Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Red Hook Forage Walk

Red Hook is still one of my favourite neighbourhoods in New York. The Frenchman and I have had Red Hook fantasies since we lived in our Cobble Hill garret (as Penelope Green called it). In a tall and congested city its buildings have remained low - long warehouses and residential streets. Many houses have siding, giving it a small town feel, there are cobblestones, there is a maritime air of dereliction, there is a lot of sky, there are views across New York Harbor, there is the smell of the actual sea. Kind of. Also, occasionally, of dead chickens and nameless things, but that's just that block.

The practical turnoff off was that we'd probably need a car because it's a real hike to the subway, although not as egregious, now that the Smith and 9th Street station is open again. Or there's the bus. I have a thing about buses, I don't know why.

Now, I bike there. (And, ironically, we are thinking seriously about a car).

Rents are rising in Red Hook, development is developing, and people like Francisco are more vulnerable. But it has not - yet; it will - metastisized. There is still a sense of separateness, independence, a defiance of tameness that I love. Plus really good food. And drink.

Red Hook was flooded by Hurricane Sandy. We heard the pumps working  and saw Fairway throwing out its entire inventory of spoiled perishable food (above).

Red Hook was the first place in the city where I saw common milkweed in bloom. That colony still grows where I first saw it, stubbornly rising through the sidewalk, beside an empty lot and chainlink fence and a house that has been falling down for about ten years.  In spring Japanese knotweed persists, and in summer Queen Anne's lace (wild carrot) blooms.

Pokeweed drips with its tempting berries. Yucca flourishes in early summer.

Red Hook juniper berries gave me the ammo I needed to pull off a 500-cocktail feat for Remodelista earlier this year.

So it's about time I led a wild foods walk, there. This Saturday (September 10th)'s first foraging walk of Not Summer, Anymore (I can hardly call it fall), kicks off in Red Hook, and we will walk through its warehoused streets, water's edge parks and end up at a really good farm, where you can buy produce grown right there.

We meet on the SE corner of Van Brunt Street and Sullivan Street, on the corner of the ball park, at 12pm. The B61 bus stops at Van Brunt/Sullivan. From there we'll move northwest towards the water, moving through Louis Valentino Park and Pier, snaking around past Steve's Key Lime Pies and into the Lynden Miller-designed park at Pier 44, before heading past Fairway and towards Ikea (yep), and the Red Hook Community Farm opposite. Along the way we will discover urban weeds and indigenous plants that present a spectrum of flavor possibilities.

Afterwards, satisfy your secret Swedish meatball fetish at you-know-where, eat serious barbecue at Hometown Barbecue, find a good cocktail at Fort Defiance, buy picnic cheese at Fairway to eat on the pier over the water, or head straight for the Gowanus Nursery to acquire some edible plants. Red Hook has it all.

Tickets are $35, a wild snack will be provided, and I will email confirmed walkers with more details before we meet on Saturday. My walks are limited to 15 people.



  1. I liked Red Hook, even in the snow! I sketched Sunny's Bar (Conover Street, I think) on a freezing day, then walked home to Henry Street.

  2. Can't make this weekend but would love to attend a walk! Any idea of when the next one will be?

    1. Please see the Wild Food Walks and Talks tab, top of page :)

  3. Ah Marie, you poet! "A maritime air of dereliction" - perfect. Living in the dry landlocked West, I do miss piers, docks, marinas, rundown old wharfside shops selling marine supplies, shorebirds and YES, even that very very distinctive smell.

    Diane in Denver
    Sunny & 72 right now

  4. it's the most amazing place :) I have a standing weekend breakfast date with friends at Fort D, and somewhat to the surprise of all involved, the ritual is going strong after 6+ years. afterward, we wander to the farm for our CSA shares, and stop in Gowanus or the other (lovely but not as interesting) nurseries to visit & buy plants. yay for weekends.


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