With torrential rain, thunder and lightning, damaging winds, hail, frogs and locusts in the forecast, my so-called challenge became more, well, challenging. But I was up for it. Umbrella in hand and just-in-case MetroCard in my bag, I cut through Prospect Park to the Lincoln Road entrance. Even if my go-to place for Trini food* was off limits (the challenge is to find places I’ve neither eaten in nor read about), I figured there would be plenty of other options in Prospect Lefferts.
From Lincoln Road, I walked south on Flatbush not quite to Parkside, then back up the other side of the street. The commercial strip is heavy on laundries/laundromats, hair and nail salons (my favorite: “Butter Nails”), wire transfer services and small groceries. I saw one fancy coffee shop – pretty much obligatory in a Brooklyn neighborhood that the New York Times real estate section has called the borough’s “best-kept secret.” (Amazing, the ability of black and brown people to keep the places they live secret! Cue Spike Lee and “Christopher Columbus syndrome.”) In addition to straight-up West Indian eateries, I passed West African (one) and Chinese and Indian (many) places . . . which, come to think of it, is in and of itself a pretty West Indian mix. Oh, and there was also a clothing store (pictured above) that was essentially a shrine to Bob Marley.
I finally turned in to Errol’s Caribbean Bakery – Caribbean, in this case, meaning Jamaican. They had hot food on offer – jerk, various curries – but the heat and humidity had done a number on my appetite and what I really wanted was a snack and a cold drink.
The fare and the tab: callaloo patty ($2) and store-made** peanut punch ($4). Both of these, I should add, were at the top of the price range in their respective categories . . . I could probably have had change back from a $5 bill if I’d gone with a beef patty and ginger beer, but you pay more for health food. And that’s what this callaloo patty was: plenty of long-cooked chopped greens stuffed inside a whole-wheat crust, then baked. I am not generally a big whole wheat fan – there’s a certain hair-shirt aspect to it that I find (a) annoying and (b) not so tasty – but there was nothing self-righteous or penitential about this patty.
The peanut punch was cold, creamy, and sweet. Jamaicans may sing its praises as a healthful, protein-packed energy drink, but I know a milkshake when I taste one.
The ambiance: bakery display cases full of buns, cakes and rolls, a refrigerator full of drinks and juices and a counter area full of friendly people.
Errol’s Caribbean Bakery, 661 Flatbush Ave, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn
*De Hot Pot, 1127 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn. Best doubles I’ve ever had.
**I refuse to say “house made,” because Errol’s is definitely not a “house.”