The busload of 25 Pennsylvanians were hungry. They drove 3.5 hours from Hunlock Creek, near Wilkes-Barre, to Brooklyn and they needed a nosh. But first, they needed a bathroom. Luckily for them, the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, across from Borough Hall has bathrooms aplenty, and the front desk staff is gracious.
We booked this tour with David Burns at All American Tours. David wanted a Brooklyn Foodie tour for this group, who had been to Manhattan, but never Brooklyn. That’s the notion behind Brooklyn’s Edible Ethnic Eats Tour, that the best way to experience a city is through its food. We had pre-purchased a taste at each stop, so the tour group could sample before they bought.
We made our way to Fulton Ferry Landing for photos and for Mark to tell the story of George Washington and the Battle of Brooklyn, the genius of Brooklyn Bridge engineer John Roebling, and how Robert Fulton’s steamboat made Brooklyn the first commuter suburb in America. We also do this as a walking tour.
It was time to nosh (Yiddish for snack.) First stop on the tour was Mediterranean Atlantic Avenue, with spinach pies at Damascus Bakery and olives from the olive bar at Sahadis. The second we saw these PA ladies marching out of Damascus and Sahadi’s with $50 worth of groceries each, we knew we had a hot tour on our hands.
Next up – Italian Court Street. Italian food is such a part of America’s cultural heritage, so the trick was to find something they hadn’t eaten before. Voila: fresh-from-the-oven black olive bread from Caputo‘s, spicy soppressata and mini-mozzarella balls from G. Esposito & Sons Jersey Pork Store and these heartlanders were in heaven. They bum-rushed Caputo’s and bought out 20 loaves of black olive bread. We pointed them towards Court Street Pastry, where they also bought cheesecake and cannoli, and we handed out sesame seed cookies to sample on the bus ride to our next adventure.
Through the cobblestone streets to the Red Hook Mercado, a wonderful gardened-in corner lot at Van Brunt and Coffey streets with food vendors and an authentic taste of Red Hook. Open weekends, from noon to dusk, the Mercado has stalls from Solber Pupusas, Country Boys Tacos Vendors, Robicelli cupcakes, Grindhaus, and rotating clothiers selling Made in Red Hook fashionables. On our tasting menu, a pupusita (mini corn cake filled with chicken and cheese) and cup of horchata.
They couldn’t get enough of the flavorful pupusita, the pickled cabbage, the smooth crema and the cinnamony horchata. Surrounded by edible herbs growing from the ground, and listening to Latin Soul, the spirit of Red Hook was showing these Pennsylvanians about Brooklyn’s awesome attitude.
Nearby is dry dock wines and spirits, who organized a last-minute German white wine tasting. So post-pupusitas, it was time to enjoy some fine wine!
From Red Hook it was a scenic ride, through Carroll Gardens, Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Coney Island Avenue, Flatbush, Midwood, Kings Highway, to the end of the world, Brighton Beach and M&I International Market. Our tourists were fascinated by Odessa on the Ocean – especially the boardwalk and the produce markets. 4+ hours later, it was time for our Pennsylvania foodies to hit the road. Good thing they brought some of Brooklyn home with them.
By Matt Levy.