Tag Archives: brooklyn

An Epic Dinner at Roberta’s

Roberta's in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and seriously wanted to order one of everything?

Well, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit—OK, no, I’m not—that I’ve now done just that.

Asparagus at Roberta's

Asparagus, pullet egg, trout roe, yuzu

On Tuesday night, one of Ryan’s friends, Kate, invited us to Roberta’s, where her boyfriend is a chef.

It’s been one of our favorite spots for awhile, but we don’t make it out to Bushwick as often as we like so Kate’s invite was just the push we needed to make us hop on the “L” train.

Snap Pea Salad at Roberta's

Salad with Bottarga at Roberta's

Roberta’s is located in a part of Bushwick better known for warehouses than innovative cuisine, but you shouldn’t let its humble exterior fool you.

Just this year, Carlo Mirarchi, Roberta’s chef, was named to Food & Wine magazine’s list of Best New Chefs—quite an honor indeed.

Cuttlefish at Roberta's

Cuttlefish, citrus, chili, opal basil

Foie Gras at Roberta's

Foie gras, rhubarb, black pepper

Of course, if the food Mirarchi is putting out is any predictor, this won’t be the biggest of accolades to come for Roberta’s.

As I said earlier, we literally ordered one of everything, so I won’t regale you with every detail of every dish. Just know that every thing was scrumptious (and the great company made it even better).

Lamb at Roberta's

Lamb breast, mint, spring onion, yogurt

Soft Shell Crab at Roberta's

Soft shell crab, spicy mayo, herbs

Black Bass at Roberta's

Black bass, bluefoot mushrooms, English pea puree

We ended up with a group of eight people and even though none of us really knew each other at the beginning of the evening, we were all laughing like good friends by the end of the (late) night.

Dessert and Friends at Roberta's

Dessert at Roberta's

Gelatos at Roberta's

Housemade gelato: rhubarb, mint chocolate, watercress, vanilla, salted caramel

We had all bonded over the amazing dishes coming out of that little kitchen, which I imagine is just what Mirarchi and his team want.

– Laura

P.S. Other non-photographed dishes included three pizzas, two pastas, an amazing cheese plate, and a lovely sous vide pork chop.

Roberta's on Urbanspoon

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Behind the Beans at Stumptown

Over the weekend I made a visit to the Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ plant in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to see how they turn green coffee from farms all over the world into some of the best coffee out there.

While I was there, I met Ed Kaufmann, one of the roasters, who was happy to show me the minutiae of coffee roasting.

The process starts with the green coffee beans. These beans are delivered from the farms in big burlap sacks that crowd much of the warehouse’s space.

First, the beans are siphoned into the roasting machine, a German Probat from the 1950s, complete with retro control panels, straight out of a sci-fi film. The roaster, powered by natural gas, gets up to a stifling 400 degrees while the beans tumble around within its steel walls. It, understandably, gets a bit loud during this part, so Ed hands me a pair of earmuffs.

The next 15 minutes are a combination of timing and intuition on Ed’s part. He constantly checks the beans for the right color and the perfect aroma. Once he’s satisfied with the roast, the beans are released into the cooling tray where they are spun around by steel brushes until they reach room temperature. Finally, the beans are ejected into plastic barrels to be scooped out into individual bags and prepared for shipping.

The process seems so simple—it takes less than 20 minutes—but without experience, most of us would end up with a batch of badly burned beans.

In addition to roasting beans in Red Hook, Stumptown recently opened up a tasting room in the front. The room itself is beautiful, with lots of rustic wood and industrial metal throughout.

Not unlike a tasting room at a winery, the Stumptown tasting room allows visitors to select from up to 18 varietals of coffee and four different brewing methods, including pour-over, Chemex, AeroPress, and French pressed—all freshly roasted, of course.

You won’t find any espresso machines here, and if you want milk or sugar, you’re out of luck. It’s so good you may not miss any of those things, either. This tasting room is all about the expression of coffee.

If you’re nervous that you can’t get your double tall half-caf skim latte, you shouldn’t be alarmed—the baristas are all incredibly friendly and will help you find a cup to suit your tastes.

They also sell various brewing equipment for home use, so if you absolutely must have your own Chemex or AeroPress (skim latte, be damned), you’re in luck.

I rode my bike across the Brooklyn Bridge in 90 degree weather to drink hot coffee, which should speak volumes to Stumptown’s appeal. Although, if you go this summer, get a cab. You’ll thank me later.

-Ryan

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A Look At Kings County Distillery

Bottles clank and the smell of hot, mashed corn permeates the air. A lazy fan whirs, complimenting the constant hum of the stills that are directly behind me. In front of me stands Colin Spoelman, moonshiner.

Colin Spoelman

I may feel as though I’m in the back woods of Kentucky, but I’m actually standing in the middle of a Bushwick, Brooklyn, warehouse—the 300 square-foot stifling hot space is home to Kings County Distillery, Brooklyn’s first post-prohibition distillery.

Kings County Distillery

Kings County Distillery II

The distillery is young—about a year old—but has already been wildly successful, selling their small-batch corn whiskey and, more recently, bourbon, to New York City bars, restaurants, and liquor stores.

In fact, when we first learned of Kings County back in December, we had to wait for more than two weeks before Astor Wines & Spirits had the moonshine back in stock.

Tasting Room

“Nobody is a moonshiner if they’re just doing it as a hobby,” says Spoelman, a thin, blond 30-something, who is one of the distillery’s co-owners. “I think a moonshiner is always scheming some way to do business.”

Spoelman, a Kentucky native, grew up fascinated by the stuff and knew that it would have a viable market in the big city. In fact, prior to purchasing his own still, Spoelman even contemplated a moonshine importation business.

“That is so illegal,” he says, laughing. “Taking something that was already illegal and then transporting it across state lines seemed like a really bad idea.”

Testing Alcohol Content

Percent Proof

Spoelman, who has worked professionally as both an architect and a filmmaker, later purchased his own still off the Internet and, with the help of a book, set out distilling. He first distilled wine, and after making some admittedly “gross stuff,” he finally created what he thought to be pretty good moonshine.

David Haskell, a friend of Spoelman’s and a senior editor at New York Magazine, happened to agree and Kings County Distillery was born shortly thereafter.

Running The Stills

Mashing Corn

At the time the duo began, laws had just changed that allowed them to purchase a farmer’s distillery license and set up shop in Brooklyn. Their first (and current) two-room set-up is nestled in an industrial area of Bushwick, on the fringe of Williamsburg.

Their light-filled space is small, but it does allow Spoelman, Haskell and their small staff just enough room to store their corn—they go through about 3,000 pounds per month, run their stills, age their bourbon and bottle their moonshine.

Aging Bourbon

The bourbon is aged for nine months and is currently only available directly from the distillery, which is open to the public for tours and tastings on select dates. It’s not for sale, but you can also taste a distiller’s proof—moonshine aged for five weeks, rather than 36 weeks.

Chalkboard Walls

Tools & Bottles

It’s apparent from the moment you step into Kings County, that every bottle churned out is meticulously- and expertly-crafted. The tables are strewn with tools you may not have seen since your 10th grade science class—funnels, beakers, test tubes, and thermometers are among them, and all are used to make sure that each batch of whiskey or bourbon is exactly the same.

The impressive dedication to detail continues right down to the thick, industrial-style glass bottles and typewriter labels, affixed by hand to each bottle.

Tasting

“It’s a lemonade stand, in a certain sense,” says Spoelman. “You buy lemons and you buy sugar and you figure out where to put the stand so that more people come visit it.”

Spoelman’s so-called “lemonade stand” is well worth the visit.

– Laura

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