Posts Tagged 'music'

Red-eye gravy + Sriracha = Black-eye gravy

Probably best not to go here if you’re feeling the least bit hungry.

This is definitely becoming a regular Sunday brunch.

(Thanks, Matt, for the perfect soundtrack. Too bad you’re working, or I’d invite you over too.)

Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-ge-no

I’ve seen Julie Taymor’s “Lion King,” and maybe that was when my enthusiasm for musicals had just started to flag, but I remember thinking, “Eh.” But Taymor’s production of “Die Zauberflöte” at the Met is MAGICAL. It’s like Maurice Sendak meets Tim Burton meets Tutankhamen, but better, even. Nothing suits this opera more than shiny plexiglass geometry and mysticism. And puppets. I never really got what the big deal was with the puppets until the giant skeletal goose flew out of the wings carrying the three child spirit-guides and took my breath away. And then the bears came out and did their funny, at-once menacing and mirthful dance. But the birds: the birds might be Taymor’s best creation, ever.

I’m so, so thrilled the Met’s finally doing a real rush-ticket program. Why shouldn’t opera be a populist amusement? It was reassuring to look around the Met and see it packed on a Monday night — and not just with grey-hairs, but kids my age, who laughed unreservedly in all the right places (Mozart/Schikaneder would make a great modern-day sitcom writing team. Though that might be insulting, since they would no doubt transcend the form or totally blow it away) and applauded enthusiastically for the Queen of the Night’s dizzying arias and Papageno’s utter silliness. The singers, incidentally, I thought were only okay, as far as Met casting goes. Papageno and Pamina were by far the best; the others were lackluster. And it was like the Queen of the Night was saving it all for her (many) high notes — while those high notes were spot-on crystal clear and just beamed out across the hall, the rest of her performance was sort of muted. (When she first piped up, I thought: no way is she going to hit the high notes.)

Overall, though, the performances did the job. But it’s everything else that makes this special. I wish I had kids I could take to this thing.

I remember now

that well-made, homemade pizza is a glorious thing:

(Once again, Marisa reminds me that it’s time for me to get on the no-knead bandwagon. Will you take a look at the amazing crumb structure in this guy? I’m going to start making Lahey’s bread tonight.)

And that I really do still love going to shows:

I thought I was sick of concerts, too old to stand and wait for so long in crowds just to get stuck behind the tallest guy in the venue (what are they feeding kids these days?), too cynical to handle the faux-earnest posturing of so many indie rock bands, and just too bored to sit through another one. But Jens Lekman, you proved me wrong. You may have some silly-ass lyrics, but you bring totally infectious, unadulterated joy to the stage. You love us, you love playing for us, and it shows. I haven’t had a shit-eating grin plastered across my face like that for god knows how long.

Fall finally makes an appearance

But there’s (just a little) time yet for some Red Hook action:

Everyone goes on about the huaraches and tacos, but I have to say, these might be my favorite. Best tamale I’ve ever had in NYC. And god, I LOVE maduros.

Other recent highlights:
– Aquavit, which has made it into my top 5. If you’re a fan of bright, clean Scandinavian flavors (or bright, clean Scandinavian furniture design), this is the place for you. Oh, and there are those meatballs too. Unlike Franny’s, the check holds only pleasant surprises.
– Queen’s Hideaway, which impresses with its price point but disappoints with incredibly slow, inattentive service. (I guess you get what you pay for. Or don’t pay for, more like.) If you don’t like your food salty (sometimes inedibly so), this is not the place for you. Good ideas, imperfect execution, but I’ll definitely go back. There’s just something that feels right about it. And if I ever move out of Fort Greene, Greenpoint is where I plan to hang my hat. (Though by the time I get around to it, I bet I’ll be priced out of the hat rack.)
– Black bean soup, which is the first thing I think of when I make stock from the gleanings and leavings of a roasted chicken. I think I hate Whole Foods’ beans though. Soup is the first thing I ever made that showed me how magical cooking can be — all that flavor, coaxed out of ostensibly inedible bones, and the whole most definitely more than the sum of its parts. So much more.

Listening to:
– Animal Collective’s “Strawberry Jam”
– Stars’ “In Our Bedroom After the War”

Reading:
– (like everyone else I know) Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Bonny Wolf’s Talking with My Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes, and Other Kitchen Stories. If you liked Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, you ought to read this one as well. I’m inspired to cook something from every single one of the essays in this book.

Annual pea-shelling shot

Third year running, and still I can’t get enough:

You know what? New York peas are as good as Italian peas. Especially when you start shelling and eating them as soon as you walk away from the stall at the market. And they’re also good this way:

I riffed on another Sunday Suppers at Lucques (I am loving this cookbook) recipe. Goin calls for orecchiette, but I like my carbonara with bucatini. And just plain ol’ bacon without the addition of pancetta (since, let’s face it, I’ve got a lot of bacon to get through), since I’ve not found a guanciale source in this town. I like her pea and pea shoot idea, though, and kept that. Unfortunately, I had about five minutes to enjoy dinner, because I got an 11th hour call from my brilliant, extremely good-looking, and artistically virtuosic lawyer friend Jeremy to go see Bright Eyes at Town Hall (and really, I can live with choking down my pasta in record time if it means seeing

special guest Ben Gibbard play “405” and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”.) Thanks, Jeremy! I owe you many dinners.

I have been tearing it up on the book front:
David Mitchell’s “Blackswangreen” and Martin Amis’s “The Rachel Papers” are both worth your time. God, Amis is kind of a douche, isn’t he? But I like him anyway.

Also worth your time:
Panda Bear’s “Person Pitch” (but dude, how unrewarding was the Animal Collective/Danielson show at South St. Seaport? I think it’s because I made the idiot move of standing in the front amongst the rowdy youth)
Peter Bjorn & John’s “Writer’s Block”
“Knocked Up” — I heart Seth Rogen.

Back to our regularly scheduled program

— which means music!
[Namely: Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible.” It does not disappoint, people. But even more importantly, having the good fortune to see them a couple weeks ago at the United Palace Theater reminded me just how fucking awesome they are. Goddamn do they know how to put on a show. And also: Modest Mouse’s “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.” “Dashboard” is, like, their best ska song ever. “Spitting Venom” is this album’s “Bury Me With It” for me: perfect to knit to.]

and movies!
[Specifically: “Spiderman 3.” Ugh. Blech. Retch. “The Ipcress Files”: Michael Caine is THE COOLEST DUDE alive. “Triad Election”: wow. You need to watch this. And “Election.” “Hot Fuzz”: dead-on, no punches pulled. I didn’t laugh as hard as I’d anticipated, but I quite admire what they did. “I’m a cyborg, but that’s OK”: totally cracked out and utterly beautiful. “The Departed”: riveting. “Infernal Affairs” is not, in my opinion, better necessarily. Different, I think, because of the nature of the setting and cultural context. “Steamboy”: barely watchable. “Tokyo Godfathers”: imbued with a cinematic realism that really tugs at you on multiple levels. (And speaking of Satoshi Kon, what do we think about “Paprika”? I, for one, cannot wait.) “Amores Perros”: so, so brutal. Heart-rending. And that’s the last 3 weeks in a nutshell, pretty much.]

and gastronomical delights!

I got sick of posting about Spring (hence the prolonged silence) and got rather hungry for it: garlic chive and pea shoot salad with lardons, sauteed oyster mushrooms, and chive blossoms (made by yours truly — the salad, not the flowers. that would be photosynthesis or something.) with an awesome pumpkinseed oil vinaigrette (courtesy of well-trained-from-an-early-age-in-emulsifying Justin).

Though Robert wanted to do his own celebration-of-Spring dinner, he bent to my wish for some offal: tripe, in the classic Italian style.

I’m still averaging two ice creams a week with the wunder-maschine: here, vanilla and mint. Which look awfully alike when they’re both made from custard base and without that sickly green food coloring. So far, I seem to have found the most success with the Guinness and mint flavors.

The fried prawn head from my omakase at Taro Sushi, my new favorite (and perhaps only worthy) neighborhood sushi joint.

I just got home from Flushing after a trip to the food court with my mom, who popped in this weekend and managed to drive me totally insane in just the few hours we spent together. But she made me realize that maybe, just maybe, this whole food thing may also be in some small part a way for me to actually be able to connect with her. Because regular ol’ talking sure doesn’t seem to work.

kalistos

just a quick post about a new music concert i went to on friday. kalistos is a relatively new new music ensemble in boston (that incidentally just achieved non-profit status). this string orchestra’s concert on friday at longy was uniquely programmed: one short solo work for bansri (indian flute) followed by four works by four different boston composers featuring soloists on koto (japanese plucked stringed instrument), violin, piano, and viola.

as one might expect of a contemporary concert the majority of the music was rather shorter on ideas and longer on textures, but hands down the real find was joanna kurkowicz, the solo violinist who i can’t believe i haven’t come across before. it is no exaggeration to say that it has been a very, very long time since i have heard as thrilling or magnetic a performer as kurkowicz, so much so that i practically rushed home to look her up online. her website has some great sound clips, although as with many other performers the recordings fail to do justice to her live virtuosity and presence. her performance of indian composer korde’s “cranes dancing” made sense of the sprawling, episodic, and (thanks in no small part to her) ultimately engaging work, and she led the orchestra in a deeply musical interpretation. her performance, although informed by a more romantically slavic style, had a glenn gouldian level of clarity of line and expression. and i don’t think i’ve ever heard such sheerly beautiful harmonics and glissandi (haha). anyway, you can be sure that i’ll be attending her next performance in boston, which i believe is the chameleon arts ensemble’s may concert at the goethe-institut. ok, enough gushing.

Gettin’ my art on in Berlin

The local paper published an ever-so-timely article on the museum scene in Germany’s capital. I was there this past weekend and while I didn’t make a point of going to the Bode, I did discover two very, very cool institutions that have made it onto my list of favorite museums of all time.

7. Jüdisches Museum – Berlin
8. Hamburger Bahnhof

It’s remarkable how much museums have changed in my (albeit short) lifetime. Or maybe just in the past decade. I guess if you want to see the old-school methodology for exhibit and information display, you might go to the Egyptian Museum in Turin. But the Jüdisches Museum ranks right up there with the Terrorháza (admittedly also in theme) in terms of innovative exhibits. The latter is probably more tactile or interactive, but the former gives you all kinds of personal narrative to make the exhibit (“Home and Exile: Jewish Emigration from Germany since 1933”) really hit home. I also like that they inundate you with so much information, so much evidence of the difficulties, the nightmares and tragedies that these emigrants had to deal with that you emerge from the museum feeling you’ve had the shit kicked out of you. That’s what museums should do to you.

The Hamburger Bahnhof is similar in the visceral sense, but I more marvelled at the physical space and use of this former train station. The Hamburger is one of many modern art museums in Berlin (I also went to the Neue Nationalgalerie, which, while designed by architecture demi-god Mies van der Rohe, has a very institutional (read: gym-like) feel. I’m not into the short screen-wall things they’ve hung stuff on on the main floor. Modern art needs telescoping, swooping spaces. Or at least that’s what I’ve been cultivated to think anyway. Short walls = short shrift.) They have some really great installations there right now. Definitely a must-see.

This is the Altes Museum, which I didn’t actually step inside, but I like what they had to say out front.

Anyway, what I ate in Berlin:

Most of my time was spent in the Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, which are very, very cool neighborhoods. Mitte/parts of the PB are sort of like the Lower East Side/East Village/Williamsburg. In fact, much of Berlin reminded me of Williamsburg. I’ll even go so far as to claim that Berlin IS the Williamsburg of Europe. Other parts of PB are almost like the Upper East Side or St.-Germain-des-Prés.

Just up the street from where I was staying is the famed W Imbiss that was mentioned recently in the NYT piece on Berlin street food. I don’t know if Gordon W was actually ever there the two times I ate there, but there were definitely plenty of ex-pats hanging around both behind and in front of the counter. I had

the avocado-chipotle naan pizza. With sprouts and arugula, as you can see. Naan is excellent at this place. Berlin is like NYC in terms of food — you’re not necessarily going to find anything spectacular that’s ‘local’ per se, other than bratwurst and currywurst, but there are many places that specialize in that sort of neo-continental student fare of, like, carbohydrate + spreadable item (+ cheese when appropriate; + greens when you’re in an area riddled with hipsters or yuppies). Basically variations on burritos, pizza, bagels, etc. Even better when it comes with a mango lassi! W’s are excellent.

A few blocks further north, I stumbled upon one of those little boutique/coffeeshops that’s so hot these days. Misses Marbles, this one is called, and they have some delicious kirsch-streusel-torte:

and really nice, really expensive tote bags.

Berlin, you’re A-OK. I’ll be seeing you soon, you can bet on that.

Random notes:
I caught Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amore” at the Staatsoper, and it has to be one of my favorite operas yet. Clever, funny and just plain fun. I spent half the time trying to tease some kind of meaning out of the German subtitles and understood maybe 5% of the Italian they were singing in, but I still thoroughly enjoyed every minute. I think I’ve commented on this before, but in Europe, operagoers skew on the young side.

A list I made after finally getting from Milan to Berlin:

Metropolitana di Milano S/U-Bahn
Bad/infrequent signage Well-designed signs everywhere, where they ought to be
Dirty Pristine
Ticket machines from 1970s New ticket machines
Inscrutable instructions for ticket purchase Clear instructions in 8 languages
Where are the maps? Maps everywhere
Where’s the train official? Train official very helpful and right where he should be
Where’s the train? Train ETAs electronically updated by the minute

classical savion

If you have a chance, you have to go. We went last night to Classical Savion, Savion Glover’s tap-classical-jazz fusion performance, and it blew my mind. This man is a genius. Tap dancing lends itself well to this mix — you can watch him dance and listen to the instruments, or you can watch an instrument and listen to him dance.  He looked like he was having so much fun, I wanted to jump up there and dance with him too.  It was also at one of my favorite venues, the intimate outdoor theater at Villa Montalvo.

The latest from pinback

today was the first i heard about nautical antiques, pinback’s “selection of b-sides and outtakes”, apparently coming out tomorrow. spin.com has a small article about it. hmm. i guess i’ll have to get it …


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