Brooklyn Bounty ’14: French Louie

In anticipation of Brooklyn Bounty, BHS’s premier fundraiser at 26 Bridge on October 22nd, we are profiling our participating restaurants and honorees of the Food & Heritage Awards. Below is a profile of French Louie, one of the delicious participants in our evening’s tasting menu.

French Louie: All Things French, American and Brooklyn


Chef Ryan Angulo of French Louie

Chef Ryan Angulo, of the recently opened French Louie in Ft. Greene, is at the stage of his career where he has some impressive laurels on which to rest. But after five years of success with his New American restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Buttermilk Channel, Ryan decided to take on a new culinary challenge. “I had visited Paris a few times and thought how great the food was. I thought, why not a French place with American influences?”

Ryan has this relaxed attitude towards most things in the kitchen, and this might be because it is truly his natural environment. When I asked how he became a chef, there wasn’t a long complex story, but he said simply that, “My first job was washing dishes, and I never left the kitchen.” Ryan will bring his natural gourmet hand to the Brooklyn Bounty festivities, and the possibilities of what to expect from him are endless.

When Ryan talked in mouthwatering detail about his dishes, it became clear why he opened the second restaurant. His creativity is the kind that can supply multiple outlets. He is the rare chef who spends a great deal of time in the kitchen cooking, even after a menu is set. “I am constantly reprinting menus,” Ryan explained. He relishes his time in the kitchen, sometimes staring at dishes waiting for the creative epiphany to hit for the perfect element the dish needs to become a classicsteak frites. Ryan also fosters a collaborative atmosphere in his kitchen, offering sous chefs a chance to work with him on designing menu items.

Perhaps French Louie’s signature dish, and one Brooklyn Bounty revelers will likely taste, is the Snails “Marchand de Vin.” A classic French dish, but with the New Orleans influence of the Marchand sauce, Ryan adds local grits to the plate, giving it the kick of the American South. Another fantastic dish, this one inspired by the soccas of the South of France, Ryan has created his own version with his Le Grand Socca, a chickpea flatbread featuring heirloom beans and smoky tomatoes. Of course, Ryan’s expert take on French staples such as Steak Frites and Duck Allard anchor the rotating menu.

French Louie's beautiful garden space.

French Louie’s beautiful garden space.

Most of the produce, meats, and fish Ryan uses are from local purveyors, and he has an especially strong relationship with Snug Harbor Farms on Long Island. “I’m a favorite customer. He knows I’ll take everything he’s got, so he usually stops at my door first.” Ryan enjoys cooking with these fresh ingredients, as well as the challenge of crafting with whatever may come his way. He notes that when he came to Brooklyn about six years ago, it was difficult to find quality local organic produce, as the demand was not large enough. Now, the thriving restaurant scene in Brooklyn supports a robust market and wide selection for such high quality food. This is exactly the food movement that Brooklyn Bounty is celebrating, and French Louie is sure to be a highlight for all tasters.

For his part, Ryan likes responsible, creative food when feeding himself and his family at their Bay Ridge home. “We don’t eat cereal,” he said wryly. Exactly, and neither shall we!

Don’t have your ticket to Brooklyn Bounty yet? Buy your ticket today!

Written by Avi Scher, Development Intern

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The Great Trolley Strike of 1895 – Part 2

Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 19 January 1895

Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 19 January 1895

This is part two of a two part series on the Great Trolley Strike of 1895. 

This is also the latest in a series of posts on the records of Brooklyn’s Corporation Counsel, which are currently being processed with funding provided by a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) “Hidden Collections” grant.

Finally, if you would like to hear more about the trolley strike and other forgotten events from Brooklyn’s past, please join me next Tuesday, September 9th, for the latest installment of Tales from the Vault!

By January 19th, 1895, a few thousand militiamen were deployed to the city of Brooklyn to defend the train depots and protect the few trolleys which were operating at the time. The militia was generally able to maintain control of the strikers and their sympathizers without the use of force, though tensions remained high. For instance, on the first day the militiamen were stationed in the city, a large crowd had assembled in East New York. They spent the day cutting trolley wires, obstructing tracks, and even bribed a few of the new motormen to leave their posts and relinquishing their cars to the mob. The police were once again unable to manage any semblance of order, and the militia had been sent to the nearby train depot. The crowds routinely mocked the troops, referring to them as “scabs” and “toy soldiers.” At some point, a man tried to snatch a rifle from one of the militiamen, and the colonel in charge, fearing for the safety of his men, gave the order to charge the crowd with their bayonets drawn.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 20 January 1895

Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 20 January 1895

Surprisingly, the charge resulted in only one injury. Charles Wilton, a painter who claimed he was simply returning home from work at the time, was bayonetted in the scuffle. Word of the stabbing soon spread, and the crowd at the East New York depot swelled to 2,000 people. The same scene played out again, with the crowd arguing with the militia, and reports of someone attempting to disarm one of the militiamen. The troops charged again, this time bayonetting two more men, before the crowd finally dispersed. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported the following day, “[that] the scenes in East New York after nightfall were more turbulent than ever known in the history of the city.”

The city was effectively under martial law for the rest of the month. The situation on the streets of Brooklyn was unprecedented, with citizens fearing the violence of both the militia and the mob. By now it should be perfectly clear why someone like Thomas Carney was shot dead that January day in 1895. The militia had been marching through South Brooklyn from Atlantic Ave. to Hamilton Ave., making sure the trolleys were not being interfered with. Along the way, locals had been throwing bottles and pans at the troops. To protect themselves from projectiles the troops ordered residents to shudder their windows, and warning shots were fired at those who refused.

"Keep the Windows DOWN!"—drawn by T. De Thulstrup. Harper's Weekly, February 2, 1895.

“Keep the Windows DOWN!”—drawn by T. De Thulstrup. Harper’s Weekly, February 2, 1895.

As usual, tensions remained high. A man with a pistol was seen lurking in a window. The troops fired at him, entered his home, and soon turned him over to the police. Another man was arrested for hurling coal at the militia. The troops were clearly on edge as they made their way through the neighborhood. A captain reported that a man on a nearby rooftop had peered over at the militiamen three times, and that it appeared that he had somethiong in his hand ready to throw at the troops. The man was Thomas Carney, one of the few casualties of the 1895 strike.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 27 January 1895

Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 27 January 1895

By February the strike essentially ran its course. The trolley companies continued to hire new motormen, including some former strikers, and were able to get their cars running on a normal schedule. The violence that marred the early days of the strike slowly abated and the militiamen stood down. And while the workers effectively lost the strike (the company did not give into any of the union’s demands), they at least demonstrated the power of organized labor to disrupt commerce on a massive scale. Finally, I am sure that many of laborers took great pleasure when, months after the trolley strike had ended, the Long Island Traction company filed for bankruptcy and the corporation was dissolved.


Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Various issues, January-February 1895.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle Almanac, 1895.

Harper’s Weekly. “The Great Strike in Brooklyn”, February 2, 1895.

How We Got to Coney Island: The Development of Mass Transportation in Brooklyn and Kings Count by Brian Cudahy, 2009.

Report of the Special Committee of the Assembly appointed to investigate the causes of the strike of the surface railroads in the city of Brooklyn, transmitted to the Legislature April, 1895.

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Map of the Month–September 2014

Pictorial map of Manhattan, circa 1954

Colorgraph map of New York, 1954. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.

For September’s map of the month, we’ll take one last nostalgic look at leisure pursuits in the “Colorgraph Map of New York,” published in 1954.  As the cover proclaims, it is a “souvenir picture map of New York with 380 full color pictures” and it is a delightfully askew description of New York attractions circa 1954. To see what I mean, you will find in the index seven store locations for Barton’s Bonbonniere throughout Midtown Manhattan, but no mention of Macy’s or Gimbels.

Or, take a look at the Indian head in the illustration below, number 59, that represents the Plume Trading and Sales Co. on Lexington Avenue between 29th and 30th Street. Described in the Digest of Information on the verso as “the only authentic Indian Trading post in New York City,” it was “a must for every visitor to New York City” complete with museum and sales department.

Pictorial map of Manhattan, circa 1954

Detail, Colorgraph map of New York, 1954. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.

Notice also Greenwich Village is lively with music, art, and dining (and a mysterious unlabeled ship in a bottle) while the Lower East Side has several images that seem to be graphic ‘filler’: pushcart vendors, park bench denizens playing checkers, laundry hanging from tenements, skinny dippers in the East River, a pickle vendor, and a fortune teller. The graphic artist, Ira Moss, has imaginatively kept the less-touristed neighborhoods just as visually dense as the more-touristed neighborhoods. Even the water surrounding Manhattan is bustling with ferries, fire boats, and cruise ships (all roughly the same size) while Coney Island’s Cyclone and Parachute Drop anchor the bottom left corner.

While featured establishments have most likely paid for inclusion in the index, Moss has captured some of the neighborhood flavor of 1950’s Manhattan in filling in the visual gaps. The result is this lively pictorial map, now a souvenir for time-travelers as well.


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Brooklyn Bounty ’14: Mast Brothers Chocolate

In anticipation of Brooklyn Bounty, BHS’s premier fundraiser at 26 Bridge on October 22nd, we are profiling our participating restaurants and honorees of the Food & Heritage Awards. Below is a profile of Mast Brothers Chocolate, one of the delicious participants in our evening’s tasting menu.

Mast Brothers Chocolate: Honoring Brooklyn and the Cocoa Nib

Mast Brothers Chocolate Bars, displayed at their Williamsburg store.

Mast Brothers Chocolate Bars, displayed at their Williamsburg store.

Chocolate is probably the world’s best loved treat, but most people are having too much fun savoring the stuff to find out where it comes from. This is exactly the quandary that brothers Michael and Rick Mast set out to fix in 2007 with the opening of Mast Brothers Chocolate. The local, authentic food movement was starting to take hold in Brooklyn, and as the brothers set out on various culinary expeditions, such as brewing, pickling and baking, they ultimately discovered that their passion and creativity were with chocolate.

Pod Nib Beans edit

The cocoa pod, nib, and beans.

What immediately set them apart from other chocolatiers is their pure and simple adoration of the cocoa bean. Anyone who has sampled their classic “single-origin” bars, which contain only cocoa and raw cane sugar, can attest to the value of letting the cocoa speak for itself. Naturally, this Brooklyn-born chocolate revolution is going to be on hand at Brooklyn Bounty this year for all to enjoy.

So where does a chocolate bar come from? A visit to the Mast Brothers Chocolate shop in Williamsburg quickly answers this question. You are greeted with enthusiasm by their knowledgeable staff who are eager to offer tidbits of chocolate and information about its origins, and they offer tours for those who want a deeper look into the chocolate-making action in the shop’s factory.


The two day grinding process in action.

On my recent visit, I quickly got my chocolate basics up to speed. The journey of a chocolate bar starts from a cocoa pod filled with cocoa beans, and inside of each bean are small cocoa nibs. I tasted one of the nibs in its raw form and was surprised to find that it tasted like a bitter nut. For their single origin bars, Mast Brothers imports these nibs from Belize, Dominican Republic, Madagascar, Papa New Guinea, Peru and coming soon, Tanzania. Each country of origin has its own bar using only its native beans. They roast the nibs for 20 minutes at 300 degrees before they are winnowed and ground up. Then they are aged for 30 days, making the total time for the production of each artisanal bar a whopping 40 days. Finally, each bar is hand wrapped in their colorful designs.

The meticulous process Mast Brothers uses is one of the many ways that they show their Brooklyn food revolution roots. Beyond their purely beans-and-sugar line of bars, they also offer homemade creations like “Stumptown Coffee” or “Sea-Salt,” all based off their “Brooklyn Blend,” a mix of nibs from various sources. Their Williamsburg store and factory space is a vibrant fixture of the neighborhood, a place where people can explore chocolate and also attend their monthly dinners, where guest chefs craft full menus utilizing chocolate and cocoa nibs.


Mast Brothers Factory portion of the Williamsburg store.

With burgeoning demand, Mast Brothers continues to expand. Nearby their flagship store is their new Brew Bar, a bar dedicated to the craft of chocolate beverages, and they have opened a supplemental factory near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Their chocolate bar distribution runs far and wide, with Mast Brothers Chocolate found in 40 states and eight countries, and local factories are set to open soon in Los Angeles and London, bringing the magic and mystery of chocolate closer to home for many more.

A true Brooklyn treasure, Mast Brothers embodies creative entrepreneurship and community building. It doesn’t hurt that their brand is comprised of a pure and deluxe edition of everyone’s favorite food, which will be in plentiful supply at Brooklyn Bounty.

We’re giving away a Mast Brothers chocolate bar to a lucky BHS blog reader! Tweet about how much you love Mast Brothers using the hashtag #BKBounty14 and be entered to win! Winner will be chosen on Thursday, September 6th, and announced on Twitter. 

Don’t have your ticket to Brooklyn Bounty yet? Buy your ticket today!

Written by Avi Scher, Development Intern

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Photo of the Week: Walking with Eugene Armbruster


It’s shocking how fast July and August have slipped by, but at least the weather is still good. One of my favorite ways to enjoy both this weather and this city is to wander around with a camera. Based on the images in the Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks collection, that appears to have also been one of Armbruster’s favorite pastimes. Flipping through Armbruster’s photographs, it is easy to imagine him wandering around different neighborhoods in Brooklyn in the 1920s, taking pictures of whatever seemed interesting or beautiful in the moment. The four images above appear to have been taken during one walk around Williamsburg in November of 1923. There isn’t anything especially interesting about what is happening in these images, but the late afternoon light on the buildings is beautiful, and Armbruster was clearly enjoying the light. I love these images because viewing them as a collection almost feels like going for a walk with Armbruster. Day to day, I tend to go blindly between places without really noticing the sensations of whatever is happening along the way. Seeing Armbruster’s images is an inspiration to enjoy the in-between parts of the day, and to notice things like the light hitting the buildings. It’s almost Labor Day, but there is still time to go wandering like Eugene Armbruster did, with or without your camera, and enjoy the Dog Days of summer…

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our new website here.  To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m.


Citations for Images:

[Northeast Corner of Bedford Avenue and South 3rd Street, Williamsburg], November 1923, v1974.1.1271; Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks, v1974.1; Brooklyn Historical Society

[East Side of Bedford Avenue and South 3rd Street, Williamsburg], November 1923, v1974.1.1272; Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks, v1974.1; Brooklyn Historical Society

[Southeast Corner of Bedford Avenue and South 3rd Street, Williamsburg], November 1923, v1974.1.1247; Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks, v1974.1; Brooklyn Historical Society

[West Side of Bedford Avenue Between South 3rd and South 4th Streets], November 1923, v1974.1.1273; Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks, v1974.1; Brooklyn Historical Society

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