Wednesday, December 5, 2007
I have an interest in jazz; specifically bebop and drill that down to Charlie Parker. This past Saturday I went to see Phil Schaap at Jazz at Lincoln Center for the signing of a book. Wandering around the huge center you realize that at around 2pm the activity mostly takes place below the 5th floor and lots of it down below at Whole Foods. Wandering around the floor that has such places as Per Se (prix fixe 250), Masa (really, really expensive sushi) and Porter House. If you didn't get it from the name, it is a steak house. Yes, expensive. In reviewing the menu I spotted the prix fixe lunch menu. Sometimes prix fixe lunch menus are disappointing; they are limiting in both choices and quality. Here you get a choice of a starter (caesar salad, a slight bit overdressed; or the beet salad,(I thought I was getting regular beets but these were nice baby heirloom beets with a lovely cheese; it was delicious)).
The main course choices were salmon (okay, we automatically dismissed this since we were there to eat meat) or a hangar steak. The hangar steaks we requested at rare and medium rare. They both came out exactly as we had ordered!!! Absolutely beautifully sliced with perfect shoestring french fries (hot; crisp on the outside, moist on the inside).
Let me digress or not, it's all part of the meal. Their service is very attentive. Unlike a lot of places where the less busy they are the less attention they pay to you, the staff at PH was very good. We had a glass of wine each with the meal.
As we were handed dessert menus my friend wondered if we should have been handed dessert menus because dessert was part of the prix fixe and perhaps there was a limited selection. No such deal. We were handed the full list, no limitations. I had the chocolate layer cake with chocolate ice cream and he had a hazelnut beggar's purse with ice cream.
So to recap, lovely salads, terrific entrees, tasty desserts: $24.00 per person. Probably one of the best bargains for lunch I have had in a really long time.
Note: the photo above is from the Porter House website.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Remembrances of Max are everywhere. For almost all of the music would be "Tommy Potter on bass, Bird on alto sax and Max Roach on drums, Miles on trumpet."
Thanks to the wonder that is the internet, I don't have to pine for Phil Schaap's broadcasts. Most importantly I don't have to pine for the birthday broadcasts.
In progress now is the Lester Young/Charlie Parker birthday broadcast. All Prez and all Bird all the time for several days.
Right now I am listening to Prez; it will stay on all night working its way into my subconscious and into the Bird broadcast.
Good night Max.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Someone mentioned a place in Portland named Duck Fat. The important point of the discussion was the fact that they fry their french fries in duckfat. That's right, duckfat. In spite of the fact that it was late and we had been drinking, I still remembered the name of the place.
The next morning we set out for Portland address in hand and with hunger as our impetus. We ordered the Meatloaf panini with was thinly sliced meatloaf with red onions which we soft. Definitely comfort food. The other sandwich we ordered was the special panini: Duck confit with Blueberry preserves and Goat cheese. This was absolutely delicious. I know you are thinking, how can this possibly go together. Of course it does. Just like foie gras and apples go together. The sweet and the savory are a wonderful match. The panini is big enough that you can eat one half and leave the other half for later.
The Duck Fat fries were also wonderful. They had skin on and they that a rich brown patina to them. An order of the large really is large and is plenty for two people. There are dipping sauces and we opted for the truffle ketchup. The truffle flavor is subtle, certainly not intrusive.
We were also in need of coffee which Duckfat also does a very good job of. Oh yeah and we ordered some beignets to go. They provided a delicious accompaniment to the coffee while we were driving out of Portland.
But we didn't drive out of Portland until we'd visited Rabelais. This wonderful bookstore on Middle Street (right down the street from Duckfat) is devoted to books on food, wine and certain arts. The couple used to live in Brooklyn, NY and are incredibly nice. It is spacious, carries books published both in the USA and abroad and they can find things for you.
All in all, I never thought of Portland as a destination but I think a little weekend trip up there is in order.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
What makes one decide to visit a place? Is it inspiration? Is it long buried desire? Is it whim? In my case it was none of those. I was looking for a place that was a bargain at this time of year and I stumbled upon Brussels. When I say bargain, I mean bargain. Expedia had an incredible flight/hotel deal that was lovely. The Stanhope Hotel (about which I will write later is a 5 ***** hotel)
First let us tackle the chocolate scene. For some, chocolate may as well be a religion. For me, it is a lovely delicious taste sensation. One of my first stops in Brussels was Wittamer. Brussels is not only famous for its chocolates, it is particularly famous for its pralines and its creme fraiche chocolates. The creme fraiche ones can not be left out too long. They must be consumed within a certain amount of time. I bought some based upon what their fillings were and then divided them according to the Wittamer divisions: Ganache, Alcools, Creme Fraiche. I set them up side by side and tasted. Below are the notes on my little chocolate tasting.
1. Earl Grey (Dark ganache from Earl Grey tea): Chocolate aroma before you bite into it. Difficult to really get an Earl Grey flavor or aroma. Just tastes like ganache. I am a big earl grey fan so I am very in tune to the flavors of Earl Grey but nothing here. Disappointing
2. Poivre (Dark ganache with Madagascar pepper): Chocolate aroma. Once you bite into it, you can smell the pepper and you think it is going to be spicy,that it is going to light your tongue on fire but it doesn't. It's weird. All of the pepper flavor but none of the heat. White pepper and black pepper. I like this a lot.
1. Palet d'Or (Cognac ganache): Chocolate aroma. A little cognac flavor and aroma but nothing major. You get cognac flavor but it is subtle. At least it isn't liquid.
Le Cremes Fraiches
1. Bouchon Grand Marnier (Fresh cream with Grand Marnier): Once you bite into this there is a creamy, almost marshmallow like consistency. You definitely taste the grandma. Good orange flavor, not overwhelming cognac. I thought it might but it doesn't. But still, you get the alcohol. Strong finish
2. Leslie (Fresh cream with candied pineapple and black chocolate): Dark chocolate flavors but muddied otherwise, Don't really get a sense of the pineapple at first. A kind of artificial flavor and then just a hint of pineapple and it goes away. Too bad, I was looking forward to this. I love pineapples. The only one I did not finish.
3. Carioca (Fresh cream with the coffee of Colombia): Intense rich coffee flavor but in a light kind of mousse way. After the cream evaporates the dark chocolate shell flavors come out. Very nice.
My favorite was the Poivre followed by the Grand Marnier and the Carioca. How they managed to get the pepper flavor without the spice, I'd really like to know. As for the rest, they felt average, which is really too bad since I had heard so much about this chocolatier.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
There is a saying that goes "eat to live, not live to eat". I understand that the inherent germ of knowledge in that is we should should not be gluttons. Understood.
Yet none of the food that we "eat to live" should be boring. Everyday food should be flavorful and give you a reason to pick up another tasty morsel of what's on your plate and put it in your mouth.
Which brings me to the photo. It looks like chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. It most assuredly is not.
It is D'Artagnan Black Truffle Butter. Simply put it is creamy butter and bits of black truffles. It is also one of the most simply delicious things I have in my refrigerator. I stir a small amount into scrambled eggs. I accompany it with some thinly sliced toasted whole wheat bread and I have a delicious breakfast.
And if you have not had enough truffle butter in the morning, restrain yourself, have it at lunch mixed in with some boiled pasta. Not enough truffle butter yet? Dinner can be a lovely experience if you take a small filet mignon, sear to medium rare, slice, place dollops of truffle butter on each, consume with crusty french bread. But really, try not to do this all in one day.
Let's face it, it's all calories, the questions is: how do you want to use them?
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Recently there was an article in the New York Times about the Kahn building and the collection/exhibitions. I have to admit that African art has always been a problem for me. The problem was not with the art; it was with my understanding of the exhibitions. Many African art exhibits I'd been to have often been out of context, explanations lacking.
As you can see Africa is a huge continent and trying to understand it has proven to be a challenge. It has often been the same with Chinese art and admittedly other non-Western art.
But the great part about reading books, magazines, etc., is that it opens our eyes to what we may have overlooked in the past. It makes you consider something outside your boundaries of comfort and thereby brings a new understanding to the world around you, whether that world is global or local.
The New York Times article inspired me to consider another visit (not that I actually think I am done with YAG, next on the agenda is Asian Art) and to go straight up to the second floor.
The exhibition is concise with a fair amount of accompanying information. Photographs of the objects in situ help you understand their role in that particular society. It also gives you a view (albeit a very narrow one) of the different parts of Africa; everything from fertility figures to crosses to banners.
The exhibition can be enjoyed by everyone. During my visit there, children were just as intrigued as adults by the objects on the display.
Do you think it's possible they would let me borrow a few pieces to contemplate in my own home?
Friday, January 12, 2007
But this is not about my dog. It is about the cat I found outside my house when I came home tonight. It wasn't even a full grown cat. Somewhere between a kitten and cat. I thought it was just a stray but then I saw a collar. Perhaps there was hope reuniting this feline with its owner. I lured the kitty over with bread (hope that kitty appreciated extra virgin olive oil and garlic ciabatta) and looked for a tag. None was to be found but there were two collars. A shiny, embroidered one and a flea collar.
Okay, so he belongs to someone. Did I mention I have a dog? Did I mention that my dog hates cats? Actually I don't know whether he hates cats as he has never caught one. I just know they always run faster. Apparently the cats don't want to know either whether Fluffy hates them. Let's call it animal detente.
Where was I? Oh yeah. Hoping that I could reunite the cat with the owner, I thought I might put some posters up, try for the tearful reunion. I wanted to put the cat out on the back porch, keep him safe. I didn't want to pick him up and perhaps be scratched; then I had an idea.
Let's flash forward to the moral of the the story: Cats do not like leashes and will not allow themselves to be led.
The second moral of the story: Some people just don't want to be helped.
Hope the kitty finds his way home.
n.b. yes, that's a picture of my Fluffy.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
I cannot pretend to be a high-flying financial wizard. The lovely salmon colored Financial Times (it's evil twin is New York Press) is full of financial information. Lots of it. There are two things I love about this daily.
1. The Weekend section which arrives on my doorstep on Saturdays is full of everything. Food, wine, books, theater, travel, restaurants, interviews, movies, etc.
2. Martin Lukes. No arrival of FT is more anticipated than Thursday's issue which features the inner workings of a-bglobal.
This ongoing telenovela via email missives can be understood even if you arrive in medias res. Martin Lukes heads up a-bglobal. Martin is a completely unaware person (except of his own importance of course) who goes about doing what he wants. a-bglobal is his playground and everyone else is but a clay accessory to be molded (although molded is a rather mild word for what he does to people) to his wishes.
If Martin asks you a question it will only be so that he can then insert his own experience into it, i.e. but enough about me, what do you think of me?
Anyone who has worked for a large corporation will understand the cast of characters.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
This will be the last of the Yale Art Gallery/Louis Kahn Building entries. Since I never saw the building before the renovation, I cannot comment on its merits or demerits (nor would I be qualified to do so). I can only comment on what I see now. To me it is all summarized in this photo. The knot in the concrete, the Sol LeWitt mural and the tetrahedral ceiling.
Then again, it may not be the last entry. I am still intrigued by the Richard Serra Stacks, I haven't really done the African art floor, not to mention the very, very cool slow moving video with the two women and the Jesus-like figure rising out of the water. You have to go see it. It is like looking at a moving picture. Literally.
Yes, I can be lazy. I admit I like taking elevators. But at the Yale Art Gallery taking the stairs affords you an intimate view of the construction of the building.
Also you can look up at the triangular ceiling while standing in what feels like a silo.
I wanted to buy these. Simple as that. Ms. Hammond for her fantastical /classical setting. Mr. Chagoya because he immediately reminded me of Pepon Osorio. Mr. Osorio is part of the permanent collection at El Museo del Barrio. Museum mile does not end at 96th St.
I have no idea why I decided to pair these two works together. There is no chronological arrangement at the gallery. Somewhere in my brain I have made a connection. Perhaps one day it will come to me. I need to go back, again.
The work of art on top is Vincent van Gogh's Le cafe de nuit while the other work is Edward Ruscha's Level. Both are paintings but the Ruscha fascinates me for its photographic quality. The van Gogh because I have an historical obsession with the drinking habits of painters and writers and how alcoholic beverages are portrayed in paintings (I am in the adult beverage industry i.e. the booze business).
Sunday, January 7, 2007
Inserting a meaning occurs constantly, for works of art (of poetry, of painting, of music) enrich the register of existing things, while every existing thing calls for something, and it is not enough to say simply: it is. Inserting a meaning into a pine or a mountain is very difficult, it is a little easier in the case of the creations of man, that being who incessantly strives, expects, desires. Hence the repeated attempts to name the strivings hidden in an oeuvre.
Yet past events also call for a meaning, as it is difficult to stop at one word, simply saying they were. Was not Marxism just an act of inserting a meaning into the history of the nineteenth century?
And inserting a meaning into one's own life. Something must correspond to something, something must result from something. Perhaps so that things just plain stupid and dishonest find an explanation.
--Czeslaw Milosz, Road-side Dog
Saturday, January 6, 2007
Paging Mr. Jugo de Vegetales!
It is sculpture. The best part? The return label on this is funny only if you speak Spanish. The sender's name is Jugo de Vegetales. Translation: Vegetable Juice.
Mabel, another Black Label
Duane Hanson. Enough said.
Does the Wadsworth still have the one of the woman sunbathing?
Thursday, January 4, 2007
I have a job in sales. I travel all over the state of Connecticut and am discovering many of its wonderful aspects. My latest love and discovery is the newly renovated Louis Kahn building at the Yale Art Gallery.
Any building that has a Sol LeWitt in its lobby automatically moves to the front of the line. In fact if Sol LeWitt wanted to use my house as a canvas, I would let him. My town would probably pitch a fit and I would hire a lawyer just for the privilege of letting two types of Sol shine on my house.
On the other hand, where can I get one of those chairs? Perhaps Design Within Reach.
Susan Morse Hilles Sculpture Courtyard
There are two courtyards at the Gallery. At night, the one on the first floor has a beautifully illuminated sculpture. I couldn't find the information placard anywhere. Doesn't matter, it's beautiful. This photo is of the door leading out to the courtyard; you can see the illuminated sculpture and the reflection of a painting in the lobby.
Okay, then let's pretend winter's here. If you had a coat, scarf, umbrella and packages what do you do with it all? Chic lockers await.
Kahn you wait until the next post?
I realize there is a lot to this gallery, it's getting late, so I will leave you with a photo of a photo of Mr. Louis Kahn.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Years ago I discovered paper marbling. I spent six weekends at an arts center learning Florentine paper marbling. I loved spraying on the alum, putting the paint on the water mixed with agar. I was always surprised to see what appeared when I lifted the paper.
Recently I was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and saw this work of art. It is Ebrû, which is Turkish marbling. There were a few of these but I was completely captivated by this one. Honestly, I wanted to take it home. And yeah, nothing I could do about the annoying spotlight. This work of art was not at eye level. The work is titled Ebru with Calligraphy, 2005.
I have a notebook in which I keep notes about works of art that intrigue me. If possible I take a photograph of the work. In this case I went home and searched for information about this artist. Sometimes I find connections between a work of art at one museum and another work of art I have seen in another museum. So far my obsessive connection is linking drinking vessels from paintings of the Dutch Golden Age and the similarities to contemporary glasses. Somewhere in all of that is a doctoral dissertation waiting to be written.
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
One of my favorite books, if only because it very seriously discusses the Martini and other libations.
Here are some quotes:
"To be frank, given the primordial role played in my life by the dry martini, I think I really ought to give it at least a page"
"I do drink other things, of course--vodka with my caviar, aquavit with smoked salmon"
"If I had to list all the benefits derived from alcohol, it would be endless"
"If alcohol is queen, then tobacco is her consort"