For a few weeks each spring, MoMA and Lincoln Center screen movies as part of their New Directors/New Films series, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's also a relatively cheap-and-easy way to see movies that might not get a wide release, including Laura Poitras's documentary, The Oath. Here, Poitras intertwines the stories of Abu Jandal, a taxi driver in Yemen who once worked as Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, and Salim Hamdan, Jandal's brother-in-law, on trial in Guantanamo. Jandal, a skilled media manipulator, counsels aspiring jihadis in conversations both franker and more complex than most Americans probably imagine, while US Navy lawyer Brian Mizer, who comes off as just about the most honorable person alive, struggles to save Hamdan from a miscarriage of justice. Although Poitras could have used a slightly sharper eye in the editing booth --- a section about interrogation techniques goes nowhere and says nothing new --- the film as a whole shines a much-needed light into a murky, always-receding corner.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Baohaus had us at the name. So we were predisposed to fall, hard, for the steamed buns stuffed with Niman Ranch pork belly (the Chairman Bao), skirt steak (Haus Bao), and fried tofu (Uncle Jesse), each also stuffed with 'haus' relish, cilantro, and peanuts (the Uncle Jesse). They taste better --- more complex, richer --- than they look, perhaps because the tinfoil creates an unintended spaceship effect.
And there's no fitter end to a lunch of Taiwanese street food than fried strips of bao, dipped in a not-entirely-unpleasant-even-though-it-was-gritty sesame sauce.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Anastasia Photo, a gallery on the Lower East Side, specializes in documentary photography / photojournalism that has some connection to a philanthropic organization. For the past few months, the work on view by David Wright chronicles people affiliated with A River Blue, an NGO in northern Uganda that seeks to help those who lives have been affected by the hellish Lord's Resistance Army. The pictures on display generally show people dwarfed by their surroundings, an apt depiction of individuals struggling with such difficulties. But there are a few exceptions, including this young man and his sewing machine, an illustration of daily, industrious, wonderful life.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Devoted readers (here's looking at you, Dad) will remember that at last year's Choice Eats event, our favorite dish was a vanilla pudding with miso bananas from No. 7, in Fort Greene. Happily, the No. 7 folks have just opened a sandwich shop, using ingredients that may never have seen the inside of a hero before: fried hominy, Texas caviar, pickled blueberries, doenjang.
We went for the hot-and-sour egg salad, which comes with bamboo shoots and something called "gloop," as well as the braised lamb with yogurt, romaine, and the aforementioned caviar. Although the egg salad really did remind us of hot-and-sour soup in sandwich form, tangy and hot, we may have preferred the lamb slightly more --- tender, sweet, and sharp all at once, like a brief affair.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Calling this path alongside a sewage treatment plant a "nature walk" might sound delusionally optimistic, but Spinoza's quip about how nature abhors a vacuum is repeated so much because it's true. (Just ask the city's coyotes and parrots.) Even in the unlikeliest of places, life squeezes in.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Shaking hands with the person / people who made something you now own doesn't often happen, but when it does . . . it's a beautiful thing. A few days ago we got just such an opportunity, when we met Ken and Dana of ken & dana design. The two jewelry makers recently launched a line of necklaces and other pieces using materials taken from guns; proceeds go to the NYPD Gun Buy-Back Program (anyone who brings a gun off the street and into a police station gets a $200 debit card). Also: they have a quote from Henry James on their site.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
In a little-known passage from his 1609 journals, Henry Hudson wrote, "People on the Islan'd to the East of Manahatta tell of a Place in the Land where They believe Meats smoked with the Spices of the Indies will one Day appear the Heav'ns. For my Part, I can imagine no such Place, and confine it to Myth . . ."
Scholars believe this to have been the first reference to Fatty 'Cue, the much-delayed Malaysian barbecue restaurant that has, after months of speculation and rumor, finally opened in Williamsburg. Judging from the enthusiasm of the staff, no fewer than eight of whom greeted us, they're as excited as diners are.
We ordered three small plates and one large, all to share. Unlike typical American barbecue, which uses smoke to drive the flavors, the food at Fatty 'Cue mixes spices and tastes, flecking curries with whiffs of the grill and playing fish sauce and garlic off the rich tang of pork. A custard made from yellow curry, for instance, smoothed out the salty pop of the coriander bacon without overwhelming its fatty goodness. (Though really, the bacon is tasty enough to eat on its own.)
Our concession to the American Heart Association was nasi ulam, a rice salad tossed with turmeric and ginger and leavened with whole fried anchovies known as ikan bilis. Our bowl was a little over-leavened, in fact, and we left a goodly number of the little guys behind.
The shrimp-and-scallop sausage, dosed in green curry, wasn't as soul-satisfying as that at Perbacco, but it was fine, and it did look like typical sausage, which should score it some points, we guess, especially on St Patrick's Day (get it? 'cuz it's green.).
Lastly, the wagyu brisket arrived --- a make-your-own steamed bun adventure. Any austerity on the plate disappeared as we got our fingers smeared in chili jam and brisket juices. It was worth the wait.