Tag Archives: brooklyn

2nd Annual Valentine’s Day Gooey NYC Yoga Classes for Couples and Stuff

Know of an event?  Please comment below.

  • Saturday, February 13th 8-10 pm
    Valentine’s Couples Massage Workshop with Nancy

    $65 per couple
    Join us for one of our most popular workshops! Senior Lotus teacher and massage therapist Nancy Elkes will guide you through this amazing workshop where you will learn how to share your love with one another through the power of touch. Wear loose comfy clothing for some yoga fun stuff and please bring lotion rather than oil. (No lavender please).
    laughing lotus
  • Valentine Couples Workshop with Mary Aranas
    Melt into bliss with your partner, be it a lover, close friend, or family member, in this partner yoga workshop that celebrates Valentine’s Day.
    Connecting deeply through breath and touch, we will relax and open both body and spirit in mutually supportive partner yoga poses. We will end by giving and receiving delicious guided Thai Yoga Massage with our partner.

    February 13th, 2010 Saturday 1-3pm
    $70 per couple by 1/30, $80 per couple after 1/30
    Yoga Works

  • Feb. 14
    Open Your Heart
    Dmitri Shapira | All Levels
    2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
    $25 members / $35 non-members
    When the chest drops, our spirits follow. We will lift and open our chest through a variety of asanas to help foster a more open, engaged and positive outlook toward the world.
    iyengar yoga institute
  • Blooming With Love with Jillian Pransky
    Come join Jillian Pransky for a deeply restoring mini-retreat designed to cultivate a deep sense of loving-kindness that will relax your body, open your heart and calm your mind.
    In an inspirational studio, glowing with candles and filled with gentle soothing music, Jillian Pransky will lead you through a unique series of Restorative yoga poses, peaceful flowing stretches, deep relaxation, and metta meditation. As you move through this special sequence, you will release blocked energy and tension as you relax into a sense of spaciousness and open-heartedness.
    Restorative Yoga poses are simple yet profound. You relax and allow your body to melt open as you lay over props such as bolsters and blankets. With the help of gravity and intention you can surrender, layers deeply held tension. Muscles release, the mind calms, and the heart softens.
    For an extra special treat, while you enjoy these delicious poses, you will receive gentle hands-on attention. You will leave feeling connected, open, and as if you just returned from a week long vacation!
    Date: Feb. 12th
    Time: 6:30PM-8:30PM
    Price: $45
    Location: ISHTA Yoga
  • Couples Partner Yoga & Thai Massage Workshop with Mary Aranas & Becca Krauss
    Sunday, February 14th, 2010
    Spend your Valentine’s evening celebrate the blessings of love in your life by exploring partner yoga and Thai Massage together. In this special workshop for lovers, or close friends, you will nurture intimacy by moving playfully through partner asana, connect energetically through breath and gaze, and practice deepening your relationship with an unconditional loving kindness (metta) meditation…
    Time: 7-10:00pm Price: $75/couple
    Pre-registration is required
    Enjoy 2 hours of yoga stretching, breathing (pranayama), inversions and massage between 7 PM and 9 PM.From 9-10 PM feed your love with wine & chocolate! Come with a romantic partner or a friend who you care deeply about.
    Please register only one couple at a time and do not register multiple couples under a single payment.
    om factory
  • Couples Partner Yoga and Thai Massage Workshop with Chris Loebsack & Emilia Conradson
    Sunday, February 14th, 2010
    Time: 7-10:00pm Price: $75/couple
    Pre-registration is required
    Spend you Valentine’s evening celebrate the blessings of love in your life by exploring partner yoga and Thai Massage together. In this special workshop for lovers, or close friends, you will nurture intimacy by moving playfully through partner asana, connect energetically through breath and gaze, and practice deepening your relationship with an unconditional loving kindness (metta) meditation. We will also trust & support each other with gentle inversions & relax one another with luscious massage – mmmmmmm. Open your practice with ease by relying on the support of your partner as we cultivate trust, strength and flexibility while working as a team. From this place of mutual support the true self can be realized, honored and shared for the benefit of all. No experience necessary to attend! Pre-registration required.
    Enjoy 2 hours of yoga stretching, breathing (pranayama), inversions and massage between 7 PM and 9 PM.From 9-10 PM feed your love with wine & chocolate! Come with a romantic partner or a friend who you care deeply about.
    Please register only one couple at a time and do not register multiple couples under a single payment.om factory
  • Valentines Day Couples’ Thai Massage Workshop with Dana Goeglein & Kevin Courtney
    Sunday, February 14th 1-4pm
    $70 per couple
    Sangha Yoga Shala
    Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your partner (or friend!) learning the basics of Thai Massage.
    Kevin and Dana will guide you through a hands-on experience of Thai Massage and Pranassage movements and techniques, with an emphasis on creating a caring, restoring, and relaxing experience for both partners. Enjoy the benefits of giving and receiving compassionate touch throughout the workshop, and leave with a simple sequence that you can replicate at home.
    No prior yoga or massage experience is necessary. No oils or lotions needed. Comfortable clothes and a yoga mat are recommended. (Mats can be rented at the studio upon arrival).
  • Cupid Yoga: PARTNER YOGA, THAI MASSAGE & REFLEXOLOGY with Anna Carbonell & Kirtan
    Location: Exhale Central Park South
    Date: Sat 2/13/2010
    Time: 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
    Cost: $70 per couple. $60 per couple if registered by Feb. 7, 2010

    Join us on Valentine’s Day for a very special event with your loved one or friend. Enjoy deep partner stretches, Thai and foot massages in a romantic setting complete with mood lighting, flower petals and essential oils. No prior yoga experience needed. Suitable for all ages and levels. Come with a friend, a partner, or your spouse!

  • Couples Massage:  Learn How to Heal One Another
    Iris Savernik, D.O.
    Saturday, Feb. 13 • 3:30–6 p.m.
    $76 per couple
    When two people engage in the therapeutic massage of each other, they increase self-awareness while healing themselves. Specific techniques for making the most of the massage experience form the core of this unique workshop. You don’t need to be a romantic couple to learn couples massage; friends can also offer one another this healing modality. Couples or friends of any age may participate, and neither member needs any experience in massage. You need only to be able to go down on and get up from the floor.

    Iris Savernik, D.O., has been a professional dancer and figure skater, Yoga teacher, and licensed massage therapist. She is currently working as a resident physician in Queens, New York.

    Integral Yoga

  • Love Satsang:  Celebrate Valentine’s Day
    Sumati (Karen Bates)
    Saturday, February 13 • 6–7:30 p.m.
    By donation
    Come celebrate the power of the greatest force humanity can harness in its quest for a better world—love in its many aspects. By tapping into our own capacity for love and developing a more loving attitude and presence, we help to spread peace and understanding throughout the world.Sumati (Karen Bates) is certified to teach Integral Yoga Hatha I, II, and III, in addition to dance and fitness. She has taught professionally for more than two decades. With experience in jazz, modern, African, and Caribbean dance, she earned a B.F.A. cum laude and also works as an artist and illustrator.
    Integral Yoga
  • Restorative OM yoga for Couples with Brian Liem & Adam Gwosdof
    Sunday, February 14, 1 – 3 pm & 4 – 6 pm $50 per couple
    New Ways of Being Intimate Together

    This workshop is specifically designed for couples – husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends – who want to explore new ways of being tender and intimate together. You will take turns placing each other in restorative poses and then massaging your partner’s hands, feet, neck and face while they simply get to relax, relax, relax.

    Open to all levels, including no experience.  Pre-registration required.
    Om Yoga

  • Thai Yoga Workshop w/ Paula Tursi
    Sunday, Feb 14, 2010 4-6:30pm Cost: $75 per couple if you pre-register by 2/7, $90 per person after 2/7 Call 212.974.2288 or email brenna@reflectionsyoga.com to sign up!
    Reflections Yoga
  • 1+1+ 3: Partner Yoga and Massage Workshop with Gayla Marie Stiles and Aaron Stiles, LMT
    Sunday, February 14 | 4-6:15pm, $100 per couple

    A 2-hour and 15 minute yoga and massage workshop for pregnant mothers and their partners! Experience flowing yoga sequences, restorative postures, and massage designed to teach fathers, partners, or friends how to help with the discomforts of pregnancy and labor. This session is designed to benefit any pregnant woman by opening energetic pathways using breath-centered shiatsu techniques, stretching, and acupressure points. No previous yoga experience necessary.
    Prenatal Yoga Center

  • Valentine’s Day Couples Yoga Workshop with Megan Walsh
    Greenhouse Grand Location
    Date: Sun 2/14/2010, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
    Join Megan and Clare for an afternoon of Partner Vinyasa and Restorative Yoga. In this workshop we’ll work with a partner on both active and restorative postures. Working with a partner can build intimacy, harmony and trust and these benefits will transition off of your yoga mats and into your relationship! Moving through a vinyasa practice together gives you an opportunity to explore strength and balance, to negotiate, play, support and let go-all of which will deepen your connection to each other, to your breath and to your yoga practice.
  • Valentine’s Day:  Benefit for Haiti
    Sunday, February 14th
    The Shala
    vinyasa class with live music taught by jeremy fahey and kristin leigh 4:30 to 6 pm class is by donation. you may use your cards and you may register early at the front desk or by email: info@theshala.comlive performances:  6:30 to 8 pm.  emily mcdonnell…introduction
    ori flomin and antonio ramos…dance
    antonio ramos…dance
    sheila anozier, belinda becker, marguerite hamden, shola jones, joseph laurro…dance (mike ramsey-drum)
    jennifer burch…wordsongs
    oren bloedow…music
    charlie burnham…music
    all donations from 4:30 class and performances go to partners in health. 50% of the shala’s income for feb 14 will go to partners in health.
  • Free Valentine’s Day Yoga
    Introduce someone you care about to Bikram Yoga NYC on Valentine’s Day and he/she will receive a free class! Valid for any class at all 4 locations.
    Bikram Yoga NYC

Back to school (in Ashtanga City, NY)

Looking for a Mysore or Led Ashtanga class in New York City?  Look no further.

Mysore classes in New York

Led classes in New York

How you should spend your money: local, custom, & crazy awesome (part 1?)

posted by ebeans

Because if you have to buy something, it should make you feel good in a well-rounded “ethical consumer” I-am-saving-the-world-in-my-own-little-way kind of way. Plus, these girl companies are run by totally chill ladies…  Let’s shop!

from knickers and no fur coat

Knickers and no fur coat
Big boobies/bottoms, small and all sizes between, Jana Kennedy’s creations for the bedroom or beach rock both on the rack and on your curves.  You can buy her crazy awesome knickers and bikinis online, or go local and head out to Brooklyn’s McCarren Park to purchase in person.  It gets better…She’ll also make custom sets!  You pick the color, design, etc, she makes you look and feel frilly fabulous.

from shining shakti

Shining Shakti
If I see one more matching lycra yoga set I might puke.  What is “performance wear” anyway?  Will the right shirt make you float into handstand.  No.  Will the right pants?  No.  Well, maybe…  If your pants are crazy awesome brightly colored organic pantsplosions, you might be in such a good mood that maybe you’ll “stop fearing” and start doing.  These cozy cotton pants run a bit long and a lot cozy.  They’ve got a fold over waist with a thick band which is just the only way to go (especially when it folds over to lime green).  Plus, they can be bought locally here in NY at the Yoga Journal Conference and possibly at your local yoga studio. Sometimes they do custom dyes too…

Mean Beans & Other Brooklyn Flea Finds

Saturday was a magical spring day in NYC and the inaugural Brooklyn Flea of the season (in Fort Greene). The booths were a variety of hippie to hip, with the usual vintage clothing and ‘found’ treasures, but also  fresh new finds from newborn businesses – including beans!

Rick’s Picks – offering samples and special prices for the flea flockers, give all of their pickled picks a try – and be sure to take at least one home. My pick was a jar of mean beans (only $8 at the flea, $10.99 online) – a spicy addition to my brunch bloody mary – the leftover brine can also be reused to pickle thinly sliced carrots.

Crop To Cup – a Brooklyn based biz that works with farmers in Uganda to provide a selection of brew-able beans while supporting the livelihood of the Bagisu tribe. I imbibed a cup of their french pressed coffee for $2 for a java jumpstart to my day.

Kumquat Cupcakery – although not a bean, these petite cakes are completely adorable and oh-so-tasty; they really look as though they should be in a dollhouse for afternoon tea. Their small stature enables one to rationalize eating a cupcake morning, noon, and night – as well as snacking on a few between…. Keavy and the cupcakery offer over 17 flavors and honor custom orders, but bring just a few flavors to showcase at the Flea (I gobbled up a blueberry one) and at just a dollar for a mini-delight, my sugar craving was satiated and my wallet saved.

Visit the Brooklyn Flea each Saturday, with a unique selection of Indie vendors to visit up each time. Check out the website for new additions.

Green Rewards = Forest Natural = Juice Heaven

posted by eb

The cute barista isn’t the only reason to trek to Greenpoint’s Forest Natural.  No, you’ve got to hit them up for their juice!  Bring your own container, and they’ll fill it up — get this — for a discounted price.  Get rewarded for being green…

Forest Natural
120 Norman Ave @ Eckford
(718) 383 – 7417
M-f 7am – 10pm, Sa & Su 9am – 10pm

G Norman Ave
61 Bus Manhattan/Norman

Kristen Davis, Iyengar Yoga

posted by danbean

photo from yogasanacenter.com

photo from yogasanacenter.com

I’ve really enjoyed taking Iyengar-style Yoga lately, and there happens to be an excellent studio right here in Park Slope called Yogasana.

Founded by the highly approachable Kristen Davis in 2003, it maintains a very high standard of instruction. Since I’ve become a regular at Kristen’s class as of late, I was happy she was so willing to share some of her insights with ElephantBeans readers.

On teaching, discovering yoga, and Alexander Technique…

I think it’s important to know that I came to yoga and the Alexander Technique in the exact same week back in 1993. I was a dance major at Ohio State University, and had suffered an ankle injury that was preventing me from dancing. I had been curious about these two modalities and decided to use my injury as an opportunity to study them. I fell in love with both of them, and since then they’ve always gone hand in hand. I seem to think through yoga in the language of Alexander Technique, and through Alexander Technique in the language of yoga. It’s a continuing interest/obsession of mine to translate between the two modes—to get at the heart of it, the commonality.

I moved to NYC in 1995 and danced—and worked retail. I decided to train to be an Alexander Technique teacher—a rigorous 3+ years of training, all the while exploring different yoga styles and figuring out what I liked (I mostly did vinyasa—Jivamukti and Om). Immediately after finishing my Alexander training I did a yoga teacher training with Alison West. Hers was a small training that was decidedly eclectic—Alison herself was trained in Sivananda and Ashtanga styles, and had many years of serious Iyengar study under her belt. From her I learned a deep respect for the many styles of yoga, but again and again I gravitated toward Iyengar. Like Alexander Technique it seemed to recognize habit in a way that I didn’t see in other yoga styles. The subtle directions, the process of thinking, the use of props, all went well with Alexander and my idea of self-study. I went on to do another teacher training at the NY Iyengar Yoga Institute (which I ultimately did not complete), an apprenticeship under Genny Kapular, and more teacher training with Robin Janis. B.K.S. Iyengar’s intense exploration of his body was, and still is, profoundly inspiring to me.

On balancing strict detail with a sense of levity and lightness…

Your first question about my attitude toward teaching made me recognize how interwoven the Alexander Technique is into my teaching. I’m flattered that you think I’m able to bring a levity to the class. I think that is the only way you can teach a style that is so inherently strict.

My teaching comes out of my own experience, the dialogue between my mind and body as I practice. This dialogue comes out of all my years of Alexander Technique and the way I apply it to my yoga. The mind and body have a symbiotic relationship. The mind must coach and cajole, the body responds, and the mind is rewarded with an incredible sense of peace and serenity.

Step 1. The mind must observe, simply see what’s there, as is, without judgment. Be willing to meet the body where it’s at, in that moment.

Step 2. The mind must put an end to any nonsense—inhibit or stop any habitual pattern, any negative action, any effort that is misplaced.

I say that with a certain strictness, but really this is where there’s a lot of coaxing and cajoling. We are often dependent on these habits in very deep ways (on an emotional level); they don’t release easily. Knowing this, the mind can guide and imagine, but ultimately the body will respond in its own time, on its own schedule, so there has to be a certain looseness, playfulness. You can’t be tied to the fruits of your labor; you can’t take yourself too seriously .

Step 3. Then the mind must tell the body what it WOULD like it to do, direct the actions it wants (the actions that will better organize the body and take it deeper into the pose). There is a cooperation between the mind and body –the action cannot be forced, but must come out of an integrated sense of ease. Again playful, exploratory.

In my own practice I go through these steps a number of times in each pose. In my teaching I try to share this process. And I use this process as a framework for looking at my students—first, to just observe, second to see what is extraneous, what action is being overdone and ultimately obscuring the pose, and third, what action will re-organize the body and bring it into a greater wholeness.

This process requires discipline for sure, and a sort of harsh honesty (to really see things as they are, and be willing to stay with that). I think such an intense focus requires levity to make it bearable, to even make it possible. It’s really all a game. It’s fun! In my own dialogue between mind and body, if my mind begins to take itself too seriously it takes on an aggressive and critical attitude, which only causes my body to become rigid and fearful. I have to be able to step back and laugh at it all—laugh at how my left ribs are always gripping my spine, at how the right side of my neck likes to shorten. I no longer really care if they ever release—the game, the exploration, is so much fun. It’s human nature to have these issues, if I didn’t, either I’m not human or I’m dead.

On Iyengar Yoga, the lineage, and its where it is today…

Like Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar was a student of Krishnamacharya’s. Having suffered from malaria, cholera, and tuberculosis, he often had to modify poses using homemade props of oil barrels, dowels and bricks, in order to accomplish the poses as his teacher asked. When he began teaching, he recognized many of the difficulties that his students had, and modified his teaching to address their needs.

The hallmarks of his teaching include: a teaching methodology of visual demonstration, specific verbal instruction, and minimal hands-on adjustments; precise anatomical instruction and the use of props; many different ways of sequencing, born out of the idea that the yoga practice must be modified to meet the practitioner’s needs–that no one sequence is appropriate for every person, for every day (which also leads into yoga being used therapeutically); and holding poses for longer periods to let their effects fully penetrate, and to find a meditative quality within each pose.

Over his 70-year teaching career, he has codified over 200 postures and 14 breathing exercises, and written countless seminal books on asana, pranayama and yoga philosophy. From the sticky mat we practice on, the restorative poses we do, or the detailed instruction we’ve learned about a pose, B.K.S. Iyengar has influenced many elements of today’s yoga.

To be candid, I am disappointed in the way in which Iyengar’s work is being disseminated. I find that many Iyengar people are quick to codify every statement he makes without looking at the context. A direction he gives is written into law without seeing that the direction was meant for a specific student at a specific time. There is a lot of black and white thinking, that I feel belittles what Iyengar yoga is.

I think Iyengar’s real legacy lies in his authenticity, his creativity and sharp intellect, and his discipline. I use him as an example, a guide, for how to penetrate my own body/mind. I use his props, his verbal instruction, as tools, but ultimately I can only follow in his footsteps, using my own intellect to analyze and adjust, my own creativity for problem solving, my own discipline for practicing with precision and honesty. Thankfully, I do have the platform he built, but to truly follow his example, to find my own authenticity, I must delve in and make my own interpretations.

On sequencing, and how it differs from some other styles…

Yoga in the Iyengar tradition does not follow a set, scripted sequence. The sequencing of poses is complex and requires extensive study, but through experience you begin to learn the different effects poses can have, and the cumulative effect their order has. Standing poses promote stability and strength and can prepare the body to go in many different directions; forward bends are calming and cooling (often given as a prescription for anxiety); back bends are stimulating and have an anti-depressant effect (often given as a prescription for depression); inversions are cathartic and engender a sense of well-being; twists are quieting and encourage an internal focus. Aside from the effects of the different poses the sequence will also depend on factors such as your age, your experience, your energy level, your mental state.

Taking all of these variables into consideration, there are general guidelines for sequencing, but few strict rules. Although, one rule is that Sirsasana (headstand) is always followed by Sarvangasana (shoulderstand), or any similar pose that has a jalandhara bandha (chin lock) action (setu bandha, viparita karani, halasana, etc.). Sirsasana is a heating pose that engages the muscles of the neck. Sarvangasana is a cooling pose that releases the neck muscles, thus creating balance. I have known of a senior teacher teaching headstand and then following it with a lot of forward bends, thus offering the same cooling effects and neck release as a shoulderstand.

I really can’t speak to the sequencing of the Ashtanga Primary Series. I’ve done it a handful of times (and loved it), but that was many years ago, and I certainly didn’t have the knowledge and experience that I have now. I’d like to practice it again and see what the intelligence is behind it. I do know however that the sequence ends with seated pranayama that is done with jalandhara bandha—this would provide a calming and cooling effect.

I want to add here that I love teaching/practicing Iyengar-style yoga—the analytical mind, the ability to be creative, the intense physicality make it entirely fulfilling to me—however, I’m fascinated by Mysore-style Ashtanga Yoga. I’m intrigued by the idea of doing the same sequence day after day. That the sequence remains the constant and against that backdrop you can observe the fluctuations of the mind and body. Maybe someday…

On practicing with injuries and modifications…

Modifying poses to meet a student’s needs is absolutely inherent to Iyengar Yoga, and it’s one of the things I love. I believe that your yoga practice should reflect the present moment. There is an honesty to that—a recognition that you may be able to do a pose at one time of the day, but not at another; that the practice of a 20 year old is different from that of a 50 year old.

A group class has its limitations in this way, but I do my best to accommodate each student. Although I don’t specialize in therapeutics, I follow the Iyengar philosophy that any pose done correctly is therapeutic. I want my students to learn that they must stay true to themselves, recognizing their strengths and weaknesses in the present moment, and then I help them adjust their practice accordingly. I think that through this type of conscious practice there are fewer injuries. Personally, I’ve not had any injuries since I started yoga and Alexander technique (except for a sprained foot from wearing improper shoes while swinging on a swing—that’s a whole other story).

Because there is a focus on anatomical precision and a flexibility to the practice (in terms of sequencing, in terms of modifying), I believe it creates a different tone around injury, that it engenders an acceptance and an ability to work with the cause of the injury. Again and again, I see students overcoming chronic pain—back pain, sciatica, headaches, etc. and injuries—knee problems, shoulder issues, etc. I see students’ bodies completely re-organize, becoming more easeful, more free. I see students finding a sort of stability and peace in both body and mind.

On students crossing over from other styles…

I’ve had mixed experiences with this. With yoga’s intense popularity I sometimes get students who are simply wanting the physical benefits and aren’t interested in the self-study and mental focus that my style requires. I find that if the student has an analytical mind, and a sincere desire to learn, we’re a good match. For several years I practiced vinyasa yoga along with Iyengar, so I can appreciate people coming to my class to gain knowledge and insight into their particular issues, and then applying that to their other yoga practice.

Stay tuned for more when Kristen will discuss her pregnancy, and what it’s like to own a yoga studio…

Great Hair Cut: Delilah Salon

posted by Unsinkablemoo

Head on out to Park Slope and the Delilah Salon for a terrific and affordable hair cut.

I was in desperate need for a cut and color so I googled online looking for an inexpensive fix.  I checked out some of the student cuts in the city but kept being rescheduled by my would-be apprentice stylist.  I ran into a friend and she recommended the Delilah Salon.

With 58 reviews on google it has almost a perfect 5 star rating.  I called on a Monday and got the first appointment on Wednesday with Leila, the salon’s owner.  She was friendly and on time and sat me down for my consultation.  I wanted to add low lights into my highlighted and bleached hair so when it grew out my natural color wouldn’t look so drastic.  She gave me a better recommendation and we talked hair cut.  Then she put in the foils.  While my hair processed she took two walk in hair cuts.  By the time they were done so was my color.  She rinsed it out and it looked awesome.  Just what I had in mind.

She cut it wet and then blew it dry.  It is one of my favorite cuts and especially for a low price of $115 (two color partial highlight and cut).  I gave her a big tip and am already scheming for my next hair cut with Leila.

Delilah Salon
234 4th Avenue between Union Street & President Street
718 – 797 – 2690

my favorite cup – cafe regular

posted by danbean

As a Brooklynite, I’m likely biased, but it certainly appeared as though coffee culture – and I use that term to loosely refer to single origin, snob sippin’, monied grad student lingerin’, chatty chat cafe culture espresso art stuff – in New York started long after the west coast and started here.

I’m a musician, and poor musicians tend to frequent such places and sometimes there is crossover. One friend became a serious ‘espresso’ artist, mastering the art of the pour, the shot, the tingling shapes and rorschach test-evoking patterns adorning the perfectly-heated infusion of roasted bean and water.

It didn’t take long for me to be drawn in. After all, coffee is a snobby, irresponsible vice, but compared to drugs and alcohol its suspected maladies and behavior modifications are relatively minor. And it was something to do before yoga. After yoga. After rehearsal. Later on. All summer. All winter. Cups. Cups and Cups and Cups and mugs and shots and you know how it goes.

And so it was very fortunate that I lived in Williamsburg for a while, because there was the heart of the burgeoning culture itself; one avenue block away was Gimme! Coffee, lauded as one of the finest institutions of baristadom in the 5 boroughs.  The one gentleman in particular whose name I can’t recall, who during that year succumbed to love and left Brooklyn, made incredible patterns in your latte.  The taste was among the most balanced I’ve ever had, a deep, dark roast but not bitter.  The staff got unfairly punched for being unfriendly.  They were always nice to me – I think some food writers have a problem with fashionable kids and think that you can’t look stylish and be a nice person.  I also enjoyed Oslo and Cafe Grumpy, but all were places where the drink itself was the destination.  The rooms of Oslo and Gimme in particular for me border on the ascetic.  Perhaps that starkness is intended to focus one on the taste of the coffee, taken so seriously.

Still I don’t think these rooms encourage as much of a friendly exchange between patrons.  Like most places in New York you go to be alone or with people you come in with.  Lost is the cafe culture of old where one debated politics and bullshitted with strangers.  Or so I thought.

My favorite cup is easily Cafe Regular, a teeny tiny little storefront in Park Slope on 11th street near the corner of 5th avenue.  Owner Martin O’Connell is who you’ll most often find behind the bar.  In the room, which looks as though it couldn’t even be 200 square feet, one feels very distant from the distant contemporary world outside.  The compactness of the place forces you to interact a little, and O’Connell, who eschews a room full of people working on laptops, has yet to install wireless internet (you can sometimes get a weak signal from across the street).  O’Connell has a masterful, straightforward hand when it comes to making lattes.  The temperature and taste are perfect for me, but you won’t find any precision artwork here.  There is a more rustic, homely quality – think GbV’s Bee Thousand versus, I dunno, a Fiona Apple record.  Sorry, I still like GbV better.

The quality of the drink itself is very important and what pleased me when I moved to the neighborhood a few years ago, thinking leaving the industrial landscape of Williamsburg would stick me with the revolting, unmentionable dreck on 7th Ave.  But the quality of the hang is what keeps me.  O’Connell’s sardonic wit spares no one, and customers are still not sure if the Irishman hails from Beacon Hill, Belfast, Belgrade or Burlington, New Jersey (I’m pretty sure it’s the last one).  Friends that visit can’t believe how easy it is to chat with people, and the ‘Regulars’ span a wide range of ages and professions.  I’m pleased to have a nice room close by in which to lose a few hours of my day…

Awesome Coffee Shop Alert — Root Hill Cafe

posted by unsinkablemoo

Today I headed out to Park Slope to get my haircut.  Yes, I traveled there from Astoria, but a reasonably priced good hair cut is worth a little or a lot of traveling.  I arrived early, Yelped the area and came up with the Root Hill Cafe.

A charming, little cafe that serves amazing coffee, great pastries, and has free wi-fi.  You know the type. But they have an $11,000 coffee machine called the Clover.  I got myself a cup of the decaf which cost $2.50 but was worth every penny.  It was delicious and I sat in a relaxed, eco friendly atmosphere for at least an hour.  Their sandwiches looked delicious and they even host an open mic night.  Next time you are out in Park Slope check out the Root Hill Cafe.

262 4th Ave
(between 5th Ave & Carroll St)
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 797-0100

Getting out of Dodge

posted by unsinkablemoo

I’m leaving New York in two weeks and I don’t know when I’ll be back.  I’m making a list of things I must do before I leave.

1. Pizza

2. Get a bagel with lox and an americano at Grounded on Jane St

3. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

4. Spend some time in Central Park, either at the fountain or around the reservoir

5. Go see some live music on the LES

6. Get a portabello mushroom burger at the Shake Shack

7. Take some great yoga classes

8. Spend some time in Brooklyn

9. Buy fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market

Can you help me complete my list?  Send me some suggestions!