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.
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.
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.