The best summer days are defined by each Brooklynite’s attitude. If you’re positive, light on your feet, addicted to yoga and meditation and don’t mind sticky and sweaty humidity in the subway, then please create a blog so that I can easily follow you, and learn from the best at appreciating life and all that it has to offer.
But if you’re in my category of need to lose ten or more pounds when you’re a foodie, addicted to Époisses, creamy mushroom sauces, binging Netflix while eating, and southern California-dreaming, then have no fear fellow frenchie. Here is one surefire way to combat your negatives.
Finding chill things to do during the summer months, when Brooklyn and Manhattan are bursting at the seams with fantastic and often free, or cheap, events to attend is easy enough, but now made even easier by the following list of francophile-approved activities.
Of the list, I am mostly looking forward to the huge Smith Street Bastille Festival hosted by Bar Tabac among other French-American sponsors, the Banana Farm for free French cookies, and two French films at Transmitter Park, presented by the Films on the Green festival.
One Sings, the Other Doesn’t
30 Lafayette Ave
Brooklyn NY 11217
718-636-4100 ext 1
A 1977 film that follows two women who, in the midst of life’s wins and losses, become great friends and create a bond stronger than space. Even after their lives go in different directions, their experiences continue to motivate each other to live inspiring lives in action. Sounds like the French appreciate and understand the beauty and power of genuine sisterhood.
June 3 and July 7
Fey Nan Bwa: A Haitian Herb and Song Workshop with Sirene
The Wyckoff House Museum
5816 Clarendon Road
Brooklyn, NY 11203
Having Christian parents from the South, I’ve always been one to avoid Vodou like it’s the plague, but this workshop might shine a light on the truth about Vodou’s connection to nature and its challenge to conventional medicine. Look for an upcoming guide to Haitian culture and restaurants in Brooklyn, “Flatbush Vodou: Brooklyn’s Little Haiti,” on BKfrench.com
June 7 and every 1st Thursday
Open House at the Banana Farm-French Cookies A Go-Go
The Banana Farm – Michel et Augustin
98 4th Street, #106
Brooklyn, NY 11231, FREE
7pm to 8pm
A name like Banana Farm is all I need to excite my palette for sweets. I’m not particularly fond of bananas unless they’re in a cream pie but something about “bananas” just stirs my sweet tooth up. If you need more of an incentive, the Banana Farm’s Open House includes a “supersonic cookie tasting,” and a baking lesson among other sweet reasons to attend.
Paulin Soumanou Vieyra Shorts
343 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10027
A showing of three controversial Senegalese short films by Vieyra—one of which was censored by the Senghor government, another selected by the Cannes Film Festival 50 years ago, and another instrumental and groundbreaking for Senegalese film—is sure to be uniquely informative, sometimes depressing and sometimes entertaining.
Creole Food Festival
DL Rooftop Lounge
95 Delancey Street
New York, NY 10002
Look at this beautiful melting pot called Creole. A delicious cultural gumbo of about 30 different countries that will come together in celebration of the cuisine that unites and defines them. If I hadn’t already purchased my ticket for Saint Joan on Broadway, I’d be yummin’ up some Creole food from five different global regions.
Je Suis: A Theatrical Dining Experience
264 Carlton Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
Yet another reason to admire the very quaint Bisou Bisou, besides its name, its cute and warm-in-the-winter space, and its speakeasy vibe that’s perfect for date night cocktails is a cabaret dinner dedicated to 1920s Paris. I AM, a female group of three performers, will make its exciting debut NYC appearance, which will honor the artistry of cabaret icon Edith Piaf.
June 1-Sept 6
Films on the Green
I’m hoping to see La Bûche and Garçon, the only two films presented in Greenpoint’s beautiful Transmitter Park by the “Films on the Green” festival. Showing in various NYC parks, this free festival offers up 12 French films about the dynamics between the art of French cooking and culture. Some of the other films are a tempting reason to take a subway ride into the City.
More Info: http://frenchculture.org/events/8052-films-green-2018
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY, FREE
June 22, 8:30pm
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY, FREE
June 29, 8:30pm
Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza
Part of the Arts Walk Bk, FREE
Being a clear reflection of its influences, The Blue Dahlia’s music is a beautiful blend of its group’s backgrounds—American, French, Senegalese, Japanese, Argentinian, and Mexican—and then some. Imagine French chanson and reggae living side by side, in the same song. Now have a listen and confirm the only label it needs is happy music. Check out France Rocks for more contemporary, French-inspired music.
French Restaurant Week
Of the 20 NYC bistros and brasseries featured in “French Restaurant Week,” none are located in Brooklyn. Such a shame because Brooklyn is home to quite a few great classic French and French-fusion restos that deserve a lot of attention.
That being said, I’m looking forward to Jubilee’s tasting of mussels (prepared three ways), the whimsical puff pastry of chicken and shrimp in a cream sauce at Deux Amis, and Boucherie’s Pistachio Bombe Glacee. Nothing looks more insanely decadent than the pouring of rich, silky-smooth, warm dark chocolate over a dome of ice cream. I can’t wait!
Downtown Brooklyn’s Bastille Day Celebration
Brooklyn, NY 11201, FREE
10:30am – 4:00pm
My love/dislike relationship with sometimes snooty Downtown Bk won’t stop me from attending (at least a small part of) this celebration, which includes a Petanque Tournament, live music and food. The celebration is hosted by La Defense, a notable French-American restaurant that serves traditional bistro fare in an American diner’s space.
Bar Tabac’s Bastille Day Celebration
Smith Street Festival and Pétanque Tournament
128 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
For some reason, probably the lengthy amount of really great bars and restos, the snootiness of Smith Street has never affected me. Bar Tabac hosts this chill neighborhood’s Bastille Day Celebration which brings thousands of people from all over the world. Smith Street’s Festival is also a Petanque tournament with live music and food. Its only difference from Downtown BK’s Bastille Day Celebration is the down-to-earth charm of Smith Street and the people that love it.
Saint-Saëns’ Samson Et Dalila Ballet
(Opera HD screening)
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
1pm (on July 24th premiere)
It isn’t very moi to purchase tickets to a French Opera Ballet. 1) It’s far away in Midtown East. 2) It’s an Opera Ballet. And 3) the subject matter is a biblical tale with complex characters at its center. But the above three reasons that make it “not for me” are also the reasons I should probably attend. I might just learn something.
Whether savory or sweet, crêpes are whimsical, delightful and limitless because of the opportunity to be adventurous when choosing a crêpe’s filling. The crispy, fluffy and/or puffy envelope—that would never be left unopened if it were mail—is usually made to provide the most amazing, French vehicle for cheese, meat, or my favorite crêpe filling, Nutella. Last Saturday morning , I took my son on a short crêpe tour in the often overrun with stroller traffic Park Slope and we had good experiences at all three crêpe stops on the following list. Good luck crêpe-ing (not to be confused with creeping)!
The Pleasant Pheasant
Le French Tart should be renamed Le French Tasty Tart! In this bright, spacious and light-filled environment meant for families, the authentic Parisian cuisine that you’ll devour outshines the decor. You’ll like the Eiffel Tower candle holders and hound dog bottle openers that are for sale, but you’ll adore la poulet, the mouthwatering chicken crêpe.
The crêpe itself is a very thin, buckwheat, authentic Parisian crêpe. I didn’t mind the dark (almost burnt) areas, because the burnt taste added to the overall flavor of the crêpe. Something about a little bit of burntness says homemade—like your working mother ran home to make it for you in a rush homemade.
The filling of the crêpe—slightly overcooked grilled chicken breast, béchamel and swiss cheese—was ooey, gooey delightful to see and taste. Perfect for a rainy and unseasonably cold Saturday morning in May. It was served with a mixed salad with forgettable dressing, but I appreciated the gesture of serving a decadent crêpe with fresh veggies. How French!
Was it the French way to serve my chicken crêpe on a paper plate? I have mixed feelings: it took away from the experience of imagining that we’d traveled back to Paris to admire the beauty and taste of a great crêpe; but it also was a cleaner option than a plate they’d wash and reuse.
Either way, the decor and overall setup of Le French Tart could be greatly improved by focusing on the creation of a central space that is easily reachable from all four corners of this family-style cafe.
Le French Tart, 579 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215
The Not-So Gratifying Goat Cheese and Spinach
After the rather subdued, as subdued as a bunch of toddlers and their families can be, experience at Le French Tart, walking in or rather dancing in to Couleur Café was quite energizing, to say the least. Current R&B and pop music played at just the right volume: loud enough to hear the wonderful bass beats, but still quiet enough to be remain a special part of the background. Also, enjoyable enough to chair dance to while you eat.
While the music was enjoyable, so was Couleur Café’s mix of retro and vintage-modern aesthetics, evident in turn of the century-styled moldings on the walls, floral print cushioned chairs, and the reclaimed banisters that punctuate the turquoise counter/bar.
The crêpe was not my favorite but only due to the spinach filling. I tend to avoid cooked spinach, unless it’s cooked in cream and butter with cheese and made into a dip. The crêpe was like a biscuit or the crust of a potpie: tasty and hearty enough to hold up to a wet filling. Even with the spinach, it didn’t turn soggy on me. A smoked salmon option was available but I wasn’t in the mood for it. But next time and yes, there will be a next time for us at this unique cafe, I’ll be ordering the smoked salmon crêpe.
Couleur Café servers are friendly, if not on point. Our drinks—a well deserved mimosa and a well-done (according to my son) Shirley Temple—came to our table after our grilled cheese and crêpe orders.
With all of its misses, I’d still say Couleur Café is cooler than most cafés.
Couleur Café, 435 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Very kid-friendly. Very petite. And very appetizing Nutella crêpe. I love Nutella so I’m biased towards the entire taste of the crêpe as Nutella’s dominance of deliciousness over everything it’s paired with seduces me.
But my son noticed that the crêpe was not light, thin, or fluffy but rather densely packed down in layers, which made it difficult for him to eat. I noticed that I was chewing it for a while, but I didn’t care.
My Nutella crêpe was fancily drizzled with Nutella and powdered sugar after being folded into the classic triangular crêpe shape. Perhaps if we ate it when it was warm, it’d be easier to eat and enjoy.
Cusp Crêpe and Espresso Bar, 321 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
A popular spot in Dekalb Market Hall, with the prettiest crêpe flower presentations—some with ice cream—you’ve ever seen.
Little Choc Apothecary
Cute, colorful and French-dressed—freedom of effortlessly combining old school elegance with youthful, cheeky charm—indoor garden seeks flavor-bound vegans that live to eat. Lots of tea, lots of smoothies and lots of green greatness await.