Westbury Court

IMG_1536 A bit more on yesterday’s lunchtime ramble:

The streets to the west of Flatbush are block-long “courts” dead-ending at the B/Q tracks and lined with apartments and row houses built, with many flourishes, at the turn of the last century.*  I walked down one of them, Westbury Court, to check it out and take pictures.  Back home, looking for more information on the history of the street and its rather grand apartment buildings, I mostly came up empty – but I did learn that the writer Edwidge Danticat lived there for a few years as a teenager and that she used the street’s name as the title of an essay about loss and memory.

I read the essay yesterday afternoon, for the first time.  It tells of a fire, dead children, a shooting, run-of-the-mill burglaries.  While taking pictures and thinking about lunch, I had stumbled into a dense thicket of memory, lives, ghosts.

I wish I’d been less clueless and more reverential, that I’d treated the block as hallowed ground. But, you know, it’s all hallowed ground.  Westbury Court just happens to have an extraordinary storyteller to remind us of that fact.

End of Westbury Court

End of Westbury Court

Nautical tile, north side of Westbury Court

Nautical tile, north side of Westbury Court

Entry detail, south side of Westbury Court

Entry detail, south side of Westbury Court

*My go-to source in this case being Adrienne Onofri’s Walking Brooklyn.

Tuesday’s lunch challenge report

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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.

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Behind the counter at Errol’s

Errol’s Caribbean Bakery, 661 Flatbush Ave, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn

Errol's Bakery & Catering on Urbanspoon


*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.”