FABfest Schedule for June 27

FABfest Sunday, June 27, 12noon–6pm:• Salsa Dance Party & Dance Lessons • BK Misses MJ: On the anniversary of his passing, Brooklyn remembers the life and legacy of the King of Pop Michael Jackson with an all-day music tribute and community dance party featuring DJ Reborn • Readings and prizes from Brooklyn literary magazines A Public Space, Armchair/Shotgun, BOMB, and Electric Literature hosted by Greenlight Bookstore • Literary trivia contest • Dogs on Parade presented by Fort Greene PUPS and Brooklyn Cares Veterinary Clinic, plus Pet CPR and First Aid classes and Ask the Trainer sessions for pet owners • Crafts, activities and giveaways for kids all day • Streetside Mad Libs game for all ages • 3-on-3 Soccer Games for Kids hosted by Ft. Greene Soccer • SONYA Collaborative Action Mural with Ellie Balk - participatory painting allowing residents to make their mark on a collective community image • Environmental demos and activities presented by Habana Outpost (Schedules subject to change. To get updates, visit faballiance.org)

Summer Events at Fort Greene Park

The Fort Greene Conservancy just emailed me a poster detailing their summer events. There's lots of stuff here for kids, but most intriguing to me are the September performance by Reggie Watts (NY Mag just profiled him) and the Urban Bat Exploration (cool!).  I'm sure the Whitman tour (only one left!) will also be good.  I love seeing such a variety of entertainment and education right here at our doorstep.

FABfest Schedule for June 20

FABfest Sunday, June 20, 12noon–6pm:• Salsa Dance Party & Dance Lessons • Performances on the mainstage presented by Greenlight Bookstore, all with a focus on local artists and organizations including - Performance poetry by URBAN WORD - Stand-up comedy from the STEAM BOAT series - Readings by authors such as VICTOR LaVALLE, TOURE & NELSON GEORGE and more • Environmental demos and activities presented by Habana Outpost • Walking tour of historic Fort Greene with Adrienne Onofri, author of WALKING BROOKLYN (3rd of 3 different tours during FABfest) • SONYA Collaborative Action Mural with Ellie Balk - participatory painting allowing residents to make their mark on a collective community image • Crafts, activities and giveaways for kids all day • Streetside Mad Libs game for all ages • 3-on-3 Soccer Games for Kids hosted by Ft. Greene Soccer

FABfest Schedule for June 13

An awesome foodie-based lineup this wknd at FABfest!  My personal picks- the mozzarella and jam-making sessions. Cooking demos, food tastings, moonshine sipping and a chilled organic soup pureed making — with the aid of a human-powered bike-blender are all part of the line-up for second weekend of FABfest a month-long three-block street festival EVERY SUNDAY IN JUNE on Fulton Street between Lafayette Avenue and South Oxford Street, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

A schedule of demos and tastings is below.

Also at FABfest on Sunday June 13, from 12noon-6pm:

• 12noon-1:30pm:  Salsa Dance Party & Dance Lessons featuring Brooklyn Salsa Party (everyone is welcome to join in!)

• 1:30-2:00:  Live Gospel Concert featuring the Lafayette Inspirational Ensemble (performing as they make their way down Fulton Street to the stage!)

• 2:00-6:00:  Toasters Delight: a Reggae Party featuring DJs Geko Jones and Matt Shadetek of Dutty Artz, Jahdan Blakkamore, Cool Places Soundsystem, Gael Dubourg, DJ Gravy, and special guests. Toasters Delight celebrates the June 15th BAMcinemaFEST screening of the Brooklyn indie film Wah Do Dem.

http://www.duttyartz.com/2010/wah-do-dem-bam-block-party/ Visit BAM.org for screening info

Plus games, crafts, balloons and activities and.... 3-on-3 soccer on the street... all afternoon!

Schedule for 'A Taste of Fulton'… at FABfest 2010

12 noon - Louisa Shafia, author of LUCID FOODS shows how vegetarian food is both delicious and healthy - creating a chilled cucumber soup from organic produce from Fulton Street's MetFoods (985 Fulton @ St. James) with the aid of the Bike Blender from Habana Outpost (757 Fulton @ S. Portland), and powered by.... spectators at FABfest.

- Mozzarella-making at Greene Grape Provisions (753 Fulton @ S. Portland)

1:00 - Buka (946 Fulton @ Cambridge Place), Nigerian restaurant

2:00 - Jam-making by Anarchy in a Jar, available at Greene Grape Provisions

3:00 - Chef Michael Allen of Desserts by Michael Allen (1015 Fulton @ Grand) shares his secrets on sugar and decorating an elaborate cake - a demo you don't want to miss!

- Max Watman, the author of Chasing the White Dog will be in conversation with Gable Erenzo, son of the founder of Tuthilltown Distillery, the first (legal!) distillery in NY since Prohibition, at Greenlight Greenlight Bookstore (686 Fulton @ S. Portland). Tasting to follow at 4:00 at The Greene Grape

4:00 - Pickling by Rick's Picks, also available at Provisions

- Comparative tasting of white whiskies at The Greene Grape (765 Fulton @ S. Portland)

5:00 - Deniz (662 Fulton @ S. Elliott),Turkish cuisine

PLUS: In front of Bati Restaurant (747 Fulton @ S. Portland) samples and an introduction on Ethiopian food and Smoke Joint (87 S. Elliott Place @ Fulton) will be offering samples of house-made grilled sausages.

For updates on the list of activities and schedules visit faballiance.org or facebook at fab fulton

About The FAB Alliance The Fulton Area Business (FAB) Alliance is a newly formed Business Improvement District working on behalf of property owners, merchants, residents and stakeholders along Fulton Street in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill—from Rockwell Place to Classon Avenue (plus adjacent blocks of Lafayette, Greene and Putnam Avenues). Goals are to retain current businesses and improve the atmosphere to make this area of Fulton Street a clean, safe and retail diverse environment that is a destination for people work, shop, dine and play. For more information, visit: faballiance.org


FABfest is presented by the FAB Alliance, the newly formed Fulton Street Business Improvement District in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. FABfest is part of the Weekend Walks Program of the New York City Department of Transportation.

FABfest Schedule for June 6

FABfest Sunday, June 6, 12noon–6pm: • Salsa Dance Party & Dance Lessons • Children's Clothing Swap • Fashion Show featuring designers along Fulton Street, including Courtney Washington, Moshood, Michael Shane Bridal, Jacob's Garden, Tribal Truths, Raif Atelier, Super Nova, Swagga 360, B2 Gear and Senagelese Fashion Center • StoryCorps Listening Sessions at Greenlight Bookstore • Crafts, activities and giveaways for kids all day • 3-on-3 Soccer Games for Kids hosted by Ft. Greene Soccer • Streetside Mad Libs game for all ages • Environmental demos and activities presented by Habana Outpost • Pet CPR and First Aid classes presented by Brooklyn Cares Veterinary Clinic • Fitness evaluations and information from Crunch • Walking tour of historic Fort Greene with Adrienne Onofri, author of WALKING BROOKLYN (a different tour to be given on each day of FABfest)

FABfest: Weekend Walks Coming to Fulton Street

Exciting news!  DOT's cool Weekend Walks program, which creates temporary pedestrian streets for recreation and education, is coming to Fulton Street!  The FAB Alliance will be hosting the event on Sundays during the month of June. We'll be posting the weekend schedule every Friday on CHB.  I have to say, the events look pretty awesome.  Here's the official press release.

For Immediate Release Contact: Phillip Kellogg, Manager / FAB Alliance 718-928-3322 pkellogg@faballiance.org May 23, 2010

FABfest, a month-long three-block street festival, jumpstarts Brooklyn summertime fun, featuring fashion shows, reggae and gospel concerts, chef demonstrations, activities for kids, dance parties, author readings, community mural painting, and a tribute to Michael Jackson

Headlining artists include Victor LaValle, Urban Word Poets, DJ Reborn, Jahdan Blakkamore, Geka Jones, and Matt Shadetek of Dutty Artz Free Outdoor Festival—Sundays, 12noon—6pm, June 6 through 27, on Fulton Street between Lafayette Avenue and South Oxford Street, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Presented by the FAB Alliance, the newly formed Fulton Street Business Improvement District in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. FABfest is part of the NYC DOT Weekend Walks program.

Brooklyn, N.Y./May 21, 2010— The FAB Alliance announces FABfest, a weekly street festival on Sundays in June (June 6, 13, 20, and 27, 2010) from 12noon— 6pm. Every Sunday in June, Fulton Street heats up with a blazing line-up of outdoor performances, readings, cooking and environmental demonstrations, family activities, games, and sports. Closing Fulton Street to all car & bus traffic, FABfest transforms three blocks of Fulton Street into a pedestrian-friendly public space where locals can stop, shop, party, and play while enjoying neighborhood eats, arts, activities, fashion, and culture.

Each FABfest kicks off with a salsa dance party at 12noon and the fun continues until 6pm, rain or shine! With FABfest, neighborhood businesses, property owners, organizations, and residents take over the street with free activities that highlight the variety and vibrancy of local entrepreneurs and artists. FABfest partners include many Fort Greene and Clinton Hill businesses and organizations, ranging from local churches to BAM to StoryCorps, and CakeMan Raven.

“Fulton Street in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill is Brooklyn’s premiere destination for good eats, arts, and recreation. FAB Alliance is proud to provide a new and creative opportunity for driving foot traffic to Fulton Street, while celebrating the abundance of neighborhood-based talent,” said Wellington Sharpe, President of the FAB Alliance.

For updates on the list of activities and schedules (still in development), visit faballiance.org

FabFest Schedule for Sunday, June 6 (We'll be off next week, so including this now)

• Salsa Dance Party & Dance Lessons • Children's Clothing Swap • Fashion Show featuring designers along Fulton Street, including Courtney Washington, Moshood, Michael Shane Bridal, Jacob's Garden, Tribal Truths, Raif Atelier, Super Nova, Swagga 360, B2 Gear and Senagelese Fashion Center • StoryCorps Listening Sessions at Greenlight Bookstore [ed. Awesome!] • Crafts, activities and giveaways for kids all day • 3-on-3 Soccer Games for Kids hosted by Ft. Greene Soccer • Streetside Mad Libs game for all ages • Environmental demos and activities presented by Habana Outpost • Pet CPR and First Aid classes presented by Brooklyn Cares Veterinary Clinic • Fitness evaluations and information from Crunch • Walking tour of historic Fort Greene with Adrienne Onofri, author of WALKING BROOKLYN (a different tour to be given on each day of FABfest)

Free DOT Bike Helmet Giveaway at Grand Earth Day Block Party!

The NYC DOT will be on hand this weekend at the Grand Ave Block Party fitting and giving away free bike helmets for all attendees, 12-4pm.  Kids under age 18 need a parent to sign a waiver for them and those 18 and over sign their own waiver.  Come pick one up while supplies last - helmets aren't cheap! FDNY will also be on hand with free coloring books for kids and free smoke alarm batteries for adults.

Still Hip Grand Earth Day Block Party April 24, 11am-8pm Grand Avenue bet. Lafayette + Clifton Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

More Earth Day Fun: Grand Ave Block Party on 4.24

The neighborhood continues celebrating Earth Day, this weekend on Grand Ave.  Here's the info from Still Hip Brooklyn: Saturday, April 24 | all day! 12:00pm Fati & Charles 1:00pm Graciela of Music Para Mi 2:00pm rolie polie guacamole 2:30pm Sean Kershaw 3:00pm Pistachio: A Brooklyn Girl Made of Trash 4:00pm Tres Leches 4:30pm Rene Collins 5:00pm Audra Rox! 6:00pm LIG funk band

PLUS: Private Picasso Art Crafts find out about Green Drinks + Vokashi composting Book Signing of Brooklyn Baby by Allison Lowenstein Baby Raising fair with info on Doula's + Montessori playgroups + classes + more!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * BRING ALL YOUR CLOTHES TO DONATE TO WEARABLE COLLECTIONS AND HELP RAISE MONEY FOR COMMUNITY ROOTS CHARTER SCHOOL! We will have tons of bins set up for your used fabric goodies

Lunchtime With Tillie: Der Schwarze Kölner

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Lunchtime With Tillie. Or maybe as I should refer to it this week, "Lunchtime With Tillie and the Beer + Babies crew!" That group--of which I am proud to be a member--meets every Friday at beer garden Der Schwarze Kölner on Fulton. And since I had a personal mission to accomplish there, it all worked out nicely for an LWT destination.

The Beer + Babies idea was formulated by frequent CHB commenter Betsy, who has a must-read blog for the parenting set called Mommy FTW. I don't know how she first figured out that the beer garden was the place to go for the ultimate in kid-friendliness, but I do know a lot of parents are glad that she did!

And when I talk about kid-friendliness there, it's hard to even convey how nice and accommodating the staff is. They break out crayons and rocking horses and soon as families walk in. The owners are new parents, and I think they just love to be around other children and see them have fun.

Anyway, if you just happen to be at home on a Friday afternoon and thinking to yourself, "Hmm, I wonder what Van and Tillie are doing? That crazy pair is always up to something," well the answer is that we're at Der Schwarze Kölner. I've even been working on incorporating my stay-at-home dads group meetings into the Friday routine. You get the point: I like DSK. Now let me tell you about this personal mission of mine.

As a decent observer of the Lenten season that just passed, I don't eat meat on Fridays. I'm a big bratwurst fan, and the beer garden serves the best I've ever had. So I'm going there every Friday, just to be denied one of life's little treasures. This past Friday, with Easter long gone, I was out to eat at least four or five brats with a couple of kielbasas thrown in for good measure!

We got there, found a parking spot for the stroller and settled in among the rest of the parents. Tillie was a little subdued at first, I guess due to just waking up from her nap. Usually as soon as we walk in, she's running from one side of the restaurant to the next. (Sorry other patrons!) I scooped her back up and walked to the bar to place our order and this could be kind of cool or sad, depending how you look at it: The waitress automatically said "Einbecker?" which is my beer of choice there and I said, "Yep!" Then I ordered what I thought would be the first of my many brats and a pretzel for Tillie.

We made our way back to where the rest of the parents were and mingled for a bit. Then as she was walking around, Tillie noticed the tricycle stroller for another kid. She immediately pounced on it and I pulled her off, which lit up a little cranky fire underneath her. The parents said it was OK for her to sit on it, so I let her at it.

Then our food arrived and the first thought that came to my mind was, "Oh glorious bratwurst: Where have you been the past six weeks? I've missed you so!" I held off on jumping into that first bite seeing as how I had a daughter to feed and all! Plus, I've been super anxious about T's eating habits lately: I'm reading a book now that says things change eating-wise when babies hit the toddler stage. And Tillie's been that way and then some. The day before, I fixed four different lunches trying to get her to eat!

I got lucky as the pretzel seemed to agree with her mood. She had a bite then walked around some more, which gave me a chance to get that long-awaited first brat bite. After devouring the whole thing in about 47.2 seconds, Tillie came back around for her second piece of pretzel. Then she went back around to the trike. (I'm sorry, other parents, if she was monopolizing it!)

Then after hanging out and chatting some more, I realized that I needed to pick up the pace if I'm going to eat all that sausage, so I put in an order for a kielbasa and another Einbecker. They arrived shortly and were consumed just as quick.

And just when I was contemplating the next stage of my attack, Tillie's mom called and said the spring festival at Pratt was going on and there was a big bouncy castle out there. I decided to abort the mission and figured fun with the family at a bouncy castle would be a great alternative to beer drankin' and brat eatin' all day!

So I packed up, threw in my share of the tab and headed out with Tillie to meet TM on a nice Friday afternoon.

This is usually the part of Lunchtime With Tillie where I say if I'd recommend the place or not. I hope I made it obvious throughout this here tale how I feel about Der Schwarze Kölner! But in case I wasn't clear, then yes, I'll be back: It's the perfect place for parents and kids to go. I plan on being there most Fridays eating till I can't eat anymore--at least until Lent comes back around!

Lunchtime With Tillie: Pilar

Can you believe it? Scooped by The New York Times!

Hey everyone, it's Van and Tillie, and this time the Lunchtime With Tillie Express stopped off at Cuban restaurant Pilar, located on Classon Avenue, the day after the place just hit the big time with its review in The New York Times' Dining section.

I thought T and I would have been the first major players to write up the place, but I guess if we have to come in second to someone it might as well be the Times!

Pilar worked out as a logical choice for us to go because I was dropping Tillie off for a couple of hours at one of her little chum's house, who only lives a block or two down from the place. Then I was off to get some daddy time (or rather, hit-the-computer-and-look-for-freelance-work time).

Before going there, I had a pretty good idea of what we were going to eat: I was going to get the quarter-chicken, black beans and rice lunch special and Tillie would have one of whatever empanada they had. (And maybe an extra empanada would make its way into the mix for the big guy!)

But in looking at the glass casing where the food was, said empanadas were nowhere to be found. I asked the owner of the place who was behind the counter were they out and he confirmed my worries. Empanadas had been pretty hard to come by after the Times article and by the time we got there later in the day, they were way gone, so there went that part of the lunch plan for Tillie—and me, too. I had them before, but she was going to be missing out.

Luckily, there was a ton of other options to choose from scrawled on the black board. One thing, in particular, caught my eye: a soup with chickpeas, bacon and potatoes. I wasn't sure if Tillie was that big a chickpea eater: She's eaten falafel before and hummus, too, but I didn't think she had them in there whole form. It sounded good, though, and if she didn't like it, I'd give her some black beans and rice.

So after placing our order, that's when we hit a big snag: where to sit. Plenty of spaces were available, but there was no high chair. I didn't have too many worries when it came to that; I figured I could just feed Tillie with her sitting in the stroller. But the only seats available were the tall chairs that they have for the high tables or ones outside with no table. I went for the high seat and got settled in.

The food arrived within five minutes: a steaming bowl of soup with a big plate of the chicken, black beans and rice. I was quite curious about the soup, so I took a bite first. It was loaded with chickpeas, big chunks of bacon and potatoes, and was tasty—even though it didn't burst with flavor like I thought it would. After I had a bite, I was put to the test with trying to figure out how to feed Tillie from my elevated position. I didn't want to keep getting out of my seat for every bite, so I reached down with another hand under the spoon and gave her her first taste. She took to it right away, which definitely impressed me. It was a long time ago, but I know I wasn't eating chickpea soup at 17 months!

So after giving her a few bites, I was able to start eating my food. I know it may be a basic meal, but I really love the chicken, black beans and rice combo, and Pilar's doesn't disappoint. The chicken was nice and juicy and the beans were flavorful. And since I was dipping into Tillie's soup, I figured I'd reciprocate and give her some beans and rice, which worked out good for her.

I didn't think we'd do it, but we managed to get through all that food, save a chickpea or 12. And there were no major spills to report, despite the precarious position I was feeding her from!

I went to the counter to pay, then thought, "You know what would make a tasty treat for Tillie? Some good-ol' plantains!" I asked for some, but they were out at the moment. They told me it would just take a couple of minutes to prepare some more, though. I really appreciated that because it wasn't that big a deal for her to have some. And they were right, it did take a really short time. I can't really report on how Tillie enjoyed the fresh, hot plantains because we got them to go for her to bring over to her pal's house. After that, we took off for Tillie's playdate.

The bill was reasonable, I felt, at $15—and that was for a lot of food. The people working there were extremely nice, which just adds to the highlights of the place, and the food was more than satisfying—both taste- and filling-wise. However, the seating sitch was kind of tricky. The owner told me he needed to get a high chair. Until then, we'll probably get our food to go—and get there earlier for empanadas!

Free Bike Helmet Giveaway a Pratt's Green Week

Every year Pratt Institute holds its annual Green Week celebration, promoting green design, sustainable living, and environmentally conscious community.  As part of Green Week and for the last three years in a row, student group Envirolution has invited the Department of Transportation to give away FREE bicycle helmets.  This event is free and open to the public, as with all of this year's Green Week events. The details:

DOT Free Helmet Giveaway Next Tuesday March 30th 11am - 3pm Center of Pratt Campus ** In the Student Union in case of rain A parent or legal guardians must come with children under 18 to receive a free helmet

For more information about Green Week and the DOT Free Helmet giveaway - please take a look at www.sustainablepratt.org/greenweek/

Helmets can be expensive, and this event is a great all-ages stop for a free helmet and some cycling safety tips.

Parents Around the Hill

I do not have children, nor am I expecting, but I am definitely more aware of kid-related stuff now than I was when I started this blog four years ago.  Recently, I came across a group called Parents Around the Hill.  It's members only, but looks to be a free group. Are any readers members?  Membership is restricted to parents and expectant parents, so I can't join and tell you more about it.

What are your favorite kid-related resources in the neighborhood?

Lunchtime With Tillie: Amin

“It’s Tillie and Pops/Tillie and Pops/We’re pullin’ out all the stops/It’s Tillie and Pops/Tillie and Pops/Better watch out and call the cops … ” Hey everyone , and welcome back to Lunchtime With Tillie! I was feeling a little nostalgic so I thought I’d share some of the lyrics to a little song I made up when I started staying home with Tillie. That song came to mind because this is the first LWT of 2010 where it’s just the two of us as Tillie’s mom couldn’t make it out. (She says hi!) We missed her, but the show must go on, and that it did as T and I went to Indian restaurant Amin on Dekalb Avenue.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m usually a Kinara’s guy: Really good food and a great lunch special (50 percent off the whole menu!) make it hard to top. But since Tillie and I hadn’t gone to Amin yet in our food forays, I thought it would be nice to drop by. And personally, I hadn’t been there since way back when it was the only show in town. Back then, I wasn’t blown away by it, but things change, so who knows?

Anyway, we got to the place kind of late one afternoon and it was empty, except for the employees. Tillie and I had our run of the place as far as seating went, so I took a spot where I could leave the stroller unfolded. I got a high chair from one of the guys working there, but bad news: The buckle to strap the kid in was broken and it was the only high chair they had. Great, I thought, because keeping Tillie down in a high chair is tough under optimal conditions and these conditions were a little far from that. I set her in it, with extra attention paid to her escape ambitions!

She had a menu to play with that kept her occupied, while I took a look at mine to see the lunch specials. I usually go for a lamb dish when I eat Indian food, so I picked the lamb bhuna this time: chunks of lamb cooked in a thick, spicy sauce. I ordered that, along with some plain nan and an order of samosas for an appetizer.

While we waited for the food, Tillie noticed an elephant statue on the floor that she wanted to go over and play with. I took her out of the chair—which wasn’t too hard, seeing as how she wasn’t exactly strapped down—and let her walk over to the statue. She pet it a few times, pointed at the various studs adjoining it and pretty much just got a kick out of it. In the midst of this fun time, the samosas arrived.

We got back to the table, ready to dig in—or at least I was: Tillie was still thinking about her new pal on the floor. I thought samosas—pastries stuffed with potatoes and peas—would be perfect for Tillie, so I gave her the first bite. She seemed to like it, so I followed her up with a bite of my own. It was OK, nothing to write home about. The samosas were served over a brown sauce and a green sauce. (Sorry I don’t know the proper names of them, but I’m sure you readers out there know what I’m talking about: I can call them brown samosa sauce and green samosa sauce!) Tillie liked the brown better than the green, and me? I’m kind of ambivalent about them: I guess I’m not the sauce-distinguishing connoisseur that Tillie is!

The lamb, rice and lamb arrived shortly after and I have to say, it all looked pretty good. I took a bite of the lamb first to see if it was going to be too spicy for Tillie. I thought it had a little kick to it, so I gave T some rice with the brown samosa sauce on it. She was eating that pretty steadily, which was a good sign as far as her getting a decent serving of food in her lil’ tummy. I was able to fix myself some lamb over the rice and I have to say I was a little disappointed. The first bite I took before serving Tillie didn’t blow me away and the follow-up failed to, as well. The dish was a little greasy and the sauce seemed to be like a coagulant over the meat: In other words, it wasn’t enough to hit all the rice. And as far as dipping my nan in the sauce, forget about it: There just wasn’t much to go around. I tried to offer Tillie some nan dipped in what little sauce I could muster up, but she wasn’t interested.

As I mentioned, the dish had a little kick to it, so I finished my water early on in the meal. I was about halfway through with my food before anyone came back around to give me any more. Tillie’s sippy cup of milk never looked so good …

I ended up giving Tillie a taste of the lamb and rice, and it wasn’t too much for her to handle. Then I finished up and asked for the check. When it came, it reflected my whole experience there: disappointing. The bill was $14.35, not including the tip, which is a little much for a below ho-hum meal.

So in other words, I don’t think we’ll be back: The lunch special wasn’t that special, the water was distributed as if they were conserving it and there’s only one broken high chair. But I guess T had fun with that elephant, so if she wants to go back, she’s picking up the check: Her half of the royalties on the “Tillie and Pops” song should be enough to cover it.

Lunchtime With Tillie: Brooklyn Flea

Hey everyone, it’s Team LWT back with another installment of Lunchtime With Tillie. Sorry we missed you last week: Yours truly was a little slack on getting Baby T out of the house to eat. (Don’t worry; we had food in the house for her!) But since we didn’t get out and about, we decided to make up for that with a trip that brought multiple food places together under one roof, the Brooklyn Flea at 1 Hanson Place. I’ve been trying to arrange a trip there for the family for weeks now, but I usually do some freelance work on Saturdays a million miles away in Westchester County and by the time I have to start my trip by plane, train and automobile to get to the job, Tillie’s just waking up from her nap. But I was off this past Saturday, and my flea market mission was not to be denied!

So as soon as T woke up from her midmorning nap, I loaded her up in her stroller to go there, where Tillie’s mom was waiting for us. Tillie’s mom had been out all morning looking at wedding dresses (she’s getting married to a really awesome dude, I hear) and beat us to the place. We talked on my way there and she volunteered to hop in the line where they were serving pupusas. Since I had been saying for months—since the outdoor Flea days—that I wanted to try a pupusa, this was greatly appreciated.

After finally arriving there, we were all set to head downstairs, but there was a slight snag. As I mentioned a few sentences ago, I threw Tillie in the stroller to take her to the Flea. We have an Ergo carrier, but I had only worn it once at that point and I had NO idea how to put it on by myself in backpack mode: Parents out there, I’m sure you understand. Anyway, back to the snag; there was no elevator to get down to the food. No worries as I just carried her down, but it was a lot of stairs to deal with and sometimes it could be said I might have a wee bit of a lazy side.

We got down there and quickly found Tillie’s mom standing in line. Tillie was kind of lethargic on our way down to the Flea, but perked up some when she saw mommy! I un-strollered her and off she went into TM’s waiting arms, joining her to get the much-awaited pupusas.

But …

There were so many other options around and the pupusas didn’t look like all they were cracked up to be, so I decided to make the rounds. I know, so close, yet so far away. Right next to the Red Hook vendors was The Good Fork stand, which had pork and vegetable dumplings as well as gumbo. I thought dumplings would make a good food choice for Tillie, even though she had pupusas in her immediate future. But I figured why not just let her have a taste of everything; I’ll get some dumplings, too. And since I was on this Brooklyn Flea-food-melange kick …

Why not get a grilled cheese sandwich at Milk Truck? Tillie has a grilled cheese sandwich almost every morning, but not like these, with the aged gruyere and crispy bread. If she likes my little cheddar sandwiches I make for her on my Foreman Grill, she’ll love these! So I went over to place the order for a grilled cheese classic, and since it takes a few minutes for those to be prepared, I sauntered back to Good Fork and got some pork dumplings. As soon as they were done, I made my way back to Milk Truck just in time to pick up that cheesy goodness for the fam. I went out to join T and TM, who were sitting on the floor next to Sigmund’s Pretzel Stand. Tillie’s mom had the pupusas, I had the grilled cheese sandwich and dumplings, and Tillie?

She had other plans.

Remember when I said she was kind of lethargic on the way down? Well, she snapped back to her usual playful personality and really had no interest in eating. She wanted to spend most of her time wandering a few feet away from us then coming back. I think she was entertained by seeing all the people in one place, and she also had fun dancing to the music playing.

In between her dancing and running, she did grab a bite of dumpling and pupusa, but had nothing to do with the grilled cheese. I guess my sandwiches are her favorite after all! But, if I’m to be honest about it, Milk Truck has me beat hands-down.

After Tillie’s mom and I finished eating, we packed up the leftover pupusas for Tillie (which proved to be a good move as she ate them while we were walking around later on). We got her back in the stroller then made our way out of the basement, back to street level and headed out—all of us satisfied with the trip.

If you haven’t been to the Flea yet, which I would be shocked about, then you should go soon, for sure. I think there’s something to eat for everyone at good prices. I would say, though, if you’re bringing the kid, take the carrier because it can get pretty tight there. I know we’ll be back soon, this time with Tillie ready to eat because we still have to try the Connecticut lobster roll and fish tacos and spinach pie and Asia Dogs and …

Lunchtime With Tillie: Bubby's

Hey everyone out there, it’s the whole family once again (me, Tillie and Tillie’s mom) with tales of our latest dining adventure. And since it was the whole family, we decided to go to the family-friendliest restaurant of them all, Bubby’s in DUMBO. None of us had ever been before, but we heard the legends of how this place is supposedly a Mecca for the with-kids set, and I have to say after going, it pretty much was. But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself: Let me add our tale to the story of Bubby’s.

We went on a Sunday, when we had all intentions of getting out of the house and doing something fun for the day, especially as how Tillie started feeling better after suffering from an ear infection for about a week and a half. Tillie’s mom was suffering from a cold over that time, too, but was coming around the bend on her illness as well. So after I added up all the factors – healthier baby and mom, nice but cold day, starving dad who needed to write an LWT for this week on a place he’d never been before – the choice was made to go to Bubby’s.

We decided to take a car service down to the restaurant and bring the stroller along instead of trying to march all the way to DUMBO through the blistering wind. The trip was pretty smooth and we entered the sprawling place ready for a fun time. I looked over to my side while we were at the hostess stand and saw a couple of strollers parked, and thought, “Wow, that’s really cool. You don’t have to bring your stroller over to your table and worry about folding it up.” Then I thought, “Wait, where’s our stroller?” I blurted out “Stroller!” then ran outside because I realized we had left ours in the trunk! I ran to the edge of the block, but the car was nowhere in sight. I called the car service and the driver made a return trip, I got the stroller and headed back in.

When I got to the table, Tillie was already in her high chair, coloring on one of those kid’s paper place/activity mat and nibbling on a piece of a biscuit. Tillie’s mom was preparing more biscuit, this time with jam, for the little one and I thought, “Man, that was fast!” As I was starving, I laid claim on a whole biscuit upon taking my seat.

We took a look at the menus, and I had gotten one that just had lunch and dinner options on it, while Tillie’s mom had the one with brunch and lunch choices. We just shared hers as it had the specials of the day, which included such options as an apple bacon omelet and a jalapeno scramble with gruyere. There were so many intriguing options, but I just went with – yep, you probably guessed it – a burger with bacon and cheddar. But before you say, “Not another bacon cheeseburger!” let me explain.

One of my doctors said I need to stop eating red meat, unless it’s organic and then only once in a while. So since I’m such a diligent doctor-heeder, it had been a while since I had a burger. Plus, these burgers were flagged on the menu as being made of grass-fed beef, so it made the choice easier. Granted, the bacon probably wasn’t grass-fed ...

Tillie’s mom ordered the apple bacon omelet and we figured there’d be plenty for Tillie to have from our plates. TM placed the orders while I was doing what we really came to do – go to the play area!

It’s not every day you go to a restaurant that has its own play space, but I guess that’s what makes Bubby’s Bubby’s. Some kids were already down there and Tillie nestled her way in there, too. There were books and tons of toys for her to play with. The electronic toys didn’t have batteries, but that didn’t matter to the kids, who I’m sure must’ve been like, “Now this place is fun, not those lame-o places mom and dad usually take us.”

Anyway, as TM and I were hovering outside of the play space and letting T do her own thing, our waiter came by and told us our food was ready. We pried Tillie away to go to our table where some good-looking dishes awaited.

Once we got all settled back in, I dove into my eagerly anticipated burger. It was good, but for some reason, organic beef just doesn’t do it for me that much. This might be a sad statement, but sometimes I find it tastes kind of weird as opposed to the other way around! Tillie had some and seemed to like it, that and my french fries. The omelet Tillie’s mom ordered looked absolutely delicious; I never would’ve thought of bacon and apples combined with eggs, but I guess that’s why I’m not a chef! TM hooked me up with a bite with all the ingredients, and I found the apple to have a subtle taste mixed in with the omelet. The bacon really balanced nicely with it.

We finished our food, then took turns watching over Tillie in the play area. She was covering some territory there and beyond the play-space boundaries! The whole restaurant was roomy, so there was no containing her! But alas, we couldn’t stay in Bubby’s forever, so we got the check, paid it and left to walk around DUMBO a little more.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be back as it really is THE child-friendly place around. We can’t really rush back there too soon because for all its perks – super-nice staff and accommodations, tasty food – it was a little expensive when you factor in our car trips, too. I would recommend all parents of young children get there at some point. The restaurant’s motto for parents with young kids in tow should be, “You have arrived.”

CHB Interviews: Karla Schickele, The Willie May Rock Camp for Girls

Recently, a friend of mine told me about a fundraiser she was working on to benefit the Willie May Rock Camp for Girls, a non-profit music program based in Fort Greene.  "Rock Camp?  In Fort Greene?" I thought.  I chatted with Executive Director Karla Schickele about what they offer and about the upcoming benefit. 1. What exactly is the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls? Officially, it's a non-profit music and mentoring program that empowers girls and women through music education and activities that foster self-respect, leadership skills, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. Unofficially, it's the funnest summer day camp in New York City... and a brand-new arts education center in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill.

2. Who is the camp open to?  What age groups? The camp is open to girls age 8 to 18. No musical experience necessary, and tuition is sliding scale.

3. How did the camp end up in Fort Greene? We were looking for a year-round home where we could have our office, store our music gear, and most importantly, have a practice space so we could make music during the year. Two of us on staff have toddlers who go to The Coop School, so we heard the school was looking for tenants in their new building on Irving Place, and the space turned out to be perfect.

4. How many programs are offered? In addition to the summer camp, we do Music Club, which is a weekly after school program for girls here in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, a D.J. program at the Urban Assembly School of Music and Art, plus we offer lessons and practice space for youth bands.

5. What about grown-ups?  Anything for grown up girls? Glad you asked! We do Ladies Rock Camp for adult women every summer, which is a long-weekend version of the summer camp -- instrument classes, band practice, and a big concert at the end. Wicked fun. And all the money goes to the scholarship fund of the summer camp, so it's a feel-good experience all around. We also do a weekly Ladies Jam drop-in session at our space that's open to all women! 6. Tell us about your upcoming fundraiser. Our annual ROCK N' ROLL AUCTION is next Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. at The Knitting Factory. The hilarious Murray Hill will emcee and serve as auctioneer, Kaki King will perform, Erin McKeown will write a love song on the spot for the highest bidder, and camper bands Saffire and The Awkward Turtles will play. We have amazing items to auction off, including local stuff like party space at Still Hip, kid stuff like Big Apple Circus tickets, and grown-up stuff like a beer party for 40 at the Brooklyn Brewery. We're also doing an ebay auction of hot items like a mic signed by Tori Amos and a guitar signed by Sheryl Crow. For more information, http://williemaerockcamp.org/auction.html 7. How long have you lived in the neighborhood?  What brought you here? I've lived in Brooklyn since I was 3, but I moved to Fort Greene in 2005, five minutes after I met my partner Kate. Now we have two kids and we're still in the same one-bedroom. The neighborhood is powerful like that! 8. If you could change one thing about the neighborhood, what would it be and why? Now that we have a bookstore? Hmmm....a Westbeth-style living place for artists and (ahem) non-profit leaders, to make it possible for us to remain in the community.

9. What's your favorite local hangout? Bittersweet! and Outpost!

10. If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why? Well, I don't know, but my son Emmet and I were playing ice cream stand at playgroup at the Lafayette Church yesterday, and he offered me an imaginary cone with what really sounded like "Sticker Shock Chocolate." So that's my new favorite flavor.


Who wants to do grown up Rock Camp with me?!

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls 87 Irving Place Brooklyn NY 11238 (347) 599-0716 www.williemaerockcamp.org ROCK N' ROLL AUCTION Tuesday, Feb. 9 The Knitting Factory with Murray Hill and Kaki King 361 Metropolitan Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11211

Lunchtime With Tillie: Kum Kau

Hey everyone, it’s Van and Tillie again, and making her first appearance of the new year, it’s Tillie’s mom, too! This time, we went out for a little family dining at Chinese restaurant Kum Kau on Myrtle Avenue.

Tillie and I were a little hard-pressed to make it out somewhere during the week as I picked up some freelance work out in the city for a few days. (LWT doesn’t pay all the bills!) Waiting for the weekend was good, though, as TM was able to come along. We all went out last Sunday afternoon, and as it was raining, we decided to find a place close to the homestead. That was really a necessity because we couldn’t find Tillie’s stroller cover to go traipsing around the neighborhood, so Kum Kau was duly elected!

Tillie’s mom packed up some blueberries and milk for the little one, whom we had to carry around in her backpack, and we were off. Kum Kau seemed to be a good choice as far as Tillie was concerned because greeting us in the entranceway was a huge tank of fish, just like at neighboring Sapolo. With that there we knew our entertainment options were in good hands – or fins, as the case may be!

Anyway, we were shown to the spacious dining room and were told we could sit anywhere as the waiter grabbed a high chair for Tillie.

The menu had more than enough to offer, but Tillie’s mom and I just ordered a few items that weren’t too out of the ordinary: She got the chicken with broccoli with brown rice and I ordered Singapore chow mai fun – rice noodles with curry, shrimp, chicken and pork – and fried chicken wings.

As we were waiting for the food to come out, we took turns walking Tillie around the place, especially as we couldn’t keep her pinned down in her high chair. I’m sure they weren’t made for standing in them! TM had her captivated by the walls with the water running down into what looked like a coin trough, while I took her back to her finny friends.

Shortly after we sat (or stood) back in our seats, our food arrived. I had a heaping helping of noodles I was almost anxious to dive into as I wanted to taste Kum Kau’s take on what has become my favorite Chinese dish. TM’s chicken and broccoli – which used to be my old fave – looked to be standard issue, as did the chicken wings. I didn’t try the chicken and broccoli, but I was quite pleased with my noodles: There were plenty of shrimp in it, plus it had a nice kick to it. The “kick” prevented me from giving Tillie much of it, but she did sample a noodle or two. Tillie’s mom always says I never share my food with T when we’re all out, but I couldn’t really this time: The noodles were too spicy. I promise I didn’t want it all for myself! (Pizza, on the other hand … )

Mainly, T was eating broccoli and brown rice with tiny pieces of chicken thrown in for good measure. Tillie’s mom was doing most of the feeding, but I did give Tillie some pilfered florets from mom’s plate every now and then.

After we finished eating, we got our leftovers wrapped up and asked for the check. We let Tillie walk around a little bit more and she made friends with some of the customers at other tables. The staff there was really nice to us – especially with chatting up Tillie and even bringing her her own fortune cookie! I recommend going by, especially if you have a hankering to get you and your baby some Chinese food.

Our bill was $27, which wasn’t bad for the two entrees, appetizer and a can of Diet Coke for Tillie’s mom, who didn’t get her morning fix and really needed it by lunchtime! Plenty of space, pretty decent food and good service earned it some good marks with the fam. Having built-in Tillie distractions doesn’t hurt the cause, either!

Lunchtime With Tillie: Thai 101

Now that award season is over, it’s time to get back to business!
Hey everyone and welcome back to your regular Lunchtime With Tillie presentation. This time, yours truly and Lil T went to Thai 101 on Myrtle Avenue.

Now as shown by them receiving the coveted “Best Bang for Your Buck” honor at last week’s LWT Awards, it’s obvious we’re fans of Myrtle Thai at our homestead. As a matter of fact, I had never even tried Thai 101 before. I was always kind of leery about it – with its name and signage, it just reminded me of a place you’d come across in a mall or something. And the eating’s never really that great in a mall.

Anyway, Tillie and I went there last Friday, you know, when there was that wintry mix thing going on throughout the day. That necessitated us finding a place within a two-block radius from home, and as we’ve hit nearly everywhere else around for LWT, Thai 101 was duly elected. I packed her up some shells and cheese, just in case, and we were off.

When we got there, the waiter told us feel free to sit anywhere. The aisle separating the restaurant was kind of narrow and I didn’t want Tillie’s stroller to get in his way. I ended up sitting kind of close to the front door and he suggested that it might be too cold there for the baby with people coming and going. So we ended up getting settled in closer to the back of the place.

The waiter brought Tillie and me glasses of water, and I started going over the menu. I had an idea already of what route I was going to take: red curry with chicken. You see, when I go to a place I hadn’t been before, I like to order a dish that is or is comparable to my favorite at a similar restaurant. I figure if they get your staple dish right, then you can feel free to explore other menu options. What can I say? I’m just a staples-comparing kind of guy!

With my plans mostly set and the lunchtime options so affordable, I decided to delve further into the menu and see if I can sneak something else in for me and T. In addition to the red curry with chicken lunch special, which I got with a bowl of soup, I ordered the chicken curry puffs for an appetizer. Granted, a good amount of food, but as always, Tillie and I were up for the challenge.

As we were waiting for our first courses to come out, Tillie was pretty chill. She was savoring her water, which to you and me might not seem such a great drink option, but to her it was quite refreshing!

The soup and the chicken curry puffs came out at the same time, and I took the obligatory first bite of puff to make sure it wouldn’t be too hot for Tillie to handle. I determined it was OK and gave her a little piece of the pastry filled with ground chicken and potatoes. That seemed to be a good enough combination for her and me too. The puffs were so tasty, in fact, I ordered another round! My soup, while not anything super-special – broth with carrots, cabbage and Thai basil – was also tasty.

Then the red curry came out, and if anything, I thought the presentation of it was very appealing: The curry sauce and chicken lined the bottom of the bowl, with a heaping mound of rice on one side and vegetables on the other. It was almost too pretty to eat – almost. It wouldn’t be LWT if I didn’t eat the food! I took a bite and thought it tasted good, but not great. It was a little spicy, but I went ahead and dished up some for Tillie: She likes food with some kick to it! Really, it ended up just being some rice with an essence of sauce on it, with a lot of carrots and green beans thrown in for good measure for her. She’s a growing girl after all!

After the food was all done we bundled back up and got the check. The tab was pretty decent as the lunch special is only $5.95 for an entrée and soup or salad. We probably would’ve stumbled upon the deal of the decade, but we got some food to go for Tillie’s mom and had the exorbitant amount of chicken curry puffs! I think those little pastries, combined with the good service and friendly vibe of the place, will bring us back again.

Lunchtime With Tillie: The LWT Awards

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you had a good holiday season. It’s Van and Tillie here and before we embark on a new season of lunchtime escapades, we thought we’d send off ’09 properly with the first LWT Awards!

I started my mealtime mission with Tillie back in June and she has gone from eating Cheerios to becoming a mini-foodie in her own right.

We’ve had some great dining experiences over the past few months, and the LWT Awards recognizes the best of those and all that went into them. And, oh, here’s a disclaimer: The awards just represent the places we’ve visited, so if I list a “best burger,” it’s just from LWT-visited places. Got it? Good! So without further ado, we present the LWT Awards!

The envelopes please …

Best bacon cheeseburger: Why not start off with a personal favorite category? I am doing all the writing, after all! Anyway, if you’ve been following LWT, then you know there were a lot of those eaten by yours truly! It was close, but the winner is Maggie Brown. The cheese smothering the bacon is a technique more places need to take up.

Best bang for your buck: I never realized there were so many lunchtime specials in the neighborhood, until I started frequenting the places more. There are plenty of good deals, but the food might not be up to snuff. This award takes into account food quality and price with the leading contenders being Myrtle Thai, Kinara and Mojito. We’re going to have to give the prize to Myrtle Thai, as Tillie enjoyed the green curry and rice there more. We were both able to eat off the one dish there and walk away full.

Best food but not the best experience: This one has to go to the previously mentioned Mojito. The food was amazing, but in all the places we went, this was the only one that radiated that, “Aw man, a baby’s here” vibe.

Best outdoor setup: Remember back in the old days when it used to be warm? When you could sit outside and enjoy a meal? Ahh, memories! Well, this award recognizes the perfect place to take advantage of that, and after some serious consultation with Tillie, we have to say Anima deserves this one. Its backyard space makes you feel like you’re dining out at a café in Italy.

Best innovation by me to get Tillie to eat her veggies: With Tillie being a baby and all, sometimes it gets tricky with her eating habits. Well, this award recognizes a stunt that I had to pull off to get out of a mess I created. The scene was Brooklyn Public House and I gave T some french fries in the middle of her eating her butternut squash soup I brought along. After tasting the fries, there was no way she was going back to the soup. So I came up with dipping a fry in the soup, putting it in her mouth and pulling it out so she got the soup, while simultaneously inventing a french fry spoon! She finished the soup and I was able to land an exclusive deal with Ore-Ida: Look for the french fry spoon at your nearest grocery store in 2012.

Best LWT guest: We did have a great time at Umi Nom with Tillie’s friend Amira and Amira’s pop. But this award has to go with the woman responsible for the LWT team: Tillie’s mom! She made it out with us to Zaytoon’s and 67 Burger, and on the former visit, she even picked up the check. You gotta love that!

Best entertainment for Tillie: Wow, all these categories are so tough. There were the toy trains at Square Root Café, the menus at various restaurants, the straw baskets at Castro’s, the airplane outside Madiba and the fish tank at Sapolo. Trains are always great, T says, but for her money, it has to be those fish. It feels like we spent hours looking at them to me, but she couldn’t get enough.

Best pizza: You’ve heard me rant and rave about how much I love pizza, and how I plan on shaping Tillie to be the same way. We’ve had plenty of it over her little lifetime, and we agree the best pizza we’ve come across doing Lunchtime With Tillie has to be the mini tomato pizza at the 3 Luigi’s. I’m telling you now: Go there and get one! And give your kid a slice or two – they’ll thank you for it!

Best shock to my system, food-wise: Never in a million years did I think I would go there, but after getting knocked around for my bacon cheeseburger habit (see above), I decided to go the complete opposite route and hit vegan restaurant Red Bamboo. I never thought soy chops and collard greens with vegan ham could taste so good!

Best shock to my wallet, but it was worth it: T and I were walking around one fine afternoon when we stumbled upon Luz. I always thought it was closed on the weekdays. We went in and I got the arepas for Tillie, while I had the salmon. It wasn’t the cheapest of lunches, by any means, but it was definitely worth splurging on.

Best after-lunch treat: There are no other competitors here: Ice cream from the cart outside The General Greene made many a sunny afternoon for me. My favorite combo? A scoop of honey vanilla and one of salted caramel – delicious! Tillie didn’t get to have any, but maybe next year!

And with that, Tillie and I say thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the LWT Awards. We’ll pick up with your regular Lunchtime With Tillie presentation next week!