The Caribbean Shines in Brooklyn
Once a year Brooklyn is home to the largest Caribbean parade outside of the West Indies. On Labor Day we’re blessed with some time off to bask in our Caribbean heritage and welcome all to celebrate our culture. If you’re lucky or smart enough to take advantage of this day, be sure to experience the following things to take it all in.
The Colorful Costumes
One of the main attractions that keeps revelers and spectators coming back year after year are those colorful costumes. It’s practically impossible to get tired of those sights!
The Delicious Dishes
I highly suggest you have a light breakfast and leave enough room to dig into as many countries dishes as you possibly can! You won’t be disappointed.
The Captivating Music
What’s a Caribbean gathering without music?…NOT a gathering! So rest assured that your ears will be taking in the soulful sounds of Soca, Kompas and Reggae (just to name a few) from sunrise to sundown. Check out are previous article on the Carnival in Trinidad to get a taste of some of the tunes you’ll be enjoying.
The Rhythmic Dancing
With all that music blaring up and down Eastern Parkway….there’s bound to be a wine or two taking place before your eyes. Don’t be afraid to participate!
The Caribbean Pride
Caribbean pride is in full display throughout the day. Nowhere is it more evident than watching the sea of flags wave from side to side!
We strolled leisurely down 11th, avoiding the tourist-infused High Line, toward a chef’s counter reservation at Toro where we happily ordered a step beyond what might be considered reasonable.
I went with a steady stream of Pizza Night! cocktails – a spicy Old Fashioned with Calabrian chili, chorizo infused bourbon, Mike’s Hot Honey, and peach bitters. Cold and hot. Spicy and sweet.
We also found the Hell’s Bell Pepper to be just the right amount of savory – tequila, mezcal, yellow bell pepper, agave and bird’s eye chili.
Now we’re diving headfirst into an expensive plate of Paleta Iberico De Cinco Jotas – a dry cured boneless Iberian ham that delights and is gone before you can say “twenty eight dollars.”
Some addictive Maiz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija followed – a dangerously convenient version of grilled street corn, and a nice foil for the Setas, a bowl of deliciously unctuous mushrooms set beneath a sexy chivy yolk.
Then things got heavy – in a good way. Unable to choose between bone marrow and foie gras, we picked both. I’m more of a purist when it comes to bone marrow, so the Asado De Hueso with guajillo and chorizo XO, Brussels sprouts and escargot – perhaps has a little too much going on. Yet I ate it happily.
We opted for the Foie Gras Tonkatsu – a crispy foie sandwich with strawberry tomato jam and pickled daikon. Kinda perfect bar food if you’re OK with foie taking second billing. Nice marriage of textures, too.
“Hey man, that’s probably delicious, right?” asked a stranger at the bar – flanked by two liquored up and leathery ladies of a certain age. I smiled and snapped a picture of his seared foie.
For dessert we had hamburgers.
Ok, not dessert per se, but our last course were a pair of delectable Hamburguesas, mini dry-aged burgers with a spicy kick on a potato bun.
In a nutshell, Toro is the perfect place for you and your overpaid friends to meet up, get buzzed, and eat decadent small plates while ignoring a world gone mad.
659 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238 – Map
Prospect Heights restaurant from chef-owner Greg Baxtrom packs them in for dinner and recently rolled out brunch. Expect twists and turns, like a breakfast of Carrot Kathi Rolls (Carrot Pulp Falafel, Cilantro Stem Raita) or the Duck Duo, crispy duck sausage with scrambled egg and maple flatbread. And don’t leave without trying their bacon, egg, and cheese Egg Rolls, as delicious as they are adorable.
The tight and thoughtful dinner menu includes a scrumptious Duck Liver Mouse, a clever Beef Tartare, Heritage Pork with Raclette, and other seasonal curve-balls. Toss in a playful cocktail menu and you’ve found the perfect spot for those who like a dash of quirkiness on the plate.
What To Do: Paris
On your fourth trip to Paris, you take less pictures and enjoy more actual moments. Best to live like a local. We rent an apartment and stock up on breads from Poilâne, french butter, various cheeses, some fromage de tête. Good coffee. And the inevitable bottle of Orangina.
The Google Map below has more restaurants than you could see in any one trip. I wound up having super memorable tasting menus at Frenchie and Ellsworth, and a nice meal at Ore in Versailles. But we also had excellent low key bistro meals, enjoyed Pizzeria Popolare, and some cocktails and charcuterie at aveK.
One of my favorite spots, L’Avant Comptoir, was closed the night I visited. And I regret not getting to Clown Bar or the Experimental Cocktail Club.
There’s always next time.
Between the historic sites, architecture, museums, churches, parks, and restaurants… there’s a whole hell of a lot to do in and around Paris. Check out our Google Map for some ideas.
Time Out Paris
Lonely Planet Paris
To the GoogleMap above