Sunday, lovely Sunday. Our first day to relax (we have three in a row, and then back to manic show production), and it was possibly my favorite day up here yet. Got up, had some coffee and wrote for a while, and then old-pal Clay Davidson met us here in Brooklyn for a few hours before he had to catch his plane back to Greensboro. He’d heard of a place in Greenpoint that served something called Kyoto coffee, and since I am a coffee addict who could drink Maxwell House under the table (he’s a real person, right?), we hopped down to try it out.
Kyoto coffee is strong, flavorful, and the product of patience. It’s made in a contraption that looks very similar to an absinthe distiller, and basically it is room temperature water being dripped through coffee grounds over the course of 24 hours, served cold. A full diurnal cycle for a single pot of java. Thankfully, we did not have to pre-order our joe. Clay and I also indulged in “bootlegger s’mores,” these gorgeous little sweet sandwiches of creamy moonshine marshmallows (I assume the name is ironic), chocolate, and these incredible crisp graham crackers that were so packed with caramel and cinnamon flavors, I instantly wanted to burn down a Honey Maid factory. But if the s’mores sound rich, the coffee was richer – and I drink mine undoctored. I am embarrassed to admit, I couldn’t finish it. And I am so glad I surrendered. (More on that in a bit.)
Next we headed up through Greenpoint to a place Amanda had heard of called The Meatball Shop. They have these fantastic $3 meatball sliders: you mix and match a style of meatball with a style of sauce, with the option of checking a box labeled “family jewels.” You’re thinking the same thing, right? Brooklyn’s variation on a mountain oyster? Well, relax. It just means they add a fried egg into the mix. (Although it must be said that The Meatball Shop does lay it on pretty thick with the testicle humor, not all of it inspired. “Eat Our Balls,” read several of the servers’ T-shirts. Touché, Meatball Shop.)
Then we toured through the trendy Greenpoint neighborhood, which was set up like an open-air market for hipsters. Sidewalks covered with paperback books and vinyl records, all reasonably priced, all just the right authors and artists. It really was rather lovely, and a far cry from the open air market we visited in Manhattan the day before, which comprised endless rows of state fair food and oddball trinkets punctuated by carnival barkers all yelling “Two dollars two dollars!” as though we were strolling through John Cusack’s purgatory.
After a little bit of slow-paced shopping which culminated in the purchase of a single book (Alan Williams’ Republic of Images: A History of French Filmmaking), I started getting this very strange sensation – you know all the attendant phenomena that occurs when your stomach is upset? The sweating, the disorientation, the vertigo, the feverishness? It fell on me all at once, and it was suddenly time to go home. A universally helpful piece of information: if you have started your day with Kyoto coffee and meatballs and you suddenly find yourself in Greenpoint needing to get to Bushwick, do not get into a cab. Suck it up, you’re better off walking. After the harrowing taxi, I got home into the cool air and felt much better. And when Amanda began feeling the same way a few hours later, I was able to offer this kind gem of wisdom: it gets better.
The rest of the day was spent lounging around the apartment, reading and writing and talking and listening to music. By dinner time, we were all feeling much better, and I made a mustard-coated snapper with a spicy remoulade, purple okra, and some parmesan pasta, and then we spent the rest of the evening relaxing and waiting for our houseguests … my wife Mara and brother-in-law David. Man, it is so nice to see them.
NB: Had a quick phone interchange this morning with Clay Davidson, who is already back in Greensboro. “Hey buddy, how’s your stomach?” “It was pretty messed up yesterday afternoon – why do you ask?” Folks in Kyoto must be made of metal.