Dear Brooklyn,

We’ve always been deeply curious about you.

Over the years we’ve let you linger in the shadow of Manhattan, never really giving you the full attention you deserve.  We’ve admired the bridge that bears your name and we’ve strolled across it, yet we’ve never fully explored beyond your grand gates.

So recently, as we walked along your quiet brownstone lined streets on a cold and rainy January day, we couldn’t help but fall for you.  You are so incredibly adorable, cozy, and delicious, with a side of grit we think gives you just the right amount of edge.

We especially loved your NU Hotel, a downtown boutique space nestled along Smith Street.  Our room included hardwood floors, modern decor, and a chalkboard in the bathroom, just in case we wished to scroll our thoughts above the toilet.  It is often, we find, that a spark of creativity strikes us in the most unusual locations.  We found the NU Hotel lobby to be just the place to gather for an evening cocktail and a friendly chat with the bartenders, and in the morning, we made our way downstairs for a hot cup of coffee and complimentary breakfast.

But, Brooklyn, it wasn’t the hotel that really made us fall head over heels in love.  No, we have to be honest. It was something else that sealed the deal.

You see Brooklyn, we may have fallen for you, but there is one city that stole our hearts long before you did.      I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but with its glittering tower, fancy museums, and perfect baguettes, it’s hard to compete with Paris.  We’d do just about anything to pull up a chair at a Parisian cafe, order a glass of wine and a croque monsieur, and lazily wine and dine the day away.  We imagined you’d know nothing about that, Brooklyn.  But we were wrong…so, so wrong about you.  You’ve brought Paris to 128 Smith Street.  You’ve got Bar Tabac.

You gave us that “Midnight in Paris” feeling Bar Tabac.  When we walked through your doors, we felt like we were transported back in time, to a beautiful and authentic Parisian cafe.  We sat at your bar and watched the snow flutter to the ground as people dashed along the streets and rushed to cram inside your walls for brunch.  We talked with your bartender as he carefully sliced lemon wedges, and we reminisced about Paris and how delightfully close we felt to truly being back there again.

It was fabulous, Brooklyn, the whole experience…the cafe, the conversation, the snowflakes.  And then the food arrived.  That’s when things became perfect.

The baked clams with Ricard, butter, and parsley sauce brought us back to a memorable evening in Provence when a most pleasant waiter at a Michelin star restaurant gave us our first taste of Ricard.  We could taste that subtle and familiar licorice flavor in every bite of your clams, Bar Tabac.

Your croque monsieur took us to our favorite cafe in the Tuileries Gardens, where a simple ham and cheese sandwich is transformed into so much more.  Perhaps its the béchamel sauce or the tender greens on the side.  Whatever it is, you nailed it, Bar Tabac.  You get Paris.

So where does this leave us Brooklyn?  We will, of course, continue this love affair in the spring.  You can reserve us a table outside at Bar Tabac and a room down the street at the NU Hotel.  Until then, we’ll continue to think about you, and we’ll tell all of our friends.

Until we meet again…



© Paul and Michelle Shappirio and Bringing Down the White Picket Fence, 2007-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul and Michelle Shappirio and Bringing Down the White Picket Fence with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.





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