The Best Shopping in Brooklyn

03/26/2014 4:00 AM |

— Food + Drink —

Best Upscale Candy

Whimsy & Spice Rose Vanilla Marshmallows, $6.50/dozen

It’s easy to wonder whether the world needs more artisanal marshmallows, but you know what’s even easier? Buying a package of these “rose vanilla” ones and eating the whole thing because they’re delicious. Case closed. Various Brooklyn locations, like Choice Greene, 214 Greene Avenue, Clinton Hill

Best Kombucha

Growler of BK Kombucha (64 fl. oz.), $18

They sell kombucha in smaller growlers and by the to-go cup, too. And prosciutto. And bread. And cheeses, many cheeses. And hops, too, of course. Lots and lots of craft beer. They have plentiful taps for filling growlers, and the selection in the refrigerators is top-notch for mixing up six packs. Hops and Hocks, 2 Morgan Avenue, Bushwick

Best Assortment of Pennywise Pretzels

Pennywise Pretzels, $1/12-16 oz. bag

It’s hard to think of a brand of pretzels that’s not good at all, but it’s easy to pick out outstanding brands. Pennywise Pretzels are probably only slightly above average, generally, but the price of them at Deals just can’t be beat. Classic Minis, Salted Rods, Sourdough Bites, even sometimes “whole grain” Twists: bags of a wide variety of Pennywise treats can be had for even less than the Miller tallboy you might buy down the block to go with them. Deals also sells cheese and canned vegetables, etc., in the dollar range. Grab some of that, too, and call it dinner. Deals, 318 Knickerbocker Avenue, Bushwick

Best Discount Produce

Two Ripe Avocados in Plastic Wrap, $1

Marked-down produce here is as good as full priced produce in some stores, and there’s plenty of it. Pretty much everything outside is a discount version of what’s inside, all of which is also very fairly priced. There’s also a great flatscreen TV inside that’s always tuned to international soccer matches. The store’s owner, Carmelo, is quite a fan. Go here for peaches and World Cup matches this summer! The Angel’s Produce Market, 272 Knickerbocker Avenue, Bushwick

Best Miscellaneous Cheese Scraps

Lost and Found Cheese, $2/ea.

We’re invariably drawn toward the alternately floral- and funky-smelling cheese section of any good gourmet foods shop, and this one’s no exception. But damn, those hunks and chunks of Grafton clothbound cheddar, goat’s milk Marbarella and Ewe’s Blue can get awfully expensive. That’s why we’re all about the “lost and found” basket of unmarked,
plastic-wrapped scraps in ALC’s refrigerator case. Because being able to construct a killer platter of excellent cheeses for less than an Alexander Hamilton makes us feel like a kid in an Italian imports store! ALC Italian Grocery, 8613 Third Avenue, Bay Ridge

Best Beet-Based Condiment

Beet Ketchup, $6.99

When we were kids, the red root vegetable was as notorious as Brussels sprouts for being gross. But now that some version of the latter is on every menu in Brooklyn, where’s a comparable beet renaissance? Being led singlehandedly by the Korzo empire, which makes not only a beet burger but also beet ketchup, beet hot sauce and beet mustard, which you can buy by the bottle to take home. The Brooklyn Beet Company, 7205 Third Avenue, Bay Ridge

Best Way to Re-Create Tørst at Home

Meat and Cheese and Evil Twin, assorted prices

While actually living inside Greenpoint’s beer Mecca is a daydream we’ve long lingered on, it’s not super practical. This small but luxuriously stocked uberbodega, near the Graham and Lorimer L stops, allows Norse elegance in your railroad apartment. Evil Twin four-packs abound, ranging in alcohol content from refreshing to self-destructive. Fancy meats and cheeses are available by weight or individual slice, keeping booze-absorbing snack plates handy. Let the reclaimed-wood allergic rejoice! Campbell Cheese & Grocery, 502 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg

Entire Duck

Whole Duck Defeathered But With Bill, Approx. $7/lb.

Not only can you leave this quaint little neighborhood gem with a spit-bound Donald in a bag, you can also leave with some of the most delicious fresh sauerkraut you’ve ever tasted,straight from the most questionable bucket in which you’ve ever seen food prepared and stored. Don’t question it. This place is great, and the staff is as friendly as that duck is dead. European Meats, 516 Seneca Avenue, Ridgewood

Best Sugar for Your Bowl

Tangerine Sugar, $5.50

This sugar packs a big, citrusy punch, making it an excellent substitute for boring old regular sugar, especially in things like cakes and cookies. Also, tangerine sugar is a good, affordable hostess gift for all those dinner parties that you’re always attending. Oh, wait. That’s not your life? You stay at home in your pajamas all the time? Well then, just keep the sugar for yourself! We won’t tell. Brooklyn Larder, 228 Flatbush Avenue, Park Slope

Best Introduction to Chocolate

Origin Collection, $40

Everyone’s pretty much born loving milk chocolate, but learning to love dark chocolate is a bit(ter) harder. Luckily, a quick duck into Mast Brothers is the easiest way to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of the dairy-free stuff. Pick up the Origin Collection, which contains five bars of chocolate made from cocoa beans from Belize, Madagascar, the Dominican Republic and Papua New Guinea. It’s the least expensive chocotourism you’ll ever undertake. Mast Brothers Chocolate, 111 N. 3rd Street, Williamsburg

Best Jam to Convince Yourself Winter is Over

Liebe is Jam’s Peach Raspberry with Lavender Jam, $12

Brooklyn being what it is, we’ve got a whole lot of “fancy jam” options to choose from, but perhaps none are quite as delicate or wonderfully seasonal as German transplants Liebe is Jam. Proceeds from the sales go to various arts nonprofits, too, so buy a few jars while you’re at it. Wedge, 728 Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights

Best Hyper Regional Foodstuffs

Durkee Famous Sauce ($4.59) and Cheerwine ($3)

In addition to making crave-worthy sandwiches, this Carroll Gardens grocer offers small town America-sourced pantry items you never knew you needed, like Iowa-produced Durkee Famous Sauce (a ready-to-go mix of mustard and mayo that claims to have been served in the Lincoln White House), and fire engine-red Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soft drink that’s been a favorite in North Carolina since 1917. Court Street Grocers, 485 Court Street, South Brooklyn

Best Eastern European Imports

Kielbasa ($3.49/lb.) and Lithuanian Beer (Svyturys Ekstra, $7.99/six pack)

The neighborhood around it may have changed (“Greenwood Heights,” really?), but this Polish-run deli and grocery has been a Fifth Avenue mainstay since the 30s. And, actually, its diverse “provisions” appeal to food-focused residents more than ever; think housemade sausages, European-style breads and whole-fruit jams, as well as a jaw-dropping assortment (1,600+!) of craft and international beers, like Bornem Dubbel from Belgium, Staropramen from Czechoslovakia, Holy Grail Pale Ale from the UK, even a full line of Louisiana’s Mardi Gras favorite, Abita. Eagle Provisions, 628 Fifth Avenue, South Slope

Best Bulk Essentials

Slivered Almonds ($4.95/lb.), Sugared Papaya ($2.40/lb.) and Curry Powder ($1.25/lb.)

As children, we cemented our growing opinion that Brooklyn was an impossibly exotic foodie wonderland far superior to Manhattan while strolling the aisles of Sahadi’s (which has only gotten bigger and better since), peering into the briny depths of barrels filled with fat, spherical olives; inhaling the unfamiliar, heady scents of ground coriander and fenugreek; and surreptitiously filching the odd roasted chickpea, candied kiwi, or pastel-tinted Jordan almond from endless, eye-catching, colorful rows of jars, buckets and crates. Sahadi’s, 187 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Heights

Best Japanese Snack Foods

Hello Kitty Chocolates ($2.18) and Black Bean Rice Crackers ($3.78)

Designated by little more than a slim, sideways banner out front, this diminutive Japanese minimart is a riot of color within. It boasts the expected shelves full of Pocky and ramen, yes, but also an extensive selection of intriguing, cheerfully packaged snacks like Hello Kitty chocolates, steamed sweet potato cakes, wasabi shrimp chips, matcha green tea Kit Kats, and a variety of savory rice crackers, in black bean, seaweed, brown sugar or “egg roll” flavors. Midoriya, 167 N. 9th Street, Williamsburg

Best Red and White Wines
for Under $10

Novecento Malbec ($9.99) and La Forcine Muscadet ($8.99)

With the amount of wine we drink, we’d go broke if we stuck to expensive bottles. Quality still matters, though, even to lushes like us. That’s why we love this Argentine red (“dirty and smoky… great on its own, but with enough acidity to hold up to most heavy dishes”) and Loire Valley white (“made for oysters… like someone put an eye dropper of salty sea water in your Sauvignon Blanc”). Juice Box Wine & Spirits, 1289 Prospect Avenue, Windsor Terrace

— —