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i realized last summer that i had not had the opportunity to enjoy the holidays that i had earned. since i worked for a project that lasted only till the end of the year, i was presented with a few weeks of leisure. add overtime, and there was plenty. last fall there were five weeks left, so on a plane i hopped to see a dear friend. sandy had visited just a few days before, and i landed into a city that was moved by donation rallies, a barely working subway system, was to be hit by a blizzard only a few days afterwards and where everyone felt anxious about the coming presidential election. an exciting time to be in the heart of everything, then. for me, the fact that manhattan was hardly accessible did not matter. only the j train was running for half the time i was there, but i am completely comfortable in brooklyn and ended up visiting the island twice: once to see a doctor for a strep throat that devastated me for a few days and once to see a friend and visit a couple of museums. greenpoint, williamsburg and bushwick were plenty and, most importantly, a walking distance from my base. because i am fond of eating, i spent my days flaneuring and enjoying the incredible food. it is handy that i have a local foodie taking me around: the city changes constantly and it is incredibly hard to keep up. lucky me was instantly handed a list of places worthy of visits during the day, and at night we picked dinner and cocktail spots that were, truly, amazing. here are some of my favorite places to stuff my guts. toby's estate . my daily javafix was taken care of either here or at blue bottle coffee (that i have mentioned before). toby's is better for hanging out: comfortable, spacey and inviting. (blue bottle is more of a visit to a lab which you leave with the perfect pour over.) they offer excellent single origins with enough information to help you choose the perfect cup. guatemalan single origin coming up. hanging out at toby's. el beit . another small coffee shop where i liked to sip a hot drink and read my book was on bedford. perfect indie soundtrack, organic teas and beautiful fresh cakes, like my pear and ginger loaf served in an urban rustic setting. five leaves . for breakfast there is nothing more incredible than their ricotta pancakes. everything else is good, too. getting in for brunch on the weekends may take up to five hours, but is probably worth the wait – if you cannot make it in during the week, that is. the ricotta pancakes. the size of the banana halves give you an idea of the portion. the dollop on top is maple butter. i am serious: this is heaven on earth. egg . for the perfect brunch that soothes every nerve in your body. organic and local, carefully prepared. served with a calm. and they give you crayons if the smoothness of everything gets a little too balsamic for your taste. just grab a color and go crazy on the tablecloth. eggs rothko. brooklyn label . another great brunch spot is up in greenpoint. the chipped paint, the crammed bar and lines of locals who just grab a coffee to go make it homey even for a visitor. definitely not touristy, yet, the wait is still about an hour on weekends. a good tip is to walk in for the waiting list and stroll down the street to word for a great book. artichoke mash and veggie sausage. m shanghai . for dumplings, there is really no need to go to chinatown. dough-covered yumminess is available right on grand, in the new location of m shanghai just a block from their original spot. the indie diner vibe is still there, as is the tattooed staff, and the food as sumptuous as ever. samurai mama . nothing makes me feel better jet lagged that a hot bowl of soup. udon with a fully flavored broth might just about cure all your ailments. no, actually, i am sure it will. sansai udon. café de la esquina . although nowadays you can get decent mexican street food in helsinki, too, a proper fish taco experience is something i truly cherish on my trips to nyc. this old, glitzy diner brings simple and beautiful mexican tacos and quesadillas to the table. fresh and lovely. pescado a la brasas taco. lobster joint . forget hotdogs, it's time for a little more elevated street snack. everyone in nyc seems to have been raving about lobster rolls for a couple of years now, but i finally had my chance with the scissory suckers. it is slightly more pricey than your average meat-in-a-bun, but here the value for money is definitely at its best: lots of lobster, fresh herb mayo, fries and a pickle. served fast, hot and to be eaten standing up. serious business, i say. new england lobster roll. the meatball shop . don't let the name fool ya, there's plenty for a vegetarian to enjoy at the meatball shop. they serve great veggie balls, sliders, smashes and a mouthwatering selection of sides. and if you visited linnanmäki kattila last summer, you'll see where the inspiration for their meatball menu came from... imitation is the highest form of flattery. we stumbled in during the blizzard and secured a seat without waiting. probably the only night out in brooklyn when everything was almost empty... perfect weather for some hearty food. the blue stove . i hardly ever eat dessert. my sweet tooth got snatched by the tooth fairy around the time i turned 22, and it's been awol ever since. however, on my trips i seem to get beside myself thinking about pie, cakes and donuts. especially pie. american bakeries and diners offer the most amazing pies with crusts that are never too sweet and where the fruit is tart and fresh. and then there is blue stove with a gazillion huge pies just waiting for me to turn into jabba the hut. decisions, decisions. i dare you to leave after eating just one slice... pumpkin pie. momofuku milk bar . when sweet is not sweetness enough, there is crack pie. a heavy slice of sugar, butter, more sugar, more butter, some cream and milk and some more sugar. and a rather heavy pinch of salt, just to perfect it. once you have a taste, the name will seem natural. trust me. do not let the looks deceive you. this is crack. well, it seems ate my way through brooklyn.
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