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Thursday 13 February 2014

Williamsburg Wandering

It’s official - I'm head over heels in love with New York. When I say love we’re talking real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love! *Carrie Bradshaw quote alert!

I love London with all my heart, but New York just has that extra special something that I can't quite explain. It mirrors London in terms of the serious shopping scene, wow skylines and crazy busy go go go streets, but somehow it's just better! With it being my first visit I was beyond excited! I couldn't wait to jump into my first yellow cab, shout 28th and Broadway with the confidence of Carrie Bradshaw and order a stack of pancakes weighed down by ample maple syrup and a strong quaffee… (don't worry I didn't actually say the quaffee part to anyone out loud)! It was the most perfect sister city getaway, spending three amazing days sipping cocktails and champagne, consuming delicious (albeit seriously calorie-laden) meals, shopping till we dropped (even in the snow - that's dedication), sightseeing whenever possible and all with barely any beauty sleeping!

So what was my favourite part? Well it had to be exploring the streets of Williamsburg on a snowy, sunny Sunday. A friend had mentioned that she thought we'd love Bedford Avenue, so after a delicious NoMad brekkie we jumped on the subway with just a map and a credit card each weighing us down! (I lie, we also had google maps for back up - thank God!)

Some may prefer the glossy streets of 5th avenue, browsing the gleaming shelves of Saks and Bergdorf Goodman, however with Shoreditch and Spitalfields just a stone’s throw from home in London, I couldn't have been happier in Williamsburg! As a New York newbie, I would say it's definitely the Shoreditch of NYC - cool, quirky, a bit scruffy and graffiti-clad around the edges but if you scratch the surface, you’ll find it’s bursting full of gems!

First off we took a little stroll down 9th Avenue which led us right up to the Williamsburg waterfront which boasts the most fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline - a pretty peaceful and picturesque way to enjoy the city from a distance…

After a 3BM water edge photo-shoot session we went on the hunt for the renowned and much-hyped Brooklyn Flea Market. Along the way we happened to stumble upon Artists & Fleas - a designer and vintage market that runs every weekend at 70N 7th Street. Artists & Fleas is housed in a small industrial space chock-a-block of vintage stalls selling everything from jewellery, sunglasses, furs to screen prints. Be warned, it’s very easy to spend hours here browsing and casually purchasing - it isn't hugely expensive but I can totally imagine the bill totting up if you don’t keep track as there’s so much to love and conveniently most stalls seem to take credit card! 

Middle Mouse managed to somehow escape without spending a penny but HK Mouse and I got stuck in. I bagged myself a vintage fur which I whipped on as soon as I left the flea to protect myself from the NYC snow! HK Mouse snapped up a super cool alternative NYC screen print by Kevin Marcell. Kevin is a Brooklynite artist who presents his vision of New York through the combination of graffiti, photography and mural painting. His artistic creations are then projected onto a canvas backdrop made up of New York City subway and cycling maps which he dubs ‘Re-Cycling Maps’ - nifty huh?! Each piece created is completely bespoke and handmade by Kevin himself. Check out his work here.

After our impromptu detour we eventually located the Brooklyn Flea just around the corner at 70 Kent Avenue. A similar concept to Artists & Flea but much bigger in size and also boasting a pretty impressive food stall section. In true 3BM style we of course had to trial a few of the stalls offering up tasters… I tried a slither of pecan pie which was to die for – the girls had to literally drag me away before I snatched the whole damn pie! If you’re a vintage (clothes and home) lover, then this is a definite must to add to your Williamsburg hit list, and if you’re not so bothered on the retro front, I guarantee the salted caramel doughnut stand is enough of a pull alone!

Next on the hit list was Catbird. We're massive fans of the brand’s dainty midi and stacking rings so we already had the shop's address firmly ingrained in our minds - 219 Bedford Avenue. Now be prepared to drop some serious cash here – the shop is filled floor to ceiling with amazing candles, stunning jewellery, beauty products sent from heaven, quirky cards, beautifully designed matchboxes, sweet drinks tiles - you name it, they have it! A stylish nik nak shop where you can't resist but pick every item up and coo over how charming it is. This is naturally swiftly followed by a few sneaky, impulsive purchases!

One of our favourite touches was a takeaway hand-out at the till featuring a list of recommended 'Staff Favourites' - AKA the perfect afternoon itinerary for 3BM! So we spent the rest of the day exploring all of the other amazing boutiques and hidden gems in and around the streets off Bedford Avenue.

With Catbird done and dusted off we raced to the next - In God We Trust. A cute little shop inspired by everyday life selling both men’s and women’s clothing, jewellery and interior bits and bobs all laced with a smidgen of dark humour and naughtiness for good measure! Middle Mouse treated herself to a Blah Blah Blah sweet nothing necklace for a snip at just $40. Brass, hand engraved and super wearable. Some of the other sweet nothing necklaces were not as ‘sweet’ as you might imagine – check them out here! Other favs include ‘hot mess’ and ‘sweet tits’ – ha!!!

The queue snaking around the block outside Blue Bottle coffee shop was endorsement enough to check this joint out! Middle Mouse had spied a write up on Blue Bottle in Grazia on the plane over and had made note to pay it a little visit. Let me set the scene – this coffee is no ordinary coffee, it’s drip coffee made Japanese style where each bean is individually ground and filtered with the help of a ‘swan neck’ kettle, whatever that it!!! All the gear and no idea is not a saying that Blue Bottle is known for instead they’re famous for making coffee worth the show and hassle! Good enough for me… 

And ones we didn't make it to but wish we had include...

The Meatball Shop, apparently does meatballs to die for - 170 Bedford Street

Bakeri, for delish pastries, cake and naughtiness - 150 Wythe Avenue
Hotel Delmano, a gorgeous, cosy cocktail haunt - 83 Berry Street
Primp N Polish, for super cool nail art - 172 Bedford Avenue 

A final stop and perfect to get the appetite going - Mast Brothers. Middle mouse had also read up on this little gem a few weeks before jetting off and had her heart set on paying it a visit. If you have any trouble locating it just get to the rough area (111 N 3rd St) and let your nose lead the way! No word of a lie, you can actually smell the incredible chocolate aroma wafting through the streets of Williamsburg about a mile off! 

As soon as you walk through the doors you walk straight into a shop slash factory - it's simply amazing to see everyone in the background making the chocolate from start to finish. I was watching one woman folding each bar up in the thick printed paper, sealing them with a sticker and stacking them ready to go out on the chunky wooden display table! 

The chocolate itself is divine - rich, intense and incredibly moreish. They use only cacao pods and cane sugar, very impressive when you see what goes into other branded bars! You can either opt for a number of different plain chocolates or one of the delicious sounding flavours - from trusty sea salt to black truffle! We decided to get the sea salted caramels and WOW... I would fly back just so I could get another one of those in my life (not that I need any reason to go back!)

Feet aching and tummies rumbling, we decided it was time to refuel! A good friend and fellow guest mouse, Lucinda had pre-recommended Aurora, a cute little leafy Italian on Grand Street so off we skipped to try our luck bagging a lunchtime reservation. As we walked in three empty stools materialised at the bar, the perfect spot for people watching, mimosa sipping, much needed lunch and endless chatter! Keep your eyes peeled for our NYC food lowdown post which will be winging it's way to the blog soon!!

All in all, one perfect day and my dream NYC neighbourhood for my new and improved life... now to find a job, visa and flatmate...any offers?!

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