Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Brooklyn wanderings: Grimaldi's, Almondine, and Brooklyn Flea

Lining up to go down the manhole
Look closely. See that woman down by the orange traffic cone, climbing down into a manhole in the middle of the intersection? A few minutes later, I was doing the same thing.

There's an explanation for why, but I'll get to that in a moment.
First, there was beef cheung fun from a cart at Hester and Elizabeth, which TL and I had that morning for breakfast in Chinatown. The woman topped the steamed rice noodles with soy sauce, sesame seeds, and a thin peanut sauce, which added necessary flavor since the meat portion was decidedly skimpy. This version was a quarter cheaper and pretty good, but in the end I'd rather have the prepared-to-order cheung fun from Corner 28.
Lining up to go down the manhole
After breakfast we went to Pell Street so that TL could get a haircut. And then we made our way from Chinatown to Atlantic Avenue and Court Street in Brooklyn, where we stood in the pouring rain for about half an hour…
…waiting to climb down into a manhole…
…and into a centuries-old abandoned tunnel running under the streets of Brooklyn. Built in 1844 and sealed less than a decade later, the whereabouts of the Atlantic Avenue tunnel remained a mystery until nineteen-year-old Bob Diamond finally located it in 1981 and worked to open it up again to visitors. Go here to reserve a spot on the tour and you can hear Diamond tell his tale yourself.
I was reluctant to leave the cool, dark tunnel for the humid sidewalks aboveground, but luckily by the time we finally surfaced, the rain had ended and the sun had come out. TL and I decided to walk along the promenade to catch the end of Brooklyn Flea. By the time we arrived, though, there were only a few vendors left in the market and only one was still selling any food. I picked up an almond croissant and a brioche to eat later.
But there was still the matter of lunch—after having only eaten cheung fun seven hours earlier, TL and I were famished. What to do?

I was thrilled when I saw that there was no line outside of Grimaldi's. We sat down and quickly asked for a pizza topped with sausage, ricotta, and extra basil. Our hunger is my only explanation for what compelled us to order a large for the two of us instead of a small…both of us tried to finish the entire pie, but midway through our third slices we knew it'd be impossible to go on. It had been a long time since I'd last had really good pizza, and I dearly wanted to. I'm not sure how Grimaldi's compares to all the other coal/wood oven pizzas being served around town—I haven't tried enough of them to know—but whatever the case, I found this pie totally satisfying.
IMG_4322 IMG_4330
Stuffed to the gills with pizza, TL and I headed back to Astoria. It wasn't until about 10pm that either of us felt hungry again. Luckily we had the leftover pizza and Brooklyn Flea pastries to sate our bellies. The croissant was quite good—just sweet enough, and the paste had a wonderful nutty flavor—but the brioche seemed a bit dry.
I had also picked up three macarons from Almondine, which had gotten a bit smashed on the journey home. At a dollar each, they were cheaper than most macarons but also quite a bit smaller. Happily, what they lacked in size was more than accounted for in flavor; both the lemon and passionfruit curds sandwiched between the almond paste cookies were bright and tart, tasting intensely of their respective fruit. The pistachio was less impressive but still tasty.

Between the pizza, the croissant, the brioche, the cheung fun, and the macarons, it was a totally satisfying eating day, but being able to go down a manhole into an abandoned tunnel was totally the icing on the cake. I should hang out like this more often.


  1. Oh I have a good friend who lives in Brooklyn...I'm gonna have to pay her a visit soon! Drooling too much for words!

  2. burpandslurp, there's definitely a ton of good food in Brooklyn. Eat while you can!

  3. this post is homesickness compounded!

    you know, I think the egg tarts in flushing might be better or at least as good as the ones in hk. crazy no?

  4. d-ah, that's crazy, but also kind of heartening. I'm not missing out!