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

Vandalism at Loft 45

Apparently, the Chocolate Bar on Waverly near Park is now called Loft 45.  This notice popped into my inbox this past weekend: You should check out the vandalism that took place at  Loft 45 (formerly the Chocolate Bar @ 45 Waverly Avenue) on Saturday evening.

I walked by yesterday, and it looked like most of the windows had been smashed.  Anyone know what happened?

First Friday at RePop: 12/4

This just in from RePop: repopxmas

We can't believe it, but the holidays are already here again.  Why break tradition?  Put your merriest foot forward this Friday and take a look at some real buried treasures!

The New Jewels of Miss Ellie will be on view from Dec 3 - 7, for a special trunk show event.

This season, you will find the best impulse gifts to delight your mom, your girlfriends, your babysitter or yourself: the Curious Cocktail Ring: Rare Birds, hands-holding-bouquets, angels and insects: one-size-fits every finger, $29-40 each. Old World Lockets are also the perfect personalized gift.

John Mathias will be showing  "Crushing Silence" a collection of photographs and paintings that evoke a quiet and mysterious beauty in landscape and still-life. Images of a post-human world in reverent abstraction from the beaches to the concrete canyons of the city.

This limited collection is vibrant and haunting, offering an ideal gift or decorative option for any interior in need of a conversational splash.

Meet the artists at our First Friday Christmas Party, Dec 4, from 5pm - 9pm.  Join us for some good wine, scrumptious appetizers and delightful conversation in one of the most eclectic and festive atmospheres in town!

RePop 68 Washington Ave.

Lunch With Tillie: Il Porto

By my estimates, I’ve eaten about 736,984 slices of pizza in my lifetime. My little pizza-loving companion Tillie has a long way to go, but I’ll get her there!

Hey everyone, it’s Van and Baby T, and as we both had pizza on the minds, we decided to swing down to Italian restaurant Il Porto between Flushing and Park avenues on Washington for our latest lunchtime jaunt. (I don’t know for sure if Tillie really had pizza on her mind, but if she’s anything like her pop, she did!)

A funny thing about Il Porto: I’ve only had it once and that was way back around when it first opened, pre-Tillie even. I say “a funny thing” because being such a big pizza fan, it seems like I would’ve made it there again. I’ve talked to people around the ‘hood who rave about it, but I guess that first time around wasn’t enough to make me a convert.

And while I was in the mood of trying something relatively new, I took it a step further and went all-out on this one: I didn’t pack any back-up food for Tillie. None of her pasta, none of her pureed carrots, none of her grapes – just a few bunny graham crackers. If lunch at the restaurant didn’t work out for her, we were close enough to home to just pack up and head there.

Anyway, we started off down Washington to the place and made it to Park Avenue. Looming before us, though, was the BQE in its state of constant repair. At least the tarps weren’t blocking the Washington entrance, but scarily enough, there were signs warning pedestrians to keep out from the part under the bridge where cars usually park due to poisonous materials in the area. We weren’t going in that section, but still had to walk way closer to it than I would’ve liked. Needless to say, we ran through!

When we got to Il Porto, I went in through the side that appeared to be more casual, where pies were under the glass and you just order at the counter. That part was packed, which must be a good sign for the pizza, I thought. However, it wasn’t going to work for us with the stroller and all, so we went to the beautifully arranged dining room. This side was empty, save for a couple of customers, so we were able to have our pick of the place to sit. I found a nice table on the side where I could put Tillie in the high chair without obstructing anyone’s path and also where I wouldn’t have to collapse her stroller.

I looked over the menu, which you might be asking yourself, “Why, Van? Didn’t you just want a pizza? What’s so hard about that?” Well, friends, Il Porto offers a number of specialty pizzas, all with names paying tribute to the neighborhood, such as the Navy Yard and the Wallabout. I was intrigued by some of the offerings, but remember, I was sharing with Tillie, so I went as basic as I could and just ordered the Margherita pie. Then, since I remembered babies can’t live on pizza alone, I ordered a bowl of minestrone soup and asked for some bread, too. lwtilporto-tillie

The bread basket arrived with a variety of pieces to choose from. I gave Tillie one of the twisted pieces to chew on, then the soup came. I was a little shocked when it arrived to the table because the bowl was huge! It was like they brought the pot to our table and left the little cup I was expecting in the back. Tillie had a few bites of the soup, which was loaded down with fresh vegetables, and though I’m not much of minestrone fan myself, I have to admit it had a pretty decent flavor. There was no way we were going to be able to finish it all, but we gave it a shot. Plus, we had pizza to deal with!

And speak of the devil, our pizza arrived, and it was a welcome sight to see: The crust had that nice brick-oven char to it, the cheese was plentiful (which can be a rarity sometimes on Margherita pies, I feel) and the sauce looked rich. Since I’ve eaten so much pizza in my time, I decided the first bite should go to my little dining companion, so I cut her off a little piece, blew on it to cool it down and let her have at it. After she had her bite and I had a taste, we proceeded to scarf it down: pizza sauce was flying everywhere! About 10 minutes later, we were all done, with not so much as a gob of cheese left on the serving tray.

lwtilporto-foodSo we were satisfied with the pie, even though in hindsight I was thinking I should have gotten some pepperoni added to it or something, which could’ve really set it off. Plus, we were able to make it through the meal without any of her backup dishes. I’m still not a complete Il Porto convert, but I would go back. First, though, there a couple of things I’ll have to consider.

One was the check: My bill was over 20 bucks, which was partially my fault with ordering the unneeded soup, most of which we didn’t eat. But $3 for a 20-ounce soda seemed a little unnecessary.

Then there was the sake of even getting to the place, which isn’t in the restaurant’s hands. Avoiding the areas where work is being done or marked off as being toxic is tough when traveling with a baby. I live on Hall Street between Myrtle and Willoughby, and unfortunately, it’s not a straight shot down: I have to go down Washington like I did before or, I assume, walk all the way down to Myrtle and Carlton, then head toward Park and backtrack to Washington. I don’t want to burden you with all my logistical hang-ups, but it’s still something to think about if making a lunchtime choice.

If it gets to be too much for me to head down there, there’s always delivery, as I’m sure Tillie and I have more Il Porto pizza eating to do!

First Friday at RePop: October 2

From RePop, hosting another fabulous First Friday: The seasons seem to have changed at the speed of light and autumn has arrived!  Thus a new First Friday is upon us where RePOP is proud to clear its walls and open its doors for another fantastic show.

This October we feature a viewing not to be missed by Scott Graeber.

120Since the age of eighteen every job that Mr. Graeber has had centered around death and the disassembling of the human body.  Over twenty years of such work has pushed him into a permanent melancholy.  His art, however, has flourished under these circumstances, even as the rest of his life (and body) gradually dissolves.

Several years of figurative study have brought him to a point where he is satisfied these experiences can be translated to clay or canvas.

Why frescos?

"In a world where electronics are replacing our ears, eyes and skin, natural material has becoming critical.  As our souls fade people have started to cling to everything home made.  From farmers markets to hand knit socks we are searching for whatever seems fundamentally real.  The nuclear age has kicked our asses and left us feeling hollow.  Wood, copper, lime, sand and minerals, these things are all sound and real.  They are fresco.  When a fresco is started you only have a few hours to work before it's all over.  When the lime is fixed the mineral pigments are bound for as long as the wall stands.  No time to correct errors, no second thoughts, what's done is done - beautiful.  This is why I do fresco." ~ Scott Graeber

This particular collection offers a an entrance into the season with an adornment of renderings and unique musings.

The shop will be open for business on this special evening offering a first hand glimpse at Graeber's collection.

Join us at the shop on October 2nd and enjoy a wonderful evening of art and wine.

95% Recycled
68 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

First Friday Art Parties Return to RePop

September is upon us, and RePop's hosting a First Friday art event on Friday, September 4. It's always a good crowd. ffsept09

Event: The 11th Hour "Fine Art & Illustrations by Amy M. Asher & Arian Gimbutas" What: Exhibit Host: RePop NY Start Time: Friday, September 4 at 7:30pm End Time: Friday, September 4 at 11:00pm Where: RePOP 95% Recycled

First Fridays have returned and by popular demand, RePOP is proud to feature once again the work of Amy M. Asher and Arian Gimbutas.

Amy's work derives from nature; she uses what she sees and transforms the obvious. The landscapes she creates are part illusory, what you might see as if you were squinting at a landscape, or driving fast and watching the blurred hills and fields and trees rush past. Some of her work is shaped on what, at first, seems a simple background, but the canvases are really layers upon layers of material put on, scraped off, put on, written on or covered up. These are landscapes, landscape of the mind, memory, and imagery. Growing up in Kansas she creates work that tends to lean toward this feeling of vastness and isolation, the kind of feeling a lone barn sitting in an open field might inspire, for example. These are the kinds of images she sees in her minds-eye, the shapes she draw from and manipulates, playing with the harmony of composition, color and form.

Working in black ink and bleach, Arian allows images work themselves out through a sort of Rorschach test ink blob.  Further refining them by pulling tones out with bleach, he presents them as a sort of icon for both the real and unreal, the natural and the synthetic.

This particular collection, all created within the last two years, offers a beautiful entrance into the fall season with an adornment of abstract landscapes, illustrative renderings and unique musings.

(There's even more reason to head up to Wallabout these days - have a tasty pizza at Il Porto, or try the newly revamped Mojito; buy some groceries at Fresh Fanatic; take a dip in the cold plunge pools at Body by Brooklyn; etc.)

Fresh Fanatic: A Preview

IMG_0849 Finally!  Fresh Fanatic, an organic grocery store, will open in the long-empty retail space inside the Chocolate Factory building in Wallabout.

CHB got a sneak preview of the space on Wednesday morning as the groceries were being arranged on the shelves.


Owner Andrew Goldin lives in the building and has a degree in hospitality management.  That experience, combined with world travel to many of the globe's best markets, led to the unique experience that is to be Fresh Fanatic.  Goldin says that the store will eventually boast an impressive range of international foods - Thai, Japanese and even Russian.  They've already ordered bread from Germany.

Fresh and organic it will be, but Goldin promises it will be much less expensive than Whole Foods.  He also promises the most reasonable prices on prepared foods in the tri-state region.

Goldin's hospitality background has certainly influenced the store's features.  Already planned are a fresh pasta counter, sushi bar and an on-site nutritionist.  A seafood counter will feature a tank of live fish that can be killed and cleaned on-site by staff (lobster, crab and possibly tuna is planned for now).  Digital menu boards will display food facts throughout the store, and fresh produce, meat and a gigantic cheese dept round out the offerings.


I saw a little bit of everything going onto the shelves: organic, vegan, gluten-free and regular run-of-the-mill products as well.


The store will also sell garden plants and offer a 24-hour coffee window.

I am really excited to see how this place turns out.  Will it really be affordable?  Will the prepared food really be the best in the tri-state area?  If you live in Wallabout, you are in for a treat. (Or at the very least, a very unique shopping experience!)

As for me, I will probably stick to my little Associated on Waverly for my day-to-day grocery needs.  (A coworker and neighbor wondered aloud this morning if FF would be able to beat the 15-limes-for-a-dollar Associated special.) But if this place is a mini-Fairway with great service, I will be making regular stops.

Soft Opening: today or tomorrow Grand Opening: Tuesday, August 18

Fresh Fanatic 275 Park Ave @ Washington

Lunch With Tillie: Mojito

I guess I should’ve realized a place named Mojito doesn’t exactly scream “family fun”! Greetings, fellow Clinton Hillers and surrounding-area denizens. It’s Tillie’s sidekick Van (I guess she’s the star since her name is in the headline) documenting another one of our lunchtime expeditions. This time, we hit Mojito, the Cuban restaurant on Washington between Flushing and Park avenues. And it didn’t exactly work out to be the best of choices for me and the Tillster, but I’ll get into that. First, let me tell you how we ended up there.

On our previous trips, we had gone to a few spots on Myrtle Avenue and another on Vanderbilt. But when mapping out our next destination, I decided that Tillie should get in touch with her Brooklyn roots—particularly, that Wallabout, South of the Navy Yard side of her that comes from me. (Actually, I’m from Mobile, Alabama, but when I moved to BK a few years ago, I used to live directly across from the Navy Yard, next to the Sweet’N Low factory. Shout out to 38 Cumberland Street!)

Anyway, I know that area is starting to really take off with new restaurants, shops and a grocery store opening soon. I picked an old standby for us to go to, Mojito, which has been around for a few years. I had only been there a couple of times, but Tillie’s mom and I (and lil’ T) just popped in a couple of weeks ago one evening for some drinks and empanadas. I took a quick glance at the lunch menu, which I’m prone to do nowadays, and had it in the back of my mind to come back since we had such a pleasant experience.

So on this day, after doing some shoe shopping at the Fulton Street Mall (for Tillie, not me), we hopped on the B61 bus from downtown and made our way to the restaurant. Tillie and I had been out for a little while, and I almost thought of just heading home, but we stuck it out. I had food and a bottle for her, so how bad could things be?

We got in the restaurant and were told we could sit anywhere. The place was roomy enough, so we grabbed a little two-top with space around us and I asked for a high chair. I set Tillie up and while I was doing that, we received our cigar box with the toast and dipping sauce in it, along with the menu.

Let me interrupt myself here, because from this point on, my attitude shifts from optimistic to “ehh” about the place.

After getting the toast, it was at least five minutes or so before the waitress came back to our table. I saw her hitting other tables multiple times before coming to ours. When she did arrive, the first thing I ordered was a glass of water, which I needed after munching on dry toast! With that request made, I went for the pollo varadero—grilled chicken with onions and peppers with a citrus flavor, served with saffron rice and black beans. This lunch special also came with a soup (chicken potato) and a soda. Little did I know that it would be a while again before I saw the waitress!

Anyway, as I was waiting (mainly for that elusive glass of water), I prepared Tillie’s stash of goodies for her, led by the fresh cherries I sliced up for her. From the moment I gave her the first one, she developed this ravenous appetite for them the likes of which I hadn’t seen before! I didn’t want to dump them all out on a plate for her, so I was giving them to her a few at a time. I was afraid she was going to bite her hand off thinking it was a cherry!


My soup arrived, which at least had some moisture for me to partake of, then two bites in, the water—water, at last!—and the soda, then the main course. It was a lot to take in at once with trying to handle the cherry-eating machine that was Tillie, too. Then my waitress was off yet again, not to be seen or heard from until I asked to have my leftovers wrapped up and get the check.

But it wasn’t just our waitress, NO ONE in the restaurant ever came around to check on us: How’s everything? Anything to drink? Aww, what a cute baby! Nothing at all. We were pretty much ignored, which is pretty impressive because I’d think a guy with a baby would stand out among the other patrons!

I have to admit, though, that while the service and welcoming atmosphere was lacking, the food wasn’t: The flavors were exploding in my mouth! I mashed up some beans and rice for Tillie to take a bite of, in between her cherry scarfing, and she seemed to feel the same way, too. It might’ve been one of the best lunchtime meals I’ve eaten around the ‘hood.


But as great as the food was (and cheap, too: My mini-feast was only 10 bucks!), I wouldn’t recommend going there for lunch with a baby. It’s the first time I felt that “Oh great, a baby” vibe, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But don’t worry about us: Tillie and I will keep plugging away!

RePop Celebrates Three Years in Clinton Hill with SALE!

repop window This weekend, RePop is offering 25% off of all merchandise to celebrate their 3rd anniversary!

Aside from being one of my favorite shops in the neighborhood (and the owners some of my favorite people), I have always had a special affinity for RePop.  They opened up right around the time that I officially started CHB, and we've worked together on many things along the way.

If you haven't been (or of you haven't been in awhile), it's time to go!  The store is lovingly curated with vintage art, furniture and knick-knacks.  Plus, it's locally owned (and great for gift shopping).

Here is the sale info they provided:

It seems like only yesterday a little empty storefront in the middle of the Brooklyn Navy Yard opened it's doors to reveal a green treasure trove for scavengers of the interestingly beautiful. Having appeared everywhere from NY Magazine, 30 Rock, Toni On! NY and most importantly: the homes of her patrons, RePOP 95% Recycled is proud to be celebrating three years of business in the incomparable Fort Greene / Clinton Hill neighborhood.

In honor of her birthday, RePOP is offering a store wide sale this weekend to all of the loyal fans who helped her keep the dream of offering affordable, gorgeous designer artifacts alive.

This weekend recipients of this notice please enjoy a 25% discount storewide. It is our pleasure to continue offering you the finest that history has to offer.

RePop 68 Washington Ave (bt Park and Flushing)

Happy Birthday, from CHB!

Grocery Store for Wallabout

The long-empty space at the ground level of the Chocolate Factory rental building is finally being filled! freshfanatic

The store, which will take up both the front retail space and the side space where Kiki's doggie day care and boarding used to be, appears to be a grocery store.

They also have a very basic website set up.

I wonder what the prices will be like.  It would still be a hike for many of us, but still closer than a trip to Fairway.  I bet the building tenants are psyched.

Fresh Fanatic corner of Washington and Park

Reinventing the Public Space under the BQE

My coworker and neighbor, Aurash, attended last weekend's SpaceBuster event under the BQE.  Below, he reports on the event. -------------------------------------------------

We tend to forget, but the space under the BQE is ours. It’s one of the largest tracts of public space in our neighborhood, and it’s an eyesore.


On Saturday afternoon, the Space Buster landed in Clinton Hill to change that outlook. The Space buster is described on the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s website as “an inflatable bubble-like dome that… expands and organically adjusts to its surroundings.”


The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership (MARP) and the Storefront brought the Space Buster, designed by Raumlabor Berlin, to CH to house a workshop on the future of the space. When the workshop began, we quickly discovered that the din of automobiles will preclude any activity requiring intimate conversation from occupying the space, but we weren’t deterred, and a lively debate on other possible uses ensued. The facilitators from PRATT coaxed ideas out of us, including, but not limited to: •    Community Garden •    Skate Park •    Light Garden •    Swimming Pool •    Farmers/Flea Market •    Bike Lanes •    Movie Screening Space •    Art Space

A participant rendering from the event

A community garden seemed to be the use of choice, which I think is an ingenious idea. A community garden would help us meet our goals of becoming more sustainable by improving our local food supply, and sequestering CO2 and other emissions. A garden would also increase economic development, beautification, and create a destination out of the space under the BQE, which would unite both sides of Park Avenue, not divide them. The debate we had during the workshop was thoughtful, respectful, and visionary, what else would you expect from CH residents. But I challenge the community to think bigger than the ideas we came up with. Let’s try and transform the entire length of Park Avenue into a vibrant corridor, with the public space under the BQE as the river of activity that gives life to the now desolate avenue.

MARP has taken the lead, but the community can start actually transforming the space when the construction equipment is cleared out. Perhaps we can begin by initiating a clean up or guerilla gardening effort. Then we can begin programming the space. We can organize a skateboard contest or a film screening, for example. Those events may help us overcome the first large obstacle, which is envisioning a quality space along Park Avenue.

A participant rendering from the event

MARP plans on compiling all the data gathered at the workshop and submitting it to the NYCDOT. But we can’t wait for them to pick up the ball. Let’s start thinking about how to improve the space, and by doing so we will be ready to play a constructive role when the local government is ready to partner with us.

For more pictures about the Space Buster event, visit the MARP website.

Kitchen Nightmares: Filming NOW at Mohito on Washington

I love TV, but I have to admit I've never heard of this one before.  Per Wikipedia, "Kitchen Nightmares or Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA is an American reality television series on the Fox Broadcasting network, in which chef Gordon Ramsay helps failing restaurants." This very second, the show is filming at Mohito on Washington north of Park.

A CH reader reports that she "overheard the staff last night bitching about how Ramsay is changing Mojitos menu, cursing at the staff..."

I haven't heard anythink about them being in dire trouble, but have heard very mixed reviews.  My experiences have been mostly good.

First Friday Returns to RePop TONIGHT

RePop First Friday: Laborious Minor 40 New Works by Sarah Bieda


Opening May 1, 2009

Reception from 7:30 - 11pm On view through May 31

First Friday returns to RePOP this May Day Eve.  You are invited to view 40 works of explosive new art, wine and tasty delights.

In the words of the artist: "Painting is my vice. It is an uncontrollable urge, I cannot afford to ignore. As an artist, painting allows me the opportunity to create with my own hands what I see in my mind. One does not need eyes to truly see. I distort the world around me to control my own vision of reality.  I express color as a reaction to who I am in a particular environment.  The challenge (and pleasure) lies in capturing raw mood in fleeting moments."

Ms. Bieda encourages elegant (or erotic costumes) for an evening of true bohemian extravagance.


RePop 68 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205

Valentine Sale @ RePop

We're slashing our already bargain prices especially for all of our favorite  homemakers, lovebirds, dealers and collectors. small objects, vintage clothing, art, lamps, mirrors and artisan jewelry by Ellie Mathias.

Browse our amazing selection of walnut constructed dressers and credenzas, mid-century chairs, desks, medical / industrial cabinets and primitive oddities.  (also enjoy same week delivery!)

Prove your true love by setting sail with a sale to greener pastures this winter season.  The earth deserves it.....and so do you.

This Valentine's Day Weekend take a well deserved trip into the world of creative design by journeying to the best vintage goods boutique in Brooklyn!

Check out more great items at: 68 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11205
718 260 8032

First Friday + Holiday Party @ RePop: Dec 5!

From RePop: December marks the last month of the year and thus the final event in 2008 for RePOP. We are extremely pleased to feature fine new paintings by John Mathias as well as a fresh collection of jewels from his darling wife, the incomparable Miss Ellie.

In addition, RePOP will also be hosting our annual Holiday Ball. Most usually a Halloween event, we are decking the halls a little later this year by spreading some Christmas cheer instead.

Art opening and cocktail party will be held within the shop with after hours shenanigans to commence in the back room after 11pm. Quests are encouraged to dress festively and bring a bottle or a suggested $5 to contribute to the bar.

Event: First Friday Dec. 5:  Fine Art & Fabulous Jewels by John & Ellie Mathias "It's a Holiday Ball!  " What: Holiday Party Host: RePop NY Start Time: Friday, December 5 at 7:30pm End Time: Saturday, December 6 at 2:00am Where: RePOP 95% Recycled