On August 20, 2001 my brother Josh moved in with his special lady friend Tracy in Boreum Hill Brooklyn. Soon thereafter, I began driving a yellow cab. Two of the first three garages at which I worked were located in Brooklyn, so it quickly became something of a tradition for me to stop by their apartment on Mondays (Josh’s day off) to relax and eat before my night shift began.
And what a neighborhood in which to eat. Less than a block off Smith Street, the world was our oyster when it came to ordering. I’d always spend the first chunk of my Monday shift gleefully stuffed with pannini from Pannino’teca, a rueben from Salonike, or a burger from Bar Tabac.
It was a perfect setup for me. Relax and eat, eat and relax, and then go out and face the city being of sound mind and full belly. But then some ominous developments began to occur. Josh and Tracy got engaged. Josh and Tracy got married. Josh and Tracy began talking about moving to the suburbs. Josh and Tracy had a baby — Milo. Josh and Tracy bought a station wagon.
I tried my hardest to convince them that Milo would grow up to be much cooler if he grew up in Brooklyn rather than the ‘burbs as we had. But Josh countered with some nonsense about sending Milo to a good public school and giving him a backyard to play in. As well as Josh and Tracy are doing, you’ve pretty much got to be a millionaire to buy a place with a backyard in that part of Brooklyn and send your kids to private school.
Before I knew it, they’d bought a house in Westchester, and they were packing their things. I’d grown quite attached to their neighborhood in the five years they lived there together. But I guess I could understand them wanting to give Milo a backyard and a good school. Plus, I fully admit that it’s nice to be a little further away from the Gowanus Projects than a quarter block.
It was with a heavy heart that I drove over to Josh and Tracy’s for my last Monday lunch. Tracy was at work, but Josh and I decided to head over to Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights to do our final lunch right. We took Milo to Teresa’s where he was an instant hit with the Polish waitresses. And they were a hit with him.
The blintz was a hit with me. I ordered the pierogies, which I’d had many times before and never left me disappointed. Boiled and served with apple sauce and onions, Teresa’s pierogies are as close to the gut-busters I had in Krakow as any I’ve tasted in New York.
But I’d never orderd their blintzes before. I’m used to blintzes being mediocre at best. The filling always seems to be too sweet for me, as though some uncaring cook just stuffed it with Smucker’s jelly. And the outside is always too mushy.
But the blintzes that Josh ordered that day were a thousand times better than any blintz I’ve ever tried. The outside was just crispy enough to change the entire texture of the treat from the usual “blah” to the rare “delicate and gourmet.” The sweet farmer’s cheese filling was by no means overwhelmingly sweet. So much so that it benefited from more sweetness being shaken onto it from above in the form of powdered sugar. And the plum butter gave the whole thing a down home flavor.
Milo dug it the most:
Josh and I had never eaten at Teresa’s together, and that meal just made me more wistful than ever. Now, when I drive the cab on Mondays, I’ve got no anchor to throw before I start working. I just have to dive right in.
I’ve been up to Westchester a few times already. They’re supposed to have great Mexican food on North Avenue. But the burritos we had at El Jalisco were merely pretty good, though they were clearly authentic. Milo loved them because they were covered with two slices of melted Muenster – his fave.
Watching Milo enjoy them so much made me like them a little more. But he won’t remember the superior burritos at California Taqueria on Court Street. Maybe we’ll find better burritos somewhere else in Westchester.
The whole family went out for some Turkish food one evening at Turqoise in the next town over from Josh and Tracy’s house. The meal was delicious, especially the stuffed grape leaves jammed with pine nuts. But Milo enjoyed the milk more than anything else:
I still prefer Kapadokya in Brooklyn Heights for Turkish food. I took Josh there for his bachelor party, and we ordered from there a few times afterwards:
I was starting to wonder if Westchester was going to yield any great food. We heard there was great whitefish salad at one deli, but when we went they were sold out. We heard Walter’s has the best hot dogs in the whole New York area, but when we went they were closed.
Yesterday, Josh threw his first barbeque at the house. Melissa and I brought some Merguez sausage and a whole wheel of parsley and cheese pork sausage from Pino’s on Sullivan Street. The wheel, once unwound, went over big:
Milo couldn’t resist it.
So there we were, deep into the suburbs. Brooklyn was already a distant memory. Milo won’t ever remember it. I took stock.
Josh was firing up the grill. Kids were running around the backyard as we played football and baseball. The sun was shining through the clouds, and the shadows were short. People were spread out across Josh and Tracy’s big house. Parking was plentiful. And everyone was relaxing and eating, eating and relaxing – including me.
Teresa’s, 80 Montague Street at Hicks, Brooklyn Heights
Kapadokya, 142 Montague Street at Henry, Brooklyn Height
Pino Prime Meats, 149 Sullivan Street, SoHo, Manhattan
Turqoise, 1895 Palmer Ave, Larchmont, Westchester
El Jalisco, Somewhere on North Avenue 576-4008, New Rochelle, Westchester
Famous Fat Dave, 5 Borough Eating Tours, New York City