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Trip Report Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Bitter and Farewell, C_W

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I hadn't been to Williamsburg since people didn't go to Williamsburg, back in the late Seventies when a pioneering friend of mine set up his art studio in an un-renovated commercial space. That night we dodged roving gangs and sprinted past flaming barrels to his place, hoping maybe we'd pass out and not have to leave until morning. No such luck.

But those days are gone, and Williamsburg is now too expensive for artists, trendy (though studiously unimpressed with its trendiness -- part of the hipster ethos), and rapidly losing its neighborhood feel to advancing high rise apartments along the river.

Brooklyn is the center of a locavore movement dedicated to food with integrity, established firmly enough that it now suffers some good-natured ridicule. On Saturdays through the summer and early fall, Smorgasburg takes over a lot by the river in Williamsburg, where you can sample many of the borough's homegrown and produced delights, as well as just take in some good street food. Yesterday, for example, you could sample El Salvadoran pupusas, Italian porchetta, Indian bahjis, deep fried fresh anchovies, and sliders of barbecued pork belly and brisket, to list a few choices, as well as purchasing locally made pickles, mustards, pastas and more.


A few blocks north, on 11th Street, you can take free tours of the Brooklyn Brewery, and sample their beers buy purchasing tokens -- $4 a piece or six for $20 -- redeemed one per beer. http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/

Back in summer 2010 Fodorite C_W was planning to break his lifelong resolution not to visit the U.S. to attend some exhibition games featuring his beloved Spurs. Alas, it never came to pass. Among the obstacles he placed before himself was the supposed unavailability of British comforts, Marmite and shrimp flavored crisps, mainly. After we assured him these were easily procured in New York he began to worry about the beer. Although real ale is rare in the city, it is available, and we promised to lead him to it. I don't now what finally changed his mind, but in the end he cancelled the trip.

After yesterday's tour I stopped at the taproom to redeem our beer tokens and noticed a cask-conditioned real ale, London style bitter, was on offer. Naturally, I ordered a glass. It was fine, malty, light-bodied. After assuring myself it was worthy of the honor, I raised the glass and drank a toast to the memory of C_W, and I think I'll make that a custom.