Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Seeing the Hudson at Alan Klotz

In 1609, on behalf of the Dutch East India Company, Henry Hudson sailed his ship, the Half Moon, into New York Bay. Convinced he'd discovered a water route to Asia, Hudson continued up the now-eponymous river and claimed the area for the Dutch. The name Manhattan comes from a journal kept by one of his crew members.

Seeing the Hudson at the Alan Klotz Gallery features a highly curated selection of paintings and photographs of the river. The works on view aren't meant to be representative of the full range of depictions out there; rather they show the river from different vantage points at different times of the day in different weather using different media. Four hundred years is a long time, after all.

The gallery's proximity to the river means you can see what artists have done, then head over and see the water for yourself, perhaps even imagining for a second or two what Hudson himself must have seen. Doing so might just be the best part; it was for us.

Photo: thanks

Thursday, September 24, 2009


How Degustation can manage to be one of the most beloved restaurants in the city yet still feel like a hidden gem is something of a mystery, but it's definitely the case. Chefs like Thomas Keller and David Chang are fans, but it doesn't even have a website. Even Frank Bruni of The Times called it "underrated" after he gave it two stars (the same number as, say, Union Square Cafe, the perennial #1 in the Zagat rating). This disconnect can be partially explained by the size of the restaurant (fewer than 20 seats, all at a counter around the kitchen) and by the idiosyncrasy of the food, which no one knows whether to call Spanish or French or American or pan-all-of-the-above. We just call it delicious.

We recently tried the 5-course tasting menu, which the precocious Wesley Genovart (or "Wes," as everyone in the kitchen called him) assembles as he sees fit according to the day's menu. The first course was a fish we'd never had before, Tasmanian sea trout, simply sliced and served with onions and a few greens. Not a complicated dish, but a clean, clear, and refreshing one.

The next course was a fatty, juicy block of pork belly paired with market-fresh heirloom tomatoes and avocado. Pork belly usually hogs (sorry) all the attention in whatever dish it's part of, but here the salty, citrusy snap of the tomatoes was the most compelling part, a terrific ingredient at its peak.

Continuing the seasonal bent, the next dish was like the culinary embodiment of September: grilled quail with candied peaches, purslane, almonds, and thyme yogurt. The quail had the perfect combination of char and juiciness --- a quick glance around at other diners who had the same dish saw numerous fingers be enthusiastically licked.

Our final savory course was oxtail in potato cannelloni, topped with peppers and fried onions. It was a strange dish --- you don't see much Italian–New Mexican fusion --- but a good one, with a lasting kick.

For dessert we were served caramelized brioche with a cream filling and fresh berries. It was a sticky, sweet, gooey treat. As we were eating it, the man sitting next to us said to Genovart, "I'd like to stand up and applaud." Ditto, guy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Amy Stein at ClampArt

ClampArt, a small but well-curated gallery in Chelsea, is currently home to photographer Amy Stein's fascinating Domesticated series. Set in and around Matamoras, the easternmost town in Pennsylvania, Stein's images, which she describes as "modern dioramas," are reconstructions of reported encounters between humans and animals. Whereas most traditional dioramas try to present animals in a pure and wild state, Stein's photos plumb the sometimes frightening, sometimes beautiful realities of a world in which there isn't really any such thing as wilderness, in which humans and animals warily circle each other in the same environment. They're tremendously compelling pictures, both for their technical skill (how did she do that? you can't help but ask) and for the way they remind us of our uneasy place as the occupying army in a natural world we have only supposedly conquered.

Photo: "Struggle" (Thanks)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Trestle on Tenth

We won't weigh in on Top Chef 6 thus far, other than to state the obvious: boy, that's a lot of ink, and boy, what happened to all the New Yorkers? Past seasons had several, but the only one this time around is Ash Fulk, sous chef at Trestle on Tenth, a bistro-esque spot in Chelsea.

There recently, we watched him work the room in baggy chef pants (hard to say if there was a bowtie beneath the chef coat, though). His schmoozing meant that he almost certainly had no hand (whisk? spatula?) in preparing our chilled tomato soup with crunchy corn and soft shrimp or butter lettuce drenched in buttermilk dressing and spotted with bits of bacon that acted like croutons. He probably didn't make our linguine with bay scallops and unexpected pistachios, coriander hanger steak with wax beans, or our dense chocolate tart, and blueberry-caramel sundae with pecan crumble either. With the exception of the inconsistently seasoned steak (what would Tom say, Ash?), we thoroughly enjoyed the food. A summery meal during the first real fall weather meant Indian Summer right at our table.

Ash behind the stove or not, the place was packed --- and the host most certainly hustled us out after our allotted 1.75 hours. We hope this little restaurant stays cute and neighorhoody as the season goes on, rather than getting too big for its, ahem, chef coat.

Anyway, Go Team NY!

Photo: thanks

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Flights to Africa II

You can live an entire lifetime in New York and never exhaust its possibilities, but there are still some things you have to leave the city to see. Here are a few pictures from our trip to Uganda and Rwanda.

More can be found here.

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