Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Blue Smoke strives to serve "urban barbecue," by which they mean a sampling of different BBQ styles (Kansas City, Memphis, Texas, North Carolina) that reflects the polyglot nature of the city. A laudable ambition, surely, and in a town still in the throes of a BBQ craze, a remunerative one.
We won't wade into the pitched battle over who serves the best low-and-slow meat, but we definitely enjoy our occasional visits to Blue Smoke, where we recently savored the crumbly corn bread and the piquant hush puppies with jalapeno marmalade, which we followed with scallops over grits and a well-marbled brisket sandwich. And for dessert, an ecumenical solution to the BBQ wars: rich, dense chocolate cake, served with a glass of cold milk.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Whenever we go to Lamazou, a hole-in-the-wall cheese shop on Third Avenue, the owner Aziz rounds off our total and tells us to pay him later. We must owe him $20 in odd amounts. Then again, we're sufficiently devoted to the Napoli (mozzarella, tomatoes, pesto) and the Toscana (smoked mozzarella, roasted peppers, marinated artichokes) sandwiches that we're probably putting his kids through college.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
An alternate title for this post? Cookie porn.
Name: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookie
Vital stats: 2 inches / 6 ounces of moist, cakey richness offset by tiny, layered pockets of thick peanut butter
Likes: hungry customers, Frank Bruni
Dislikes: people on diets, people who don't have $3.75
Favorite pick-up line: "I'm gonna pair you with a glass of milk or small coffee."
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
2009 has been the Year of Banh Mi, as the humble Vietnamese sandwich and its variants have become inescapable. One of the best of the crop of banh mi shops is Baoguette, a tiny storefront wisely positioned near a branch of CUNY. In the interest of variety, we tried the papaya salad with tiger shrimp, which was decent enough, but the sandwiches are the raison d'être, and we were totally taken with the "Sloppy Bao," a delightfully spicy roll of curried beef, mango, and lemongrass. Here's hoping that this trend sticks around.
Monday, May 18, 2009
We don't usually issue ultimatums in our posts, but here goes: We double-triple-dog dare you to look at Claes Oldenburg's soft sculptures --- made from plastic and frequently depicting 1950s suburban ephemera --- and not burst out laughing. An ashtray overflows, fries sag under ketchup, an ice bag wheezes up and down (via some kind of hidden but loud mechanism). Any seriousness or cultural commentary gets overshadowed by the sheer nuttiness. The musical instruments and drawings he did with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen, currently on display at the Whitney, are less whimsical, perhaps because the former is made from felt and the latter from paper. At any rate, we think there should be more chuckling, guffawing, and giggling happening in galleries.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
A major issue in the philosophy of biology is the "species problem," the question of what exactly constitutes the boundary between one so-called species and another. Extreme Mammals, an exhibit that just opened this weekend at the American Museum of Natural History, pushes the species problem up the taxonomic ladder by highlighting the incredible variety of animals that fall into the class of things called mammals. Some are huge, some tiny; some have horns, some have fangs bursting from their heads, some have bills; some lay eggs, some carry their helpless offspring in pouches, some give birth to young that can run around just fine on their own in less than an hour. The exhibit celebrates this delirious diversity by putting on display models, skeletons, videos, live representatives, teeth, and --- why not? --- preserved mammoth hair.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
The brick building at 23rd and Park always has some type of movie ad covering its giant facade, but even a 20 plus-story Hilary Duff can't scare the bejesus out of passerby in quite the same way as this one, with its depiction of Manhattan-as-skull and sad resurrection of a franchise that was supposed to end when Arnold turned to politics.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
We walked into the Jenny Holzer exhibit at the Whitney thinking it was a retrospective. It isn’t. But that’s OK, because her new stuff traffics in the word as art, just like her old stuff.
Probably best known for her Truisms, which she began while studying at the Whitney in the 1970s (and which she is now putting up on Twitter), Holzer treats text as image. She became famous for projecting aphoristic slogans like “abuse of power comes as no surprise” all over New York, from telephone booths to Time Square. For her recent work, she found inspiration, so to speak, in declassified government documents dealing with the Iraq War. Some have been blown up and repainted, and some have been typeset onto colorful LED displays (so bright, in fact, that a few security guards were wearing sunglasses). "Words tell the truth," we read, but we're not sure Holzer would agree. "Words show the truth" might be more apt.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The First and Second Congo Wars, sometimes collectively referred to as "Africa's World War," claimed the lives of more than five million people from 1998-2003, making it the deadliest conflict since World War II. (And that's not including the 1994 Rwandan genocide that set the war in motion.) As in all wars, however, life, or some form of it, kept clicking along amidst the bullets and blood. Lynn Nottage's play Ruined, winner of this year's Pulitzer Prize, is a fascinating, despairing, horrifying, funny, hopeful look at shellshocked lives. Set in a Congolese jungle-store-cum-brothel, Ruined depicts the effects of the war on a small community of women centered around the charismatic, cynical madam, Mama Nadi. What makes the play so compelling is the diversity of emotions on stage --- it would be easy for Nottage to give audiences a ceaseless dirge, but instead we get joking and singing and dancing, all entertaining and ominous at the same time. It made for an illuminating and thrilling night.