It was more like an Epic Weekend, which started with a trip to Jacob Riis Park in Rockaway, Queens. Constructed on the site of one of the first US naval air stations, the park was designed in 1936 by innovative Park Commissioner Robert Moses, who had also created Jones Beach in 1929 further east on Long Island. Moses envisioned Riis Park as a Jones Beach for poor immigrants, a destination accessible by public transportation and closer to the city. In 1972, Jacob Riis Park was transferred to the control of the National Park Service.
It was a really quick car ride, but if there is a ferry which takes you there from Manhattan, which I think would be fun. ( I do love ferries!) It was quiet there, and lovely. I haven't been to any beaches in NYC other than Coney Island and this Riis Park was sooooo different! I highly recommend going if you can't leave the city for the weekend and are feeling the sirens' call.
The next day we set out to ride our bikes to Coney Island. It was to be about 8 miles each way, with two very specific stops on the agenda. First up, Di Fara's Pizza.
There's a lot of hype surrounding Di Fara's, which is attributed to, in my opinion, many variables: it's out-of-the-way location, it's weird hours, and the fact that only the venerable 80-year-old Dominic makes the pies. We got there at 12:25 and there was already a line forming. We waited patiently and ordered two slices and paid $10. Yep, $10.
For the price and the trip, not really worth it. And I've eaten a lot of pizza in NYC. A lot. But it's just my opinion and you have the right to form your own, so travel to Avenue J at your own risk.
The journey continued all the way to Coney Island. I've been there two times so far this summer, and, God help me, I love it there. I can't quite tell you why. I feel like I'm being transported in place and time. Like I've entered a time warp or a worm hole and come out the other side somewhere completely other than New York. (It's the same way I feel about South Beach, which inspires the same kind of confused reactions from my friends. What can I say?)
We roamed the boardwalk and watched some crazy kids dive off the pier, while quiet older couples fished and picnic-ed. Having finally worked off the pizza it was on to the main event. That's right, people. I was back for tacos.
YUMMMMM. Doesn't that look amazing?! Having been twice now I would recommend the spicy pork, but not the steak. I would definitely have the chicken if I were to go again. Which I will.
We sat in the Plaza Mexico and listened to the canciones and fantasized that we were somewhere else, though the cries from the Cyclone reminded us that we were, in fact, not. Then it was time to go and work off those tacos on the ride home, which always seems shorter, doesn't it? On the way home we got caught in the rain - a good, soaking, mid-summer rain - and laughed the whole way.
This weekend marks the half-way mark of the summer and I thought it was a good time to revisit my list.
Mermaid Parade (hello Mr. Lou Reed!) Check! (Finally) visit City Island P.S. 1's Summer Warm Up series The Bronx Zoo Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island Maybe next year? Shakespeare in the Park (starring Al Pacino!!) This proved to be nearly impossible. more bike rides (see above picture) Check! Including an epic one two weeks ago. More later. Luke's lobster rolls at Hester Street Market watch as many World Cup games as possible I did watch the Final with some peeps in Queens. finish my quilt! Plans for this are underway! 4th of July on Governor's Island (featuring She & Him) Check! And double check!!!
These photos are from a trip to Brooklyn about a month ago. We went to a place in South Park Slope/North Sunset Park called Milan's and it was awesome.
It is self-described as Czech and Slovak cuisine, but I heard Polish and Ukrainian being spoken. The food was all vaguely eastern European and all very good. There is something about this kind of food that resonates so strongly with me. Eating the plate of sauerkraut and pork almost made me cry. It reminded me so completely of my grandparents house and my childhood that the reaction to it was purely emotional.
I had a similar experience years ago eating rye bread with butter and cheese and onions. I kept saying that it reminded me of my grandmother's house. Of her. I said it over and over because it was so amazing to feel that connection while eating in an unfamiliar place. My friends made fun of me, but they didn't understand.
I know it's not healthy to have such an emotional attachment to food, but old habits die hard. I can't say that my Baba made this exact meal for me, but the rye bread with sweet cream butter remind me of her. And the potato pancakes were always my grandfather's domain.
Anyhow, it's worth the trip. Your experience might not be as intense as mine, but you won't be disappointed.