It was the best of limes. It was the worst of limes.
I'm a Park Slope Food Coop member. I'm not proud, I just like good food. But let's face it, even a dude committed to sustainable blah-blah and organic wing-wangs is not always game to schlep his plaid plastic bags on the B41 every time he needs some quinoa. So I shop at the neighborhood grocery stores like everyone else, and there are four (4) within almost the exact same number of steps (between 150 and 400 to be exact. They are:
Don't go to Key Food. Ever. On Flatbush next to the delightful but oh so odd Caton Mall, it stinks like the dried Ackee fish that greets you at the door. In an emergency you could pick up some ice cream, but just know that it may have been thawed and frozen a few times, giving your Hagen Daz a thick layer of freezer burn. The only thing in its favor is the fast checkout, but you'll be lucky if you don't get the hairy eyeball from one of the street people packing bags. I thought one of them was going to follow me down the street after I only tipped him a quarter on a $2 purchase. Yikes!
I have fond feelings for the unnecessarily huge NSA on the corner of Clarkson and Bedford. (by the way I don't have the proper logo, so I just used the National Security Agency's logo for this post...close enough for the internet!). The fish monger is sweet, there's a lovely family-run florist near the front, and the cavernous space makes you feel like you're in a creepy Scottsdale supermarket for a moment (though the not-so-LADY-like-GAGA blasting through the tinny speakers tells a different story). Here's what's kinda neat about NSA. The National Supermarket Association is a NY area based collective started by four Dominicans -- Elijio Peña, Pablo Espinal, Ulzeda Peña, Jose Cruz and Marino Diaz, who felt that underserved neighborhoods deserved a decent grocery too. Obviously they didn't do this out of pure Catholic charity...there's good money to be made in frozen pizza...but their bio shows that they were the only ones besides Met Food who weren't scared of 'hoods like East New York and the South Bronx when crack was more than a plumber's problem.
The Associated is a little TOO eager to cash in on the changing demographic in Northern Parkside (some would say Southern Lefferts Gardens), but I give them a pass because they have an organic section, and Mrs. Clarkson Flatbed makes frequent stops here for staples, like organic applesauce for Little Miss Clarkson Flatbed Jr. It's pretty clean, and I rarely feel worse upon leaving than I did going in.
But after trying them all, many many times, I keep coming back to the Pioneer RIGHT NEXT TO the Q at Parkside. Why? I used to think it was convenience only. But the fact is, I'm strangely drawn to the sense of fun and comradery between the young women at the cash registers. By 8PM on Friday and Saturday night, they're laughing and comparing plans for the evening, and poking fun at the handsome manager Sammy, who seems to actually enjoy his job. Many of the cashiers have been there the whole 7 years I've been living here, and while I'm sure they're paid horribly, they don't seem to dread the work the way other cashiers do in the neighborhood. I suspect Sammy has a lot to do with it...and I love the way they get sassy with the couple of regular dirty old men flirts. I walk out smiling more often than not.
I think we could all do without the blight of the bottle return area. But it just wouldn't be Brooklyn without gritty street scenes like this. Hard not to feel grateful that I have a home, a job and some change in my pocket when I see the 100-year old hunch-backed Asian lady bustin' her ass for a few dollars in beer money. Ouch.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.