Friday, December 30, 2011

Three Lives & Company

Three Lives

If you were to sit down and design a perfect independent bookstore from scratch, you'd probably come up with something like Three Lives & Company. Tucked into a quiet corner of the West Village, this cozy little shop comes with creaking floorboards, a knowledgeable, opinionated staff, and groaning shelves holding a well-curated selection of books ranging from current bestsellers to canonical tomes to obscure reprints. When last we were there, a woman turned to a staffer after paying for her purchase and said, "Thank you so much for still being here."
 
   

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Al-Sham Sweets and Pastries

Al Sham Sweets and Pastries

A humble temple to walnuts and pistachios in Astoria, Al-Sham Sweets and Pastries crams a dizzying array of baklava into its small display case. They serve the Syrian variety ("Sham" is the old name for Syria and still the local appellation for Damascus). Unlike Turkish baklava, the Syrian versions derive most of their sweetness from the nuts rather than syrup. The diverse styles available demonstrate the importance of texture to properly made baklava and invite grazing to identify your favorite. We've only made it through about a fifth of the options, so we need to make a few more research trips.
  
Al Sham Sweets and Pastries
   
 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Willem de Kooning at MoMA



"The most piercing, inexhaustible, and relentlessly intense full-on career survey I have ever seen in this country," said one critic. "Exhaustively comprehensive, exhaustingly large, and predictably awe-inspiring," gushed another. "The most ambitious show New York has seen in a long time --- a lavish, knotty, and definitive tribute," opined a third. Critical consensus is rare in the fractious New York art world, but the de Kooning retrospective at MoMA is virtually impossible to fault. A massive exhibit of more than 200 works, it blasts away any doubt about de Kooning's centrality to modern art, salvages his surprisingly productive later years from obscurity, and demonstrates better than any show we've seen how an artist can continue to wrestle the same devil forever.


Photos: thanks

Monday, December 26, 2011

Serious Eats: La Palina

Hey everyone, we're also writing about New York for Serious Eats. Periodically we'll link to content here that we produced there.

Mozzarella en carozza, La Palina
This week's Date Night finds us at La Palina, a bastion of Italian-American tradition in Bensonhurst [read more].
   

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Happy holidays, everyone!

i love

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Miracle on 34th Street at Film Forum


Unlike its contemporary Christmas yarn, Frank Capra's masterful It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street is not a sophisticated or even a particularly well-executed movie: the acting is uneven, the editing hopeless, and the plot full of holes you could drive a sleigh through. But seeing it at Film Forum, where it opened for a brief run yesterday, we couldn't deny that it's a lot of fun, with a great central conceit and some terrific lines ("Maybe he's only a little crazy, like painters or composers or some of those men in Washington"). It also disabuses you of the notion that the commercialization of Christmas --- and complaining about the same --- is a recent phenomenon. But most importantly, it inspires a lot of holiday cheer, making the lights outside twinkle just a little bit brighter.

Photo: thanks
   

Friday, December 23, 2011

Our Christmas Tree

Christmas tree 2011

Behold, our tree, bedecked in ribbons and candy canes, sending scent into our apartment, giving the cat something to nibble in the night, protector of presents, purchased for 25 bucks on the sidewalk down the street. So delighted are we with its presence, we just might keep it up year-round. 
  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Legend

Chongqing diced chicken with chilis, Legend

Yes, we're on the Legend bandwagon. Back in the summer, the Times blew the lid off one of the better-kept foodie secrets in town, that this seemingly unambitious, unremarkable restaurant in Chelsea, with a menu full of dull Chinese-American dishes, has a wild Sichuan streak. Though people not in the know pass by and shrug, Chinese tourists and devoted foodies have been crowding into the bi-level space to try Ding Gen Wang's ambitious and often inventive Sichuan cooking. Classic dishes like spicy cellophane noodles with pork (a.k.a., ants on a log), Chen-du sweet potato noodles, ma po tofu, and the like do not disappoint, but the reason we'd go back in a hurry is the "new style Sichuan" menu, in particular its Chongqing diced chicken with chili peppercorns. The chicken comes crispy and salty, almost like meaty popcorn, and absolutely covered in deeply flavored chilis. Some bites ignite your mouth, certainly, but on the whole it displays a controlled heat that complements rather than crushes the dish.  

Chen-du noodles, Legend

Hot and sour soup, Legend

Shrimp dumplings, Legend

Cellophane noodles with pork, Legend

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Merry Christmas, ConEd!

For eleven months of the year, Dyker Heights sits stolid and suburban in a part of Brooklyn most non-residents would have no reason to visit. Then, come December, it explodes into a Christmas phantasmagoria. We dare you to go and not get possessed by the holiday spirit. (Can't stop contemplating these people's electric bills? More photos here.)

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Dyker Heights Christmas lights, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Serious Eats: Bali Nusa Indah

Hey everyone, we're also writing about New York for Serious Eats. Periodically we'll link to content here that we produced there.
 

Bali Nusa Indah
This week's Date Night finds us at Bali Nusa Indah, the Indonesian outpost along Manhattan's foodie United Nations [read more].
  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Donuts from the Doughnut Plant

Holiday donuts (marzipan, sweet pear, and gingerbread), the Doughnut Plant

Behold, the Doughnut Plant's holiday donuts: marzipan, star-shaped and tasting, perhaps curiously, of cherries; spiced pear, green-striped and filled with a sugary, cider-esque pear mash; and gingerbread, cakey and moist. Their all-around hyper-sweetness inspired much holiday cheer, or at least heart racing, as well as the following, sung to the tune of "Deck the Halls":

'Tis the season to get fatter
Yum ya-yum yum, ya-yum yum yum
Fill my belly with bags of donuts
Yum ya-yum yum, ya-yum yum yum

Friday, December 16, 2011

Arirang

Chicken kar-jeabe, Arirang

Three floors above bustling 32nd Street, marked only by a small sign amidst a riot of competing ads, Arirang serves only those people determined to find it. Its customers' persistence becomes understandable once you take your first slurp of the handmade noodles that are the house speciality. Lubricious and luxurious, they soak up the hearty broth they're served in and warm you from the inside out. They come in two main varieties --- long or flaked --- and fortunately, you can get both in the same bowl.

Kimchi pancake, Arirang

Vegetable sujeabe, Arirang

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Christmas Carol at the Abrons Arts Center

A Christmas Carol at the Abrons Arts Center

The subtitle of this show is DICKENS: THE UNPARALLELED NECROMANCER (caps theirs), which explains much about Reid Farrington's point of view. He has taken the many, many adaptations of A Christmas Carol, edited them down to soundbites, and then restaged the performance, with live actors. It doesn't always work, but what it does do is honor the source material, Dickens' novella, a book that's easy to dismiss because of it sentimental familiarity, but that, once you sit down to read it as an adult, you realize is just about perfect.
  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Origami Tree at the AMNH

Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History
  

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