Travel Diary: When You Just Don’t Feel Like It – Berry Park in Brooklyn

I don’t jump out of bed with the desire to spread wine love all over the state of New Jersey.

On the contrary, I can’t seem to get out of bed lately.  I’ve never had life weigh me down like this before; work, family, death.  Yeah, death.  As much as you prepare yourself for a loss, it never seems to soften the blow.  I hate to make this about me, but my senses seem to be laying on my skin, and my emotions I am putting in a jar.  We will deal with those silly emotions later. (probably with a therapist)

So what happens when we are in this state of mind – who the heck wants to get off the couch.  My couch is where I finally end the day, relax, become a child again.  It took my friend Genelle three days to convince myself and another friend to take a “road trip” to Brooklyn.

To Brooklyn.  You realize this is about an hour away.  My mind cancelled about three times, I came up with a bunch of excuses, but decided to suck it up and go.  Please kiss your friends that make you do things you don’t want to do.  Praise them, keep them close, and celebrate them every chance you get.  What a great day we had.

The intent was to see our friend compete in a Strongman (well, Strongwoman) competition at Brooklyn Athletic Club – really great box.  She killed it, we screamed our faces off in support, and then we were hungry.

Next door, literally a few steps away, was a STUPID COOL rooftop experience; Berry Park.  We weren’t looking for fancy, or a change your life culinary experience.  A few cocktails and a sandwich fit the bill.

Then the sun came out – then the beer arrived – then the laughs, stories, release of tension could happen. Why am I not exploring?  Why am I not curious about life outside my shell?  Lesson learned; get out, pack a snack pack, grab your girlfriends, and road trip the hell out of life.  Summer project; do things you wouldn’t do.  I just signed up for a crossfit competition in June.  I hate crossfit competitions.  At 45 years old, I am competing in a crossfit competition.  And, so it begins…

What we ate: Like I said, nothing fancy.  Fried pickles a must; probably the best we have ever had. (and we are experts at the fried pic experience).  Burger hit the spot, but the fries could have been better.  (not worth the calories)  Steak and eggs were on point, and an avocado BLT was well done.  Who doesn’t like an avocado…

What we drank: Great beer list; totally funky.  The wine list? Eh – ok.  I feel like they were trying to hard for the hipsters.  My friend’s sauvignon blanc was way to grassy with very little balance but loaded with acidity.  I can’t even remember the name; that’s how much I liked it.

Would I go back: Well, maybe.  Berry Park is right in the heart of Williamsburg: hipster central.  Nothing against these lovelies, and no judgement.  I just feel like I was in a episode of “The Hunger Games” where this little group of people were sectioned off and told to walk and dress the same.  Very strange feeling.



Thai Food For Days

I’ve now eaten at SLA Restaurant in Montclair twice, and I CANNOT STOP THINKING ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE.

In fact, I have found myself craving Sai Ouer (the most delish Thai sausage with a spice we cannot put our thumb on) and the best Pad Thai I have EVER tasted.  Best part, beyond the Gluten Free menu choices, is that I can BRING MY OWN WINE.

And that we did.  Classic Thai food and wine pairing –  Riesling.  The Dr Loosen Riesling we picked up at Magnolia’s Wine Shop (next door by the way) was not to my liking.  What makes this pairing really great is the clash of the bountiful fruit of the wine with the spice of Thai chilies, and then racy exuberating acidity.  The acidity on Dr Loosen was flat and boring.  Grab a different German Riesling, or  a New York Finger Lake wine.  Those are pretty, but will give you the slatey minerality rieslings are really known for.

Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay was perfect for me; not so much for my wine friendly companion.  This chardonnay delivers a charming core of fruit while giving me a tingle of acid right on the sides of my cheeks.  Yes please to cool me off from the heat I was feeling; insert really bad sweating photo:

img_2876I grabbed a red for the evening as well – Penfolds Bin 389 Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon Blend.  You need a big boy to stand up to the flavors of the dishes on that table.  I can’t get enough of this vintage of Bin 389; the blending of major viticultural areas of Australia, 18 months in oak (whoa – nice), and linked to one of the most Iconic wines of this Century – Penfolds Grange.  Flavors of dark red fruits, chocolate, cinnamony spices, and some kind of bacon thing going on.  Cmon now…

Johnny came out the winner when he suggested beer.  Yes, beer – ahhhhh men; got get it Johnny.  He was told not to pick up an IPA, but didn’t listen and THANK GOD he didn’t!  Bengali IPA from New York has a supple yet substantial  body with caramel notes that matched our meal perfectly.  There is much more fruit present, at least to me, in an IPA.  I liked the hoppy character of this beer, and damn what a nice food match.  Just read that this beer is being marketed to hipsters; oh Johnny…

Go here: SLA Thai Restaurant – 38 Upper Montclair Plaza (behind Talbots), Montclair, NJ

What to have in your purse; This is not an expensive meal.  If you eat with us, we order everything, so, well, it is expensive.  Check the menu out on line:  And remember, you are not paying for booze – this is a win.

In a pinch: Stop in at Magnolia’s Wine Shop right next door to the restaurant –  We purchased the Riesling and the beer there.  They were open pretty late, and the guy working the floor was very helpful.