Saturday, November 23rd 2019 –
Today, after our brunch at our friends café, Bagel Time, Marie drove us to Park Slope, Brooklyn, so we could drop off my painting for a Small Works exhibition at the 440 Gallery. It was exciting to be part of a Brooklyn exhibition soon, and Brooklyn and Manhattan can potentially be a lot more dynamic and fruitful places than I’ve exhibited in more locally over many years.
We were surprised that the drive, with any traffic delays, is 40 minutes!
Many celebrities live or have lived in Park Slope. Well, I guess this is South Slope, but close by. We found the gallery easily, and waited on the corner whilst there was a “back in five minutes” sign on the door. A young-ish (probably late 30s) and friendly woman, Amy, took my artwork (my small painting of a statue in snow in Reykjavik) and welcomed Marie and I. She said the exhibition reception on Saturday, December 7th would be packed! Marie and I had already been discussing amongst ourselves where to eat and drink around the neighbourhood, but I also asked Amy for restaurant and coffee house tips (mainly to make conversation whilst I filmed out a form). She suggested café Toto, but we decided instead on a coffee and sweet snacks at a more casual place…and, I’ve already forgotten the name but I’ll ask Marie when she gets up (it’s now Sunday morning). Oh, it’s Muse Café! A delicious, subtle caramel cappuccino, a chocolate covered butter cookie – like a shortcake – and jam filled linzer tart. Of course nearly everyone was on their laptop, a sad sign of coffee houses today. Well, I understand it’s a good place to use your laptop for study but coffee/tea houses should perhaps reflect older traditions. We joked about reading a giant, complete works of Shakespeare or Dickens over our coffee just to make a point!
We walked almost the whole stretch of 7th avenue and back, with its multitude of choices to eat. Steinhofs Austrian restaurant looked warmly inviting, and wasn’t at all expensive. Then on the other side of the street, we coincidentally found the Indonesian place I’d looked up online months ago, Java! Indonesian in New York is very rare, and we wondered about having the rijsttafel: the multi mini-sized course feast! It would be something to tell Martyn in my journal, and we’d wanted to have it for a long time in New York. It was still only about 4.30pm, by the way, and Java was empty right now. We carried on walking a while first, and we browsed in a record shop. A great shop too, Marie bought a second hand Lambchop cd for me, a Peter Murphy (Bauhaus) cd for herself, and I got a second hand, but mint-looking Buffy Saint-Marie vinyl elpee for $2! Never heard anything from the 60s folk siren, as far as I’m aware, but it could be good. I think ‘Universal Soldier’ is a well-known one? I’ll file it next to my Tim Buckley elpee.
Anyway, the owner of the shop was an extremely nice chap we got chatting to, and he also gave us a restaurant tip that swayed us from the Indonesian and Austrian places for today. It was about a fifteen minute walk but we really loved the Czech bar-restaurant, Korzo! On the front window, there are signs for Praha (Prague), Budapest, Berlin etc, so a homage to cuisines from various of the colder, “comfort food” places. You walk past the elongated bar into a very Northern-Eastern Europe ‘old country’ room with bench tables and high ceilings. Marie sat under a moped suspended from the ceiling (a Czech version of a Lambretta?). Lighting was low-key in a good way, though it made you feel a bit sleepy after a while. The food was fantastic! It’s an ever-changing menu, and today’s date was at the top of the menu. I tried their draft Korzo beer, which had a lot of depth of flavour. They’re well known for their fried burger – served in a Kaiser roll. We started with their bryndza cheese and herb pierogis (delicious, draped in butter), and shared their cod and chips for mains, which was also top notch. The chips were sweet potato, with homemade crisps (potato chips) also added, and a beetroot and leaf salad. Two big, three inch deep pieces of excellent, battered cod. And we even added their custard cake for dessert. We’d certainly be tempted back!
As we walked back to the car, we stopped at a Walgreens chemist to buy one or two things. So strange that their sensitive toothpaste is locked, and you have to get a member of staff to open a glass case for you. That despite the affluent neighbourhood (Patrick Stewart and his wife lived very close by for a long time until recently)!
I forgot to mention that – before the meal – we’d stumbled on a sweets shop with a lot of British stuff too (chocolate etc)! The woman serving at the counter is originally from Wales, and she said there’s a lot of ex-pats living in Park Slope. We bought monster munch, coca cola bottles sweets (gourmet, British brand ones) and jelly babies.
We’ll be going back to Park Slope twice soon: on December 7th to the 440 gallery reception, and again in early January to pick up my painting (unless it sells). So we may well go to the Indonesian restaurant next time!
Photos from Korzo below (pierogies/dessert/Marie under the scooter)