I've been inspired by Lia over at This Little Piglet blog, to think about my previous eating life in Brooklyn, and this morning I woke up hungry thinking about Carroll Gardens breakfasts. I lived in Cobble Hill, which is between the Italian (at the time) neighborhood of Carroll Gardens and the old Brooklyn money neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. I lived a block from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway when I arrived --barely 18 from a tiny New Hampshire town, on my own for the first time.
I quickly discovered the old Italian flavor of Carroll Gardens soon after I arrived in Cobble Hill, at the same time I quickly began my work in gourmet stores in Brooklyn and Manhattan to put myself through music school. There were stores right out of the old country and that is were all the folks from the neighborhood would shop.
A rare morning where I didn't have to wake at 5 to drive all over Manhattan picking up onion rolls at Ratners, Biales near Orchard Street, Bagels at Essa Bagels, and chewy-crusty breads at D&G in Little Italy, I would still rise early and go for an amazing shopping spree, that probably didn't cost me more than 5 or 6 dollars.
The first stop was D'Amico coffee for a pound of Italian roast. At times, the whole area around Court Street would smell of a burnt batch from D'Amico, but most of the time, they were roasting perfect oily beans, and most of the time the beans were still a little warm when I got them. Next stop, Episito's Pork Store where I would get a half a pound of pork links so fresh that they were still warm to the touch and still slick and shiny. At home I had fresh eggs and the most amazing whipped Schaller & Weber unsalted butter waiting. The only thing missing was warm bread (catch a theme here?) from a little corner bakery called Cammerari's, which later became famous as Nick Cage's employer in Moonstruck.
Back at home, an hour later, the coffee would brew, the sausages were sizzling and eggs were getting beaten --all with my sweetie, still seven years from being my wife, would lay in bed listening to the sound of hot pork skin on cast iron, and smell of freshly roasted coffee.
OK to be nostalgic about this? After all, it was more than 25 years ago, and I can still taste it. A few google's later and I'm pleased to see that almost everything is still the same over there. I hope it stays that way.