Wednesday, February 29, 2012



As we start considering our next trip in earnest, we find ourselves spending more and more time at Idlewild, a travel bookstore that organizes its stock by location, rather than genre, a particulary good (or dangerous) place for people like us who tend to buy twice as many novels as guidebooks when getting ready to go. And if you can't find inspiration in Idlewild's well-stocked stacks, you can always spin the various globes on display.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Serious Eats: Nasha Rasha

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

Russian sushi, Nasha Rasha
This week's Date Night finds us at Nasha Rasha, reliving the golden age of the proletariat in a very fine theme restaurant [read more].  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Riedel Dance Theater Oscar Party at Chelsea Clearview

Oscar Night is the only time we lament not owning a television, which is why we're grateful to have discovered the Oscar Party hosted by Hedda Lettuce at Chelsea Clearview. Last night's party benefited Riedel Dance Theater, and featured all-you-can-eat popcorn, a raffle, gift bags with antiaging cream and Izzy juice, and the cutting one-liners that Hedda does best: on Brad Pitt ("wet pussy"), on Philip Seymour Hoffman ("marsupial"), on an audience member's cleavage ("Thelma & Louise"), on the movie Moneyball ("Moneyballs"), on Christian Bale ("he'll cut you"), and on Meryl Streep ("never wear the same dress as the Oscar"). Maybe you had to be there; we're glad we were.

Photo: thanks

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Salt and Battery

Shrimp, A Salt and Battery

Although 2012 may well go down as The Year Without a Winter, enough brisk breezes still hit our fair city in February to make it hard to resist the smell of deep-fried food wafting onto the sidewalk. A Salt and Battery lured us in with golden shrimp, "chicken chunks," and a heaping basket of chips. 

Chips, A Salt and Battery

Chicken chunks, A Salt and Battery

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Court Street Grocers

The Delite (corned beef, muenster, coleslaw, thousand-island dressing), Court Street Grocers

Q.  Are the best sandwiches in New York found at Court Street Grocers?
A.  Yes. 

Little Shonda (pastrami, swiss cheese, eggs, durkee sauce, pickled green tomatoes), Court Street Grocers

Top: The Delite (corned beef, muenster, coleslaw, thousand-island dressing); bottom: The Little Shonda (pastrami, swiss cheese, eggs, durkee sauce, pickled green tomatoes) 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Andrey Kurkov at Partners & Crime

Last night, we had dinner at one of our favorite everyday restaurants, then went to a reading at one of our favorite bookstores for a book published by one of our favorite publishing houses, and the reading proved to be one of our all-time favorites. In short, it was a pretty great night.
Andrey Kurkov at Partners & Crime

Andrey Kurkov began his reading by telling a long story with several substories about how he became a writer. It all started with a hamster --- three actually --- and when one died, he wrote a poem that his mother really liked and made him perform, and when the second died, he wrote another poem, this time about Lenin and animals and children. In the fifty or so intervening years, he has written many novels, short stories, essays, screenplays, and children's books in Russian, including the beloved Death and the Penguin. His latest novel, below, features a turtle. "No pet was happy in my flat as a child, so maybe it's internal guilt," Kurkov explained, when asked about his fondness for animal characters, "I let the animals in my books live more or less happily."

He talked too about the 600 written rejections he received, including some from publishers who now distribute his books aruond the world; about winning a joke telling competition in Ukraine, where he lives and about which he says, "it's very wild, but very nice. I like it"; about a friend who would smuggle out his novels into Poland, then smuggle the rejections back in; about being taken out for drinks with two military generals quite curious about why elements of a novel he wrote about a Ukranian politics were starting to come true ("people who poison others professionally don't read novels," he told them); about raising, and naming, approximately 1500 cacti as a child; about his "tough Stalinist grandmother" who worked as a surgeon; and so on and so on. Occasionally he would pause and say about an event or person, "that's another sad story that can become a funny novel." In other words, Kurkov veritably burst with tales, and we're really glad to have been in his company.

Andrey Kurkov at Partners & Crime

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Winter Open House at PS1

Darren Bader, PS1

A few weeks back, we stopped into the Winter Open House at PS1, which featured live animals, part of an exhibit by Darren Bader that raises all kinds of provocative questions, including what does it mean to offer animals for adoption as art? and why won't these cats come out and sit on our laps?; a giant room full of yarn and mirrors by Surasi Kusolwong (indeed, that is a kid jumping from the yellow bench in the lower right into the multicolored mass); and a loop of YouTube videos screened at Tahrir Square during last year's revolution, an event that came to be known as Tahrir Cinema, curated by Cairo-based artist Lara Baladi. There was also a horrifying thing in a hallway, perhaps once a pizza, perhaps once a dishwasher, but it's best not to speak of unspeakable things.
Surosi Kusolwong, PS1

Darren Bader, PS1

Lara Baladi, PS1

Darren Bader, PS1

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dessert Club

The situation dark, Dessert Club Chikalicious

We treat the words "no intermission" like most people treat the words "don't eat for the next 12 hours": as an excuse to fuel up. So, prior to a performance of An Iliad (more on that wonderfulness later), we stopped into the Dessert Club. Up first, a "situation dark" cookie. Notice the pretzels and caramel-coated popcorn; what you can't see are hundreds of peanut butter chips buried in the dark. Then we tried a nutella nutbomb cupcake, topped with whipped chocoloate and a cute little hazelnut, but sadly lacking enough nutella filling on the inside. What do we mean by "enough"? Well, we take the word bomb seriosuly, so we wanted a flavor explosion! Emphasis most definitely ours.   

Nutella nutbomb, Dessert Club Chikalicious
Coconut marshmallow, Dessert Club Chikalicious

Then we got serious with the signature coconut marshmallow, which was like eating a fluffy white duvet, a really fancy duvet from a luxury hotel that has pillow menus and free stuff in the mini bar, where the staff calls you by name and leaves you little chocolates and treats around your room, and which offers the kind of bedding you'd like to eat, if such a thing were advisable. In other words, pretty good. And, lastly, the sloppy dough, in which two halves of a cinnamon sugar-inflected donut lightly cradle a squirt of Boston cream pie filling. This version solves the issue of extremity that so often plagues filled donuts: they're often too soggy, or too dry. Not so here, as the dessert is composed separately, allowing for airiness, warmth, pleasantly gritty sugariness. Yes, we've given this some thought. Yes, the sloppy dough is worth such neuron use.
Sloppy dough, Dessert Club Chikalicious

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The down staircase

Since 1981, beloved BookCourt has held court on Court Street, as a gathering place for writers and readers, newly expanded and tremendously sunlit and stocked with row after row of titles. Isn't it beautiful?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Serious Eats: Ricardo

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

This week's Date Night finds us at Ricardo, a sexy steakhouse in East Harlem [read more].

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The New Russian Literature at the NYPL

The New Russian Literature at the New York Public Library

Here's the thing about New York: on a cold, rain-spitting Saturday in February, the main branch of Manhattan's library system, in conjunction with Causa Artium, hosts a panel of young Russian writers reading from and discussing their work in Russian, and it's standing-room only. Thanks to an adept translator, those of us unfluent in Tolstoy's tongue could participate, but still. Dmitry Biryukov, Irina Bogatyreva, Alisa Ganieva, and Igor Savelyev, all singled out by the Debut Prize (awarded to the best Russian writers under 35, from among 40,000-70,000 entrants) and its coordinator, Russian Booker winner Olga Slavnikova, read fiction as varied as the world's largest country itself. Stories moved from the war-torn Caucusus to the streets of Kiev, from absurdist train travel to hitchhiking with a mind-reader and long-distance trucker.  Lately, we've been having a particularly ardent love affair with the library, but who can blame us? It's Чертов awesome.   

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Korean tacos, Coppelia

A 24-hour Cuban/Latin diner that also serves Korean tacos really shouldn't work, but somehow Coppelia does. Above, an example of the aforementioned fusion, the lip-puckering kimchi playing off the juicy meat slices. Below, arepas con huevos, scrambled, made more luxuriant via avocado and cojito shreds, served with a side of fried cassava. We downed both brunch dishes with fresh guava. In the summer, maybe, we'll return for dinner and thick, thick milkshakes, if we can fight through the crowds, that is, or even wait that long. 

Egg and avocado arepas, Coppelia

Friday, February 17, 2012

Janet Cardiff's Forty Part Motet at PS1

Janet Cardiff, Forty-Part Motet, PS1

Janet Cardiff's Forty Part Motet: A Reworking of 'Spem in Alium' by Thomas Tallis features forty separately recorded voices singing a multilayered composition about god played on forty separate speakers. It's an extraordinary aural experience, as what you hear changes as you go from speaker to speaker or stand in different parts of the room. 

Some art makes you feel as if you could take on the world, emboldening you or infusing you with courage, while other pieces make you want to hug everyone and everything you see, almost crushing you with pathos or emotion. Forty Part Motet simultaneously emphasizes our smallness and interconnectedness: alone, we are infinitesimal; together, we are not. Given its power, it's no surprise that curators chose to exhibit this work as part of an attempt to explore September 11 in contemporary art, currently on view at PS1. Oh, sure, the 'we're stronger together' bit is most decidedly a cliche, but spend 14 minutes (the duration of the piece) with Cardiff's work and see if you don't suddenly believe it to be gospel.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Its terrain, its inaccessibility, and its culture combine to give Tibet an allure all its own. To many people, it evokes exoticism, romance, mystery, and the vaguely supernatural, characteristics found in abundance in the comic books assembled for the fascinating (and free!) Hero, Villain, Yeti exhibit at the Rubin Museum of Art. 

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics at the Rubin Museum of Art

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crosby Pizza Stop

Round Sicilian, Crosby Pizza Stop

We went to Crosby Pizza Stop, in the Bronx's Pelham Bay, for the round Sicilian (above), but stayed for the white pie (below) and lasagna pie (way below), a fancy name for sausage and cheese. All three had tremendously thick, soft white dough, making very honorable entries in our personal pantheon of "by the slice" pizzerias. The white pie, with its drifts of cheese, especially several mounds of ricotta, reminded us of all the snow we're not getting, not that we're complaining. 
White pie, Crosby Pizza Stop

Lasagna pizza, Crosby Pizza Stop

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Colson Whitehead at Brooklyn Public Library

Today, February 14, is a day for expressing love, according to the greeting card companies anyway. In honor of them, we'd like to express our love for two things: New York, and Colson Whitehead. A few weeks back, we were killing time in Prospect Heights, waiting for a restaurant to open. Chilled, we walked into the Brooklyn Public Library, where we poked around the fiction section for a while, then settled into the reading room's comfie chairs. An announcement broke our reverie: Colson Whitehead was getting ready to read downstairs. We looked at each other and got up, wordlessly. Here was an only-in-New-York moment for the ages: hanging out in the library, only to have one of our favorite authors just show up.

In an hour-long talk with Leonard Lopate, Whitehead read from and discussed his latest novel, Zone One, about zombies in New York City. Having read the book, we walked in liking it, but we left loving it, largely due to Whitehead's intelligent answers and pithy one-liners: "For me, a zombie is a person who's stopped pretending that they're not a monster," "New York, even after the world has ended, is prime real estate," "Growing up in [the city], I thought The Warriors was a documentary." The very first comment from the audience essentially accused Whitehead of cribbing, and not very well, from I Am Legend. "I'm sorry to have disappointed you," Whitehead responded, "but I appreicate your taking the time to come down here to cut me down." The entire rest of the audience laughed and cheered.

Colson --- can we call you that? --- you'll never disappoint us. We heart you.

Photo: thanks

Monday, February 13, 2012

Serious Eats: Cheryl's Global Soul

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

Pork chop, Cheryl's Global Soul

This week's Date Night finds us at Cheryl's Global Soul, a Prospect Heights restaurant with an inclusive menu, concientious service, and chicken wings that enable you to draw conclusions about the person you're eating with [read more].

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Don Antonio

Prosciutto e arugula pizza, Don Antonio

At newly opened Don Antonio in Midtown, you can watch pizzaiolas, including at least one woman, work the dough and check the char via video feed, or you can contemplate a photo of the pope eating a pie in Italy. You can watch people debate the numerous permutations of pizza available, or you can look up at the skylight in the slightly raised portion of the dining area. If you're at all aware of pizza going-ons in New York City, then no doubt you already know that this new, much-anticipated restaurant is a partnership between Roberto Caporuscio of Keste and his mentor, Antonio Starita, of Pizzeria Starita in Naples. 

We decided to watch each other eat the two pies we chose: as we ate the proscuitto e arugula (top photo), we smiled but wistfully, for this pie evoked spring, which felt particularly far away as the temperatures dropped into the twenties this afternoon. The softness of the crunch mimicked the airiness and lightness of the salty, bitter toppings. Isn't it lovely looking? The smile was even bigger as we munched the montanara starita, a fried pie that maybe also could have spent a wee bit longer in the oven, but whose signature secret tomato sauce and smoked mozzarella were, somehow, meaty and hearty. We watched and watched, until there wasn't a crumb left on either plate.    

Montanara starita (fried pizza), Don Antonio

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Children's Murals on Smith Street

Children's murals, Smith Street

Children's murals, Smith Street

Children's murals, Smith Street

Children's murals, Smith Street

Children's murals, Smith Street

Children's murals, Smith Street

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