Holiday Food/Wine Pairing with Joseph Grillo

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Photography Daniel Håkansson / Styling Kaitlyn DuRoss

By Joseph Grillo
Northside Discount Liquors and Wines
105 Berry St

(718) 963-9463

Christmas, and the holidays in general, is a tricky time to start pairing wines when meals are smorgasbords of food jumping all over the map—from turkey to ham, to yams to carrots—that one yearns for a simple and balanced wine with just a hint of acidity, that stays out of the way while keeping your palate fresh. Here are a couple of my favorites for this time of year:

Pinot Gris: Austere and bright, this counterpart to the often more weighty Pinot Grigio usually holds a touch more acidity and crisp mineral finish at the end that acts as both a refreshing enjoyable wine and a palate cleanser.

Beaujolais: Using the Gamay grape, this famous region makes exquisite wines that often have hints of sour apple and earthy moments of spice over soft cherries. Not to be confused with the popularly advertised George Dubuff Beaujolias Nouveau, a.k.a. alcoholic grape juice.

Sangiovese; in particular, Rosso De Montalcino: Sangiovese grows in many parts of Italy, but nowhere does it have such beauty and nuance as in the hills surrounding the town of Montalcino in Tuscany. Famous for their Brunellos, these Rossos are the same wine, just not aged as long in oak (two years as opposed to four) and not attached to a killer price tag. In fact, some years Brunello makers who think their four-year aged wines are not up to snuff will “declassify” them as Rossos, making this a wine category that really can have the golden ticket a la Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate bars. Rich earth with savory olive and rosemary moments as well as delicate finishes of pepper are often hidden in these perfectly elocuted wines.

Enjoy the holidays safely with friends and family.

All the best, Joseph Grillo


Allegria, Pure Joy to the Burg

Melanie Gomez (left) and Lula Aldunate, recently  opened their shop on North 3rd Street, offering a  whimsical enclave of one-of-a-kind toy designs.  Photo by Colby Blount (

Melanie Gomez (left) and Lula Aldunate. Photo by Colby Blount (

There are many unique children’s boutiques in the area, but Allegria takes the cake. In fact, their new store window on North 3rd Street is filled with impressive crochet-cakes handmade from wool sweaters; they’re soft, strange, and artfully crafted—a perfect preview of what’s inside.

The shop, which opened in September, is the love-child of Melanie Gomez, a designer who lived in France, and Lula Aldunate, a stylist who has worked for Elle and Barneys, but who found herself doing mostly nurseries and baby showers.

The women met in Argentina (where they are both from originally) and moved to New York five years ago. “We put a lot of ourselves into this store,” Gomez says, meaning they designed and made all the fixtures, including the lamps draped in white fabric and cotton crochet lace, and a large wall-collage of wood planks painted in subtle hues. The process was so much fun that they named the store “Allegria,” which translates as “joy” in Italian and Spanish.

HBB Industria Argentina handmade organic llama wool vest, from $76, ALLEGRIA BOUTIQUE

Each of the one-of-a kind designs—they sell clothes, toys, décor, bedding, rugs, etc.—is handpicked from around the world. “We go with our gut,” says Aldunate, a stylist who is used to scouring magazines, blogs, trade shows, and even the Renegade Craft Fair. Allegria’s aesthetic is European (soft, classy, sweet) meets Latin (bright, vibrant colors), like the funky, DIY wall hangings from Japanese company MIHO that includes a paper moosehead made from quaint if unexpectedly paired patterns. The wool sheep made by Mexican artisans belong in a kid’s room but are just a little different from anything you’ve seen before.

Little houses for little hands, from GROW Studio, $62 ea, ALLEGRIA BOUTIQUE

“It’s eclectic because we like to mix stuff—culture, patterns, materials,” says Aldunate. “We like to find the twist on everything.” Even if the item is traditional—a down jacket, for example—the color, lemon-lime green, is not. There are no major labels and every item is environmentally friendly; most are handmade. “We loved these clothes from SIAOMIMI, but they are made in China so we didn’t know if we wanted to stock them. But it turns out the designer is from Hong Kong, she lives there. In fact she came here and we met her, and she only uses small factories.” Local designers have stopped by to show their work. One of the Brooklyn picks is Kallio, who makes boxy boys and girls clothes out of men’s flannels without altering the lines of the original shirt.

Twoolies handcrafted one of a kind creatures, from $18, ALLEGRIA BOUTIQUE

“The big question for us was, why a store?” says Gomez.“And we realized we didn’t want just a store—we wanted a place for people to gather, for us to have relationships with our customers.” This is why Allegria has a couch and changing area, and soon, classes for kids in the back room. Not surprisingly, the “classes will be a little different.” For example, traditional Columbian music. “We love Brooklyn,” says Aldunate, who lives in Greenpoint. “And really saw this store in Williamsburg.”

Allegria Boutique
85 North 3rd St
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

“My Brooklyn” Is Lost to Real Estate Lust and Political Chicanery

Junior's Today.

Junior's Today.

By Albert Goldson

The 82-minute independent documentary My Brooklyn, directed by Kelly Anderson, presents a comprehensive historical overview of the transformation of the Fulton Mall, the last “stubborn holdout” against gentrification. Anderson, a self-described gentrifier who began her residency in Fort Greene in 1999 and later lived in other Brooklyn nabes, chronicles the impact of the 2002 rezoning.

The rezoning allowed much taller residential buildings in a traditionally commercial area near Fulton Mall, resulting in the construction of about 19 luxury residential buildings comprising thousands of units. They include the towering condos Toren, Avalon, and D’Oro along Flatbush Avenue and the conversion of the nearby former Verizon and Williamsburgh Savings Bank buildings.

Fulton Mall is the third most profitable commercial area in New York City after Fifth and Madison avenues in Manhattan. Much more important than the profitability rank of the area is the level of comfort for residents and shoppers who indulge in their particular fashion designers, affordable eateries, history books, and music not found elsewhere.

Junior's of yore.

The responses to Anderson’s interviews reveal a chasm between viewpoints about the Fulton Mall that breaks down along racial lines. The white shoppers interviewed elsewhere in Brooklyn use derogatory language, describing Fulton Mall as “rundown” and “not aesthetically appealing,” adding “make it go away” and “you can’t polish a turd.” But the Fulton Mall shoppers, mostly people of color, describe it using terms like “urban feel,” “harmony,” “felt welcomed wherever they went,” and “all the little things.”

In the film, historian and Brooklyn resident Craig Wilder describes the history of Brooklyn nabes whose future was pre-determined based on racial, not economic, dynamics. Both whites and people of color attempted to flee the city during the 1970s, when the manufacturing industry collapsed.

However, while white families were able to obtain mortgages to move to the suburbs, blacks and Latinos had enormous difficulty obtaining them and were essentially “financially quarantined” by redlining many Brooklyn communities for more than 30 years. This “ghetto action” was engineered through segregation and the reduction of public services.

Those unable to leave “stuck it out” and were mostly entrepreneurs of color who managed to successfully create a vibrant and profitable business community. Those entrepreneurs saved downtown Brooklyn at a time when no one else wanted to invest there.

Within the Fulton Mall area is Albee Square, located on public land where a new retail and residential complex will be built and whose expensive products and services are incongruent with the local tastes, according to the documentary. After the sale of the lease to private interests, long-time businesses were given a mere 30 days to vacate the premises.

Adding insult to injury, they were not even permitted to post signs informing their clientele of their new location. Suddenly those non-white businesspeople who were economic prisoners for 40 years were being forcibly displaced—to vanish—in 30 days.

As Wilder further explains, the new developers provide little giveback to the community while enjoying vastly reduced taxes. The so-called affordable housing median income, which is $130,000 per household, is beyond the reach of most local residents. Wilder adds that when government gives monies to developers, they are called long-term (15-20 year) tax subsidies. When the same government provides financial support for people in need, it’s called welfare.

Wilder explains that gentrification comes from “gentry,” meaning “those of high social class;” in other words, the elite. Thus The Fulton Mall development was a result of deliberate under-the-radar planning conceived years ago and legally shielded from public scrutiny and oversight.  For example, according to the city government organization chart, the city’s Economic Development Corporation reports directly to the Mayor which means that the public hearings were nothing more than a formality since decisions were a fait accompli.  Disturbingly government officials and real-estate developers at these public hearings used the same linguistic language to describe and explain the changes to residents and business owners.

The purpose of government is to independently assess the benefits of development while protecting the people, not to collaborate with private interests.  This runs counter to the 2004 Pratt Plan, (officially entitled “New Strategies for Preservation and Planning”) by the Pratt Center for Community Development.  The Plan recommends planning and design work for an improved Fulton Mall that serves the needs of all Brooklynites and assists small minority businesses.

Brooklyn is the “Lebensraum” for the wealthy or “Bloomberg’s Brooklyn,” through the insidious collaboration between government and private developers.

Albert Goldson is an Architectural & Engineering Contract Manager specializing in transportation mega-projects, energy, and urban planning. He has also been a resident of Williamsburg for ten years and is an internationalist and avid jazz aficionado.

Scene at Board of Election, One Day Before Election Day

Photo by Meryl Salzinger

Photo by Meryl Salzinger

Sent to us by Meryl Salzinger, a day before the presidential election, at the Board of Election in Brooklyn.  ”Just showing how many people have questions about where and how to vote after [Hurricane] Sandy. This line was on the first floor approaching the elevator to the Board of Election offices. It wound through the lobby and outside three blocks, and that was a little after noon. My concern is to show that so many people will be disenfranchised by having to wait for hours in the line, to have their questions answered.”

For poll site changes post Hurricane Sandy, click here.

LATE BREAKING: Cuomo OKs Displaced New Yorkers Voting at Any Polling Place 

Where to Volunteer this Weekend

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It’s been four days since Hurricane Sandy blew through, and Brooklyn is starting to mobilize again. Restaurants are re-opening, the marathon is [CANCELLED] and the MTA is hobbling along, with full (though slow) bus service restored and almost every train running on modified service (not, the G train, of course, which remains suspended).  Click here  for full story. (via Daily Beast and Brokelyn)