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Five of the Most Delicious Things In My Neighborhood

May 24, 2011

I live in Ditmas Park-ish, Brooklyn.

Some people call it Flatbush. Some people call it Midwood. It’s culturally and economically diverse, it’s full of creatives, it’s beautiful, it’s right on the subway, we could (sort of) afford to buy a lovely apartment here, and it has a pioneering spirit. It is possible to park a car here without too much gnashing of teeth. And during my parenting “project,” I’ve made a lot of friends. Man, do I love it here.

It’s always being written up lately as an up and coming destination to live . . . and to eat.

Here are 5(ish) of the most delicious things in my neighborhood:

Decaf iced latte at Market: Am I a wimp for getting decaf? Perhaps, but it’s necessary at the moment. And just think of how good the regular might be!

Is this the most delicious coffee I have ever tasted? It may be. They make the espresso out of pods in a shiny red machine that also, costs about as much as a sports car but it’s nothing like the Keurig product, which I find watery. It’s a game changer. It’s insanely good.

Is it because they only use whole milk? Maybe. But last spring or summer, I had a latte there that was so good that the next night when I went to sleep, I dreamt of getting another one. And when I woke up and I walked over there and did, and that is when I met my friend Alana, who was managing it at the time. She is the same age as me and from the next town over in Connecticut. We were born to be rivals! But she immediately confided in me, and I in her, and it was like it was meant to be. But don’t go there because of Alana; she is my friend, mine. Also, she doesn’t work there anymore. She just had a beautiful baby. (Congratulations, Alana!) But you can go there because they have prosciutto bread. And chocolate bread. And fancy cheese.

Sha Baklap at Cafe Tibet: Cafe Tibet, in case you haven’t been, is like a tiny, sea-worn barnacle stuck on a building, swaying cantilevered over the Cortelyou Road Q stop. It’s amazing that one of my favorite restaurants in New York looks like this. It also smells like it’s on fire much of the time. There are horse masks hanging on the wall that are either cool, or scary, depending on your perspective.

People rave about the “momos,” or dumpling, at Cafe Tibet. All well and good, but I’m pretty sure those ravers haven’t stopped to try the sha-baklap.

There is spurty ginger broth that comes out of the most delicious fried pastry shell surrounding a divine . . . if I call it a beef patty it will undermine it. They serve them with a slaw that has a sesame dressing, and a huge bottle of crazy hot sauce. I love them, I love them, I love them, oh my. And Matthew calls the sha baklaps “the magic hamburgers.” (Matthew is my husband, not my child. Thank goodness my child won’t eat them, because he has terrible sharing etiquette, ie, none, and Matthew screams less if you want a portion of something good for yourself.)

Chicken Torta sandwich at Salud: Thin chicken cutlets on great panini with a smear of black beans, white melty cheese, avocado, tomato, and vinegary pickled jalapenos. The folks at Salud are like family . . . someone else’s family. They make much better Mexican sandwiches, zucchini flower quesadillas, and spiced hot chocolate than my own would — no offense to my gringo peeps!)

Octopus conserva at the Castello Plan: A tin of octopus keyed open and garnished with tomato paste, mustard with chives, preserved lemon, and shards of green onion (I no longer see it on the menu; I am devastated; perhaps this is just a terrible mistake. You can read the long form of my love letter to it, and to the rest of the octopus community both alive and dead, here.)

Mustard greens and Chana Katsa from Cafe Tibet: Here we go again with Cafe Tibet. Stewed bitter greens are perfectly complemented by spicy, dark chickpeas. Eat with white rice. You’ve got to try this place. If you have a kid and can’t get out too much, they try really hard to be accommodating, and just stuff the kid full of rice and strawberry banana lassis while you indulge. It’s also the place where Henry realized that he is a soup enthusiast. (They have delicious daal that they serve with their thali plate, which has a lot of curry, and okra, and beets . . . they also have fantastic cardamom tea. I need to move on now, but you get the picture.)

Borscht from Mimi’s Hummus: I am not the person to judge a hummus restaurant, I admit. That said, I adore the cauliflower, the lemonade, the cookies, and they do a splendid borscht with tiny meat-filled dumplings.

Takeout / Delivery section bonus:

Mixed Bolani (turnovers) from Bahar, the Afghan restaurant on Coney Island Avenue. Some bolani pumpkin. Some are scallion. Some are mashed potato. All are divine with a jalapeno / cilantro sauce. They are an appetizer. For an entree, get the Morgh Kebab, served with browned long rice. It’s browned by cooking with onion. It’s fantastic. (I am realizing that I need to write a post just on my favorite rices.)

Saag Panir from Taste of Tandoor turned Bombay Masala: They put a splendid amount of cardamom in, and it’s a little spicy, holy moly, this is a game changer. Don’t forget to order yourself some Peshawari naan. We also love the lamb rogan josh.

Fried artichoke appetizer from San Remo: battered artichokes with lemon, cherry tomatoes and . . . raisins? My Siciliana friend says it makes sense to her. It’s almost never on the menu, which is sad: I love it so.

Square pie from DiFara’s: For our wedding, my stellar sister-in-law had family and friends make and send meaningful squares, which she then assembled into a quilt. What a gift! Amid the vintage dress fabric from my favorite when i was 4, amid squares commemorating pets we loved, amid grandpa’s plaid pajamas, repurposed for the occasion, was a scanned photo of Dominick DeMarco.

He is one of the most self-actualized humans I have ever seen work. He makes mind blowing pizza.

Try the square. (And don’t try to get it delivered: you have to go and stand in line.)

If you’re a neighbor and would like to comment on your own local faves here, I welcome you to do so.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    May 24, 2011 3:33 pm

    Meanwhile, in the land of cabbage and meat, a friend dreams of Brooklyn. The dreams, startlingly detailed, feature ginger broth and saag panir. Sigh.

  2. Karen permalink
    May 25, 2011 8:55 am

    First of all, congratulations for writing about our neighborhood and food and not mentioning The Farm! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE The Farm. A lot. But it gets plenty kudos anyway. And this has inspired me to try many other things from familiar places that I had not know about. Yaay! Thank you.

    Second, I hands-down, 1,000% agree that CT’s Sha Baklap are magic hamburgers. I love them a whole lot, and would eat them a whole lot more if we were not so astoundingly lazy/exhausted. We live literally across the street but if CT is not picking up their phone, we don’t get dinner from there. Generally speaking, the attempt and consequent decision is made after Mia’s bedtime when we both wish we were dead asleep as well (and Mia, bless her heart, is usually fighting sleep as hard as she can, and winning).

    Third, glad to hear about Taste of Tandoor/Bombay Masala. Had not found Indian/South Asian food, delivered, that did not hurt afterwards, and we were missing Joy of Fort Greene/Prospect Heights.

    Finally, a treat that I love which is offered at both the Flatbush Food Co-op (well, usually) and the new natural-foods store on Church (which is v nice, BTW): Dolphin Chocolates, now in an expanded array of flavors. My favorite is the solid dark. They are more substantial than a Reese’s peanut butter cup, and big enough to really feel like a treat and not a tease, without being an entire bag of M&Ms. They’re about a dollar each, but they’re REAL CHOCOLATE- no wax, no hydrogenated evilness, etc.

    Colorfully wrapped in foil, in a bin near the register. I have waited in long lines at the Co-op check out for just one….

  3. Alana permalink
    May 25, 2011 9:59 am

    Oh how sweet of you to mention me in your post! Was so fun to read and reminisce about the good ol’ days of managing Market. Now, I’m a feeding machine to a robust little cherub.

  4. Debora permalink
    May 25, 2011 12:18 pm

    Ohhhhh the whipped yam and truffle oil crostini from Castello plan!!!! A sinfully delicious, simple but excellently mixed flavors that make your mouth explode with joy!!!!

    The pumpkin fritters from Bahar-aka Afghan Kebab -cinnamony (is that a word????!!!) filling covered by a crunchy fried batter! Delish

    Cinco de Mayo’s Breakfast burrito (eggs, home fries, guac and the green tomatillo salsa-Mmmm) Can also add beans and cheese if wanted)

    Love your blog Meredith!!!

    • May 25, 2011 12:30 pm

      hey, thanks! i appreciate knowing about the yams, and I concur about CdM’s green sauce, but most especially love your comment below!

      • amy permalink
        May 26, 2011 7:24 pm

        I also love the yam and truffle crostini, as does my mother. We took her to The Castello Plan on Mother’s Day because that’s what she asked for…and it was off the menu! I love TCP, and respect the need to change up the menu every once and a while, but I hereby petition for this menu item’s return!

        Thanks for all the great food suggestions!

  5. May 25, 2011 4:59 pm

    How can you leave the french fries at The Farm on Adderley off of this list? That’s unthinkable to me!

  6. jennifer permalink
    May 25, 2011 7:41 pm

    I am now officially hungry

  7. Janice permalink
    May 25, 2011 9:19 pm

    Also, the sage/mint tea at Mimi’s — so simple and so delicious. And Mimi’s chocolate balls — so good you can only eat one (at a time, that is). We also love the chick peas on the appetizer menu at Cafe Tibet – sometimes we have them for dinner with rice.

  8. Rachel Stack permalink
    May 25, 2011 9:42 pm

    When it is raining, there is nothing better than tucking into Mimi’s Hummus and sitting at the wee table by the window with a bowl of their sage tea.

  9. JennyB permalink
    May 26, 2011 12:17 pm

    OK, I am having one of those very green “D*mn it’s so harsh that I live on LBI” moments.

  10. Hayley permalink
    May 31, 2011 2:10 pm

    My favorite weekend treat is a visit to Catskill Bagels on Cortelyou Road for the “Wonderwomen” desserts they sell there. Especially the Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake — even though I’m not much of a “Pumpkin” person otherwise. Yum! I think you can get direct from the source here: http://wonderwomen.com/

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