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Samantha Brown features Kings County Distillery, Smorgasburg in Brooklyn episode

On Sunday’s episode of “Samantha Brown’s Places to Love,” the travel host is taking on her hometown of Brooklyn. 

While Brown might only be voyaging a few subway stops from her Park Slope home, she still set out to make new discoveries that other Brooklynites will want to take note of — and might convince New Yorkers outside of the borough to go on a field trip. 

The episode, which airs locally on WLIW21 on Sundays at noon, is part of Brown’s new PBS travel series. During each half-hour, Brown features a different far-flung destination with episodes in places like Huntsville, Alabama; Vancouver, Canada; Xi’an, China; and Switzerland. 

She centers each trip on a theme, and only includes local spots that are both accessible to the average traveler and speak to the destination’s culture and unique history. 

“It’s about the experiences that really make us feel like a part of the place,” Brown explained to amNewYork. “To make us feel like we belong.”

For the Brooklyn-centric episode, Brown focused on the “pretty and the gritty.”

Samantha Brown, host of "Samantha Brown’s Places to
Photo Credit: Samantha Brown’s Places to Love

“New Yorker’s really love grit,” Brown said. “It’s what makes New York New York, and we see the beauty in maybe not so beautiful things.”

Brown took us on a tour of the neighborhoods she visited for the episode.

Bedford-Stuyvesant

Doctor's Cave Cafe's tarts. Photo from Facebook /
Photo Credit: Facebook / Doctor's Cave Cafe

To best exemplify the “pretty and gritty” theme, Brown went on an architecture tour of Bed-Stuy. 

“Bed-Stuy has this rough reputation, but it exists in this beautiful neighborhood that has the largest concentration of Victorian architecture in the United States,” Brown said. “It also has this beautiful community and culture.” 

Though it was cut from the episode for time, Brown particularly recommended Doctor’s Cave Café (856 Marcy Ave., Bed-Stuy, 718-398-4776, doctorscavecafe.com). 

“The owner is wonderful,” Brown gushed. “She’s lived here for 30 years — she came here from Jamaica — and she loves talking about Bed-Stuy.” 

Brooklyn Navy Yard

Kings County Distillery has been making whiskey in
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Emmanuel Dunand

Many New Yorkers have been exploring — not to mention living in — Bed-Stuy for years, but Brown also went to an area few people could visit recreationally until recently: the Brooklyn Navy Yard. While there she learned about how the massive former shipyard played a crucial part in building America’s naval fleet during World War II. 

Brown noted that the tradition of American manufacturing continues with Kings County Distillery (299 Sands St., Bldg 121, Brooklyn Navy Yard, 347-689-4211, kingscountydistillery.com), which is open for tours and has a tasting room offering a selection of classic and experimental cocktails mixed with whisky, moonshine and other spirits crafted by the distillery.

Gowanus

Royal Palms, featured on the PBS show "Samantha
Photo Credit: Samantha Brown’s Places to Love

Brown also took the cameras to Gowanus, whose “main feature is a polluted canal and it’s pretty industrial, but the businesses and people that are moving in there are innovators and trailblazers,” she said. 

Among its appealing qualities, Brown pointed to the open sky and the large industrial spaces with relatively cheap (by New York standards) real estate that allows unique businesses to flourish. 

One of her favorite spots is Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club (514 Union St., Gowanus, 347-223-4410, royalpalmsshuffle.com). 

“It’s a low-skill sport,” Brown said. “You can just go there, have fun with your friends — it’s just a great energy.”

Prospect Park

Samantha Brown, center, at Smorgasburg, featured on the
Photo Credit: Samantha Brown’s Places to Love

For the host, it’s important to showcase people who are trying new things. In the episode, she visits Prospect Park for Smorgasburg, the massive food extravaganza of over a hundred vendors that has locations throughout the borough (the current season is at Industry City, 241 37th St., Sunset Park, smorgasburg.com).

It’s different from other food fairs, Brown said. 

“You were meeting the people who were creating their food and the chefs, and I really like that feeling that you aren’t just being handed food by someone who was paid to be there,” she said. “It really had that one-person-with-a-dream sort of feel.”

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