Summer’s Last Bites

Once the air turns cool and crisp, many of these unique North Brooklyn treats will be gone with the autumn wind. Here are a few ideas.

by Mary Yeung

Why do people keep calling Radish on Bedford Avenue a country store? No real-life country store I’ve ever been to makes its own soda, ginger ale, homemade potato chips, or cookies. In fact, most “country” stores in America sell Slim Jims, salt-and vinegar potato chips in puffy bags, and Mountain Dew. Radish is a classic New York gourmet store through and through. Check out their summer special, cold-brewed Irving Farm iced coffee. It’s as smooth as Telly Savalas’ shiny head, (you remember Kojac, right? No? Never mind). About three years ago, New York magazine tasted premium coffees served around New York. Stumptown and Irving Farm surged to the top with three stars. Somehow Stumptown has cornered the North Brooklyn market and nobody seems to know that much about Irving Farm, from upstate New York. Here’s your chance to check out Stumptown’s fiercest competitor. Radish, 158 Bedford Ave.

A generous scoop of Häagen-Dazs ice cream sandwiched between two halves of a jumbo sized, old-fashioned plain donut? Need I say more? All my “body & soul” girl pals said it sounds “Gross!” And I’m like, “And your point is?” My “me, worry?” dining companions sampled other combos, like chocolate donuts with cookie & cream ice cream; it was way too muddy and complicated. Stick to the simple flavors and you won’t be sorry. Peter Pan Donut Shop, 727 Manhattan Ave.  More > >

Memories of Summers by the Lake

The Masten Lake menu abounds with seasonal foods. The plate (above) features cucumber, purslane, straciatella with shards of smoked trout. (At right) Marisa Mendez Marthaller is the wine director and general manager. She is known for curating a wide selection of wines by women winemakers. PHOTOS BY BENJAMIN LOZOVSKY

 Marisa Mendez Marthaller is the wine director and general manager at the new restaurant Masten Lake. She is known for curating a wide selection of wines by women vintners. Photos by Benjamin Lozovsky

Masten Lake
285 Bedford Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211
(718) 599-5565

By Mary Yeung

Mention of a lake can conjure up so many evocative images—a watery moon, a forlorn pair of Adirondack chairs, morning mist, leaping frogs, echoes of children’s laughter. When David Rosen decided to close Savalas, his neighborhood bar of six years on Bedford Avenue, and reopen it as a restaurant and bar six months later with two other partners, he decided to call it Masten Lake, after a captivating spot in the Catskill Mountains where he and his family spent many lazy summers. The lake holds cherished boyhood memories for him: fishing, swimming, rock climbing, lakeside barbecuing, and making new and lasting friends. He says the idea behind the restaurant is his memory of the lake, a place for friends and family to come together, have a drink, enjoy a good meal, and just relax.

David has been a bar owner in Williamsburg for 11 years and is also part owner of the bustling dance bar, The Woods, on S. 4th Street. But he was looking for a new challenge. “Now that I’m father of a two-year-old, I’m thinking about a place where families can enjoy eating a meal together. Masten Lake is where you can bring your kids for brunch, your parents or your friends for a nice dinner, or come alone for a glass of wine or cocktail at the bar,” he says.

The renovation took almost six months. The semi-open kitchen is all-electric, with induction cook tops. “It’s easier to clean and it’s better for the environment,” he explains. The dining room is a blend of country charm and urban grit; there are brick walls and outdoorsy, white-slatted benches and tables covered with sheets of zinc. Each table has a small vase of country flowers. The disparate elements—cork ceilings, brick walls, industrial table tops, and modern hand-blown lamps—work together to create a dining space that’s pretty and relaxing, yet still posh and urban.

David says he likes food that is bold, that takes risks. “I don’t like ‘do it by number’ restaurant meals. I like food that has soul behind it.” He describes Masten Lake’s dishes as New American with an Italian inflection. Chef Angelo Romano, who worked at Lupa in Manhattan and Roberta’s in Bushwick, has penned a tight little menu using intriguing, seasonal ingredients. There are many exotic finds from the greenmarket, like seagrass, husk cherry, Ogen and Charentais melons (cantaloupe-like melons, originally from Israel and France), Dragon Tongue beans (heirloom beans from the Netherlands), agretti (an Italian heirloom herb), and hon shimeji mushrooms (a hard-to-cultivate Japanese fungus). For protein, he serves rabbit, duck, snapper, and strip loin. The menu is seasonal, so by the time you visit, all the ingredients may have changed.

The plates are beautifully presented (some remind me of spa food), and the flavors are light and subtle, with a dollop of fresh ricotta here and a smear of black garlic paste there. Little scoops of vibrantly colored fruit sauces add a bit of sweetness and tang. Some are garnished with spidery seagrass that make everything look so pure and healthy.

The pasta is mainly house-made. There is tagliatelle with pork shoulder, tomato, and pecorino; cencioni with ragu bianco, chicken and celery; and, pici with crab brodo, cod cheek and burrata (a creamy version of mozzerella).

The plate features cucumber, purslane, straciatella with shards of smoked trout. (

There is a small selection of American artisanal cheeses (mainly from Vermont), including a cow’s milk cheese from Cobb Hill Cheese, a sheep’s milk cheese from Woodcock Farm, and something called Gore-dawn-zola, a cow’s milk cheese from Green Mountain Blue Company. Ballad, a goat cheese, is from the Andante Dairy in California. Chef Romano says he chose American cheese because he wants to promote local products, but also because he believes the new cheeses are simply much more interesting. The wine and cocktail program is an important part of Masten Lake’s appeal. Marisa Mendez Marthaller is the wine director and the restaurant’s general manager. Among her offerings are biodynamic wines from France and Italy. A new trend in fine dining, biodynamics is a farming practice that allows grapes to grow with native plants. Many vintners believe the naturally enriched soil gives the wine a true sense of terroir. Other practices include coordinating sowing and harvesting with lunar phases to imbue the fruit with a spiritual quality.

“The wine selection is small, but it’s very well edited,” Marisa says. “We love to advise diners on wine and food pairings.” The wines are priced from $8 to $12 a glass and $30 to $120 a bottle. Marthaller is known to champion talented women winemakers, among them Italy’s young wine savant, Arianna Occhipinti, whose Tami Frappato (Sicily), a fruity natural red wine, is on the list. There is also Fontereza’s Sangiovese from Tuscany, a wine made by two sisters, Margaret and Francesia Padovani. If you’re in an especially celebratory mood, go for the $120 bottle of Frank Pascal’s “Tolerance” Champagne Rosé. Frank Pascal is a rising star in the world of biodynamic champagne and wine. He works from a small vinier in the town of Baslieux Sur-Chatillon, in the Champagne-Ardenne region, and his products have only recently become available in America.

There are plenty of house and seasonal cocktails; the Cardinale combines Luxardo Amaro Abano, scallion, and sparkling wine, while the Marciano mixes Laird’s Apple Jack, Boomsma Genever, Absinthe, and cherry juice. There are also several draft beers.

If you have a spirit of adventure and a love of foraging at the greenmarket, you’ll love eating at Masten Lake.

David is one of the organizers of Taste Williamsburg & Greenpoint, an annual food festival that promotes North Brooklyn restaurants and artisanal food, wine, and beer producers. All proceeds will go to the building of North Brooklyn Town Hall Community and Cultural Center. This year it will be held September 18th, on the waterfront at 5 N. 11th Street. It’s a ticketed event, so check the website (tastewg.wordpress.com) for more information. When you go, be sure to stop by Masten Lake’s table, sample some of Chef Romano’s dishes, and say hello to David, Marisa, and the gang.

Nicole Atkins: Blues Girl

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Soulful singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins writes her songs on her own terms. She was dropped by Columbia Records, and picked up by Razor and Tie. PHOTO BY LUCIA HOLM

By Stacey Brook

Nicole Atkins’ music has always leaned heavily on early 70s psychedelia and heaping doses of gutteral blues and leaping, honeyed soul, but her latest album Mondo Amore is also infused with compositional experimentation that makes for an exhilarating concert experience. Songs like album opener “Vultures” sweep you out and back in fits of lull and crash, like a blustering sea storm. On “Heavy Boots,” Atkins’ cryptic lyrics and coppery voice, at once coy, seductive, and pleading, simultaneously lift your breath to the top of your chest, and pull your heart down like a thousand anchors. And when Atkins finally unleashes the full power of her Joplin wail on “The Tower,” you aren’t ready for the blinding light it shines. You need a pair of cataract glasses to see this woman live.  More > >

Ground Control to Linda Griggs: long flight back from “cyberspace”

Griggs leading  E32 (“Energy Third Tuesday”), a salon in the East Village.

Virtual exhibition with artworks in the extant online gallery Scope, launched back in ‘95. (Photos courtesy of the the artist)

Ground Control to Linda Griggs: The long flight back  from 90s “cyberspace”

By Sarah Schmerler

Is there such a thing as an altruistic person in our narcissistic art world? And, if there were a truly generous artist out there—a real artist, who still managed to promote his or her career while helping others—where or how would such acts of kindness take place?

Linda Griggs has renovated a crack house in Asbury Park, NJ; she’s painted allegories of death and sex and life; she’s run e32 (“Energy Third Tuesday”), a salon in the East Village where artists get a free forum to present their work to themselves and each other; she’s danced Flamenco; But we digress. Mostly, she’s transformed herself into a kind of human catalyst—the sort of person you want on your team because every task she takes on she makes a point of turning into a community event. Griggs shepherds art-making beyond the narcissistic borders of studio practice and into the realm of bigger and better things.

Few people are aware that back in 1995, Griggs created the first-ever virtual art gallery—a space with exhibitions as rigorous as those in any regional museum. She fearlessly cajoled, curated, and otherwise commissioned artists who were (at the time) lesser known or underserved. What’s more, most of them were from our neighbor-hood. So many Williamsburg and Greenpoint artists got their first showings online on the walls of Griggs’ virtual space, called Scope, that, in a way, hers was the first high-profile Brooklyn gallery “community.”

Now it’s 2011, the ‘hood has exploded with galleries, and every artist here owns a smartphone loaded with enough kick-ass graphics to distract them from their studios. So we asked Linda to sound off on some intensely human stuff: what does it mean to invite others to be creative with you? How do you cope with their mishegas? And what about those times when you wonder why you bothered anyway?  More > >

Kid Flight: The “Education Mayor” causes children to flee with parents in tow (part I)

Phil DePaolo sold his home in Williamsburg, this summer, and moved his family to Port Washington, L.I., where he says the public schools are better. Photo by William Hereford

Phil DePaolo sold his home in Williamsburg, this summer, and moved his family to Port Washington, L.I., where he says the public schools are better. Photo by William Hereford

By Janyce Stefan-Cole

I asked activist and community organizer Phil DePaolo what drives his activism. He took a few moments, and then said: unfairness, lack of transparency. Phil is salt of the earth, the sort of guy who, if you lost your shirt, would give you the proverbial one off his back. Or at least find you cover. Now, after thirty years in the community, he’s leaving Williamsburg because, he says, the city schools are hopeless. Private school is out of his financial reach and he wants his two sons to have a good education.

He has fought City Hall and the power movers and shakers for the good of the little guy, endured scary subways, late nights on rough city streets, and shrugged it off, but now he has to think of the kids. That’s a pretty sad state of affairs, and a pretty big loss for the community. He’s not going far, 17 miles away to Port Washington, Long Island, where he says he’ll continue to sling his arrows, only from a safer distance. Asked what he’ll miss the most, he said, “When you live in a place for thirty years you make a lot of friends.”  More > >

Greenpoint Film Festival Kicks Off

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Movie still from David Lynch’s “Eraserhead.” Photo courtesy of GFF

Did you know that the Little Rascals was set in Greenpoint? It’s one of the screenings for the upcoming Greenpoint Film Festival, the first of what will become an annual affair organ­ized by Woven Spaces, a local nonprofit public arts group. Taking place October 27 ­– 30 at Broadway Stages in Greenpoint, the line-up includes favorites and lesser-known experimental, avant-garde shorts and feature-length films.

A main attraction is the premiering of a new Jonas Mekas film, “My Mars Bar Movie,” about the old New York City dive bar, which kicks off the festival. The Lithuanian-born filmmaker who is known as ‘the godfather of American avant-garde cinema’ became a Greenpoint resident a few years back. He will be in attendance during the opening night, and will also participate in a couple of panels—still in the planning stages. Panels will include other well-know directors as well, says Rosa Valado, festival director.

“We have a pretty extensive David Lynch program. Of course, we will be screening Lynch’s iconic works like ‘Eraserhead’ But mostly we are focusing this program on undervalued, lesser-known Lynch works. This includes shorts he’s made over the years, some projects that involved his son Austin, and even commercials,” says Valado.

The fourth and last day of the festival “Radical Green Day” features films with environmental themes.Among the filmmakers to be represented, says Valado, include Maria De Luca, Kathleen Rugh, the radical group Red Channels, and Josh Fox, director of the recent hit documentary “Gasland”—also to be screened that day.

WG—Tell us where the venue is and something about it. RV—We’re screening in a space provided by Broadway Stages, located at 222 West Street, corner of Eagle Street. The building was designed as a factory, and parts of it still function as such. A large part of it has been Used recently as television, movie, and music video production lofts. We are screening in one of these lofts. The reappropriation of architecture—specifically that of factory/loft spaces into art venues and studios, which began in New York in the 60s and 70s—is considered to be the major force behind economic development. The setting was very thoughtfully considered and part of our vision from the very beginning.

Movie still from Jonas Mekas’ “My Mars Bar Movie.” Photo courtesy of GFF

What was the arc for Woven Spaces from art to film? Woven Spaces was born from ideas for public art projects and public interaction when the concepts were scarce and the art world was focused on galleries. ws has had films screenings before, in 2009 in Transmitter Park, and has always been interested in all art forms, including multi-media. My own back­ground is in visual art, and my work and research are based largely on architectural ideas of form and function, primarily space and public interaction. The concept of film festival has been evolving over the decades. We are seeing more and more non-traditional screening ideas and venues.

For a film schedule and to purchase tickets go to www.greenpointfilmfestival.org.

TV On The Radio: Broadcasting Loud and Clear in Nine Types of Light

TVOTR surprise performance at Music Hall of Williamsburg in April, two days before their big Radio City Music Hall appearance. (Tunde Adebimpe taking center stage, with Kyp Malone, left, and Jaleel Bunton.) PHOTO BY BENJAMIN LOZOVSKY

TVOTR surprise performance at Music Hall of Williamsburg in April, two days before their big Radio City Music Hall appearance. (Tunde Adebimpe taking center stage, with Kyp Malone, left, and Jaleel Bunton.) PHOTOS BY BENJAMIN LOZOVSKY

By Benjamin Lozovsky

On the evening of August 17, TV On The Radio performed to their seemingly loftiest height. With buzz steadily growing around blogs and social networks about a special event in the works, a large crowd had already formed by the time the Williamsburg based band climbed to the top of a billboard in Soho. Rising up the scaffolding stairs slowly and methodically, the band paused for a group huddle, before hurtling through a searing yet poised four-song set. It was just the latest act of a well-oiled machine set on permanent steamroll.  More > >

43 Magazine Launches—Interview with Allen Ying

DAVE CADDO—OLLIE—FORT GREENE—2006

DAVE CADDO—OLLIE—FORT GREENE—2006 / PHOTO BY ALLEN YING

Allen Ying, well known and much admired in skateboarder circles for his gravity-defying shots of skaters flying through the air, celebrated the results of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign this past August, earning more than the goal of $20,000. This means a green light for his brainchild 43 magazine, a handsomely designed bi-monthly, with a focus on East Coast Skaters. The first issue launches in mid-October. Ying will also curate a gallery exhibition with each issue, the first one to be held in New York City. 43 magazine will feature many talented skate photographers and artists.

In this interview, we learn more about Ying and his new magazine, and present a photo essay of his New York work.

GG—How’d your love of skateboarding and photography come together?   More > >