Category Archives: Brooklyn

Food Tourism (The Time We Ate Our Way Through Winter)

To combat the soul crushing polar vortex we experienced this winter,  we’ve been taking a lot of car rides around the borough of Brooklyn.  We’ve discovered some hidden culinary gems in overlooked neighborhoods like Ditmas Park and BedStuy and one great date night go-to option in the West Village.  Here are some of our winter 2014 favorites.

Scratch Bread:   We braved the elements on two separate Sundays to get nourished at Scratch Bread in BedStuy. The Mr. calls it a fly trap because the line, even in the January freeze was 25 people deep!  This window-only establishment serves up a delectable cup filled with a soft boiled, runny egg,  grits and a topping of your choice which include mouthwatering options like pesto, smoked almond romesco, or jalepeno sauce.  Its the perfect to-go breakfast food for days when you want something a little more special than your standard homemade eggs, but don’t want to drop the cash on a champagne brunch.  On both trips to Scratch, we shared our food with the little miss in the back seat of our car. Well be back this spring to try the pizzas, the hot sticky mess (custard soaked sticky buns!) and hopefully bring some baked goods to a park nearby.

Mimi’s Humus:  Aside for the authentic Middle Eastern food, my favorite aspect of this Ditmas Park gem is the design of the dining room. Perforated wood lined walls and white penny tiled floors with pops of sage  and persimmon on the walls,   the modern design influence highlights the simplicity of the delicious, creamy and authentic humus dishes and brunch-y shakshukas (poached eggs in sauce). Garlic and cumin aromas will awaken your taste buds upon entering this cozy cafe. The large windows and relaxed ambiance at Mimi’s are a good alternative for when you’re thinking of Marrakesh or Tel Aviv but are stuck in Brooklyn.

Chez Sardine – We’ve spent two date nights at this restaurant, named after one of my favorite canned foods, and would still return for the well -edited Japanese small plates menu. Creative sushi rolls, our favorite features crushed pretzels, pickled onions and salmon, evoking an incredible Sunday bagel, are served up in an tiny yet airy dining room on a  charming West Village corner.  Add cool beats, hipster waiters and a nice bathroom and you’ve got what New York Times’ Pete Wells calls “Asian Stoner Food.”

L&B Spumoni – When we visited this Midwood stronghold with our friends who recently moved to Park Slope from Venice Beach, CA we reveled in the mobster history of the pizza.   We shared two of L&B’s classic Sicilian style saucy pies inside and played nicely with the corner slices. Spumoni ice cream, a traditional mixture of lemon, pistachio and chocolate was our desert, which we ordered behind a women who advised the scooper to ‘pack it in.” L&B’s  massive front yard was empty but come summer, fuggetabout getting a seat.

Cafe La Mejor – This tiny Bushwick coffee shop has great vibes.   In the darkness of winter, the florescent candy colors of this cafeteria perfectly convey the tropical, retro sensibility of Havana, the gorgeous city we visited just before the Mr. and I got engaged.  The little miss made a friend outside the bright shop and sat still long enough for her parents to drink a Cafe Con Leche which is prepared with a dallop of whipped butter and salt. mm.  We’ll definitely be back to celebrate our love for Cuba and support this local gem.

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TrÈs Brooklyn

Lately there’s been some discussion about abandoning our beloved Brooklyn for greener pastures. I never thought we’d consider a move to the burbs so soon, but more, less expensive space sounds like a great idea on days when our meager toy pile covers our 8×10 living room shag and the constant din of the subway overhead ruins my catch up talk with grandma. Weekend after weekend, we join a crowd of young families, empty nesters, and expats in refurbished lobbies around Brooklyn, vying for a chance to fulfill the American dream of home ownership in the best borough of Manhattan. I will save my musings on the real estate open house circuit for another post and tell you that this weekend, the Mr. and I resolved to forsake the hunt for square footage for some real adventuring to help us remember why we love living in Brooklyn!

PJG2

First stop, the Brooklyn Art Museum where we imagined one day giving away our daughter’s hand in marriage! Eastern Parkway where the museum is located is a regal tree lined avenue designed by Frederick Olmstead in the late 1800s as Brooklyn’s answer to the Champs Elysee. The architecturally delightful  entrance to the museum and its regal domed ceilings alone are worth a visit. But, hurry up and go see the fabulous exhibit we checked out this weekend: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk which runs until February 24th.  JPG as I’ll call him,  a Parisian born master of fashion, designed many of the trends we find ourselves turning to time and time again, without ever forgoing his ability to provoke and shock us. The large exhibit is a celebration of both couture and ready to wear featuring iconic striped tops or La Mariniére (my favorite new term), punk inspired structured plaid looks and feminist approved dominatrix ensembles worn by the likes of Madonna and Beyonce.

You can buy a“Très Brooklyn” t-shirts in the gift store, but a more authentic manifestation of the expression is the floor length leather trench and mink brimmed fedora in the exhibit, a nod to the nearby Hassidic enclave in Crown Heights. In a true testament to his genius, Jean Paul Gaultier nailed the Rabbi Chic look in 1993, long before anyone compared the sartorial sensibilities of Brooklyn’s native hipsters and hassids.

Kid & Coe: Bring the Kids!

The Mr. and I have always loved to travel together and have no intention of ever slowing down. True, bringing our daughter along requires extra baggage and planning, but we can’t wait to for the foreign stamp that initiates our future jet setter’s passport! We’ve had one excellent experience renting  a fabulous apartment on vacation so,  I was thrilled when I first stumbled upon Kid & Coe on Cup of Jo and soon learned more about the awesome moms behind the venture.  A brilliant start up,  Kid & Coe’s mission to create ‘a dynamic community of traveling families’ is based on the philosophy of collaborative consumption. Why not share the wealth? Kid & Coe features 100 gorgeous properties in some of our favorite destinations: Copenhagen, Tel Aviv and Brazil.   Whether traveling across the globe to spend a few weeks in a Thai villa or living like a local in an L.A. bungalow for the weekend, rest assured all the essentials for the perfect family friendly stay will be covered.

Each time we travel, my husband and I feel blessed when we have the opportunity to meet and hang with locals. When we’re home in Dumbo, we guide international visitors towards the Brooklyn Bridge almost daily!  I’d love to list our sunny apartment on Kid & Coe, it would be the perfect base for a family setting off each day to explore NYC! I’d make my guests at home with white linens, Brooklyn made snacks, and a cozy crib with plenty of lo fi toys for the kiddos.

Our neighborhood boasts some pretty dope views, great coffee and kid-friendly stops, check out our favorites below!

Wake up

Let your spouse sleep in while you head to Brooklyn Roasting Company (25 Jay St) with the kids to sample some of the borough’s best java roasted on site in a huge warehouse space. Grab a seat on one of the bold orange comfy couches and enjoy your coffee with the sun streaming in, a perfect introduction to Dumbo’s architecture.

 Shop

Susan Lazar is a hip designer and mom whose line Egg Baby (68 Jay St) has outfitted Dumbo’s littlest residents since ’03. Organic cotton basics and festive classics in tiny sizes are the perfect wardrobe additions for your littles. The well edited racks of beautiful designer clothes at Zoe (68 Washington Street) are  strictly for the hippest of Brooklyn mamas. Neighborhood gem, Modern Anthology’s (68 Jay St ) masculine vibe lends itself to a perfectly curated vintage home goods selection and wardrobe basics for the caveman meets creative Brooklyn dude.

Move

Walk or bike to Fulton Ferry Landing, across Scribbs bridge and into the leafy, historical streets of Brooklyn Heights.   Kids of all ages will love Brooklyn Bridge Park‘s wide, grassy spaces, art and 4 playgrounds! For the full playground roundup, schedules of summer movie showings, rotating photography exhibits and food vendors visit the Park’s website first. Borrow a tapestry and enjoy the view with a picnic!

Pizza

If you’re hardcore, Grimaldi’s, Julianas and Ignazios all sling pies on the Old Fulton strip. My favorite place to grab a slice is Fascati’s (80 Henry Street) where thin crust is served up at the counter. Grab a booth at this local Brooklyn Heights spot owned by the same family since the 70s.

Date

For the most romantic, Brooklyn-y spot in the hood that is decidedly not kid friendly, dine at the Vinegar Hill House (72 Hudson) or grab a drink next door at Hillside while the kids are asleep a few blocks away. For a VERY special occasion, the River Cafe is a show of old New York elegance, recently reopened after a post-Sandy makeover.

Diner en Noir

DD is back with a vengeance. After a long dry spell on the entertaining front, we held a fabulous (if i do say so myself) ‘diner en noir’, a riff on the Parisienne pop up picnic ‘diner en blanc’, in honor of my old college roomate and BFF’s new book: How to Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia. I love a theme party and the moody ambiance of the evening was the perfect compliment to the title of Kelsey’s book.  From the inside cover:

“…Kelsey Osgood unpacks the modern myths of anorexia, examining the cult-like underbelly of eating disorders in the young as she chronicles her own rehabilitation.”

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Buy the book, people!

I’m almost done with the book and highly recommend it, particularly for women (or guys) who have gone through an eating disorder or any type of mental illness, and especially for their loved ones. Check out my cameo on page 141, holler!  The book is very well researched, intellectually challenging, dark, funny and overall, uplifting as the author describes her path to recovery.

Diner en Noir was a fabulous ladies night with college friends, and fellow Brooklyn bloggers and artists.  I couldn’t find a black table cloth so I hit up $0.99 Dreams and DIYed a black table runner with shelf lining material, added some velvety textured florals ( brain flowers according to the guests) in small vases,  houseplants, and of course tons of candlelight!

As guests arrived, I tried to create a shadowy and hushed environment ( sleeping baby helped).  We drank dark & stormy’s and nibbled on apps with Fiona on in the background. Dinner was lively, followed by a chills inducing reading by the author and a decadent (dark) chocolate dessert.  The few remaining party girls and this hostess polished off the last bottle of red on the roof with the pitch dark sky above us and the ominous rumble of the train below.

Appetizers
Sauveur’s Black Olives with Rosemary and Orange Zest
Sliced Black Radishes with Rose Salt
Pumpernickel Toasts with Goat Cheese & Smoked Salmon
Mains
Black Kale Salad with Apples and Maple Mustard Vinaigrette ( inspired by Tiny’s NYC)
Miso Eggplant (great two step technique of roasting and broiling here)
Roasted purple Romanesco Califlower and Potatoes with Black Truffle
& the piece de resistance: Deb’s Harvest Chicken with Black Olives and Black Grapes
Dessert
Dark Chocolate Tart
Chocolate covered espresso beans, black licorice & grapes
 

Long Live the Dinner Party!

Much to my domestic delight, I just finished reading the NYT’s article Guess Whose Not Coming to Dinner.  Like Karen Mordechai of Sunday Suppers, I grew up in a home where every Friday night the whole family, friends and neighbors sat around the dinner table for a delicious home cooked meal.  Every Shabbat, before the sun set my mom rushed around the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on a soup, salad, fish and main course. Once we lit the candles, there was nothing left to do (no electricity, no gadgets, no TV) but eat and enjoy each others company.

Back in my studio, I would host little cocktail parties, balancing an assortment of hor d’ouerves on my street scavenged faux marble card table.  Here in Dumbo, my mid century dining table can seat up to 10+ people with the extension leaves inserted and I have enjoyed playing hostess to an assortment of friends and new acquaintances throughout the last several years.   Having people over to dine, lounge and get some fresh air while on the roof sure beats screaming over loud music and mediocre entries at a restaurant.  Like meatloaf which is popping up all over menus in Brooklyn,  hosting a dinner party is the epitome of throw back cool!

While I’ve certainly had my fair share of hosting practice and often try to prepare in advance, I still find myself rushing around to get everything ready before sunset; my mother’s weekly frenzy sure set a great example!   Her salad course, a colorful assortment of delicate Moroccan inspired mezze which now makes perfect use of my CSA carrots, beets and swiss chard, is quite labor intensive but never ceases to impress my guests.  For a dinner party, you can’t go wrong with simple home cooking.  Interesting vegetable and grain side dishes, roast chicken or slow cooked brisket are all great options for a big crowd.

In a departure from mom’s traditional mode of  serving, I like to put out edamame, popcorn, or olives before dinner as my contemporaries can be counted on to arrive (more than) fashionably late.  While the Mr. mans the bar and takes drink orders, I put the finishing touches on dinner and get ready for game time.   One tip that came highly recommended by my Aunt L is setting the table the night before  so there is one less thing to worry about before the guests arrive.  I love when my husband walks in with a fresh bouquet for the perfect touch!

I know they say you aren’t supposed to experiment with new recipes on your guests but sometimes I get overzealous and in over my head!  Last Shabbat, I tried a roasted beet and pomegranate seed salad from The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur. The colors were beautiful, but thankfully I did not pour the dressing on as it was inedible and easily replaced with a simple balsamic one! Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman’s recipes are always foul proof though and last Shabbat Acorn Squash with Lime-Chili Vinaigrette was a hit alongside a roast chicken with braised onions and peppers,  crispy lemon potatoes, a surprisingly easy recipe that packed a punch from prissy Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP newsletter, and a simple salad. For dessert, I was lucky to have my sister over early and micromanaged her as she baked Deb’s Mom’s Applecake, which has an addictive bread pudding type texture and is remarkably similar to our own mom’s oral recipe!

This week we are having a few friends over and I am already planning my menu.  I think lamb chops will make their first ever appearance in my kitchen. Let’s hope I don’t overcook them!

Pole Etiquette

 

Don’t get me started on what has been one of the worst aspects of my pregnancy thus far, rivaling sobriety: commuting to work on the subway.  The ease of the F train, Dumbo to Midtown in 25 minutes with all of NYC’s best neighborhood’s in between has been a bragging point for me, since I first moved to Brooklyn.  Its SO convenient!  Lately though, I begin to dread descending the 78 stairs  and dust ball filled tunnel that lead to my formerly beloved letter line before I brush my teeth.  Never mind dodging men 5x my size running towards me in an attempt to traverse the 200 yards to the platform before the train closes it doors, or the slow climb I make back to daylight at the end of my workday, where I am frequently outpaced by an old lady carrying all of Dumbo’s recycling in garbage bags on her back.  I can usually handle the delays in between stops which engender shortness of breath, clammy palms, and a sweaty brow, the overcrowding which results in my extended (yet somehow still not obviously pregnant to my fellow straphangers) belly being shoved and jostled, or the endless coughing and sneezing which makes me glad I got my flu shot for the first time ever. The real problem here are those riders who  lack pole etiquette!  You know I am talking about you,  tall guy with your gangly limbs wrapped around the pole so that no one else can get a finger on it otherwise. Or the lady who has sandwiched the pole between her butt cheeks as she enjoys 50 Shades of Gray on her Nook.  Subway poles are public spaces and safety mechanisms.  Do not get all up on it in some misguided stripper fantasy of yours!   Just grab on, extend your arm and move aside so that your fellow straphangers don’t have to battle with gravity when the train lurches to a stop at 2nd Avenue.

With the change in your center of gravity during pregnancy, your balance is compromised and subway surfing becomes particularly hazardous to your health and that of those standing next to you.  Holding on to the pole on a moving train can be critical!   Given my stature, I have to really reach to grasp the high poles, and its is mind boggling that the seated person who has the pleasure of my belly in their face won’t offer me their spot.  In my pre-pregnancy days, I used to racially profile Chinese families sitting on the subway, thinking that most of them would be heading to school or work at the next stop,  East Broadway and I could claim their place.  Now, its Hispanic men who I look for. Their sense of chivalry allows them quickly to spot a compromised lady.  I barely have to bat an eyelash in their direction and a seat is proffered to me.

As I round the corner into the final stretch of this pregnancy, I am a little anxious about how my growing belly, clad in bulky winter gear will fare on my commute.  Lately I’ve taken to getting up earlier to ride the F train with the Mr. who  protects and stabilizes me for the first half of my ride.  He is constantly encouraging me to open up my coat and stick out my stomach in a vague attempt to steak my claim to a seat. Sometimes he rubs my stomach, talks about the baby and makes eye contact with unassuming sitters, loudly proclaiming that I am entitled to a seat in the disabled area! So embarrassing.

So, with the holiday season upon us, I ask you to please be aware of your surroundings and don’t hog the pole! If you see an elderly or pregnant woman on the train (I’ll be rocking a faux fur leopard print swing coat for the next 3 months), offer your seat! Courtesy IS contagious!

 

PIZZA PARTY

On a whim I bought a bag of whole wheat pizza dough from the refrigerator of Trader Joes.   All day at work, I thought about the different pie combinations I could try  and when I got home, I was ready for a pizza party.  First, I took the dough and an assortment of cheeses out of the fridge to let them come to room temperature. Then,  I caramelized onions in butter & balsamic vinegar,  sauteed broccoli with garlic, roasted acorn squash with maple syrup, chopped chili peppers, opened a can of tomato sauce and grated smoked gouda, goat and cheddar cheese. With my toppings in order, I was ready to get to the fun part.

I preheated my toaster oven as high as it would go (450), divided the dough into four even pieces and grabbed an empty wine bottle to use as a makeshift rolling pin.  I found this heat diffuser in my junk drawer and decided to use it as a makeshift pizza stone. I left it in the toaster oven to heat up and started rolling out the dough on a well floured counter top.  The hardest part about making the pizza was maneuvering it from the counter top onto the hot ‘pizza stone’ but regardless of a few mishaps involving floppy dough, these pizzas tasted delicious.  After arranging and eating several pizzas solo, the Mr. finally walked in, sampled and praised my handy work.  Here are the top 3 combinations from last night’s feast

Caramelized Onions/Goat Cheese/Acorn Squash

Broccoli/Red Chili Peppers/Chedder

Smoked Gouda/Japaleno
I think this would be a great activity for a group, particularly with some wine involved! Who’s in?

The Midcentury Modern List

 

Arne Jacobson Swan Chair

 

Back in my glory days I lived in an adorable studio apartment on 5th avenue in Greenwich Village.  Around the time I moved in, a friend introduced me to the wonderful world of Mid-century modern design.  We scoured flea markets, Craigslist, and even contemporary purveyors of the genre for studio sized furniture that was functional and fun. Even though mid-century modern design has become quite trendy and ubiquitous in recent years, I don’t think I will ever tire of the clean lines, beautiful material and smart design of the originals.  I convinced my husband that we absolutely needed a vintage credenza when we moved in together and my persistence must have struck a cord.  He took me to Copenhagen on our honeymoon, where I had the opportunity to visit the Design Museum and learn more about the origins of the the Danish design movement which emphasizes craftsmanship, materials and form and paved the way for mid-century style of the 1950s and 60s.

Now, I’m on the hunt for the perfect sized low mid-century inspired dresser to use as a changing table/dresser for my nursery, so I thought I’d put together this list for my own reference and yours. While there are many expensive dealers of mid century antiques around, (Baxter Liebchen I’m looking at YOU), if you browse Craigslist, eBay, and the independent purveyors (mainly located in Brooklyn, NJ and the Tri-state area) below, you are sure to find a reasonably priced, one of a kind piece to complete your Mad Men fantasy.  Feel free to add any helpful recommendations in the comments!

 

Circa 60

http://www.circa60.blogspot.com/

Repop

This shop formerly located by the Brooklyn Navy Yard is run by scruffy in-the -know hipsters. I bought a great coffee table for my studio, glass top on a base of a tree stump in the original location! The new Williamsburg location is double or triple the size and filled with great furniture and accessories. The prices are pretty reasonable too!

http://www.repopny.com

Modernista

http://modernistera.blogspot.com

Baxter Liebchen

Luckily, I have the nicest in-laws who gifted us with an original Arne Jacobson dining table from this spot. Be sure to check out this emporium for inspiration, but beware of sky high prices for original, refurbished antiques.

http://www.baxterliebchen.com/

Found Mod

I bought the credenza our TV sits on from this super sweet husband and wife team. They delivered the piece without me ever having seen it in person. Their descriptions, prices and customer service were spot on. Highly recommended!

http://www.foundmod.com/ (Lambertsville, NJ)
Furnish Green

I love this sustainable furniture showroom based right in the unlikeliest of places, an office building in Herald Square. I can browse at my desk and visit on my lunch hour. They have a great selection of antiques and many mid century pieces.  Some of the items can be a bit beat up, but the prices are right and the owners are very helpful.

http://www.furnishgreen.com

 

Mike’s MCM

http://www.mikesmcm.com/

Fish Witch

While this blog has been suffering from a lack of attention, the real domestic stuff has been going well. So well in fact, that several weeks after the spontaneous trip to Spain, I learned that I was expecting my first baby! The rest of the summer inched by uneventfully marked only by frequent bathroom trips at 2am, 4am and 6am and the one time I got caught fast asleep at my desk. Making organs is exhausting and oftentimes I would find my eyelids so heavy that I had no choice but to walk over to the Roosevelt Hotel near my office and pass out in a leather chair during my lunch break. Suitcases banging my legs and dysfunctional family conversations in Dutch and German punctuated by 2 English phrases: Times Square and Empire State, did little to rouse me from my stupor.  I really had no shame sleeping in public.  Once, on a glorious day in early August, I walked over to Bryant Park intent on napping on the vast grass lawn, only to find them closed. I parked myself on a shady and woke up to a New York City Police officer asking if I was OK and informing me that lying down on park benches is prohibited.

I did not find myself with the usual morning sickness everyone complains of in the first trimester. It was more of an all day malaise, my appetite whetted only by large bags of funions, sour patch kids and cranberry cocktail. I craved beer, burgers and fries and something– anything that would take away the persistent nausea. Perhaps a stimulant or two to keep me awake during the workday since the one cup of coffee I was allowed did nothing to dull my endless drowsiness. Even retail therapy could not quell my fatigue; the body hugging silhouettes I gravitate to cut off my circulation, mumus were no longer in season and winter’s oversized sweaters hadn’t yet arrived in stores.

As I rounded the corner into my 4th month, the disgust and sleepiness went away just as quickly as it appeared. Rather than think about all the things I was missing out on (Michaladas, spicy tuna rolls and Brie), I found myself gleefully downing virgin Bloody Marys and avocado rolls. Preparing and eating platefuls of rainbow colored organic, CSA veggies like kale, beets, and chard never felt so virtuous! When the nice prenatal yoga DAD instructor demonstrated easier modifications for poses during the 2nd trimester, I was thrilled that I had a legitimate excuse for a less intensive workout.

People react to pregnancy in strange ways such as wondering aloud about whether it was planned, telling me how it feels “so soon”, touching (sans permission) my barely showing abdomen or asking me about my cravings.  To those of you who have committed the first 3 offenses, I beg you on behalf of pregnant ladies everywhere to please end your rude behavior.  To the others who are curious about what I’ve been eating, you should know about this one out of the way spot I frequent for THIS:

Lake Trout’s cheese fish sandwich.Photo: Danny Kim/New York Magazine

Thanks NYMag for informing me about Lake Trout, this lovely sandwich and for the close up. This fishwich is devoured far too quickly to be captured on film by me.   The  oozing cheese, crunchy lettuce, fried, tarter sauce goodness is so satiating that the Mr. has figured out that bringing me here, even in my crankiest pregnant state, has an immediate subduing effect.

I especially love that this $6.50 sandwich is served up in a retro room that reminds me the 70’s style rec room I never had.  Having a bun in the oven makes me think about my own childhood and Lake Trout’s wood paneled walls hung with Baltimore Oriole’s baseball cards, orange chairs and space age lamps, creates the perfect after school hangout. While the cheese fish sandwich is by far my favorite, there are lots of other Baltimore style seafood offerings on the menu of this joint, and the battered fries are epic!

Lake Trout

If fish isn’t your thing, there is an affordable boutique next door to Lake Trout that has great oversized sweaters, chunky necklaces and adorable dresses. South Williamsburg is full of shops and restaurants to check out and Havemeyer Sreet in particular is on the brink of total gentrification; a conflicting site but a cool experience. I adore the name of the shop next door to Lake Trout which really sums up my mood after a fishwich: La Di Da Dee!

Lake Trout: 160 Havemeyer St., nr. S. 2nd St., Williamsburg; no phone yet
La Di Da Dee: also 160 Havemeyer, no website.

p.s.  check out the times review on Lake Trout! Looks like I beat them to it!

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Vintage in VA

The highlight of my weekend in Virginia was the beautiful wedding we attended.  In true road trip fashion (you don’t leave Brooklyn for nothin), we decided to check out all the sites in VA! Our first stop upon entering town was the majestic University of Virginia campus which has many massive green lawns encircled by dorm rooms (lucky students). We also visited Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello. Mr. Jefferson was quite the eccentric (granted we owe him a lot for his free thinking ways) and based on the decor in his home,  he had many of the same sensibilities as the modern day hipster.

Thomas Jefferson’s Taxidermy

UVA and Monticello were beautiful properties and though I am partial to Columbia University’s campus, I loved the college town vibe in Charlottesville. There was no shortage of quirky coffee shops, cafes and boutiques. The weekend turned into a bit of a shopping spree though I was able to exercise quite a bit of restraint. Because I like to immortalize my remorse as a reference point for future shopping decisions, let me quickly recap the shopping scene in Charlottesville, VA for ya’ll.

Across the street from the UVA campus, I had to stop at Duo (101 Elliewood Ave) a pretty shop filled with contemporary designers and a decent consignment selection. Half of the dresses in this shop screamed UVA sorority girl to me but an adorable dress in my favorite color caught my eye! It fit like a glove but the conservative length was a poor match for my pronounced bow framed cleavage! 1/2 prep, 1/2 party? Probably a better fit for an aforementioned sorority girl than my domesticated self… Next!

Trina Turk Yellow Bow Dress

Beyond the shops around the UVA campus, be sure to spend some time walking around the downtown mall of Charlottesville where you will find several well-curated vintage stores and a number of home and design boutiques.

My favorite vintage shop was Low Vintage (105 5th St. SE ) which was a treasure trove of vintage clothing, accessories and home goods. The racks were organized by decade and each item had a small tag on it with a detailed blurb about the item’s origin. I could have spent all day at Low Vintage, browsing and reading about each piece’s history; to me, this is what makes vintage clothing so special.  Unfortunately, the Mr. was starving so I didn’t have enough time to get lost in my fantasy land.  I quickly grabbed a 1970’s coral and gold link necklace on a suede cord (widely copied by Jcrew today, go figure) and off we went to grab lunch.

Low Vintage

After lunch, we hit up Vixen Vintage (300 East Market Street) an upscale boutique filled with retro designer gear and a beautiful dressing room. I spotted an incredible brown and black floral printed maxi dress on the mannequin and asked to try it on. It was an original Pucci, and I was transformed into a groovy, 70’s era hostess! It would have been the perfect hostess outfit today, and would have worked just as well as a mother’s day or ladies brunch outfit with cool brown platforms. The girl in this picture below is rocking the same vintage Pucci dress in a different print. Sadly, I could not justify investing $400 in this retro look but, I continue to troll Ebay for a more affordable alternative.

With my vintage dreams crushed for the moment, I set out to pick up a couple of gifts for mother’s day at Roxie Daisy (101 E Water St).  Based on some of the wonderful selections at this store, it looks like all the hype over artisanal Brooklyn products has found its way to Virginia! I found soaps from Saipua, the amazing Brooklyn florist, as well as the One Girl Cookie cookbook (our neighbors in Dumbo). After much deliberation, I decided on some beautiful, hand woven dish towels from Guatemala, and some culinary papers which act as a doily but instead of laser cut white paper, picture a stunning black and white image of a peony. Imagine your next layer cake served on a beautiful  B&W lithograph and you’ll get the idea. A pretty way to dress up the dessert table.

Two passed up dresses, one necklace and a couple mother’s day presents later, I popped my head into Petit Bebe. I couldn’t resist the ultra modern baby hammock in the window! Petit Bebe was just about the cutest baby store I have ever seen! Coming from Dumbo, this says a lot. I encourage you all to check out their website and their pintrest board which is filled to the brim with a french inspired children’s wear and furniture.  I kept thinking about my expectant sister in law, but couldn’t pull the trigger on anything before the baby’s arrival.

Well, we got back from Virginia on Saturday evening and promptly fell asleep at a tame 10pm.  At 4am, I was awoken by the Mr. tapping my shoulder with news that my sis-in-law was in labor!  Looks like I will be taking advantage of Petit Bebe’s website, I can’t wait!