A Playground, a Picnic and a Play Date Always Lead to Something Yummy…

Now that our son is just over 12 months old and started walking a few months ago, I have been trying to take him to the various playgrounds throughout Brooklyn. The list of them goes on and on and I am finally getting the hang of what it means to live in NYC with a young toddler. Over the past few weeks we’ve been to playgrounds like Carroll Park in Carroll Gardens and Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5. So far, these two places are at the top of my list for convenience; meaning I only have to take one subway line to get there!

I chose to visit Carroll Park a few weeks ago when I found Momofuku Milk Bar. We hopped on the R line to Union Street and from there walked west past Gowanus until Carroll Street. How can I describe Momofuku? Their menu consists of unique savory bites, desserts galore, coffee, ice cream and shakes. I ordered their green curry banana bread which had the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I was so tempted to buy their dessert cookbook but left that for another visit in the new future. From there we were off to Carroll Park. The park offers a nice amount of shade for the toddler play area and there were even toys that were donated. This was Julian’s first time going down a slide and his face light up from the excitement of it all. While we were there someone told us about Brooklyn Bridge Park.

And so, a few days later, thus began our next adventure: taking the R line to Court Street. It was a bit of a walk from Court Street to the pier but the scenery and architecture of the Brownstones still stand out in my mind. Tree-lined streets abound in this neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. We continued to walk until we hit Atlantic Avenue and then headed due west, towards the Hudson.

Pier 5 offers the perfect atmosphere for any toddler, in my opinion. The play elements are intuitive and there’s plenty of room to run around, which he did for a good hour! Afterwards, I had to try the ice cream at the concession stand from Ample Hills Creamery, made in Brooklyn. Coincidentally, there was an outdoor showing of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off down on Pier 1 so the flavor of the day was “playing cookie,” which consisted of gelato-like vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate-vanilla cream cookies. Kudos Ample Hills Creamery!

Last week, I finally got the chance to meet up with an old college housemate of mine, Deidre. She’s been living in Brooklyn for more than a dozen years and has two adorable daughters. We decided to meet up at Greenwood Playground which is in her neck of the woods close to Kensington. We took the R line to Union Street and then the G line to Fort Hamilton Parkway…changing lines at Union Street is not so easy to do, (especially since in the southern part of Brooklyn there aren’t any elevators along the R) with a stroller but this time I had a little bit of help from Denis 🙂 The toddler area at Greenwood is quite nice: lots of trees for shade and with luck on our side, Julian was able to borrow a toy cart from another child. It was one of those plastic, mini cars complete with a horn and all. Julian was thrilled to say the least! Afterwards: well, you know what’s coming, we decided to grab a bite to eat at Brancaccio’s, just steps away from the playground. We met back up with Denis and it was the perfect location for Deidre to pick up her older daughter who was finishing up her day at gymnastics camp. Brancaccio’s is a one-stop food shop selling everything from prepared food items, custom sandwiches made to order, to olive oil, pasta and Italian sodas such as chinoto, which happens to be one of Denis’ favorite. The best way I can think to describe this Italian soda: almost like coca cola but not nearly as sweet and with a hint of bitters. Everything at Brancaccio’s is to-go, literally. There are no tables or chairs and it’s marketing at its best for this part of Brooklyn.

The theme continues, as today we went to one of our favorite parks in Brooklyn: Prospect Park. What I love most about this park is that it is close to Julian’s pediatrician and is right off the R line at 9th Street. We’d already been here a few times, including a free music concert of Les Nubians.

I had just joined another meet up group called Fresh Heir Outings NYC that was planning a picnic and play date and we were oh so hoping that some of the hot weather would give us a reprieve for awhile. The weather did not disappoint us one bit and Dana, the organizer of the event, set the mood in grand style: simple and true. We had a blast getting to know some of the folks that have been living in Brooklyn for over 30 years. Yes, they were the grandparents of a special baby boy. They told us about the old Brooklyn and how they considered Prospect Park “their backyard.” Their son even got married there. They were so generous to us and even offered to invite us over for dinner some time.

One of the moms told us about her experience in trying to get her son into a ”good” school. Pre K years are the toughest and roughest here in Brooklyn. It is proving to be one of my biggest challenges. Other women have told me that in NYC it’s best to start thinking about school for your child while you are pregnant. Coming from Miami via Italy, well, that’s just a hard one for me to get my head around.

At this play date, the parents and grandparents had a chance to try and get to know one another. The kids were relaxed for the most part and Julian was able to take a nap in his stroller, thanks to Denis. We shared some good conversations and truly hope that we will continue to attend more play dates like this one before winter comes!!

Last but not least, we took a detour while walking back to the subway and found this gem of a place: Trois Pomme Patisserie,(which has now closed and has been replaced with Buttermilk Bakeshop) in Park Slope. We were so thirsty after being out in the sun all day and so when I saw the fresh lemonade, freshly made sign followed by watermelon-lemonade I just couldn’t resist any longer. The bakery also makes their own Twinkies and so I thought of Denis, who had never even heard of what a Twinkie was. I knew that I couldn’t leave there without one and chose their almond version. It was an impulsive buy but I had no regrets and a mouthful of yumminess.

Even though in my mind I keep telling myself that I must go back and visit some of these places again I know it will never happen. Brooklyn is too big with so many great places for us new Brooklynites to try.

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