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Fall is one of Brooklyn’s best seasons. The trees lining our streets and parks are dressed in their glorious autumnal finery, the temperature drops enough that we can finally wear our nice sweaters and jackets, and the smell of wood burning isn’t limited to artisanal pizzerias. In the neighborhoods of Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, fall means beautiful sights in Fort Greene Park, fun Halloween events, and going down Myrtle Avenue with a pumpkin latte to keep your hands warm.

It’s in this area that you can find Navy Green, a brand-new block of townhomes and market-rate condos. To really appreciate this vibrant part of Brooklyn that could become your new neighborhood, here are five things to do this autumn in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.

Show Clinton Hill You Scare
On the front lawn of 313 Clinton Street, this elaborate live show Halloween 313 has been entertaining thousands of visitors every October 31 since 1994. Past years’ themes have included “Pirates of the Scaribbean,” “Carnival of Carnage,” and “ApoCALYPSO,”  and this year’s is “Malice in Underland.” The talented cast and crew, led by “Halloween lady” Janna Kennedy, create this spooky spectacle “for the love of their community and the Halloween spirit.”

Photo of “Carnival of Carnage” by Halloween 313.

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Navy Green is a new development in the historic neighborhood near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Taking up almost the entire block where the Navy Brig once stood — bounded by Park, Clermont, Flushing and Vanderbilt Avenues — Navy Green is a village of townhomes and condos surrounding a 30,000-square-foot common green. Residents of this development will be able to enjoy this quiet neighborhood’s many charms, including the restaurants, bars and shops of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, the nearby Brooklyn Greenway, Navy Yard attractions, and even a brand-new Wegmans supermarket.

The neighborhood adjacent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard — sometimes referred to as Wallabout, sometimes as extensions of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill — was once described by the founder of Columbia University’s Historic Preservation Program as an “outdoor architectural museum.” Belgians settled in the area as early as 1624, but Wallabout (from the Dutch Waal-bogt, meaning “a bend in the harbor”) remained largely rural until the opening of the Navy Yard in 1801. Many of the houses in the neighborhood were built for the people who worked at the yard, which was shut down in 1966 and gradually converted into the center for industry and the arts it is today.

Following are some of the best attractions in the neighborhood around Navy Green.

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There will be something sweet for foodies, green-living experts, nature lovers, youngsters, and even surfer dudes. Tomorrow, the fourth annual NYC Honey Fest will bring everything from monofloral honey to honey-infused desserts to beeswax-based cosmetics to the Rockaways. The daylong festival will include a bee-themed parade, a savory contest organized by the American Honey Tasting Society (submit form here), live music, film, a variety of food options, and children-friendly activities, such as hive-making and face-painting. More information and photos after the jump.

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The food is great, and the portions are large. The suds are local, and DJ Neal Sugarman of Daptone Records keeps the music exciting. In other words, the 2014 Butcher Paper Dinner Series is served. On one Sunday a month from May through October, celebrated local chefs, such as Jimmy Tu of Bunker in Ridgewood, present feasts on the Long Island City-based Brooklyn Grange’s rooftop farm. Borough breweries provide beer with wine from New York-based vineyards. (Queens can’t make it all!) Here’s the schedule.

  • Crawfish boil (Sunday, May 25) with chef Mike Ciardi of Union Market. Big Alice Brewery samples Salt & Pepper Saison Farmhouse Ale, and Finger Lakes-based Heron Hill Winery uncorks Dry Riesling 2012 and a Pinot Blanc Reserve 2012.
  • Fried chicken (Sunday, June 8) by chefs Erika Geldzahler, Sarah Buck and Carolyn Bane Ross-Leutwyler of Pies ‘n’ Thighs, followed by (what else?) their delicious pies. Queens Brewery taps Queens Lager.
  • Vietnamese street food (Sunday, July 20) with Bunker’s Jimmy Tu. Queens Brewery again offers Queens Lager.
  • Massive crab boil with oysters (Sunday, August 17), thanks to chef Will Horowitz of Ducks Eatery. Yet another borough brewery, Finback, provides the suds, and Sawmill Creek Vineyards from the Finger Lakes pours a Riesling and a Sauvingon Blanc.
  • A table-length sandwich, piled with delicious meats and veggie chips from Brooklyn Grange, (Sunday, September 28) with chefs Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis of M. Wells. Rockaway Brewing Company serves beer and North Shore vineyard Bedell Cellars selects the wines.
  • Rib-a-thon (Sunday, October 5) with chef Dan Delaney of Delaney Barbeque and BrisketTown. Queens Brewery brings back the Queens Lager with wine from Fox Run Vineyards in the Finger Lakes.

Details: All dinners are from 3 pm to 6:30 pm on the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm, which is located on Northern Boulevard in the vicinity of 38th Street in Long Island City. Spots are limited to 65 people, tickets priced at $80Edible Queens, the borough’s premier food magazine, is the other sponsor.

Photos: Edible Queens

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A good meal starts on the farm. And in this case, it ends there too. On October 6th, Edible Queens and Brooklyn Grange — a rooftop urban farm in Long Island City — will launch Butcher Paper Dinner: Farm-to-Table Dinner Party Series, which will happen sporadically during the warm weather months. For the first supper, Will Horowitz, chef of Ducks Eatery in Manhattan’s East Village, will sling fresh oysters, followed by a crab boil. The seafood will be enhanced by wine from Bedell Cellars on the North Fork of Long Island, suds from Queens Brewery and music by celebrated DJ and saxophonist Neal Sugarman of Daptone Records. Dinner will be served on a massive, reclaimed white oak communal table, covered by butcher paper. For future meals, other accomplished chefs will prepare dishes using victuals from Brooklyn Grange, which grows more than 40,000 pounds of organically cultivated produce every year, most of which ends up in local restaurants.

Details: Butcher Paper Dinner: Farm-to-Table Dinner Party Series (sponsored by Douglas Elliman Real Estate), Brooklyn Grange’s rooftop, 37-18 Northern Boulevard, LIC, $80, October 6th, 3 pm, limit of 65 people. Click here for tickets.

Editor’s Note: None are scheduled now, but future Butcher Paper Dinners will be listed on the Brooklyn Grange website.

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Foodies, nature lovers and beach bums are abuzz about the Third Annual NYC Honey Fest on September 7th. To be held on Rockaway Beach’s 86th Street Boardwalk, which was recently rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy, vendors of all stripes will sample and sell everything from local, monofloral honey to honey-infused desserts to beeswax-based candles and cosmetics to bee-inspired, silkscreen t-shirts. Children-friendly activities (face-painting, costume-making, puppetry), a movie screening on the beach, observational hives, live performances and introductory beekeeping classes will round out the event, which is sponsored by Brooklyn Grange (located in Long Island City) and Rippers. There will also be an avant-garde, beachside, honey‐based Rosh Hashanah ritual.

Details: NYC Honey Fest, 86th Street Boardwalk, Rockaway Beach, September 7th, 10 am – sunset, free.

Photo by NYC Honey Fest/FB

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The 1919 factory building found at 37-18 Northern Boulevard, the Standard Motor Products Building, has long outlived its built purpose. Currently owned and operated by Acumen Capital Partners LLC, the gargantuan industrial building (301,000 Total SF in six stories) offers stoutly engineered and capacious floor space. Modern anchor tenants include the company which once owned the structure — Standard Motor Products –– as well as the Franklin Mint, the Jim Henson Company and Broadview Networks.

It’s an iconic structure, well known to those who use both the automotive path of Northern Boulevard or the locomotive path of the Long Island Railroad to commute to and from Manhattan. It’s a point of transition in the neighborhoods as well, the exit from Astoria and entrance to Sunnyside, where the designation of Steinway Street gives way to 39th Street.

The SMP building is across the street from the Hook and Ladder 66 building discussed in a Brownstoner Queens posting Long Island City’s Hook and Ladder 66 back in June, and looms over Northern Boulevard’s “Carridor” (a term which will be explored in the near future). In the shot below, after the jump, you are looking eastward, with Woodside and Jackson Heights on the horizon. The southern extant of Astoria is to the left and the triangular orange structure just off center is the end of Steinway Street at Northern Boulevard.

So, now you know where you are, but what you can’t see from the street is one of Queen’s hidden treasures, up on the roof.

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Tasty Vietnamese food at Bunker in/near Ridgewood

There’s lots of excitement from the Ridgefood folks about Bunker, a new Vietnamese restaurant that opened up on Metropolitan Ave just up the street from the gigantic Western Beef supermarket and corporate headquarters. Bunker is technically in Maspeth, but is really only a block or so over the border between it and Ridgewood. The chefs behind this venture –  Jimmy and Jacky Tu, both Queens natives – have a great background:

Jimmy, the head chef, is classically trained in French cuisine and has worked at various restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park and Elizabeth Daniel (in San Francisco). Sous-chef Jacky Tu helped open Tigerland, a beloved East Village Vietnamese & Thai spot, with his brother — and he’s also the former CEO of Korean taco truck company Korilla BBQ.

So head on over and enjoy things like pho, banh mi sandwiches, spring rolls. Watch for bacon on the menu, too.

The Jackson Heights Trilogy comes to Theatre 777

Theatre Mania reports that Director Ari Laura Kreith brings a trio of plays to Theatre 777 as The Jackson Heights Triology, “made up of the last three plays produced by Kreith’s company, Theatre 167.” The plays are  167 Tongues, You are Now the Owner of This Suitcase, and Jackson Heights 3AM. The director says, “Ever since I moved to Jackson Heights I got this feeling that this neighborhood needed to be a play. I was in Boulder, Colorado and I was trying to explain it to people. That was the moment I knew that there needed to be a document that showed what this place feels like.” There are many voices involved with the creation of this show – it is a “massive collaboration between 18 playwrights, with 38 actors play 93 different roles including a Bangladeshi cab driver, a Rwandan night nurse, and a Colombian drag queen.” The play is close to 2 hours and runs until Feb 27.

So yeah, it snowed this weekend

From our perspective, most of Queens got pretty lucky during this weekend’s blizzard, compared to a lot of places in Connecticut and Long Island, who got 2 feet of snow and more. La Guardia got a foot of snow, Astoria got a foot, Maspeth got 15 inches, and JFK got about six and a half. The average snowfall in Queens was about nine and a half inches. Check out some photos of the snowfall around the NYC area, too – feel free to send yours to us, too, and you might see them on the site!

Brooklyn Grange will have a CSA again this year

We Heart Astoria wrote about Brooklyn Grange’s CSA this coming season. It’s going to last 24 weeks – Saturday, May 18 to Saturday, October 26 – and the produce will be grown on their rooftop farm. They’ll offer things like radishes, turnips, herbs, kale, eggplant, and ground cherries – but there is much, much more planned for the shares. The cost will be $576.00 for the season ($24.00/week for 24 weeks). You can sign up now!

Kaufman Astoria Studios and its new back lot

We’ve learned more about what Kaufman Astoria Studios plans to do with 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenues, the street that was de-mapped for them back in 2012 – it will become their back lot. It will give the studio 34,800 square feet to work with, at 60 feet wide and 580 feet long, and give them the freedom to consolidate their buildings on either side of the street. They also plan to build a gate to block pedestrians and vehicular traffic from entering (they can currently do that now), but emergency vehicles will be allowed to pass through. The gate they are planning will cost in the millions, too. It will be interesting to see how this affects this part of Astoria – some local folks are feeling apprehensive about the plan. Others feel good about it, and welcome the economic boost it could bring.

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The Ridgewood Reservoir upgrades are looking great

In Highland Park (GMAP), out in Ridgewood near the Brooklyn border, is the decommissioned Ridgewood Reservoir, which used to service Brooklyn and its water needs. They closed it in 1989 and then nature took over, with a birch forest growing in its place. It’s a popular spot for birds, birders, and anyone who wants to hang out and enjoy time there. The area around the Reservoir has been upgraded, including new fencing; new staircases; installation of ramps to allow handicapped accessibility; and newly repaved walking trail around the old basins. Locals say it’s looking mighty fine. The rest of the upgrades should be done by Spring 2013.

Romance in the air – art world missed connections

ARTINFO is tickled by the missed connections happening at art spaces in LIC. Here’s an example:

A shy sitter at Socrates Sculpture Park couldn’t work up the nerve to talk to a young woman visiting the riverfront park with friends. His post, “Socrates Sculpture Park – m4w – 22 (Astoria),” is quite sweet:

“We were sitting on overlooking the east river at around 3:30 or 4pm yesterday. You were with your friends and I should have said something you were so pretty. Hope you see this and would love to connect.”

We wish them all the luck in the world!

Updates on SingleCut brewery – awesomeness is the name of the game

Over the weekend, we joined a group of other craft beer enthusiasts for an update on the SingleCut brewery, to take a tour of the facilities as they are now, and to taste some brews. They’ve done a lot of work in the building – some rooms have been constructed and tanks have been brought in; beer should be brewing in the next few weeks. We were particularly taken by the giant walk in cooler, too. They expect to have live music there, performing in the to-be-constructed mezzanine, and plenty of beer to try in the tap room (the bar for the tap room has already been poured). Exciting stuff is going on there! And the beer is gooood.

Mezze Place, successor to Astoria gem Mundo, is good

We Heart Astoria writes about their first experience with Mezze Place, the restaurant now occupying the old Mundo (RIP) space. They tried some of the meatless options (the writer is vegetarian-vegan) and were particularly impressed with the hummus.

“Oh, their hummus – it’s divine. Rich with tahini and perhaps worth the trip alone. Served with warm pita presented in brown paper bags, we ate this alongside everything we ordered.”

Get COFFEED on Northern Boulevard

It’s great to see that new cafe, COFFEED, has opened up in the building that Brooklyn Grange has their farm – 37-18 Northern Boulevard (GMAP). They are offering single-origin coffee and other beverages, baked goods, and sandwiches; the food is reasonably priced (sandwiches are $5 to $7 apiece). Brooklyn Grange sells its produce there, too, including honey and hot sauce. Nice.