I hesitated about whether to post about Shag. After all, it’s an adult shop in Brooklyn. But I can’t keep quiet anymore, because I had the best experience there last night for Valentines Day!
Is your curiosity piqued? “What on earth was Alden doing in an adult shop on Valentine’s Day?? DIRTY!”
Banish those dirty thoughts from your mind right now. Shag isn’t your typical, sleezy store front with flashing neon lights and rows of porn. It’s a brand new shop in Brooklyn that has been hipster-ized. Like any adult shop, it does have an assortment of toys, including organic lubricants, up-cycled dildos, and some discreet, personal accroutrements cleverly disguised as a rubber ducky or a japanese souvenir. Scott got a kick out of the remote controlled toy that syncs up with your iPhone, heh.
But there is also some distinctly hipster art and Brooklyn interpretation of “adult gifts.” Dioramas involving baby dolls and costumes, Japanese tentacle art (ouch!), cheeky greeting cards, handmade teddies, and even a lending library of romantic novels. Oh, and for those of you who are blushing, you might be interested in the bathing salts and some of the very cute and innocuous jewelry. Love their delicate and feminine brass knuckles!
Shag also plays host to a wide range of workshops, from the benign, to the eyebrow-raising, to the Please-Don’t-Tell-My-Mother variety. On February 2 you could try their “Collage-A-Totebag” series. Or go for broke with a Partner Body Painting workshop on the 27th. No wonder Time Out New York calls it a “community space.” It seems more like a social experiment-cum-art gallery than a porno shop.
Scott and I went for a benign “Aphrodisiacs and Amor” event, with Chef Alex Garcia. It was a bit awkward at first. The event was set to start at 5, but by 5:20 all of the five couples were still awkwardly perusing the shop’s wares (doorknob molds of vaginas anyone?) while they set up downstairs.
Finally we were led down the creepy basement steps into a candlelit room. Chairs scraped and couples giggled nervously as they glanced around. Yes, there were a couple hipsters there, but also a gay couple, and a perfectly normal pair of lawyers seated next to Scott and I.
They poured the wine, and served the first course. Blindfolds were laid at our places, so Scott and I took turns blindfolding each other and tasting the flavors and textures of the mysterious amuse-bouches set in front of us.
First came a simple plate of two kinds of beets with haricots verts, with things getting more interesting from there. We sampled lobster empanadas died black with squid ink, a cauliflour puree with saffron for its yellow color, pumpkin and apple soup, tender beef with coffee grinds, oysters with chipoltle and peppers, sliced shrimp in celery juice and lemon oil, and tuna tartar.
Each tiny course confounded and delighted us, and one of the lawyers and I had a time puzzling over the ingredients. “It’s an oil! We would whisper, but what kind?” “Is this potato soup??” “No, too sweet….” After each course, Chef Alex would explain his creation, and then the Shag co-owner Samantha would describe the aphrodisiac properties of the ingredients. It was like being on a slightly erotic episode of Top Chef.
Did you know that oysters are full of zinc, an essential mineral for progesterone levels, which in turn controls libido? Cleopatra used to keep her room stocked with mangos, and Madame du Barry, of King Louis XV fame, served ginger to all of her lovers. Even that smelly garnish garlic has been historically believed to arouse the passion. Scientifically, it increases circulation which can improve sexual performance. Every course involved some ingredient that had been mentioned in the Karma Sutra, or prescribed to men to bring back their libido.
By the third course everyone had dropped the pretense of blindfolds and it had turned into a rollicking dinner party. The wine glasses were kept filled with several varieties of red and white wine, and with all the ingredients with heart-pumping and, ahem, stimulating properties, the conversation was stimulating as well.
We finished our dinner by nibbling on sugar-coated rose petals (who knew you could eat that?) and savoring the rich, chocolaty, pair of truffles tied up in red cellophane. (I’m not saying they were supposed to look like balls, but I’m not denying it either.)
By the time the tenth course came and went, the idea of taking another two hours to go to dinner (this was supposed to be a pre-dinner event after all) was completely out of the question. I cancelled our reservation, promised Chef Alex we would most certainly pay a visit to his famed Upper West Side restaurant Calle Ocho, and Scott and I headed straight back to the apartment to test out the aphrodisiac properties of jalepenos and mangos.
The price for all of this? $65 for the two of us. That. Is. Amazing.