Leave the Kitsch at Home
A Real Kitchen Store in Williamsburg
By Cathy Erway
A red-faced Harry Rosenblum is wrangling fiercely with a turkey’s leg. He grabs onto a bone and, with a pairing knife in his other hand, scrapes the flesh away, gently twisting the bone out of the carcass without disturbing its yellow elastic skin. A crowd of six to eight onlookers lean in over his shoulder to get a look, dodging the occasional microscopic spray of turkey.
While this scene may sound a bit like a high school biology lab, rejoice: the “students” are a motley crew of local Williamsburg friends, neighbors, and drop-in shoppers sipping from cups of wine and munching on small-batch pickles and cranberry relish as they “learn.” Yep, it’s just a free neighborhood event on how to de-bone a whole turkey.
“Where are you going to get your five-star anise and fresh nutmeg grater?” Taylor Erkkinen asks. Certainly not in Williamsburg, common sense would suggest—until now. Opened in October by the husband and wife team of Rosenblum and Erkkinen, Brooklyn Kitchen glows warmly from its non-retail Lorimer St. block in central Williamsburg. Its anterior gives way to a colorful array of merchandise, mostly cookware items and some specialty foods, such as Erkkinen’s choice selection of fine teas. Further into the store, the atmosphere is undeniably that of a family kitchen.
“I didn’t like how other kitchen stores in the city gave off this feeling of . . . unapproachable expertise,” says Rosenblum. The cheery fully equipped kitchen inside represents the owners’ goal: to become a truly neighborhood venue. Their class on de-boning a turkey was the first of what Rosenblum and Erkkinen hope will be many friendly community sessions and tastings, open to all. They also plan to bring more seasoned experts as well as integrate home recipes and family traditions into the agenda.
“We’re amateurs, but we both love to cook,” Rosenblum explains. “We wanted people to have a place to commune.”
Indeed, both owners came into cooking and business owning late in their careers, fueled by their passion for quality neighborhood shopping, and, of course, food. Rosenblum still works in and teaches lighting designing while he operates the Brooklyn Kitchen. Erkkinen hails from a technical field as well: trained in engineering, she appreciates the science of cooking and the tools involved.
Only a few short weeks into the store’s opening, Erkkinen and Rosenblum already see signs of their dream coming alive. The week that The New York Times released a story on bread making in the Dining & Wine section introducing a revelatory technique (by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery) of baking bread in a Dutch oven, customers flocked into the Brooklyn Kitchen to buy Dutch ovens. Rosenblum can’t remember how many he sold that week. The most memorable part for him was a customer that came back the next day to share with the owners the bread he just baked in his new Dutch oven that he bought from them.
At the end of the turkey de-boning session, students fill their mouths with freshly roasted turkey with sage bread stuffing, and the entire store is filled with the aroma of Thanksgiving. If this sounds all too similar to a snapshot from one of your own holidays, then the Brooklyn Kitchen has succeeded. Now get cookin’!
The Brooklyn Kitchen
616 Lorimer Street
Nicole’s Sweet Holiday Indulgences
A Look at Some “Heavy” Months Ahead
By Nichole Altmix
Most people view the Holiday Season as a time for sharing and enjoying family. The season usually evokes generosity and high spirits throughout the area. Even though I appreciate and embrace the abundance of positivity during this time, I also tend to focus on the spirit of holiday eating. Absurdly, my season of holiday eating runs from approximately October through February. Indulging in cookies, cake and gigantic meals that leave me in a complete food coma seems to be my annual holiday game plan.
When mid-October rolls around, I start preparing for Halloween and trick-or-treaters. I usually buy candy early to catch the sales, but end up spending double when I need to replenish my supply a few days before Halloween. I even try to hide the candy to “save” it for the kids, but stuffing my face with Kit Kats and Snickers after dinner seems more satisfying at that exact moment. Oddly, I rarely get more than a few trick-or-treaters, but I keep candy stocked, “just in case” there is an infiltration of ghosts, princesses and batmen.
Come November, I’m sustaining on horded Halloween candy and preparing for Thanksgiving. The mountains of mash potatoes and the bowl of stuffing barely last past Black Friday as leftovers. Endless pans of pumpkin pie fill the refrigerator, no matter what family member’s house I visit. True love of food emerges when my dreams consist of being locked in the refrigerator and having to eat my way out. Good thing Thanksgiving is towards the end of the month. I can only eat turkey sandwiches for about three days until I start craving gingerbread cookies.
By December, I’ve usually met my year’s quota for pie, so I am content surviving on the cookies, candy and cake piled on my parents’ extremely spacious counter. In the spirit of my eating season, my mom starts baking sugary goodies about two or three weeks before Christmas. By this time, I am surprised my teeth are not rotting and I have not gained an extra seventy-five pounds.
January. Ah, the sweet relief of a holiday-free month. Just about now, I am gobbling down whatever snack has managed to hide from me while trying to wean myself off a holiday-manifested sugar addiction. Surprisingly, I usually start to wind down and am now eating the appropriate portion sizes.
In February, after convincing myself that I’ve successfully made it through the holiday season, I am filled with excitement when I find a holiday tin full of cookies I previously hid. It’s like a gift surprise all over again, complete with wide-eyes and an excited gasp. Usually by the end of February I am exhausted from the five months of continuous eating and vow to relax until October, when the cycle will begin all over again. Cheers to the Season of Holiday Eating!