Driving into Brooklyn to go shopping with Rachel and Riley sounded like a wonderful idea — so many shops in one neighborhood. Court Street is a teeming street that transverses Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood. Rachel and I had a plan to pick up some things for Thanksgiving weekend and then have lunch somewhere interesting. I always forget how hectic it is shopping in Brooklyn. Even during the week at 10:00 am, there are people pushing and of course in a hurry.
We drove off feeling ever-so-clever to have made a reservation at a parking garage close to our destinations — Sahadi’s, Trader Joe’s, and d’Amico’s. First problem, a police crime scene that blocked off an entire street and caused even more traffic than usual on Smith Street. Second problem, construction blocked the parking garage so there was no way to access it. Still we were optimistic and excited about the outing. Miraculously found a 2-hour metered spot right on Court Street only 2 blocks from Trader Joe’s. We began at Sahadi’s which is an amazing food store specializing in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods of every description.
As we entered, with barely enough room for the stroller and the two of us, Rachel educated me about how to get service. Every station — flours, grains, olives, dried fruits, candies — has a server who expects you to take a number. As we waited for our number to be called, I listened to Mr. Sahadi give a talk to a walking food tour group. He described how his father purchased the building in 1946 much to the dismay of his family. The store has changed little over the years and has been run by family members since then. It was difficult not to buy one of everything and we happily left with our bags of dried figs, Lebanese olives, crackers, and candy for Dave! Onward to Trader Joe’s!
Trader Joe’s on Court Street looks like a bank from the outside and is anything but once your get inside. While it is similar to other Trader Joe’s stores, the frantic nature of this one and the narrow aisles adds to the charm (if you can call it that) of shopping in busy Brooklyn. When we had accumulated all of our items, including a few that Riley put in the cart and I didn’t notice until I got home, we got on line to check out. Here’s where this store is different from anyone I’d ever seen. There were at least 40 check out stations all numbered. A person had us shuffling along until a red flag with a white number started waving indicating an available checkout! We were told to move to station 23, got all checked out, entered the drawing for a $20 gift card because we brought out own bags, and happily exited. At that point we decided not to eat in the neighborhood but to go back to Rachel’s Park Slope area which I thought was crowded!
We headed to d’Amico’s for coffee. I typically order it online (as does my friend, Robin) but thought I’d save postage since I was already on Court Street. D’Amico’s has been run by the same family since 1948 when Emanuel d’Amico, a seaman from Sicily, rented the building on Court Street where Frank d’Amico still runs the coffee shop. Known for their roasted coffee, they supply a number of restaurants and lots of people like me who appreciate their hand roasted blends. Six pounds of coffee later, we headed back to Rachel’s for lunch we picked up at the Bagel Pub in Park Slope. The crowds were exhausting, loud, pushy and, for the most part, friendly. But, it is not a relaxing way to shop. I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it was fun to get things I do not have access to up here in Lord’s Valley, but for once I was happy to get back to the quiet of the woods. What a marvelous day that ended with rock tea, a Riley specialty. I’ll end this as I often do — I am a lucky woman!