Thursday, May 29, 2008

The heart of Brooklyn

May 29

“Where does Crown Heights begin?” I asked long-time Brooklyn resident (and food and beverage writer) Jack Robertiello.
“You’re in it, baby,” he said, or something to that effect.
Gloomy economy or not, the gentrification of Brooklyn continues with Abigail Café & Wine Bar, whose opening I went to last night, at 807 Classon Avenue (at St. Johns Place), which is possibly Crown Heights, although some people insisted that we were still in Prospect Heights until Franklin Avenue, one more block east.
Realtors tend to exaggerate the reach of trendy neighborhoods, so for some years now it has been an open question where Park Slope ends and Sunset Park begins, for example. And some cheeky marketers have even named Windsor Terrace a sub-neighborhood of Park Slope. As if.
But I have no idea what the traditional boundary of Prospect Heights is, so I guess I don’t have anything more to say on the subject.

I drank tasty Malbec and not-quite-as-tasty Shiraz out of a plastic cup (no breakage at this opening party), while nibbling on Kobe beef meatballs (with ketchup or a mustard-mayonnaise dipping sauce; I chose the former), cheese stuffed peppadews and mini-grilled cheese sandwiches, while Jack theorized about the history of specific cocktails — Negronis and Margaritas, as it happens, but his point was that you can never really know where exactly any set of ingredients were first mixed together, only where they were popularized. We also wondered — and I don’t remember how it came up — why no one seems to cook cardoons in the United States. I had some in Bologna that changed my life.
Jack and some others went off to have dinner at The Farm on Adderly, in what The New York Times says is Ditmas Park, although Google Maps calls it Kensington. I declined their invitation to join them, because it is such a rare treat to be able to walk home (just across Grand Army Plaza to Park Slope) from an opening party.
I closed out the evening chatting with a small pack of young women who used to work for, and with guys who seemed to be their boyfriends, but first I chatted with food enthusiast and general networker Gary Cheong, who declared his love for the Thai restaurant that I’m trying to popularize because of its excellence, Rhong-Tiam (541 LaGuardia Pl., between Bleecker and West 3rd streets). But he said he needs to go with someone other than Pichet Ong, because Pichet doesn’t like spicy food.

One final note: Abigail is also a co-owner of Camaje, which I thought was pronounced ca-may-hay, but no. In fact, it almost rhymes with “mirage.” Abigail didn't pick the name — it already had it when she took over.

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