Monday, May 31, 2010

Women Without Men at Quad Cinema

For many Americans, Iran is defined by the Islamic Revolution and all that followed. Whether through shame or plain old ignorance, we tend to forget the events of 1953, when the CIA helped to overthrow the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh, setting in motion the string of deceptions, covert actions, hostage-takings, and saber-rattlings that continue to constitute American-Iranian relations. Shirin Neshat's beautiful, lyrical Women Without Men reconstructs those dark days though the intersecting stories of four women variously imperiled and empowered by the storms of history, and the resonances between their lives and those being lived in contemporary Iran are striking. (The film, banned in the Islamic Republic, is selling out in pirated copies.) In a Q&A afterward, Neshat noted that the movie, which combines starkly realist with beguilingly magical moments, speaks in the language of Persian poetry, where allegory and imagery allow for subversive ideas otherwise impossible to articulate, especially when so boldly independent: "Iranians aren't losers," she said, "we've been betrayed."

Photo: thanks

Sunday, May 30, 2010


No signage, no menus, no "Yelpers love us" stickers. No Zagat ratings, no "follow us on Twitter" imperatives. Omai doesn't advertise, because it doesn't have to. Instead, this Vietnamese restaurant in Chelsea lets traditionally prepared dishes like barbecued spare ribs, crispy duck, and grilled seafood with vegetables do all the shouting. They're worth listening to.

Five spice ribs, Omai

Roasted duck with tamarind, Omai

Scallops and prawns in lime-basil sauce, Omai

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop

In the minds of many outsiders, New York food is summed up by the deli, with its piles of meat and Jewish classics. In reality, few New Yorkers eat that sort of food anymore, and the big delis that still thrive do so largely because of tourist dollars. But here and there around the city, like the Neanderthals living on in Spanish caves after the rest of their species went extinct, are genuine neighborhood delis, like Eisenberg's, where an egg salad or pastrami sandwich sets you back a pittance and the New York of kimchi cocktails and Indian-Spanish fusion is but a fever dream. The formica may be peeling, the air conditioner may be on the fritz, and the food may be only so-so, but where else can you see sand sit suspended in the hourglass?

Egg salad sandwich, Eisenberg's

Pastrami sandwich, Eisenberg's

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oyster Locals: Manhattan's Hidden Gardens

Hey everyone, we're also writing about New York for Oyster Locals, a web resource for travelers. Periodically we'll feature content on here that we produced there. 

In addition to its concrete canyons and mountains made of glass and steel, New York’s busiest borough boasts some of the prettiest, greenest spaces in the United States. Sure, there are the famous spots like Central Park and Riverside Park, but to really feel like a New Yorker, you need to take advantage of some of Manhattan’s off-the-beaten-track gardens. These secluded bowers provide a respite from the to-ing and fro-ing of the city and give you the thrill of discovering a secret few people other than savvy locals know about. So breath deeply and enjoy. Just don’t tell anyone who sent you.

The Garden at St. Luke in the Fields Behind a wrought-iron gate, and surrounded by a high brick wall, is an extraordinary garden maintained by the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, in the West Village. More than 100 species of birds have been spotted flitting through the roses, lavender, petunias, daffodils, magnolias, and other foliage. It’s free and open daily to the public, but occasionally closes early for church events. 487 Hudson Street, close to the Washington Square Hotel and Soho House.

Greenacre Park Opened in 1971, this Asian-inspired, pocket-sized oasis in Midtown still manages to surprise even long-time residents, who walk by without noticing the bursting peace lilies or related greenery. Three tiers of seats surround a 25-foot waterfall and stream, whose calming sounds will make the world-weariest forget their BlackBerries for a while. A small café sells coffee and treats. Open daily. 217 East 51st Street, across the street from the Pod Hotel, and close to the Radisson Lexington Hotel and the Kimberly Hotel.

Elevated Acre Only in Manhattan would a landscaped garden be located two escalators above street level. The site of outdoor movies in the summer and chi-chi events year-round, the park’s concrete amphitheater and all-season lawn have become a favorite lunch (and napping) spot for those who work in the Financial District. Stop by, start chatting, and perhaps you’ll score some investment advice, in addition to great views of the East River, 30 feet below. Dog friendly and open daily, but occasionally closed for private parties. 55 Water Street, close to the Wall Street Inn, theRitz Carlton Battery Park, and Eurostars Wall Street.

Liz Christy’s Bowery-Houston Garden In the early 1970s, activist Liz Christy and fellow Green Guerillas began throwing “seed bombs” around the city, hoping that the plants would take root and blossom amidst the trash and rubble. They wanted to show administrators how these abandoned spaces could be transformed into nature. Today, the East Village garden that bears her name features a grape arbor, a pond that’s home to red-eared slider turtles and koi, birch trees, wildflowers, and several vegetable plots and fruit trees maintained by community residents. Open Saturdays year-round, Tuesdays and Sundays from May–September. East Houston Street, between Second Avenue and the Bowery, close to the Bowery Hotel and Thompson LES.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Lost World at BAM

The Lost World, the 1925 film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel, was both the first feature film to make use of stop-motion animation and perhaps the first great monster movie. The cinematic dinosaurs --- which reputedly left no less an illusionist than Harry Houdini collecting his jaw from the floor --- were animated by Willis O'Brien based on the artwork of Charles Knight, whose paintings of prehistoric life count among the American Museum of Natural History's most charming treasures. Recently screened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of a series of films making use of Knight's work, The Lost World continues to entertain with its romantic evocation of the last age of exploration, its endearing animal actors, and, above all, its menagerie of vanished beasts, ungainly at times but with personality practically oozing through their scales. A fantastic, standing-ovation-worthy live accompaniment by Alloy Orchestra propelled the film and helped reveal how much life still pulses through those old bones.

Photo: thanks

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cocoa V

Shared chocolate plate, Cocoa V

Vegan chocolate sounds like a bad joke, but Cocoa V shows that it's possible to get all of the sweetness with nary an animal product. We dropped in to share a chocolate plate, which came with jasmine-caramel bon bons, pumpkin seed brittle, orange-passion fruit squares, and other delectable bits. Our favorite: the roasted chocolate edamame. If all vegetables tasted so good, we'd go vegan tomorrow.

Pumpkin brittle, spiced tiles, jasmine-caramel bon bon, Cocoa V

Chocolate edamame, Cocoa V

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century at MoMA

Few photographers have exerted as great an influence over the medium as Henri Cartier-Bresson. His theory of the 'decisive moment' is one of the few artistic insights that is nearly universally accepted to be true, and more than any other photographer, he moved the medium to its perfect venue --- the street. MoMA's exhibit, which spans Cartier-Bresson's entire career, revels in the photographer's capacious eye, showcasing work from four continents and seven decades. If it's sometimes a bit too peripatetic, the highlights, like his soul-pummeling shot of a former Gestapo informer being denounced, are so bright you feel as if you're seeing photographs for the first time.

Photo: thanks

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Strawberries at the Greenmarket

Spring Strawberries


Friday, May 14, 2010


Maialino, the latest in a string of hit restaurants from Danny Meyer, attempts to give elegant treatment to the cooking of humble Roman trattorias. He succeeds.

Salumi misti, Maialino

We started with the salumi misti, a plate of cured meat and olives that shows why Italian bar food beats any other culture's without much effort. We especially loved the spicy sopressata and smoky, vanishingly thin speck. So pink! So fresh!

Soft shell crab and spring peas, Maialino

Next up was an appetizer special, soft shell crab with spring peas and mint. The peas were poppingly crisp, but the sauce's hint of mustard made the dish.

Malfatti al maialino, Maialino

Tonnarelli cacio e pepe with pecorino, Maialino

"Maialino" means roast suckling pig in Italian, so obviously we had to order more pork, this time in the form of the malfatti, a terrific dish combining buttery pork, sharp arugula, and creamy torn pasta. A bowl of tonnarelli cacio e pepe delighted us in its wholesome simplicity. (Hey, we're easy.)

Pollo alla diavola, Maialino

Appetizer-sized portions meant we had room to see how Indiana-born Nick Anderer handled Italy's other specialties, including pollo alla diavola (excellently spicy and moist), chocolate and hazelnut bread pudding (not-so-excellently sweet and moist), and olive oil cake (satisfyingly lemony and moist).

Chocolate and hazelnut bread pudding, Maialino

Olive oil cake, Maialino

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hatshepsut at the Met

Hatshepsut, often called the world's first great queen, called herself a pharaoh for most of her 22-year reign (roughly 1479 to 1458 BCE). The Met's damaged statue, Hatshepsut Wearing the khat Headdress, demonstrates the ways Hatshepsut assumed the title and all that went with it, including immortality. As you stare into the empty space where an image of her head once rested, you can't help but conjure the rest of her, entourage and intellect and ego, such that she lives on and on, in the imagination.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Paulie Gee's


Here's an only in New York story for you: man loves pizza so much he follows pizza blogs, writes pizza tweets, befriends pizza eaters (including our pal Howard), and builds a pizza oven in his backyard. Still not content, he does a de facto internship at Roberta's and opens a pizza place in Greenpoint, using locally sourced, carefully selected ingredients to prepare superbly, passionately crafted pies in a specially ordered artisanal oven.

Our selections included arugula with lemon juice, kale and mushroom, and sopressata, along with a nutella and pear dessert pie. The crusts were bubbly, chewy, and vaguely misshapen, exactly the way we like them.





Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Silverstein Photography Annual

For its annual photography show, the Bruce Silverstein Gallery asked ten curators to each choose an artist whose work deserves wider recognition. The result is a fascinating mix of approaches --- candid street scenes across from highly stylized artificial scenarios, the mysteriously abstract sharing a corner with the desperately mundane.

Photo: Glenn Rudolph, "Cherry Picker"

Friday, May 07, 2010

Pho Sure

Pho Sure, Michael Bao Huynh's pho, noodle, and sandwich shop in the West Village, is worth going to for the name alone. Toss in the spicy, tangy sloppy bao and crunchy veggie fried rice, and you're all set.



Thursday, May 06, 2010

Marina Abramović at MoMA

In recent weeks, our family and friends who live elsewhere have been asking us one question, and one question only: have you been to see the naked people yet?

The answer, at long last, is yes. We've been to see the naked people.

Marina Abramović's retrospective at MoMA, The Artist Is Present, features video footage of past performances and live re-creations with, you guessed it, people sans drawers. Above, a woman sneaks through a doorway flanked by two nudes. In the related footage, taken when Abramović and her then-partner Ulay originally performed the piece, attendees barreled through, with no regard for what they brushed against. While we were there, people moved far more squeamishly, in contrast to recent articles reporting that some MoMA visitors had been taking liberties with the artists.

Elsewhere two artists sat back to back, their long hair woven into a single braid. A video played nearby, of Ulay and Abramović walking toward one another from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China; when they met, they shook hands and broke up. In another room, a naked woman sat high on a wall, resting on a bicycle seat, her arms outstretched. She made eye contact with one of us. We, in turn, looked back. Her eyes were brown.

Photo: Joshua Bright for the New York Times, featuring Jacqueline Lounsbury and Layard Thompson (thanks)

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