I find that I am so overscheduled that I leave myself little to no time for chance encounters and randomness. I am typically going from Point A to Point B without stopping anywhere in between. I miss those in between moments. That is where chance encounters live. That is where a lot of life is. Taking an Uber from here to your destination isolates us in ways we can't possibly measure. Shopping on your computer or going into a store for a specific item eliminates a lot of the discovery process. In this week's Loupe, I try to reintroduce randomness into your life!
Craft beer has been a trend for quite some time, although accelerating recently. Gone are the days where the big boys of brewing had a lock on what we drink. Sure, they still own upward of 80% of the market, but there is plenty of room in that 20% for discovery. Just like wine, I frequently revisit the beers that I know I like, rather than try new ones. Call it a habit, or the way our brain works, but sometimes it is important to force ourselves out of habit and discover new things. Beer Menus was introduced to me by beer-loving Louper Gabe L., and it is an app that will help your beer discovery process along. It shows you a list of bars and which beers they have on tap. If they have Bud Light and Blue Moon, you may want to find somewhere else to watch the game. It showed me the beer shop and tasting room CitySwiggers on the Upper East Side, which has 14 beers on tap (rotates weekly) and sells over 700 beers in the store. This incredible variety of beers to taste, combined with an incredible variety of beers for sale to bring home, will help you find your new favorite brewski. I've become partial to the Allagash St. Klippenstein 2015 which they have on tap, and I brought home in my reusable Growler. This app may even help you find beer lovers like yourself wherever you are!
Whether we order in or go out for lunch, we usually know what we are looking for ... but do we? Unfortunately, we are generally satisfied ordering in or going to the same deli we went to yesterday for one of two sandwiches or salads we always order. This is the path of least resistance, eating, not dining. If you happen to be midtown Manhattan, near Grand Central Station, you must consider taking a stroll to Urban Space. Introduced to me by fellow Louper Andy H., Urban Space brought together an impressive array of 20 artisanal and chef-driven food concepts with their choices in food purveyors. I am not going to lie, when I was midtown recently, I didn't set out to eat Chinese Street Food. I certainly wouldn't have ordered the vegetarian Jianbing from Mr. Bings; however, I am glad I introduced randomness to my lunch routine. In doing so, I found one of the most incredible and tasty stuffed crepes that I have ever had. I even struck up a conversation with a stranger over the incredible food, and he worked at my former employer and loved his short rib sandwich!
Artists & Fleas
I grew up going to Flea Markets on weekends. We would pile into the station wagon, head to the drive-in movie theater, and walk the aisles of vendors. The fun of it was the art of discovery. There were rare comic books, baseballs, bike horns, and much, much more. You never knew what would be there, or what you will bring home. That is the allure of the flea market. Artists & Fleas have elevated the concept of the (bygone) Flea Market and brought it to NY and LA by providing a spot where artists and artisans, indie designers, vintage collectors and other purveyors can gather and creatively interact with their (live) customers. Power Brooklyn couple Amy (fellow Louper and Highland Park girl!) and Ronin established this cool marketplace 13 years ago, and their fourth location opened in Soho last week, not far from their market's humble Williamsburg beginnings. If you like cool spots, interesting people, great music, and to find new things, A & F is the place to come to just explore. Be open to conversations with artists, and hopefully find something that you didn't know you were(n't) looking for ...