With the announcement of this new “Hipster Bar”, my native neighborhood in Brooklyn- Bay Ridge- has taken a little bit of a beating in the press this week. There’s been articles on Eater, Brooklyn Paper, and Gothamist with lots of comical screaming in the comments. My personal favorite was the guy who moved here from somewhere else proclaiming that people from Bay Ridge were “townies”. Adorable!
I’m fully aware that Bay Ridge may not be held in the highest regard across the city. We’re not trendy, and we like it that way. We sure as hell ain’t perfect, or really anything close to perfect- but this is still my home. I grew up here, my parents grew up here, my grandparents grew up here, and if anyone gets to talk smack about this neighborhood, it’s US- not silly people on the internet.
The plus side to not being trendy is that we have lots of great secrets we get to keep all to ourselves. We still have the old neighborhood charm that’s been destroyed in most of New York City, plenty lots of diversity and people holding strong to their ethnic roots (Irish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Chinese, Greek, Scandinavian, Lebanese, Yemeni, Syrian, Mexican- I can go on). This is the Brooklyn Matt and I grew up in, and the one we’ll raise our kids in until we eventually get COMPLETELY priced out of here.
We’ve very honored to have been asked to participate in tomorrow’s Brooklyn Local- a sampling of the best of the best of the borough. I’m always proud to, in any way, be an ambassador from Bay Ridge. We always do super-special, limited edition things for this event, but this year, we’ve decided to make it extra special and personal by bringing not only Robicelli’s best, but by making things we think that represent our neighborhood. You may think Bay Ridge is nothing but old man bars, union types and tough guys- but we are so much more than just that.
Our first stop is Nordic Delicacies at 3rd and Bay Ridge Avenues. My mother’s parents came from Norway during World War II to escape the Nazis- they, like many of our ancestors in Bay Ridge, had been part of the resistance effort. Once the waterfront closed up, most of the Scandinavians moved on, and in a neighborhood that once had hundreds of stores just like this, Nordic Delicacies is the last man standing. They make excellent comfort foods like Lapskaus (beef stew), Norwegian waffles (better than Belgian), and my favorite- crunchy, paper thin cookies rolled into cones called “Krumkake”
Our first specialty cupcake tomorrow is exactly that:
Krumkake: Cardamom scented cake filled with lingdonberry jam, bavarian buttercream, crushed krumkake from Nordic Delicacies, and whole berry lingdonberry compote
Next stop: D. Coluccio and Sons! Technically not in Bay Ridge proper as it’s on 60th Street and 12th Avenue, but all the Coluccio’s live in Bay Ridge, and this is where I’ve gone shopping with my mother and grandmother since I was a girl. You need tomatoes, oil, cheese, whatever- you come here.
Matt and I went on Wednesday to scour the aisles for new products we haven’t played with before, which has led to two brand new items for tomorrow:
Saffron and orange honey cake, Sicilian orange saffron buttercream, saffron and honey caramel shards
Dark Chocolate Whoopie Pies filled with Sicilian Pistachio Crema buttercream and Roasted Pistachios
The last great Bay Ridge institution I want to introduce you all to is Balady Halal Food Market on 70th Street and 5th Avenue. This part of the neighborhood has become predominantly Middle Eastern, with some nicknaming the district “Bay-rut”. Here you’ll find hookah lounges, incredible restaurants (Bab Al-Yemen, Hazaar), and this market, which despite it’s small appearance is a absolutely foodie wonderland once you step through it’s doors. I’d travel an hour to shop here. It’s hands down one of the reasons I feel so lucky to live in this neighborhood.
I could make hundreds of cakes based on the things I find at Balady Market, but today we’re only making one:
Banana cake, tahini buttercream, fried Lebanese pastry dough, toasted sesame seeds and honey drizzle
Within walking distance from Bay Ridge is 8th Avenue, also known as “Little Hong Kong”. We have lots of Asian groceries in the area selling products from China, Vietnam, and more, such as this:
Thai tea powder (steeping in milk). Our last featured cupcake tomorrow is Thai iced tea soaked cake, sweet buttercream, sweet thai tea and milk drizzle.
See, Bay Ridge is so much more than our beer-swilling, tough-talking reputation! Though not like we wouldn’t represent that side of us, too…..
Behold, our GUINNESS STOUT AND PRETZEL BROWNIES! We haven’t made this one since fall of 2009- and if Bay Ridge had an official flavor, I don’t think anyone would doubt it was Guinness.
Come find us tomorrow in DUMBO, and make a date to come explore Bay Ridge sometime- maybe when our hipster bar opens! We look forward to greeting all of you with your ironic mom jeans and old-timey bikes!