks and the fruity-vanilla flavor of the Licor 43 was soft and creamy. I don’t know why vanilla, like pineapple or coconut, seem to make a cocktail seem trashy, there’s nothing wrong with any of those ingredients if they’re balanced. You never see a sophisticated bar using coconut or pineapple, though. Maybe I should ask, or better yet insist on Kahlua, and see what kind of reaction I’d get. (Ok, weird, a New York Times article on coconut cocktails just showed up in my feeds.) Here’s a Silver Lining recipe if you want to try one at home.
I can deal with $9 non-crappy cocktails, the going rate at Dutch Kills, because you can experiment a bit. Yes, they’re all dead serious about the ice cubes, the foam, the pomaded hair and dress suspenders, and old-timey vibe…and it didn’t bother me in the least. It might’ve though if I was paying $12+ and had to wait in line to get in. Go Queens!
Er, or not. After 10pm Opposite Day went off the rails. I took it upon myself to check out the new 18,000 square foot beer garden, Studio Square, in the same general area. This wasn’t Opposite Day material because I would drink beer and eat pretzels outdoors with no prompting. Yet, I was shocked at the mob scene and gruesome clientele. Maybe I’d spent too much time in the rarified dark woody interior of Dutch Kills, but yeah, this was a serious Queensy crowd, tanned, loud and in their twenties. The only bust of the day. I waited the snaking line to use the bathroom, then we left.
Starving after three cocktails on a now-empty stomach that hadn’t seen a thing since brunch ten hours earlier, food was a must. Roosevelt Avenue is a treasure trove but a startling number of restaurants close by 11pm. I started getting panicky and cranky, very much Normal Day not Opposite Day. James wanted to try Jollibee, but they were closing in ten minutes so he ran in and got two Aloha burgers to go. These we saved for Sunday. Now it’s Sunday and I’ve eaten mine (no, I'm not bothered by day-old fast food) so I can say that yes, I do love a pineapple ring on a cheeseburger. Pineapple seems to be a running theme.
Still with burgers in mind, we knew bars would still be serving food and headed up to the Irish part of Woodside and got a pint of Bass and an always awesome cheeseburger at Donovan’s. I hate steak fries, Opposite Day won’t change that, but the medium-rare burger was juicy and perfect with a gril-marked bun and two just-beginning-to-melt slices of American cheese on top and bottom. Donovan’s totally saved the night.