For the past six years, the graffiti covered walls have hosted our Sunday night dinner. As soon as Geido restaurant’s doors open at 5.30pm, the room starts to bustle with families and people like us, who don’t like to end the weekend in our own kitchen. The waiters wave bright hellos and goodbyes to everyone, and despite the quick pace of the service, the vibe is relaxed and warm. The perfect way to come down from the weekend and start thinking about Monday.
It’s not flashy. It’s not trendy. The food is consistently great, and while it’s absolutely worth a trip from anywhere in the city, this is the ultimate neighborhood restaurant.
The Japanese term “geido” encompasses the idea that the creative discipline and process are as important as the result, which is a notion that applies especially well to cooking, and here that process has lasted over thirty years. Every night except Mondays, the owner Osamu Koyama, his son Kaz, and all of the staff serve up some of the best food in the city.
Sushi, salads, soups, pickles, okonomiyaki, tempura, cooked fish: most portions are small enough to allow you to try a variety of dishes, and the more people in your party the better, so that you can taste your way through the extensive menu and giant specials board.
Geido is a large part of the reason why we have a hard time thinking about ever leaving Brooklyn. It feeds us and our sense of place. And the Obama roll (tuna, salmon and yellowtail with masago) has no term limits.
My friend Lori and I walk her little, old dog, Nilla, who is named for the wafer, around the neighborhood. When we pass the restaurant White Tiger, we have a sudden craving for kimchi and decide that after seven blocks we deserve a break. We sit outside, traffic streaming by on Vanderbilt Avenue, and also order a couple of Southies: cocktails involving whiskey, ginger, lemongrass, lemon, and orange bitters. They have a real ginger bite, and somehow it complements the burn of the kimchi.
This becomes our ritual, although sometimes we buy radish kimchi at the Korean deli and make cocktails at home. It turns out that kimchi is like a pair of blue jeans; it goes with everything. Negronis. Manhattans. Cider. Beer.
One night, a couple next to us can’t decide on drinks so we let them taste ours. They are so thrilled by this and it feels like a perfect Brooklyn bonding moment. If Vernon knew about it he would probably never kiss me again. He doesn’t like the idea of germs.
I have started to fantasize about kimchi and cocktails during the day, sometimes right after breakfast. When I text Lori to ask her if she thinks I have a problem, her response is “no, dear. Your body’s just craving the probiotics.”
After six weeks of silence, I’m excited to say that Das Brooklyn is back but going through a few changes. As my focus has shifted away from pastry and towards illustration and writing, the blog is going to take a slight turn and feature more art, more stories, and more Brooklyn. That said, my love for baking is eternal so you will still find the occasional recipe, and to ease into the transition, today is about Coney Island and the doughnuts it inspired.
Coney Island is spectacle, it’s the beach, it’s nostalgia for old fashioned carnivals, the smell of funnel cakes and hot dogs, and most of all it’s a showy, colorful pageant. Earlier this year, the Brooklyn Museum museum put on a dazzling show of art from the amusement park’s history, that goes back well over a century. What better canvas for me to pay homage, than doughnuts?
The basic recipe is Mark Bittman’s from the New York Times. It’s a little bit messy, but guaranteed to please, much like the fair itself.
Photo: NYC ©Anja Riebensahm, 2016
Have a wonderful long weekend, friends! Here is a bit of reading material for your Sunday.
There’s a thing that came out of Kentucky, that’s called a jam cake. It’s a simple concept: add a generous amount of jam to a basic spice cake batter. Traditionally it’s a red jam, which gives the finished cake a pretty pink or purple tint, and the whole thing usually gets frosted with a thick, caramel icing. I couldn’t find any more information about its origin, but i suspect it has to do with an abundance of jam after a hot summer. It’s a completely delicious thing.
This week I came across one such recipe when I was looking for something to bake for a breakfast outing in the park, but it seemed like just a little too much Southern decadence. Which is how I ended up with this bastardized, slightly more austere, perhaps even justifiable as a morning meal, but still very addictive version. Orange marmalade replaces jam, brown butter enhances the spices, burnt caramel glaze stands in for voluptuous frosting. Most importantly, it goes extremely well with tea, at any time of day, and therefore it’s a winner.
For someone who loves food as much as I do, I regularly seem to be oblivious about things that everyone else has known about forever. It was a glorious epiphany to me last week when I discovered the existence of seedless thomcord grapes. For years, I have made this cake once, and only once, during each concord grape season, because the tedium of having to seed the grapes takes at least 364 days to forget about, before it can be blissfully attempted again.
No more. The thomcords are mellower than the non-hybrids, but the distinctive concord flavor is there, which makes this cake so unique and part of what August in Brooklyn tastes like. The orange and the bourbon don’t stand out on their own, but rather support the grapiness with their hints of oak and sweet fruit.
Since hazelnuts are not a big part of American baking, and the concords are almost impossible to find in other parts of the world, the cake itself is a hybrid of sorts. If, like some of my New York friends, you just don’t love the idea of that many filberts, I’m sure most other nuts would be a happy substitute.
Photo: Williamsburg, Brooklyn ©Anja Riebensahm, 2016
Happy weekend. If you’re in New York, stay cool! We’re planning on hiding at the museum all day. Here are a few fun links from around the web:
Frosé. A questionable name for a questionable beverage, that has been popping up everywhere lately. As someone who lives with the consummate oenophile, frozen wine is something I normally wouldn’t dare to whisper, much less write about, and the un-fun portmanteau title doesn’t help. But sometimes a notorious drinking light-weight like me needs something that won’t knock her off her feet, and I’m somewhat reluctant to admit that this slushy pink beverage has absolutely hit the spot lately. It’s cold, it’s refreshing, not too sweet, and still the tiniest (!) bit adult.
Freeze watermelon. Place it in a blender with an equal amount of cold rosé. Process. Drink. Repeat.
And if anyone can come up for a sexier name for it, please share.
Photo: B32 ©Anja Riebensahm, 2016
Happy weekend! Here are a few fun links, if you feel like reading…
Wouldn’t it be fun to go on a tour of the greatest bookstores in the world? (Thanks for the link, Gill)
Finding the best of anything in New York seems silly and futile, what with everything changing constantly. That said, Grub Street’s lists of favorites are a great way to start exploring the offerings of the city.