the legend of americas love of coffee is generally a source of much amusement to myself and other australian travellers who come here. we are very spoiled at home, and the whole starbucks thing has not really found much purchase because of the strong local boutique coffee shops that are not part of a chain. that doesnt mean there is no bad coffee in australia, in fact, there is a LOT, and especially when you step outside of sydney. but we do not do drip filter coffee, and for that i am eternally grateful. we do lots of bad espresso, but at least it is always espresso.
so i have been pretty much two weeks here without a real coffee to speak of. when you rely on starbucks for a latte, you really are in trouble. today i found two great coffees, one about as good as anything i would get at home. and they were both in brooklyn.
i was really looking forward to todays expedition. i had plans to meet up with my conference knitting friend winifred. she works in the school of nursing at pace university here in NYC, and she lives in brooklyn with her partner jennifer and their little girl maisie. i convinced winifred that she needed to visit the brooklyn general store with me, and we aranged to meet at 10 in the cobble hill neighbourhood.
so i jumped on the F train, just around the corner from me on west 4th strain
it was about a 20 minute ride under the east river, so i took out the knitting
and a gorgeous little latino boy sat and stared at my hands like he’d never seen knitting before. i think he wanted to learn but i refrained from snatching him from his father!
i emerged at Carroll St to a lovely sunshiny day
with a freezing cold wind. and lo, what do i find here on the corner of carrol and smith st? a momofuku milk bar no less.
i didnt have time to go in, because winifred and jen and maisie arrived shortly thereafter, and we set off down smith st to drop something off to a friend of theirs. this friends name is brooke, and she is a midwife here, and she happened to be home and we went into her brownstone to get warm for a second. it was so lovely, a real brooklyn brownstone. this is jen (in yellow) and winifred with maisie and brooke with her dog Lena
and this is maisie carrying the koala i gave her. she loved it.
she is the cutest little thing, she wanted to walk with me and have me hold her hand and then push her in her stroller. awwwww (be quiet damn ovaries).
brooke was taking her dog to the park, so we walked with her all the way along columbia st down to the waterfront, where there is a beautiful walkway and park areas
some of then are still damaged from hurricane sandy. then suddenly was the spectacular view back to manhattan
and some kids playing soccer right on the river in enclosed nets (saturday morning soccer seems to be universal)
and the view towards the brooklyn bridge.
so breathtaking. this was a great walk, the sun was lovely and the wind cold, perfect walking weather. we turned up off the water towards brooklyn heights, with these amazing houses
and stopped to grab sandwiches and coffee from this fantastic little place called Iris. their sit down cafe was full, so we went to their takeaway option and just sat outside in the sun. it was SO HIPSTER, the sandwiches came wrapped in brown paper with red and white string (i had turkey and cheddar on toasted cranberry bread, so good!)
and a really fantastic coffee.
this was sooooo goood, im pretty sure i moaned out loud!
maisie handed me chips while we ate
and then posed for a photo for me.
by now the koalas name was ‘little kylie’ and i pretty much died again. she didnt let that bear go the whole time we were out. adorable.
then it was time for maisie to go home for a nap, so winifred and i, as the knitters, took off together seprately walking all the way back down henry st to union st where we entered the wonderful little brooklyn general store.
such a great space, full of lovely yarn and fabric and vintage sewing knicknacks (absolutely put a bird on it!)
i am shopping mostly for accessory yarn in things i cant get easily at home, so i got two skeins of madtosh sock (nebula and scarlet)
two small skeins of the fibre co ‘road to china’ (alpaca, cashmere, silk. swoon)
and 4 skeins of blue sky alpaca sport in a gorgeous deep blue
i also picked up a little bundle of fat quarters with the idea that i might try my hand at some quilting this year, given Everyone Else is doing it,
but i want to make it very subdued and a little bit amish. i thought of kris when i bought this
then we headed outside for the obligatory ‘kylie was here photo’
and then winifred showed me to the G train which took me across brooklyn to williamsburg (brooklyn is really really large. lots and lots of spread out neighbourhoods). i walked down metroplitan ave to north 6th st
and then along north 6th street towards bedford ave
and just past bedford i could smell them, toby’s estate brooklyn. i do like toby’s at home, but i dont think they are the best roastery in australia (possibly allpress, and definitely campos are better) but you know, when in rome….
they have a lovely big space and it was packed full of hipsters. oh so many hipsters.
it was a little nauseating. the coffee was good but not great (the choc chip and orange cookie was awesome tho)
the coffee wasnt as strong as at home, obviously tempered down for the american palate. i should have ordered a double shot. and it should be in a glass not a mug! still it did the trick. its a funny little place, this tobys in brooklyn. its not obviously australian, if you didnt know you wouldnt pick it but i did notice a few little signs scatted around the place. a tattered rugby union football, a metal weetbox tin, and a tin of milo (look up from the grey beanie)
i also noticed a couple of other australians in amongst the williamsburg hipsters. the local hipsters are painful enough. its bad enough to be surrounded by all the pretty young things walking around with film scripts in checked shirts and skinny jeans, let alone the try hard aussies with the caps on backwards (yes thats him with the Summer Bay hair. thanks for that look lleyton hewitt. sigh). i wanted to smack that cap off his stupid head. it made me realise that i didnt come halfway across the world to hang out with aussies, no nor american hipsters either, and that i had had a truly wonderful time walking around talking history and theory with winifred and jennifer, and that when you find your people you should stick to them.
i do miss my people at home somewhat, and i do grow weary of the american female propensity to have private conversations REALLY BLOODY LOUDLY, but the fantastic easy time i had with winifred in particular made me realise there are People Like Us everywhere, and i’m so glad i connected with her at the conference and took her up on her invite to show me around. the people i have met at the conference, and at UPenn, and even around here in cornelia st, have been so welcoming and friendly.
i always think of myself as an introvert, and i am in that i really need quiet times away from people, but ive done a really good job of getting outside my comfort zone so far this trip and really making an effort to open up and talk to people. if nothing else, it has served me well for work purposes. it was also just so great to have someone to talk to today and to have her share a little part of her life with me, such a great experience!
and brooklyn. well, i loved it. i can really see why people are flocking to live here. it was dirty and busy and beautiful and historical and multicultural, and reminded me of that area around surry hills and redfern at home i guess, which is where i’ve always felt most comfortable. even though its all still row houses and apartments, people have planted little gardens where ever they can, and there are trees in the street and people are not yelling at each other, and i got lots of smiles at the accent.
but tomorrow i think i might find a library!