Monday, October 4, 2010

Cook like the Brooklyn pros

By Meredith Deliso

Ever since Al Di La opened on a then-quiet corner of Park Slope’s less-than-glamorous Fifth Avenue 12 years ago, Brooklyn’s dining scene has never been the same. 

The following year saw The Grocery and Saul open in Cobble Hill, then Park Slope’s Rose Water in 2000, DuMont in Williamsburg in 2001, and, fast forward a few years, Carroll Garden’s Buttermilk Channel in 2008 and The Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights last year. 

These are restaurants Brendan and Melissa Vaughan call “The New Brooklyn”: trailblazing, ambitious restaurants united by their Manhattan-level cooking but at Brooklyn prices and attitude.

“A lot of these restaurants were inspired by each other not necessarily in style, but by showing that it could be done — charging $18 or $19 for an entree and having some real energy and innovation and creativity in the kitchen with an emphasis on local ingredients and sustainable agriculture,” said Brendan, who collaborated with his wife on “The New Brooklyn Cookbook,” a collection of recipes from 31 of the borough’s “it” restaurants out tomorrow.

For some, the recipe choice was obvious — you’ll find signature dishes like The Good Fork’s Steak and Eggs Korean Style and Marlow & Sons’ Brick Chicken in there. But there are also the less obvious choices, a meal you might choose on your fourth or fifth visit, such as the Tofu with Broad Beans and Chili Bean Paste from The General Greene.

“There’s an eclectic mix of different styles and types of food,” said Melissa. “That’s what we were out to represent.”

In addition to the recipes, which are accompanied by Michael Harlan Turkell’s good-enough-to-eat photographs, the cookbook highlights other Brooklyn trailblazers — cheesemakers, picklers, chocolatiers and rooftop farmers who also make the food scene tick.  

“We wanted to provide a representative sampling of the kinds of artisanal food producers making interesting products in the borough,” said Brendan. “They’re really as much a part of it as far as the restaurants go — it’s what makes Brooklyn unique as a food destination.”  

The Vaughans may have written the definitive cookbook on the new Brooklyn culinary scene, but that doesn’t mean they want you to stop eating out.

“We certainly still love to go out to these places and eat and order these dishes, even those we love to make,” said Brandon, who personally is a big fan of the paired dinners at Beer Table. “A huge part of why the scene is as blessed as it is is people are constantly going out and supporting the restaurants in their communities.” 

“The New Brooklyn Cookbook” book party at powerHouse Arena [37 Main St. at Water Street in DUMBO, (718) 666-3049], Oct. 4 from 7-9 pm. For info, visit


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