GRAB a cold one for ny craft beer week!

ny craft beer weekOne of the very first things I discovered when I moved back to the South Slope after a couple years of living in Bay Ridge was a tiny shop tucked away into a storefront on 7th Avenue, just north of 15th Street. Lured in by a sign offering free beer tasting and refillable growlers at a reasonable price, I ambled up to the counter to get my sample draft. Little did I know it would become an addictive weekly habit, trying fresh (often limited-edition) top-quality beers and a host of amazing cheeses and charcuterie.

The outstanding woman behind GRAB Specialty Foods is one Laura Nuter, who has been serving the Park Slope food community for years – she joined Blue Apron Foods in north Park Slope in 2005 after stints at Artisanal and the Tribeca Grill before settling her roots at her current shop in the South Slope.

In celebration of NY Craft Beer Week, Laura has been paying homage to New York State brewers by offering a huge line-up of their seasonal beers on tap. She’s continuing the free beer tasting tradition, and will wrap up Beer Week with selections from Southampton (Imperial Pumpkin, IPA, Altbier) and Keegan’s (Four Philosopher’s Tripel, Hurricane Kitty) this Saturday from 4-7pm.

I recently caught up with Laura to pick her brain about living in the Slope, what’s up her sleeve for the NY Craft Beer Week, and a very cool new project she’s got going at Chelsea Market. Check out the interview below, and hope to see you at the tasting!

For the Love of Brooklyn: First of all, congratulations on GRAB’s three-year anniversary!
Laura Nuter: Thank, you, thank you! I must say – it feels wonderful to be a part of such an amazing, supportive and fun community!

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FTLOB: You’ve done a great job of addicting the South Slope to your delicious growlers of beer, decadent cheeses, and smoky charcuterie. Plus, you’ve recently brought back your popular Saturday afternoon beer tastings after a sweltering summer — how’s that going?
LN: It’s going well – we’re glad to be back after such an unbearable summer, and our customers have let us know on no uncertain terms that they’re glad we’re back to tasting the good stuff!

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FTLOB: The good stuff, huh? So what breweries do you have lined up for us?
LN: Some to look forward to for sure! Sixpoint is tasting out a Pilsner and their Pumpkin Brewster next weekend. Fire Island will be here the following weekend with their new Pumpkin, and then we’ll be finishing up the month with a bang with Great Divide. Also coming this fall: Dogfish Head, Founders, and Unibroue!

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FTLOB: Though your store is in the south part of Park Slope, you live further north near Grand Army Plaza, right? What originally attracted you to the neighborhood?
LN: I just love the vibe down on the south end. While the north end is beautiful from an architectural perspective, I found the South Slope speaks to me a bit more in terms of the demographic as well as the food options available here.

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FTLOB:If you could do anything you wanted, what would be your ideal way to spend a sunny fall day here?
LN: I’m going to include the whole Slope since I think we’ll need to since we are a bit small-town and I get up early!

Out of bed early. (In my mind, it’s Sunday since I never have Sundays off!) Big bike ride alone in the park — 5 loops — trees are changing color and it’s 68 degrees. Leaves a-changing, good music playing on the pod. Shower, grab my lady friend Paula and it’s off to Stone Park Cafe for brunch. I’ll be having the short-rib hash with eggs, please!

We head over towards Flatbush to shop at the many cute boutiques – perhaps I shall buy myself something special? Loop up to our house to drop off all the bags, head over to say hello to our friends at Cafe Martin for a delicious cappuccino, then across the street to say hi to our friends at Zuzu’s Petals!

I believe it’s time for a cocktail?! We’ll meet our friends Pam and Alister at our neighbors over at Fonda for margaritas. When we’re done, we’ll grab a bunch of cheese, charcuterie, olives, duck rillette, fresh bread and beer from that cheese shop next door, and a bottle of our favorite Spanish red Camino de Navaherreros from our buddies next door at Slope Cellars. Stop by and grab some hummus and pita from Divine Taste, then it’s off to the park again with my girl. Blanket, magazines, cool breeze, good food, and a bit of a nap as the sun falls below the tree-line.

Head home, finish catching up on Modern Family, The Good Wife, and old seasons of Friday Night Lights. I’ll get a foot rub, haha.

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FTLOB: Sounds heavenly! Also heavenly – FRESH LOCAL BEER. As you well know, we are currently celebrating NY Craft Beer Week and GRAB is one of the participating venues. How are you celebrating at the store and on your own?
LN: We’re having as many local brewers as possible — check out the lineup over at BeerMenus.com! No time for me to celebrate other than making sure I taste each and every beer coming through GRAB this week and continuing to spread the word about our incredibly talented New York State brewers and their staffs. Speaking of staff, Josh Green is doing all the buying at GRAB these days. I must say, I’m quite pleased!!

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FTLOB: I also hear you’ve had quite the busy summer, and have started another shop in Chelsea Market! What can you tell us about your new project?
LN: Yeah! My business partner, Megan Cariola and I started The Filling Station, a company in that specializes in extra virgin olive oils, specialty oils, balsamic vinegars, salts, and soon — craft beer, both local and imported! You can taste everything before purchasing, and since we strive to be environmentally friendly, we encourage our customers to reuse our bottles to get a 10% discount! We’ve had an amazing response so far and we’re incredibly excited and humbled to be a part of Chelsea Market — a lot of talent under one roof! Plus, it doesn’t hurt to be on the cusp of the Meatpacking District in case we decide to get a little crazy after work…

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Thanks so much to Laura for the interview! Happy Beer Week and hope you get to toast a frosty cold one this weekend!

weekend brunch at thistle hill tavern

thistle hill tavernI never used to be a brunch person. In fact, I used to raise a judgmental eyebrow at friends who raved about their newest spot, which always sounded to me like a flimsy excuse for booze before noon. But little by little, I’ve grown to love the leisurely weekend meals that I used to think were so indulgent, mostly because there are so many wonderful spots to try here in Brooklyn!

This weekend, we decided to check out Thistle Hill Tavern, a four-month-old South Slope eatery run by two ‘inoteca alums and Fat Mike from punk band NOFX. Chef Rebecca Weitzman, who lives in Prospect Heights and has a pedigree that includes work with Bobby Flay, creates her menus “centered around locally sourced seasonal produce, dairy and meat, and sustainable seafood.”

Nestled into the former space of The Olive Vine at 7th Avenue and 15th Street, Thistle Hill’s owners have transformed it into a cozy space with ample outdoor seating at a number of cherry red bistro tables. (so cute!) Inside, vintage photographs and framed antique medallions play off the dark wood and rustic details. The small bar at the back is filled to the brim with obscure bottles and offers only a handful of stool seats.


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thistle hill tavern

Certainly, Chef Weitzman’s dishes didn’t disappoint. We started off with a generous helping of pickled veggies, including cauliflower, beets, jalapenos and more. The bloody mary came garnished with the same, served in a huge pint glass.

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Next up: for me, a delicious BLT served on grilled multi-grain bread with an avocado mayonnaise and lovely thick-cut fries with sweet homemade ketchup. Zach opted for a more traditional breakfast with a single sunny side up egg on top of a thick pancake and generous side of peppery Heritage Acres bacon. Even as we dug into our entrees, we definitely had a moment of diner envy when our server brought out a frittata to the table over. Yum.

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thistle hill tavern

Overall, service at Thistle Hill was attentive and the food was good. Definitely a solid addition to the neighborhood and a safe bet for a tasty brunch! So… who else has tried this spot? What recommendations do you have at Thistle Hill or elsewhere in the ‘hood?

a walk through the slope, after the storm

This evening a line of thunderstorms ripped through NYC with strong winds, heavy rains, and hail. While there’s been no official confirmation of a tornado yet, there certainly is widespread damage throughout the city, including one death in Queens that’s been attributed to the storm. In its wake, Twitter has been blowing up with reports and photos of the damage, and you can see several videos over at Gothamist.

On my way home from work, I took a long walk to survey my neighborhood in Park Slope and definitely saw lots of downed trees, broken glass, damaged cars, and debris. I also saw neighbors pitching in and helping each other, teams of firemen wielding chainsaws, and bumper-to-bumper traffic as roads were closed and re-routed due to damage.

But the craziest sight? A huge steel road sign sheared off its base and carried across an intersection at 4th Avenue and 19th Street. Check out some of my photos below, and send us a tip if you have shots of your own to share!

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Neighbors, helping neighbors with power tools:
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Firefighters, out in force with chainsaws and using their trucks for towing large tree limbs:
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And a street sign sheared off in the middle of 4th Avenue in the South Slope. If you look closely at the second picture on the left, you can see how it broke off and traveled across the intersection:
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