On Thursday, with the temperatures at 4 below zero in Lords Valley, I drove into Brooklyn to Park Slope to visit Rachel and to return Mason who spent a week with Sydney and me while Rachel and Dave vacationed in San Francisco. Since finding the new/old route over Bear Mountain, it only took me a couple of hours, I waited in my car until alternate side of the street parking allowed me to park right outside Rachel’s door, and had my second visit to Park Slope, a most desirable neighborhood in Brooklyn. It does need to be said that Rachel and Dave live in a fourth floor walk-up that is not quite like the buildings in the photo here, but nonetheless, it’s a fabulous neighborhood.
Park Slope is sometimes called strollerville because of all the young couples raising their families there. It has trendy coffee shops, restaurants, quirky stores, no chain stores in close proximity except for a Barnes and Noble. Everything is uphill in The Slope — thus its name — and it is populated with beautiful Victorian townhouses that are fabulous and fabulously expensive! It’s the neighborhood, Rachel tells me, that makes it not necessarily the apartment building. (As an aside, her apartment is lovely.)
So I began my brief stay in Park Slope needing coffee desperately so we went to DuJour which is very close to the car and apartment since it was extremely cold. DuJour is a small bakery/coffee shop that, like every coffee shop I’ve ever been to in Brooklyn, has internet access, so there were young mothers with babes in arms on their laptops. Everyone seemed to know one another and the counter person played peek-a-boo with the babies while taking our order. Rachel’s hibiscus tea is typical of the types of drinks one gets in The Slope; I had café au lait. One thing I really like about Brooklyn coffee houses and restaurants is that they do not ever make you feel rushed. We could have sat there for hours — one of the women sitting near us was obviously conducting business as was a man at a table behind us on his cell phone with his laptop open. Rachel and I caught up, talked about nothing of any importance, and then went to lunch. Eating is clearly a big part of being in The Slope!
When we entered Stone Park we were greeted by a waiter with a French accent, very gracious. Most of the restaurants on The Slope are small and intimate as was this one. Almost immediately two young women with baby entered and again I was struck by the nature of the neighborhood — one that caters to its residents. Coffee and bagel shops have little street level doors that dogs can use to get water or treats as well as walk-up windows for the dog walkers. The park has a place just for little children and another just for dogs (or both I guess). So many neighborhoods these days try to cater to everyone that they lose the flavor of who lives there and why. Towns seem generic and not individual to their population, but Park Slope is different — it is very much the embodiment of who lives there. After a lovely lunch, I decided to pick up some special coffee for my hosts next week, so we stopped by Cafe Martin.
Please note that Cafe Martin is mar-taan, not Martin! Martin serves ridiculously expensive coffee that is amazing and worth every penny. So I bought two pounds, one for each of my hosts this week, and was entitled to a free coffee. The always unsmiling Martin was extremely annoyed when I declined. For those of you who know me, you will be surprised but remember we just came from the lovely lunch! He reluctantly sold me the two pounds of coffee and Rachel and I were on our way. I include his photo here because he struck me as the quintessential Frenchman, nice enough but unsmiling and a bit distracted.
So there you have it — my trip to Park Slope — Rachel and I sat in her apartment for a while chatting and then I left to get home before dark as ice and snow was predicted. You may be asking yourself, what is interesting about this and why should I care? Well…I tell you all of this in some detail to lure you north. My home in the woods is only an hour and a half from New York City and a bit more than that to Brooklyn where you, too, can enjoy The Slope! Tomorrow I’m going to the city again, this time by bus, and will enjoy meeting Michael and Allison for lunch somewhere equally terrific on the west side of Manhattan! Talk about the best of both worlds!