By:Â Nicole Lewis
The Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of famous rappers like Jay Z, The Notorious BIG, and Mos Def (now known as Yasiin Bey). But, Bed-Stuy's contributions to African American and pop culture go even deeper than simply giving birth to Hip-Hop giants.
The historic neighborhood is home to the first free African American community, is the birthplace of many prolific African American poets, serves as the backdrop to many of Spike Lee's movies, and was the breeding ground for Civil Rights victories in the late 1960's.Â Bed-Stuy's little known history is often obscured by its tough reputation for which the phrase coined in the 90's "Bed-Stuy, Do or Die" speaks to its rugged way of life.Â While the hype has kept many would-be tourists at bay it hasn't diminished the cultural and artistic significance of the neighborhood.
As the neighborhood tastes continue to shift under the influence and interests of its new residents, Bed-Stuy will soon be able to claim another important cultural achievement: home to an amazing culinary scene. As a whole, the borough of Brooklyn is well regarded as a culinary hot spot.Â Some credit the borough as the fount of a new artisanal food movement, which prizes local hand-made foods made in small batches over mass-produced corporate products. The result is superb coffee, teas, chocolates, charcuterie and cheeses, as well as craft beers and unique kitchen items.
In a New York Times article about Brooklyn's Food Movement almost every neighborhood in Brooklyn was represented as having a wealth of artisanal food producers, but sadly, Bed-Stuy did not make the chart. And that's where we come in! Just as we make it a priority to share Harlem news and features (since it's often forgotten in the borough of Manhattan), we want to shed light to a few artisan purveyors located in Bed-Stuy that deserve a little recognition:
SCRATCHbread Bakery moved into Bed-Stuy in the summer of 2010 and has been filling the streets with the most incredible sweet bread smells since day one. The Bed-Stuy bakery is both the production site for all of SCRATCHS' breads, muffins, cookies, and sticky-buns and is fully equipped with a walk-up window to serve all of SCRATCHS' creations. A few highlights include the Focaccia Pizza, which is bursting with garlic or the Hot Sticky Mess Sticky Buns, which are thoroughly soaked in a sweet and spicy chili, orangey, cardamom syrup. Or if you are go for something unique, try the Plantain Bread Cake with Mole Spiced Streusel. SCRATCHbread is much more than just baked breads. Each item is a mix of whimsy and complex flavors. The walk-up window is open during the week on Wednesdays from 4-8pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-3pm.Â The smell will lead you right to it!
Bed Stuy Farm Share
Ok, so a CSA isn't exactly a traditional food establishment, but it's a great example of local and seasonal food-central to the values of BK's food movement. Residents sign up in the spring to receive 22 weeks of fresh fruits and vegetables harvested from farms in the New York area. The CSA is a great addition to Bed-Stuy, as this neighborhood (as is Harlem) is classified as a food desert.Â Without many grocery stores around, Bed Stuy Farm Share makes fruits and vegetables more readily accessible. Beginning in June, Bed Stuy Farm Share offers a craft beer share. The beer is a collection of home-brews made locally and consists of unique mash-ups such as Chocolate Pink Peppercorn Ale and Oolong-and-orange Summer Ale. For more information, check out their website here.
Saraghina is an unassuming pizza spot located on the corner of Halsey Street and Lewis Avenue is Bed-Stuy's historic district. The view from outside gives almost no hint of its spacious and rustic yet warm interior. Saraghina focuses on using fresh, high quality, seasonal ingredients for its pizza and anti-pasti. The owners set out to recreate the food they loved as children and they have poured the same amount of love into their menu as their mother did when preparing home-cooked meals. Saraghina does not disappoint.
Stay tuned next week our Part II of Ethnic Eats in Bed-Stuy.
Photo:Â Flatbush Gardener
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