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Deviled egg at Red Hook’s Fort Defiance

Informed by friends, the New Yorker, Manhattan Users Guide, Off Manhattan, the Times, and the Voice, and attracted by its calmness, eccentricity, and affordability, I spend a lot of weekends in Brooklyn. This walking tour is composed of three consecutive Saturdays in spring, one with my mom, and I hope you enjoy.

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1. Brooklyn Bridge. I take a lot of pride in living in a city that so many people travel from all of the world to see only once, at great expense and sacrifice. When I cross the bridge, I love witnessing the moments when people turn around and look back at the city. My face probably doesn’t show it anymore, but I still feel the same wonderment when I look over my shoulder.

At the Brooklyn end, exit early to the right. (If you don’t exit early, you’ll get stuck going much further than you intended and missing a chamber music concert.) U-turn on Old Fulton, which runs parallel to the bridge, and make your way toward the water.

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2. No. 1 Front Street. When you get there, there’s going to be a really long line of people waiting for service. The line is for Grimaldi’s Pizza. Near there, enter No. 1 Front, an attractive corner restaurant with larger windows, more spacious seating, and a much, much shorter wait (and no website that I could find, as opposed to Grimaldi’s three!). Weekend brunch drinks are only $6, and if you order a singular food item, specialty martinis are $1. –Not that I’m suggesting that you go on account of inexpensive drinks at midday. I’m suggesting you go because their homemade tortilla chips, fresh guacamole, and warm salsa are amazing. I observed to my server that the last time I had tortilla chips that good, I had cut fresh tortillas and fried and salted them myself at home — exactly what they do at No. 1 Front. I could only finish a fraction of all of the chips on the plate, and I actually opted to carry a take-out box for the rest of the day to bring home to my hummus.

Cross under the Brooklyn Bridge on Front Street, go immediately left on Dock, immediately right on Water.

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3. Jacques Torres. This chocolatier with an illustrious career expanded his Manhattan operation to DUMBO 10 years ago. This was my first time to DUMBO, a part of Brooklyn known for its lively community of artists and the delight they take in acronyms. I purchased a peanut butter and jelly truffle and a “love bug,” white chocolate with key lime center. The gift shop was decked out for Easter, and I liked witnessing kids’ enthusiasm on seeing the huge chocolate-making machines on the production side. My only regret was not trying their spicy hot chocolate.

Cross back under the Brooklyn Bridge and go toward the water. Go southwest along the pedestrian walkway, and take cell-phone pictures of New York and the Statue of Liberty. Turn left at Atlantic Ave.

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Optional detour for dog-owners: go all the way down Atlantic to 5th Ave, take a right, and stop when you get to St. Mark’s Place.

4. Buttercup’s Paw-tisserie. This charming Park Slope pet store was recently featured in Patricia Marx’s “On and Off the Avenue” column in the New Yorker, with good reason. The foods and chews are all-natural and good for digestion, no added salt or sugar. Their whimsical homemade cookies look good enough to eat, but they’re definitely for our four-legged friends. After eyeing these snacks, you might need to get yourself to a bakery for humans.

From here, go back up 5th Ave one block to Bergen. Take a left and enjoy a westward walk through Boerum Hill’s residences until you get to Court. Turn left down Court and enjoy window shopping and real shopping in Cobble Hill until you reach Union.

If you didn’t take the doggy detour, go down Atlantic until you reach Court, then go right. Stay on Court until you reach Union.

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5. F. Monteleone’s Bakery. There are a lot of bakeries in Brooklyn, and there are likely a lot of Italian bakeries in Brooklyn. But Monteleone’s is the one I know, and I am content to stop the search here. I came across this bakery on the weekend of the Feast Day of St. Joseph with my mom, and as such, a sign in their window promised St. Joseph pastries (above, top racks). Born into an Irish Catholic home, I’m no aficionado of Italian pastries, but my mom actually is — she relishes childhood memories of Italian Catholic patients bringing pastries to her father, a family doctor, in her small Massachusetts town. We loved cream puffs with thick, sugary filling, topped with chopped almonds dyed bright green and maraschino cherries. She was especially nostalgic for S-shaped cookies that tasted strongly of cinnamon.

From Monteleone’s, wander! Keep going the direction you were going in to get to the bakery (south-southwest). Enjoy turning down any side streets that strike your fancy. Stay close to Court and Smith Street parallel to it, and work your way down toward Red Hook. Turn right at Lorraine, it will turn into Wolcott, and when you get to Van Brunt, stop.

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6. Home/made. This Red Hook cafe and wine bar exudes warmth and charm. The cheese tasting plate is beautifully composed, the wine pour is generous. It is truly like hanging out in someone’s living room and kitchen. Someone with great taste in wine and cheese.

Keep wandering around Van Brunt. You won’t have to go far.

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7. Baked. When a surprisingly substantial line finally dissipated and it was my turn to order, I asked the gentleman helping me, “If the world were to end, and I could only have one thing, just one thing from this bakery, forever, what should it be?” He selected their aptly named Sweet & Salty cupcake — dark chocolate cake with chocolate caramel frosting, with a caramel center and fleur de sel sprinkled on top. I loved it — and the faux antlers on the wall too.

Keep going…

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8. Fort Defiance. I fell a little in love with Fort Defiance. Okay. Maybe a lot in love. I went to Brooklyn for solitude, armed with New Yorkers aplenty (which is how I knew of the restaurant), and yet I couldn’t help but take more pleasure in the company of everyone around me, from owner and accomplished mixologist St. John Frizell (said like “sinjin”), manning the bar, to a newborn boy, manning the bottle. I stayed so much longer than I intended to, and I’m so glad I did.

From Fort Defiance, turn a left on Van Brunt, then a left on Van Dyke. If you have more time in the day than I had, you’ll see if the Sixpoint brewery at Van Dyke and Dwight gives tours or at least sells pints. (Sweet Action, yes!) Hang a right on Otsego, and you’ll be making your way toward Ikea’s pier for a free sunset boatride.

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9. Water taxi. When Ikea came to Red Hook, it promised its new neighbors free water transportation. As it turns out, it’s only free on weekends, but I’ll take it! A friendly Ikea staff person will board you regardless of how many or how few Svêts and Jörgens and Svêtenjörgens you’ve purchased. Revel in your views of Lady Liberty, Governor’s Island, and the New York skyline, and in the gentle rhythm of the Hudson River as your day comes to an end.

You’re back to where you started, but so much the better for it.

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