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?
“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.”
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.
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!
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!
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 …
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.
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!
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.