Brooklyn, as good a detour as any

brooklyn oslo coffee company new location on bedfordI finally got around to seeing the latest film by Michel Gondry, who is one of my favourite directors. He did Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and a pile of music videos. Really good music videos. Anyway the movie is not about wine in any way, nor is it about food. It's a bit about Brooklyn, but mostly about hip hop and Dave Chappelle. It is of course, Dave Chappelle's Block Party.

I think this means that yet again Gondry has had to play second fiddle in a major motion picture that he's directed. In ESSM, he was upstaged by writer/producer Charlie Kaufman; in DCBP, he is eclipsed by subject/star Dave Chappelle.

In any case, I chose to see this movie on the weekend because I still have New York on my mind. Gondry did a good job making me fall back in love with Brooklyn, which I reluctantly left on January 2, not having come close to seeing the many faces that the borough proudly shows off.

One face, for example, is Clinton Hill, which I had never even heard about before. In the film, the Clinton Hill district -- with its landmark and recently-in-the-news house called Broken Angel -- was the backdrop for the block party. It surely will be the next neighbourhood on my list of places to visit (and the block party site will be easier to locate than the corner outside Paris that Gondry previously inspired me seek out.)


Really no part of this post has anything to do with wine. This, despite the fact that you are reading a wine blog.

"You're a wine guy," said the man who operates my favourite (as-yet-unlicensed) café. He is quizzical, desperate for an answer when he sees me. "Why you keep blogging about our coffee?"
He asks a good question. Do I know the answer?
"Wine in the evening and coffee in the morning..." I offer him as an explanation.
But that is not it. Is it because you can take tasting notes on both coffee and wine? No, that's not really it either... Is it because there's nothing like following a wonderful wine-filled meal with a good espresso!? No again. Oh, for chrissakes, because it's all snobism! Ahem, no...

I should've just told my coffeeman that I tweaked it. That would be the truth. And to anybody who asks why they're are reading about Brooklyn and coffee in a wineblog: I tweaked it. Yes, I TWEAKED IT!

Tweaking your blog in all its glory was described by David Carr yesterday in his column in the New York Times. NYT blogger Eric Asimov then revisited those themes on his blog. Emails have been sent out all over because of Carr's column and that's because he speaks the truth. Check it out.

Right after I tell you more about Brooklyn...

Initially, I was inspired forced to explore Brooklyn coffee once I realized I was leaving behind my favourite café in Montreal and I would need a replacement. My café, called Caffè ArtJava, has an honourable artisanal approach and -- so my sources had told me -- the approach is mirrored in several coffeehouses in Greenpoint and Williamsburg as part of a burgeoning Seattle-like coffee scene. Translaton: The coffee that has spoiled me and that calls out for me continuously is only an L train away.

First we hit Greenpoint's Café Grumpy, but we could not stay. Next time, Grumpy -- I promise! (Maybe at your new Chelsea location.)

Then we breezed into Williamsburg and the Oslo Coffee Company. Hello! The best coffee in New York! I worship their Odin coffee blend which they use for all their espresso-based drinks. It is light and nutty, with that edge of orange rind flavour I love. It's so different from my darker, more chocolaty hometown espresso at ArtJava, but I loved it without making an effort to compare. It's like making a wino choose between a top Bordeaux and a top Brunello. You simply love them both. Down the hatch, then.

Since August, Oslo has been running another location on Bedford Avenue, not too far from its original location on Roebling Street. This we found out by literally stumbling across it. The Bedford shop does not have a phone. The Oslo people do not have a web site. The emphasis is obviously on pleasing whoever walks in their door. They are very friendly. The photo at top is of their small dining area which shows off their openness to neighbourhood.

macchiato brooklyn espresso williamsburg best brewsAfter that we circled. I wanted to walk by Gimme Coffee! on Lorimer Street (off Grand Avenue), if only to complete the winning trifecta of macchiato-makers. Gimme, as well as being a coffeeshop chain, is the name of an Ithaca-based coffee brand. That meant this Gimme Coffee! coffeeshop possessed the same beans that went into my favourite ArtJava macchiatos -- Gimme Coffee!'s Leftist blend (or Gauchiste, if you're drinking it in Quebec). So in the end this was a detour that required no armtwisting. We got there and it tasted like home, but in a smaller paper cup, as the photo at left shows. My macchiato even looked like home, with its attention to latte art and rich roasted tones.

It was no match for Anthony at ArtJava but it still convinced me that it always is a bit of a comedown when you have to say to Brooklyn.

I never knew how much I would fall in love with the borough.


Brooklynguy said...

Hmmm, where do I start?

I am thrilled to read of your burgeoning love for my fair borough, and especially thrilled that it is food, in this case drink, that fuels your fire. Come back soon, walk around Clinton Hill, make sure to walk around other areas too, gimme a shout and we'll hook up some sort of tasting. Come back to Brooklyn!

James said...

I think you should be drinking tea!

Thanks for your comments on the blog Marc. As regards the text thing - I did it by accident! But it appears that it automatically does that with all the text you write after you have written some text using the bullet autoformat.


Mike White said...

I've been to Art Java and I agree, Anthony's a treat. But isn't he in toronto and/or vancouver now? Hmmm. In the meantime, the Brooklyn Gimme is my baby. Say hi next time!

Mike White said...

and by the way, you should have gotten the macchiato in a ceramic cup!

Marcus g58 said...


You've got a great place there. I didn't mention this but I took a whole series of photos that turned out pretty cool but didn't lend themselves to the post. I like how you've set up the space and have the art on the walls.

Max has been taking good care of me up in Anthony's absence. He is in Toronto -- even though it feels like he just got back from Vancouver -- and I hear he will be back Monday.

So maybe you served me that macchiato in the paper cup... I don't understand the ceramic thing. I've never liked espresso cups. But then I'm a wine man really -- I dig the receptacle that is thin, light, translucent and barely-there -- so what do I know about how to best enjoy superior coffee?

But perhaps I'm step up from James. James remind me if you drink coffee at all. If you do or if you don't, you are required to try ArtJava. Or likely more accessible for the UWS'er, Gimme Coffee!

Mike White said...

we've got macchiatto cups that are right up your alley. thinner than the traditional ACF or Nuova Points that are common. At the end of the day though, you're right. It doesn't matter what you drink it out of as long as you enjoy it.

It wasn't me who served you that day but next time you're in the neighborhood, say hi.

Thanks for the kind words. The NYC coffee scene is slowly but surely making significant progress...