Thursday, July 30, 2009

Roxy Paine at the Met

Each year the Met asks an artist to design a site-specific installation for its roof. This honor comes with a terrific challenge: how to respond to (or deal with) the roof's tremendous views of Central Park and the skyline.

Roxy Paine's Maelstrom, a 130-foot-long by 45-foot-wide sculpture made from stainless steel, echoes both the material that undergirds the city and the trees that somehow thrive among the concrete and steel.

It was great fun to walk beneath the "branches" as long as we avoided touching the hot metal. Sometimes, though, the silver became too glinting, forcing us to turn back to the views --- maybe that was Paine's point after all: his hot, blinding structure, no matter how funky or fun, can't ever really compete with the city surrounding it. The real art is New York itself.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Canoeing the Gowanus Canal

Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal has long been a dumping ground for the city, taking waste water, chemicals, oil, garbage, and, supposedly, Mafia refuse. ("The only canal in the world that is 90 percent guns," according to Jonathan Lethem.) The past few years have seen it cleaned up significantly, though it still has a long way to go --- it's currently a candidate for Superfund designation. Much of its improvement is owed to the dedication of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, which provides free boats to anyone who wishes to paddle the 2-mile stretch of "water."

Alone on the canal on a sunny Saturday, we saw an X-ray of New York, the industrial skeleton on which on the modern metropolis was built. It's a fascinating perspective on the city, even if the sights (and smells) are less than lovely. And yes, we asked: people have indeed fallen in while canoeing, but no, none of them emerged with super powers.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Matsugen, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's temple to soba noodles in Tribeca, offers an outstanding amount of food (five courses) for comparatively little ($38). The view, of the kitchen through an eel- and tropical fish-infested tank, wasn't so bad either.

We began with spicy edamame and soft tofu (so soft a cracker or some other type of contrasting texture was sorely missed). Then we had shrimp and vegetable tempura. Even though only one of us ordered the prix fixe, the server generously made sure there were always two plates on the table.

The non-prix fixe main was tender pork belly. The prix fixe mains were two pieces of tuna and black miso cod. Biting into the sushi made us speculate on just how out-of-the-world incredible Masa must be, given the quality we were getting here for, roughly, 92% cheaper.

For the soba course, we had a hot chicken and scallions and a cold sesame. We hate to say it, but the cold soba was too cold, even in the midst of July. Another thing we liked? The way no one judged our slurping.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Michelangelo’s First Painting at the Met

Most scholars now agree that this creepy, technicolor work was painted by Michelangelo when he was 12 or 13. Recently acquired by a museum in Texas, The Torment of St Anthony was restored by --- and is now on display at --- the Met. It, as well as the attendant materials focusing on the intense restoration process, are worth a visit. So are the crazy monsters, winged and beaked and fish-lipped, angry and ugly and aerodynamic, all hanging off the guy, who, frankly, doesn't look all that bothered by his situation.

Photo: thanks

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Breakfast from the Greenmarket

Friday, July 24, 2009

Una Pizza Napoletana

Farewell, dear friend. We hardly knew ye.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bethesda Terrace Arcade

Designed as a gathering place, the Arcade next to the Bethesda Fountain generally attracts two types of people: those who enjoy the chanting, stomping, and violin-playing by Thoth, and those who enjoy making fun of it. But everyone can enjoy the space's lovely details, even as they delight in or cringe at its sound-absorbing properties.

Monday, July 20, 2009


We continued our Restaurant Week adventures at Convivio, Michael White's much-lauded southern Italian restaurant in the appealing somnolence of Tudor City. Our waiter lived up to the restaurant's name by confessing himself to be a "major wine geek" as he gave us loving descriptions of the bubble-free prosecco and Balbium magliocco we ordered, which he swore were the most interesting options on the menu.

Both wines were terrific, so we were in a receptive state for our first courses, an heirloom tomato soup with seafood salad and fried pancetta, figs, and pecorino over greens. Figs and pancetta is a tough combination to argue with, but we were most impressed with the soup, which had a cool intensity that captured the very essence of the tomatoes.

We followed with grouper over a corn caponata and roasted pepper cream, and a bowl of orechiette with ricotta and crushed tomatoes. The grouper tasted fine, but it looked like a spill at the DayGlo factory. The orechiette, however, was yummy on all counts, the pasta cooked to just the right toothiness and the tomatoes, cheese, and fresh basil combining to show how satisfying a simple dish can be.

Our desserts were an affogato with espresso and a chocolate ganache with salted caramel. The espresso in the affogato was sufficiently strong that we didn't need to order dessert coffees, but it was nicely cut by the gelato. We couldn't figure out where the salted caramel went in the ganache until we discovered that it was a layered ring within the chocolate, an unexpected reward for eager digging.

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