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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

#Foodlover Exploration of Brooklyn, New York with Urban Oyster Tours

“We’ve had such a wonderful time today!” Linda’s eyes are beaming with delight. She is one of five very happy food travellers who have come to join a Brooklyn Food Tour with Urban Oyster Food Tours on this bright autumn day. Upon saying goodbye and thank you to our dear guide Joe, we all leave with a feeling of having made real connections. Of having felt what this part of New York City was all about: A local, sustainable foodlover’s society. To find and engage with the beauty of human passion, the willingness to make a difference and to commit to top quality cuisine, is the magic & merit of food tour companies such as Urban Oyster. Thanks to them, we explore eight different tasting locations in four districts of Brooklyn centered around Smith Street. “Only 15, 20 years ago, this area was considered dodgy – now, it is all but trendy, hip and attractive to visitors and the locals alike”, Joe is proud to welcome us to the very neighbourhood he has also chosen to live in. “I live here with my girlfriend, we all love and support the places we are going to see and taste on the tour. All of them are 100% locally owned (family) businesses.”

 

“You are going to love this”, Joe seems to say, his bright smile spreading all over his face. “Welcome to Stinky here in Brooklyn!”

Stinky, by the way, is the name of our first tasting location on this tour with Urban Oyster. And it is not in vain that the company has taken on the name “Urban Oyster”: Did you know that it actually reflects New York’s rich oyster history, which were once found in abundance around Hudson river bays and considered a poor man’s diet? Hard to believe these days, as Joe tells us this. We are in for learning a lot here, starting with our first snack, a Pimento cream cheese sandwich & “Hop Devil” crafts beer at Stinky Cheese Shop & Charcuterie.

Welcome to Stinky’s: The first sight (or smell!) to greet us upon entering this cute little deli, cheese shop & charcuterie is actually … the smell of freshly baked bread!

Welcome to Stinky’s: The first sight (or smell!) to greet us upon entering this cute little deli, cheese shop & charcuterie is actually … the smell of freshly baked bread!

 

Joe & his team at Stinky welcome us to the start of our tour with Urban Oyster.

Joe & his team at Stinky welcome us to the start of our tour with Urban Oyster.

 

We are served a tasting size of this tangy “Hop Devil” crafts beer, a very delicious blend indeed …

We are served a tasting size of this tangy “Hop Devil” crafts beer, a very delicious blend indeed …

 

… and one that goes well with this delightful, spicy Pimento cream cheese sandwich.

… and one that goes well with this delightful, spicy Pimento cream cheese sandwich.

 

There is more for you to choose here at Stinky!

There is more for you to choose here at Stinky!

 

Rachel, who has prepared our sandwiches, is off to stirring up lentil salad next. Thank you for this first treat, dear Rachel!

Rachel, who has prepared our sandwiches, is off to stirring up lentil salad next. Thank you for this first treat, dear Rachel!

 

Meanwhile, Joe shows us the Urban Oyster App that allows you to trace all single tasting stops of the tour across Brooklyn, including information on each location as well as a local area map.

Meanwhile, Joe shows us the Urban Oyster App that allows you to trace all single tasting stops of the tour across Brooklyn, including information on each location as well as a local area map.

 

A sure sign that this part of Brooklyn is trendy indeed is the fact that “even Starbucks has moved here. That is a sign we would not have seen here even 10 years ago”, Joe points out to us on Smith Street.

A sure sign that this part of Brooklyn is trendy indeed is the fact that “even Starbucks has moved here. That is a sign we would not have seen here even 10 years ago”, Joe points out to us on Smith Street.

 

61 Local & Bien Cuit! serve us more reasons to come & appreciate local, “home-grown” food items in New York City.

Walking around Brooklyn, our group of five foodie travellers enjoy following Joe both physically and figuratively: His passion for telling the city’s history, from “battleground Brooklyn” in the War of Independence, to the first big wave of migration & settlement all the way to Brooklyn “hitting rock-bottom” in the late 1950’s and 60’s, with unemployment and social tensions on the rise, is compelling and leaves us spellbound. Images of times gone by conjure up in my mind, as I imagine all the changes this part of New York City would have undergone in the course of recent centuries. Very interesting indeed. To break up the history lesson, we are … in for more food. Naturally, as it goes on a food tour!

What a beautiful autumn day to explore Brooklyn! 61 Local …

What a beautiful autumn day to explore Brooklyn! 61 Local …

 

… welcomes us with a smile: Try this nice little shop for great ambiance and …

… welcomes us with a smile: Try this nice little shop for great ambiance and …

 

… pickled delights, freshly roasted nuts as well as a selection of Kombucha, beer & soft drinks that the team is happy to serve.

… pickled delights, freshly roasted nuts as well as a selection of Kombucha, beer & soft drinks that the team is happy to serve.

 

We move on to beautiful “Bien Cuit” just down the road …

We move on to beautiful “Bien Cuit” just down the road …

 

… that has us dig right into their juicy, flavoursome rye whole meal bread served to us with sea salt butter.

… that has us dig right into their juicy, flavoursome rye whole meal bread served to us with sea salt butter.

 

Rachel’s passion for promoting her friend Zag’s bakery shop shows in every word (and smile!) she has for us here: Lovely to meet you, dear Rachel! Both my Austrian friend in town and I very much approve of your bread, passing the quality test in our eyes (and taste buds).

Rachel’s passion for promoting her friend Zag’s bakery shop shows in every word (and smile!) she has for us here: Lovely to meet you, dear Rachel! Both my Austrian friend in town and I very much approve of your bread, passing the quality test in our eyes (and taste buds).

 

“So why is it called One Girl Cookies?” – “Because that is how Dawn started: From a passion to develop her own baking & cookie business. One Girl Cookies!”

We all love a good story, don’t we. Now here is one for you. Years ago, Dawn Casale has found herself to be tired of the corporate world she was working in, wishing to develop her own talents and interests in baking mouth-sized cookies, or “cookies that were not as huge as the standard American cookies, leaving you with no desire to have dinner afterwards”, Joe mentions with a wink. “She then draws on her Italian roots to fund and raise her own bakery shop, soon realising she needed the help of a professional baker coming in. So that is when David Crofton appeared … and you know how it is working in close intimacy, sparks fly and all that … so now, years later, they have two beautiful bakery shops here in New York City, two beautiful children as well as a book, ‘One Girl Cookies‘, published in their name.” Good for them: I am so pleased to hear (and share!) stories of other people’s happiness, courage and passion. Just a little later, still smiling, we find David actually walking in to greet us, all natural and laid-back. What a beautiful memory of a special place to be visited!

Tasting mouth-sized cookies with sizzling aromas such as Rosemary Thyme, gluten-free cocoa cookies and tasty chocolatey ones, at “One Girl Cookies”!

Tasting mouth-sized cookies with sizzling aromas such as Rosemary Thyme, gluten-free cocoa cookies and tasty chocolatey ones, at “One Girl Cookies”!

 

Checking out Dawn & David’s book …

Checking out Dawn & David’s book …

 

… I enjoy the entire ambiance in this pretty little bakery café!

… I enjoy the entire ambiance in this pretty little bakery café!

 

And are we not all tempted to have a bite of this juicy cake here?!

And are we not all tempted to have a bite of this juicy cake here?!

 

Thank you for such a pleasant visit: From left to right, Joe & Alex, of Urban Oyster Tours, together with David Crofton, business partner and husband to Dawn Casale, of “One Girl Cookies”!

Thank you for such a pleasant visit: From left to right, Joe & Alex, of Urban Oyster Tours, together with David Crofton, business partner and husband to Dawn Casale, of “One Girl Cookies”!

 

Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop imports everything heavenly from the Mediterranean. Ted & Honey serve American driven farm to table cuisine for the heavenly inclined …

Oh, we are in for so many more treats on this Urban Oyster Food Tour, that I am balancing by not having dinner that night of the same day, actually. Such is the wealth of food, tastes and un-ability to say no that we all prefer “being on a roll” rather than refusing to eat less. Tasty spinach pastry & oh so juicy pork sandwiches with home-made pickles and sauces it is next …

Damascus Bread & Pastry serve us this “little snack” on the go as part of our Urban Oyster food tour …

Damascus Bread & Pastry serve us this “little snack” on the go as part of our Urban Oyster food tour …

 

… walking off at least some calories to our next tasting stop, at local Brooklyn Park, with Ted & Honey serving us this wonderful home-made pork pickled sandwich. Juicy !!!

… walking off at least some calories to our next tasting stop, at local Brooklyn Park, with Ted & Honey serving us this wonderful home-made pork pickled sandwich. Juicy !!!

 

Their ketchup, by the way, is all home-made too – love it in the actual sandwich!

Their ketchup, by the way, is all home-made too – love it in the actual sandwich!

 

We then get a biscuit from Staubitz Market, New York’s oldest butchery shop dating from 1917! The owner, well over 80 years old, still likes to cut his meat inside the shop rather than counting his millions on a retirement home in the Caribbean, Joe tells us with a smile on his face.

We then get a biscuit from Staubitz Market, New York’s oldest butchery shop dating from 1917! The owner, well over 80 years old, still likes to cut his meat inside the shop rather than counting his millions on a retirement home in the Caribbean, Joe tells us with a smile on his face.

 

Next thing we know, we “are all family” here at a place called D’Amico in Brooklyn!

This is just so nice. It is when you start feeling “homey” while travelling that you realise that the world is all about people, and the sense of places they create and share with you. It really isn’t rocket science. Warmth, hospitality, dedication to detail, human passion and drive, care and ambition, have always gone, and will always go, a long way. I feel so welcome here in present-day Brooklyn. And that is me, being in New York City for less than 24 hours, after having last been here on a visit with my family 17 years ago and just come over on this #CreativElenaRTW trip from Reykjavik in Iceland. Wow. I love it.

A lovely smell of dozens of home-roasted coffee blends is what greets you upon entering D’Amico.

A lovely smell of dozens of home-roasted coffee blends is what greets you upon entering D’Amico.

 

“This is a place for the local community to come and gather”, we are told by the proud owner couple of D’Amico.

“This is a place for the local community to come and gather”, we are told by the proud owner couple of D’Amico.

 

Joe and his friend like to share a story or two, warming our hands with a hot cup of coffee on this cold autumn day …

Joe and his friend like to share a story or two, warming our hands with a hot cup of coffee on this cold autumn day …

 

… while later, after sharing all the inspiration to develop D’Amico at the heart of Brooklyn community, we pose for this happy “family picture” of the day!

… while later, after sharing all the inspiration to develop D’Amico at the heart of Brooklyn community, we pose for this happy “family picture” of the day!

 

Last but not least, let’s hear the story of “The Soda Fountain” at a place called “The Farmacy”. It really is all “in the mix”!

How should I even translate, let alone explain this to my readers, I wonder as I listen to Gia who really loves to talk “Fresh, Friendly, Local” here at Brooklyn Farmacy.? This is the last in a series of family-run businesses we visit as part of our foodlover tour, a brother-sister venture aimed at reviving America’s soda fountain movement. “In German, it’s called ‘Sprudeldrink'”, Alex offers to help me out with a grin. We both laugh, then savour the Egg Cream drink placed in front of us containing neither egg nor cream, but fizzie spring water infused with chocolate & milk. A very nice, refreshing drink that perfectly marks the end to a foodlover tour of a kind!

Listening to Gia share her passion about raising this shop, “Brooklyn Farmacy”, literally like Phoenix from the Ashes …

Listening to Gia share her passion about raising this shop, “Brooklyn Farmacy”, literally like Phoenix from the Ashes …

 

… is a real treat, as is the welcome in this pretty shop that features lots of ancient, European-style furniture and decorative details.

… is a real treat, as is the welcome in this pretty shop that features lots of ancient, European-style furniture and decorative details.

 

Do visit “The Farmacy” of a different kind here in Brooklyn and be prepared to learn all about, and become intrigued by, America’s soda fountain movement …!

Do visit “The Farmacy” of a different kind here in Brooklyn and be prepared to learn all about, and become intrigued by, America’s soda fountain movement …!

 

 

To finish off, Thanksgiving is around the corner here in the United States: Love the cute little details to be found everywhere in the streets and houses as we go along. Not long to go until I can tell you about this part of my American experience!

To finish off, Thanksgiving is around the corner here in the United States: Love the cute little details to be found everywhere in the streets and houses as we go along. Not long to go until I can tell you about this part of my American experience!

 

Check out even more #foodlover travel pics from New York City on my Flickr Photo Gallery:


Disclaimer: I have been invited by Urban Oyster Tours on this foodlover exploration of Brooklyn Neighbourhood. All opinions are my own.

Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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