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Photo by Maria Gabriela Costescu

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send them to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

The following is a paid announcement from the Kings Bay YM-YWHA (3495 Nostrand Avenue):

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Experience the country-like campus of Kings Bay Y Summer Camps at our Open House this Sunday!

Learn about our Summer Day Camps for ages 6-15. We have:

  • Summer Day Camp
  • Swim Camp
  • Basketball Camp
  • Hebrew Dual Language Summer Camp
  • Russian Dual Language Summer Camp
  • and Summer Camp for Special Needs Children

The tour includes activities and snacks for kids, an opportunity to meet our staff and special discounts for registering the same day.

The campus features basketball courts, soccer fields, an outdoor pool, a private bowling alley, a movie theater, archery and fencing facilities, an arcade and a cafe!

Bonus: Summer Day Camp 2014 season will have air-conditioned buses daily and a new caterer.

Free transportation available.

For more information about Kings Bay Y Summer Camps, click here.

To RSVP contact Sasha at (718) 648-7703 ext. 204 or e-mail info@kingsbayy.org.

The above is a paid announcement by Kings Bay YM-YWHA (3495 Nostrand Avenue). Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

This is a paid announcement from Forces of Nature, located at 1608 and 1614 Sheepshead Bay Road.

Here at Forces of Nature (1608/1614 Sheepshead Bay Road) we have come to be recognized as Sheepshead Bay’s destination for services and products that help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. We’ve been a part of the community for nearly a decade, supplying neighbors with the best in holistic and nutritious products. Here are just a few of the things we’re known for:

  • providing quality natural and organic products delivered by a knowledgeable, caring staff;
  • providing environmentally-friendly products and actively supporting the preservation of our natural environment;
  • actively seeking out and supporting sources of locally-grown organic foods, recognizing their environmental and health benefits;
  • maintaining a clean, comfortable and attractive store;
  • selling products that reflect the community’s needs and are fairly priced; and
  • providing a source for quality products that customers wish to use for their nutritional goals and lifestyles.

Come support our independently-owned, full-service natural foods and vitamin store, offering a wide selection of natural and gourmet foods, vitamins, herbs, and nutritional supplements, as well as natural body care, and organic and local produce. We also carry many specialty diet items — gluten-free, vegan, and more.

We carefully select only the very highest quality products from the countless available, allowing you to save time, energy and money while knowing you’ve purchased the best. We pride ourselves in offering only 100 percent certified organic produce.

Print this post, or pull it up on your mobile device to receive $10 off your next purchase.

forces-coupon


Forces of Nature
, 1608 and 1614 Sheepshead Bay Road. (718) 616-9000. Follow Forces of Nature on Facebook.

The above is a paid announcement by Forces of Nature. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

This is a paid announcement from UFC Gym Brooklyn, located at 16 Brighton 11th Street.

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They say time flies when you’re having fun. Well, we can vouch for that; one year has flown by since we opened our doors in Sheepshead Bay.

Throughout the year we changed brands from LA Boxing to UFC Gym, we added more classes, more equipment, and more trainers. We did all this to get better, to provide better quality and a better experience to our members.  We promise our members results, and results we deliver.  While other places become stale and boring, UFC Gym never stops changing and evolving.

We would like to invite everyone to come out and celebrate this anniversary milestone with us on Saturday, March 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Come check out what so many have been raving about this past year. In our first year we have solidified our reputation as the best fitness option in the area.  Only at UFC Gym Brooklyn do we offer group training sessions that incorporate Mixed Martial Arts training with TRX.  We are the only fitness studio of its kind that offers Trigger Point Boxing, UFC Fit, Daily Ultimate Trainer classes.

  • Special schedule for this Saturday:
    • 9:00 a.m.: MATRX (MMA with TRX)
    • 10:15 a.m.: Kid’s MMA
    • 12:00 p.m.: New Programming Circuit Training
    • 2:00 p.m.: New Programming Circuit Training
  • Great beats with Brooklyn’s best DJs, Deejay Gio and Alex Edge!!!
  • Healthy Food
  • Prizes and Giveaways
  • Free classes
  • Free Personal Training sessions all day
  • Free Fitness Assessments all day
  • Great membership discounts
  • Personal training specials
  • Killer deals on ALL merchandise!

Come join UFC Gym Brooklyn family on Saturday for a great workout and an awesome anniversary party!  Call us at (718) 975-7100 to reserve a spot.

UFC Gym Brooklyn, 16 Brighton 11th Street, (718) 975-7100, brooklyngm@ufcgym.com. Follow UFC Gym on Facebook and Twitter.

The above is a paid announcement by UFC Gym Brooklyn. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

One of the varieties of Russian black bread. (Photo by Bacon And Tofu / Flickr)

THE BITE: Many things can be said about the Russian community of Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay, but you can’t take away their authenticity. If you don’t get hit by a stroller overflowing with groceries, you’re doing something wrong.

There are over 20 fruit and vegetable stores within a 10-block radius, and that’s a scary thought. Politics and personal opinions about this aside, one of the most unique foods these places offer is a fresh baked hunk of chorniy hleb. 

You may know it as rye or pumpernickel, but I assure you, it’s infinitely more complex. Just google a recipe for “Russian black bread” and the ingredient list will surprise you. Fennel, caraway seeds, espresso, cocoa powder, and it doesn’t stop there. Hmm, that’s exactly why I prefer to buy the golden brown crack, er, bread, already made, sliced and ready for me to slather with salo; but more on that later.

There are many varieties, the two most common being Borodinsky and Litovsky. Where the names come from is a bit of a hard case to crack, as much of the available information is just urban legend.

Borodinsky is possibly named after the battle of Borodino, when the Russians fought against Napolean Bonaparte in 1812. It has a strong coriander scent and is sweetened with molasses. Litovsky hleb (bread) is much denser and usually darker. It is chewy and significantly sweet.

Black bread is to a Russian child what I imagine Wonder Bread is to a tot growing up in the states, except it remains flavorful, even as an adult. You better believe the little ones weren’t smothering the fermented sourdough with peanut butter and jelly. Although it’s delicious when eaten warm and adorned with a slick of butter, there are several classic toppings that ring bells in the minds and hearts of former USSR citizens.

Sandwiches are always open-faced, not unlike a Parisian tartine. Hungarian salami is a typical household cold cut, and brings back funny memories for me personally. In elementary school, all the kids who brought butterbrodi (open faced sandwiches) would stink up the classroom upon lunchbox retrieval. Instantaneously, the space could have been confused for an eastern European smoke shop.

Shproti are also a cherished “treat” from the motherland, delicately smoked and drizzled with sunflower seed oil. In case you aren’t familiar, shproti are smoked sardines (which is why I put treat in quotation marks). Traditionally, thin slices of toasted black bread are cloaked with slices of refreshing cucumbers and meaty sardines. It’s an acquired taste.

I’ve saved the best for last. You’ve probably seen it, heard of it, maybe even tried it. I’m referring to salo, a dieter’s paradise. Just kidding, it’s actually a nightmare for anyone trying to watch their cholesterol and/or general health.

Salo is cured pork that is sliced thin and served uber-cold over the chorniy hleb with a pungent scallion to cut through the fattiness. This butterbrod is as Ukrainian as it gets. If you’re not feeling ambitious enough to go and buy the counterparts, head over to your favorite Russian market or restaurant and place your order.

When you feel like getting creative in the kitchen, try making your favorite sandwich and discover all the new flavors that pop out because of this flavorful dough. I recommend a gluttonous corned beef sandwich with cheddar and brown mustard.

Here’s where to go to buy black bread:

  • Brighton Bazaar, 1007 Brighton Beach Avenue
  • Cherry Hill Gourmet Market, 1901 Emmons Avenue
  • Net Cost Market, 2257 East 16th Street
  • Sheepshead Bay Fruit & Vegetables Market, 1717 Avenue Z

Until next time, dasvidaniya!

Jane Poretsky is a Sheepshead Bay resident and lover of all things edible. She blogs about her own food creations at Caramelized Sarcasm.

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

Meet Barbara Mensch, a photographer and writer, reminiscing about her Sheepshead Bay upbringing in If These Knishes Could Talk, a recent documentary about the New York accent, directed by filmmaker Heather Quinlan.

“Everyone in my family was loud. It was just normal to speak loud… Loud-ly,” Mensch says, correcting herself. “It was just this experience of being in Brooklyn that was just so intense.”

“I met Barbara in the Seaport when she had just published a book of photography, ‘South Street,’ about the Fish Market in the ’80s,” Quinlan told Sheepshead Bites. “I met her at a signing at Jack’s Stir Brew on Front Street, which is also where I ended up filming the dinner scene.”

At that dinner scene, Mensch talked accents with three New York City “wise guys,” one of whom recalled his often violent childhood in Little Italy and an observant neighborhood kid name Marty Scorsese.

With most of her “Rs” and “THs” intact, Mensch’s accent may not sound like signature Brooklyn. But, as it turns out, genuine New York accent has less to do with specific parts of the city and more with ethnic influences and local culture. That’s how a kid named Ben, also in the film, born in Korea and raised in Staten Island, grew up to sound like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.

If These Knishes Could Talk is also a story of change and gentrification. Always in demographic flux, New York could soon end up without its trademark accent as those who speak with it age or get priced out of the city.

“Word on the street is the New York accent is disappearing,” Quinlan says. “A casualty of a city that’s evolved into a vast expanse of banks, H&Ms and glass-blown high-rises.”

In the film, Quinlan discusses this with an illustrious cast of New Yorkers, among them actors Pat Cooper, Penny Marshall, and Joe Franklin, fimmaker Amy Heckerling, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, writers Pete Hamil and James McBride, and many others.

If These Knishes Could Talk is available on DVD from Amazon. Check out the film trailer for more.

– Steven Volynets

matchaTHE BITE: Kung Fu Tea is a bubble tea chain that has been spreading, with several locations in Queens, a few around Manhattan and Brooklyn, and locations in four other states. Sheepshead Bay’s own Kung Fu Tea is at 1422 Avenue U, just off East 15th Street.

Bubble tea originated in Taichung, Taiwan, in the 1980s. The “bubble” part of the name is an Anglicized form of “boba” which refers to tapioca pearls in the tea, and is Chinese slang for “large breasts.” Finding this out creeped me out a little. Bubble tea comes with a handful of boba at the bottom of the cup, which are not very large, but slimy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside balls of starch. Also, bubble tea has primarily been fashionable with young people, including kids.

In any case, it’s up for debate which tea house in particular came up with it, but bubble tea was first made with hot tea and tapioca pearls, mixed with milk and sweet syrup. The trend spread through East and Southeast Asia during the 1990s, becoming popular in Western culture as well during the past decade. Menus now include options of fruit flavors added as syrups or blended fresh fruits, powdered or fresh milk, powdered or brewed green, black or white tea, or no tea at all, or coffee, a variety of additional toppings such as red or mung beans, jelly cubes in different flavors and shapes, pudding in the bottom of your cup, not to mention different sizes and flavors of tapioca pearls. Your options will depend on which tea shop you’re at, but basically, the choices have become endless. At Kung Fu Tea you can specify if you want less, little, or no ice, and less, little, or no sugar. Freedom like this can be exhilarating and exhausting.

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The F train rumbles into the Smith-9th Street station. Source: Emily Kay Bachman / Flickr

The F train rumbles into the Smith-9th Street station. Source: Emily Kay Bachman / Flickr

Allan Rosen is on vacation this week. Filling in for him is John Rozankowski, Ph.D., a long-time community activist with a keen interest in mass transit issues, who has contributed to Sheepshead Bites in the past.

THE COMMUTE: Once again I have the pleasure of filling-in for Allan Rosen, who is on vacation again. Isn’t he the lucky one? I’m John Rozankowski, author of “Bring On the Express – Nighttime.”

In his State of the MTA speech on March 3, 2008, MTA CEO Lee Sander said:

“The MTA network’s 55 miles of underused middle track on elevated subway lines also represent a tremendous opportunity that we must exploit. These lines, primarily in Brooklyn and the Bronx, might enable additional express services to be operated, shortening travel times between these boroughs and the Manhattan core.”

Ridership has been surging to heights unknown since the early 1950s and spreading throughout the daytime hours. On many lines, rush hour is really all-day and most of the evening. Most lines are running at capacity and trains are crushingly overcrowded.

More express service is the only feature that can make subway travel more bearable and more attractive. It’s more than saving time. It’s more than reducing the tedious boredom of too many stops as it is at night. Express service redistributes passenger loads more efficiently with benefits both to riders and the operators.

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kingsbayy

The following is a paid announcement from the Kings Bay YM-YWHA (3495 Nostrand Avenue):

Kings Bay YM-YWHA at 3495 Nostrand Avenue features a number of enriching summer camp programs, designed to meet the interests of every kid and the expectations of every parent.

SIGN UP BEFORE FEBRUARY 21, 2014 AND RECEIVE $150 OFF!

The seven summer camp programs now open for registration include:

  • Preschool Camp
  • Summer Day Camp
  • Swim Camp
  • Basketball Camp
  • Hebrew Dual Language Summer Camp
  • Russian Dual Language Summer Camp
  • Summer Camp for Special Needs

Our camps are open to kids ages 2 to 15.

We take our kids to a fun-filled and beautiful outdoor facility on a country-like campus in Bay Ridge several times a week. There, they’ll enjoy baseball and soccer fields, an outdoor pool, private bowling alley, movie theater, basketball courts, arcade, and an on-site cafe.

In our programs, kids go swimming four times a week and enjoy hot meals every day. Our buses to the facility, as well as on the several field trips throughout the summer, are air-conditioned. We also offer door-to door transportation, and provide the additional convenience of early drop-offs and late stays.

Camp goes from June 27 to August 22.

SIGN UP BEFORE FEBRUARY 21, 2014 AND RECEIVE $150 OFF!

To register, visit www.kingsbayy.org, call (718) 648-7703 ext. 223 or e-mail info@kingsbayy.org.

The above is a paid announcement by Kings Bay YM-YWHA (3495 Nostrand Avenue). Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

The following is a paid announcement from il Fornetto Italian Restaurant & Caterer (2902 Emmons Avenue), Sheepshead Bay’s premier waterfront dining experience.

ilfornetto

Click to see our special prix fixe Valentine’s Day menu.

The above is a paid announcement by il Fornetto Italian Restaurant & Caterer. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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