Welcome to my tales of cookery school, food and travel

The first 30+ posts of this blog describe my experiences as I complete a nine month cooking course - the City and Guilds Diploma in Food Preparation and Culinary Art. I did this after I moved out of full time employment and it was purely selfish - I love food, cooking, eating and drinking. Subsequent posts are about, food, travel and adventures.

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Saturday, 7 May 2016

It's a dog's life in Park Slope, New York

Warning: content may offend dog lovers.

So let me start with a little context. I grew up on a farm and all dogs were working dogs. They lived outside, slept in their kennels in all weathers, and were not allowed inside (or even on the lawns around the house). I'm an if-you-must-have-a-dog-it-should-be-outside kind of person.

The hunter-gatherer is a dog inside kind of person. He would love a dog and as we live on 20 acres there's plenty of room but we travel - a lot - so a dog isn't practical.   Plus, we would have to resolve the inside/outside dog conundrum.  Divorce seems desirable (if we were married).

A couple of my very good friends have moved from New Zealand to New York for three years, and brought their dog with them.  In Wellington they had a big house and plenty of lawn and outdoor grounds.  It has taken everyone, dog included, some adjustment to living in a third floor apartment that, while it renders New Yorkers speechless (not easy) with its spaciousness, would fit in half their Wellington home. 

artistic shot of Brooklyn Bridge
Last month I took a flying visit to see how they are doing.  I've been to New York several times over the years but this was special as their chosen New York home is Park Slope, a very desirable area of Brooklyn.  I'd never been to Brooklyn so was keen to see a new area and a different way of New York living.  And I've always wanted to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and see "the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights", which don't turn out to be very high at all (kudos if you spot the theme tune reference).


Maude and Amanda, best friends ready for a walk to the park

Park Slope is a suburb with movie star looks: tree lined streets, beautiful classic pre-war brownstone homes with stoops (steps up to the front door) on which, come summer, people will sit late into the evening.
  
Brick and brownstones in Park Slope

I arrived the day before the New York primaries and the neighbourhood was festooned with Vote Bernie posters. That tells you something.

The suburb is a cross between hippie and hipster: craft beer, kale smoothies, a food co-op (to join you sign up for volunteer duty), stay at home dads, dark skinned nannies pushing white kids in strollers, yoga studios, dog walkers.  Carrying a plastic bag rather than an unbleached organic cotton carry-all made with recycled stoneground flour sacks - gluten free flour of course - earns a death stare. 

That is, of course, unless that plastic bag contains dog poo. Is there not something distasteful about people carrying dog shit?  They say dogs have masters and cats have servants, but I would suggest if you are picking up its shit the dog is the one who's boss.  Yes, I get it's better than leaving it on the footpath/sidewalk - besides, that's already running with rivulets of dog pee.  

Really, there should be a disinfectant bath for your shoes before you enter your building. 

yeah

A few blocks away from Dave and Amanda's place is the vast expanse of Prospect Park, a 585 acre/237 hectare public park (Manhattan's Central Park is 778 acres/315 ha).  Before 9.00am dogs can run off the leash. I expect this to be chaotic - and dangerous - given the number of dog attacks we have seen in New Zealand recently.  It turns out to be mayhem, but in a playground sort of way. 

There are hundreds of dogs of every size, age, and condition chasing each other, fetching sticks and ignoring their "masters".  Professional dog walkers (who work for imaginatively named companies like Bark Slope or Prospect Bark) somehow wrangle 3, 4, 6, or more canines which is my idea of hell.  Even for the $25 I'm told they charge.

A lot of plastic bags are used. 


The dog park is where you start up conversations with strangers who live in your 'hood. You have common ground - the dog. So friendships, or at the very least acquaintances develop. You may even end up on a pub quiz team. 

Dogs have a use after all.

Apparently dogs in Brooklyn can read
If you want to know what else I got up to in NYC for a couple of weeks, Amanda has listed SOME of the highlights on her very good http://missmaudeabroad.blogspot.co.nz/2016_05_01_archive.html  

She also includes photos of me  - which she knows is unauthorised.  How am I supposed to achieve and maintain status as an international woman of mystery? Even worse, she implies I am a tourist - as if.

I think it's revenge for me dissing the dogs!


Elvis, alive and well and rather chubby

Manhattan from Long Island City at dusk